Thoughts On This Year And Next

As I said a while ago, this year was about enjoying a team that was pretty good, not great. 23 wins, including four wins against top 35 teams in both kenpom and RPI (two Sweet 16 teams), only one loss to a team outside the top 35 in either (@OSU). A tourney appearance ensured by a big-time, clutch win against IU, who in there last 10 have won against KY, PU, MD, Iowa (twice), losing only @MSU and to us. That was a gutty victory, especially considering it was in Indy and we shot 29% from 3. Overall, not a great year, but pretty good, especially considering (a) the team lost both seniors, including (1) their best player and (2) last year’s co-mvp and probably the most confident guy on the team, (b) Irvin was coming off offseason back surgery, and (3) they only had two players with junior eligibility, including no bigs.

The ND game was frustrating because suddenly a Sweet 16 berth seemed so attainable, and because a couple calls and breaks seemed to go against us (and they made seemingly every bail out shot), but in the end the team probably ended up appropriately to how they played. If they hadn’t made the tourney it wouldn’t have changed their improvement late and their quality wins, but if they made the Sweet 16 it wouldn’t have altered the low points and inconsistencies.

Next year has the potential to be significantly better. We’ll have to see if there’s any attrition, although JB has talked about having everybody back. The team will have a bunch more upperclassmen. Zak should be healthier and stronger. Walton had his ups and downs but averaged 12, 5, and 4 over the year and I have a feeling will take on some senior leadership. The rest of the perimeter should be more consistent. Duncan Robinson, who shot 45% from 3 for the year but slumped, ended with 41% (11-27) from 3 over his last five games, and was getting more good shots at the rim (like the key and-1 near the end of the IU game). MAAR scored double digits in his last 6 games and at least 9 points in 11 of his last 12, and shot 37% from 3, a big improvement. Xavier Simpson looks like he could be special and should at least allow the backcourt to rest. Chatman showed growth and Dawkins is still a 44% shooter from 3.

I don’t think we’ll be dominating down low, but Donnal showed he can be pretty solid, averaging 11 and 5 in B1G play, and he had more offensive rebounds than Zach Auguste in the ND game, and Wagner showed potential to be pretty good. A junior Doyle would be a pretty solid third big off the bench. Wilson still has high potential, depending on where he ends up.

The defense was obviously nothing great this year, but it did improve significantly toward the end – and this is often the biggest area of improvement for upperclassmen.

Finally, I’m not interested in hashing over tired arguments about JB and the program and I’m not going to respond to certain posters. I’ll simply say it’s pretty clear that JB is going to be here several more years, and if you can’t enjoy this era of Michigan basketball, it’s pretty much on you. 5 out 6 years making the tourney, two B1G titles, an appearance in the championship game and another Elite 8. High character coaches and players, some potentially big time players coming in with guys like Simpson and Poole. We look highly likely to be a factor in the B1G with potential for tourney runs in the upcoming years. Try to enjoy it, I know I will.

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Nice post. Speaking mostly for myself, I think that those of us who feel antagonized by the relentlessly negative posters can probably improve the quality of dialog here by not responding to every needling post. The battle lines are well demarcated, anyway. I wish Beilein well, admire his playing style, and would love to see him succeed in a grand way. But some of the dice have to tumble in his direction now.

I’m one of those weirdos who is just as happy if we are a mild underdog that knocks off the MSUs of this world with superior team play, loves the idea that that is possible. And having us play a hard-banging style: not coming under Beilein. But we do need more confidence, to play with more alacrity, and I think we get that, a team that knows John’s offense, next year. The first half against ND was one of the few times all year where we had the kind of flow I loved in some of our earlier teams; left me hopeful though it was a painful loss. . .

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I predicted that this years team would improve by 6 wins (16-16 last year) through the Big Ten tournament and they did. But that was with Spike and Caris, so without them, they really over-achieved.
I am optimistic about next years team. It will basically be this year’s team plus growth, experience and at least 3 new freshmen. I will wait until Dylan does his writeup (and any news about the roster) before talking more in depth about next year.
And I think that it is good advice about not responding to the negative posters (we all know who they are by now) and just let them debate among themselves.

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Another thing…new and better uniforms with a return to Nike, and even better, the Jordan Brand!

