2010-2011 Season Preview: Michigan Wolverines

  • 11/10/2010 9:30 am in

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12: Head coach John Beilein of the Michigan Wolverines watches action during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Michigan Wolverines.

The trajectory of the Michigan basketball program is far less defined entering the 2010-2011 campaign compared to a season ago.

Last fall, the Wolverines were a consensus preseason top 15 team that returned two of the league’s top players — guard Manny Harris and forward DeShawn Sims. But when the smoke cleared, Michigan finished with a disappointing 15-17 record and failed to reach a postseason tournament.

It was a significant step back for a program that reached the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament and seemed to be headed in the right direction.

So what are we to expect of this year’s version of the Michigan Wolverines? Another season of struggle in what will be John Beilein’s fourth season in Ann Arbor.

Three of Beilein’s top five scorers from last season — Harris (NBA), Sims (graduation) and Laval Lucas-Perry (violation of team rules) — are gone. Juniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, who would both be considered solid role guys under different circumstances, are Beilein’s top two returning pieces.

This means Michigan will rely, mostly out of necessity, on newcomers Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. for immediate contributions. Smotrycz, a top 60 recruit according to Rivals, is a 6-9 forward that loves to shoot from the perimeter but also possesses the ability to put the ball on the floor. Hardaway Jr, son of the former NBA great Tim Hardaway (UTEP Two-Step!), can reportedly fill it up from the perimeter and also knock down pull-up jump shots. Sophomore point guard Darius Morris, who started 19 games as a freshman, will also be relied on heavily.

Bottom Line: Michigan is a team that will struggle mightily to score points in the paint and when shots aren’t falling from the perimeter, will be in a lot of trouble. This will be true particularly in Big Ten play, where the Wolverines are projected by most to finish 10th in the conference. It’s probably a bit early to begin talking hot seat for Beilein, but Michigan fans will definitely be looking for signs of progress after the disappointment of the 2009-2010 season.

Quotable: “And one final point that I’d like to make is when you look at Michigan, and when you look at what John Beilein has done over his career and you look at his winning percentage over his career, the man is an incredible coach. This goes back to my days in the Big East and it certainly is now. There might be some preparations that are as hard, but there are none that are harder than getting ready for a John Beilein coached team, and I think it’s just a matter of time before that program is back where it needs to be.” – Tom Crean on Michigan and Beilein at Big Ten Media Day

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  • JerryCT

    While I donot underestimate Beilein I am counting UM as a team we should beat

  • get real

    However, most IU fans vastly overestimate Crean as a game coach. Did you see any defensive improvement from our bigs against Ferris State? How about communication? How about penetration? Which team controlled tempo?—The bottom line is Crean is several levels below Beilein as a game coach and preparation and game adjustment coach. Did you see any adjustments at the start of the second half against Ferris State? I say let McClain or Buckley coach the game and Crean do the recruiting and rah-rah stuff.

  • Phil

    An interesting post.

    The team only allowed one field goal in the last 14 min of the game due to defensive adjustments. I would argue that was significant.

    I would agree that penetration remains an problem but I believe that is a personnel issue rather than a coaching problem. Clearly with creek regaining some explosiveness and verdel returning to the lineup I would expect much better penetration going forward. JHulls is not suited to being a penetrating guard at this point in his career.

    Beilein may well be a better coach but your arguments do not support your opinion IMHO. Certainly given that Beilein had two near pro caliber players on his team last year and still managed to produce a losing record would be some evidence to the contrary of your assertion.

  • get real

    Ferris State imploded both at the foul line and with unforced errors in the 2nd half– not just because of IU’s defense. Our defensive strategy was apparently to foul and fortunately it worked. We were outplayed and outcoached. How can IU let a DII team come into the Hall and set tempo, control the game, and out tough us? Reminds me of Iowa last year– and their coach was fired.

  • Anonymous

    I would hold off on this stuff until the season is underway (Friday). I say this simply because we do not have a “full” roster at this point: Verdell is out, GMM is out, Creek is coming back from injury, Pritch is injured. Let them ramp it up a little bit and get in the groove, then if they keep looking bad, complain.

    Also, I saw some games where IU got outplayed, out-toughed, and got the tempo set for them during the Knight era, and he was obviously one of the best coaches of all time. Sometimes the players have a bad day, and luckily this time it was an exhibition. Looking forward to Friday.

  • Anonymous

    Forgot Roth is out now, too (although I don’t think anyone’s counting on him to be a defensive stopper, even when healthy)