First, I am going under the assumption that Mitch leaves. If he stays, I’ll be pleasantly pleased.
So our roster looks like this:
5 - RFr Donnal, Fr Doyle, RJr Bielfeldt
4 - Fr Chatman, Fr Wilson
3 - So Irvin, Fr Hatch
2 - Jr LeVert, Fr Abdur-Rahkman
1 - So Walton, Jr Albrecht
Plus I don’t really have any hopes of getting someone who can contribute significantly this late for the coming season. If I thought McGary were coming back, I’d feel comfortable saying we’d be a Final Four caliber team. As it is, at this point, I’d say we’ll be in the 20-25 range, maybe an 8-9 seed.
Last year we were able to mostly overcome the loss of our three best players (Burke, Hardaway, McGary) by the great improvement of LeVert and Stauskas and solid, veteran play of Morgan. This year we won’t be able to replace any of the losses with veterans. Our 4 and 5 positions will be extremely inexperienced, but on the other hand, they’ll possess a collection of skill sets Beilein hasn’t had since he’s been here. Chatman will provide a playmaking ability at the 4 that we haven’t had. He and Wilson, particularly, will give us length we haven’t had in awhile there, with Wilson giving the shot-blocking ability, IMO, that we’ve only had with McGary two seasons ago. We haven’t had 5s who could shoot like Donnal and Doyle, who easily have more offensive skill than Morgan and Horford. But again, they are all so inexperienced and unfortunately no one rebounds like McGary could. It’d be nice if we could redshirt one or both of Doyle and Wilson, but I think they both have to be part of the rotation because Donnal and Chatman can’t play 40 minutes per game.
On the other hand, our 1-3 positions look pretty solid. I expect big improvements from Walton and Irvin and think LeVert will be 1st team All B1G. There won’t be many opposing back courts who can handle us. It’d be nice if Albrecht can make some improvements, especially defensively a la Stu Douglass, in order to alleviate some playing time. Or Abdul-Rahkman to give us a few.
So it comes down to our freshman front court. If the stars align and Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson all reach or get close to their potential earlier than expected, then we can be dangerous come tournament time. But I think it’s a lot to ask Doyle, especially, to be able to contribute much his freshman year. And along those lines, a lot to ask of Donnal to hopefully be a steadying veteran force in the post. And we’ll probably need Wilson to give us about 10 min a game.
It’s going to be another fun and exciting year to see how the pieces come together. Go Blue!