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I’ll happily continue to respond to the pessimists, sometimes they bring up good points. But anybody that thinks JB’s seat is/should be the least bit warm is misguided, in my opinion. People get caught up in the Final 4/Elite 8 run and get a sudden sense of entitlement, like the only thing good enough for us is the very best that JB has ever provided. But, that’s naive. JB pulled this program out from obscurity, and he did so by recruiting Read: ‘student’-athletes and playing by the rules and coaching the heck out of them, after our program was destroyed by breaking the rules.

And that’s why we will be better next year: because JB is going to coach the kids into being better players, like he always does.

I wish JB recruited better and placed more emphasis on defense, but he is still one of the great offensive-schemers and player-developers in the sport. JB is the reason that we can even let ourselves imagine winning the B1G and making a run. To think that there’s someone out there, readily available, who can run this program better than JB is uneducated and ungrateful. I’d also love to hear who people would, realistically, rather have, rather than talking about this abstract ideal coach that is waiting by the phone, for Warde’s call.

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To counter your last paragraph I think not only is it uneducated but also weak minded to think there isn’t anybody ready to run this program better than what JB is running it.

For 3.3 million there are a lot of coaches ready to pick up that phone.

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Not that I expect you to have a list, since it’s not your job to readily know this stuff, but I want to hear who the detractors would, realistically, prefer and what that new coach would do better than JB. Ive stated why JB deserves to stay and deserve’s the fans’ respect, and Ive heard the arguments for why JB should get booted (I agree with plenty of complaints, just dont think he’s anywhere near deserving of a hot seat). But complaints without suggested solutions are basically useless.

BB just go through other threads. This question has been answered by more than one person on who else they would want. I’m sure everyone is tired of reading the same names.

Ive read a lot of threads and Ive only seen names of unattainable coaches who are better than Beilein, but not realistic candidates for the UofM job: Matta, Izzo, Self, Crean, Smart etc. Honestly, Im probably a big enough JB homer to stick my nose up to even the best realistic suggestions. But I am curious to hear who could reasonably be hired. Also for the future.

You aren’t looking hard enough. I have a men’s league game to play in. If someone hasn’t tackled it when I get back I’ll try to put together a coaching list.

With any firing/resignation you have to understand there always is risk. So risk IMO is not a good enough excuse to not do something,

I’m going to agree with @prattd and let’s avoid re-hashing the ‘what coach would you rather have talk’ … we’ve been through that many times over the last couple weeks.

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For me, it’s not about their points, but why deal with such childish, angry whininess? As obsessive as I can be, basketball is still fun, why ruin it?

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Sorry, Dylan. I guess I missed the parts of the threads where realistic replacements were brought up. I was honestly just interested to hear any names that I thought made the argument worth having.

Duncan Robinson in 4/23 Free Press article.
“Physically, I need to get a lot stronger and that’s going to be a focus of mine this off season and probably will be for the rest of my career. I’m far from a finished product both physically and skill-wise as I continue to develop.”

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Robinson said this in the post game locker room after the ND loss. He had a list of things he wanted to improve on over the course of his summer in Ann Arbor. When they asked MAAR if he would be staying in Ann Arbor for the summer he said he didn’t know. That really bothered me as I think if MAAR would work on his passing/recognition/pick and roll, he could be a force. Robinson, in contrast, seemed so much more hungry and determined.

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Link for the article on Duncan:

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Probably don’t want to be too judgemental based on a post-game interview; he might not have been in the best mood. I hope that we’re all doing as much to get better this summer as we want these kids to do.

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I think Beilein indicated that everyone is attending the first session of camp Sanderson and that some will be doing both.

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MAAR is sort of a tough read, he looks about the same win or lose. You are probably right that his emotion seeped out in the answer. It matters little except as a contrast with Robinson who you could tell had already invested some thought into his game and goals. I am bias though, I think Robinson is a cerebral player who will play above his measurables with a summer to adjust to the competition level. In college some guys have the pure talent to drag their brain and others have the brain to drag their talent.

I suppose this qualifies as “Thoughts on next year” … Myron Medcalf’s “Looking Ahead” piece which I don’t think is paywalled:

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/115140/looking-ahead-michigan-loses-key-pieces-but-still-stands-tall