Michigan Basketball held their annual Media Day on Thursday at Crisler Center. It was the unveiling of John Beilein’s latest masterpiece and the maestro has once again created a work of art. Don’t miss the video at the end of this column, where the players tell us what will come first a Spike Albrecht dunk or a Jordan Morgan three-pointer.
The first thing that jumped out at me, and the folks as was standing with, when the players exited the Blavin Tunnel and stepped onto the court, was the size of this team. They are long, tall and athletic. The overall length of this team gives Coach Beilein a lot of versatility for the upcoming season. “When Mitch is healthy, we are fairly versatile where we can play a bunch of multi-position players and just let it roll,” Beilein said at his press conference. “Some things have happened in practice thus far that would be good for us to just play that way, whether it’s continually with a big lineup or really small, all long guys at one time. I do like that part.”
Once again, this year’s team appears to be very tight-knit and have good chemistry. “Coach Beilein and the coaching staff recruit high character guys,” Jon Horford explained. “Guys that are going to be low maintenance.” Horford went on to explain that the freshmen have blended in seamlessly with the team.
Caris LeVert will surprise folks this year
There was a lot of buzz about Caris LeVert in the off-season and from what I saw on Thursday, the buzz probably wasn’t at a high enough level. LeVert is taller, more defined physically and very confident. His jumper is pure and he has a lightning-quick release. ”Caris is a very special player,” Jon Horford opined. “He hasn’t had the chance to showcase his true ability [yet]. Caris is very, very gifted.” When asked if he thought LeVert would surprise some people this year, Horford said, “I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
“He’s gotten a lot stronger, quicker,” Glenn Robinson III said. “He’s got tremendous confidence in his game, he’ll definitely help this team out a lot this year. I’m excited to be on the floor with him. Every time he steps on the floor, our defensive intensity becomes better.”
Glenn Robinson III can still fly
One thing that hasn’t changed, Glenn Robinson III can still fly. At one point, he soared over the top of a standing Derrick Walton and threw down a dunk. During drills in the open practice, Robinson glided across the Crisler Center court and demonstrated his above-the-rim ability.
Zak Irvin looks to be a ready-made Big Ten player
I was surprised by how big Zak Irvin is. I was expecting that he might be built similar to Tim Hardaway Jr, but he looks more like Glenn Robinson III. He is every bit of the 6-foot-6, 200 pounds the roster lists him at. “Zak is a really competitive player,” Caris Levert said. “He’s a really high-volume scorer,” Derrick Walton explained. “He can score, he can really defend and he can disrupt things with his length.”
John Beilein said that we could, and I’m guessing we will, see Robinson and Irvin on the court together at the two forward positions. ”Our two forwards do the exact same thing,” Beilein said. “Who’s on the right side, who is on the left side, but we can’t call them both three-men because that would be really confusing. It’s like having two wide receivers. As many of you know, I made that survey this past year that most people play skilled wings and even in the NBA they play with more small forwards than they play with big bulky power guys.”
“Between Derrick or Spike, I guarantee one of them will be at point guard. But it’s very different than everybody knowing that Trey was going to be at point two straight years. But we’ll play with that a little bit and see who is best coming off the bench. You know the deal with me, sometimes the guy coming off the bench may be the better fit for the team, or who he’s in with. Derrick is coming on really strong, but I think Spike right now – I think the other day he had 20 assists and two turnovers, and I’m saying, ‘I’m still mad, Spike, about those two turnovers,’ because I thought they were turnovers that he knew better than to make. Spike’s teams traditionally win in scrimmages no matter who we put him with, so we’re still trying to figure that out. Some of those answers are fundamental; it’s just about the right guys.”
Derrick Walton looks the part of a great point guard. He is a legit 6-foot-1 and has great length for his size. He was moving very fast during the drills we were able to observe and has a great demeanor. “Derrick’s a great player,” said Cole McConnell. “He can pass well, he can make the right plays. He’s really poised for a freshman, I think we’ll see good things.” Walton, like the rest of his teammates, has a calm and confident demeanor. According to reports from his teammates and coaches, Walton is the consummate point guard, always looking to make the right play and the right pass.
Nik Stauskas has bulked up a bit, but not too much. His shot looks as good as ever and he seems to be very relaxed this year.
Mitch McGary did not participate in running drills, but looked like he was moving around pretty good.
Mark Donnal is more athletic than I thought he was going to be. He was running the open court effortlessly and can throw down some dunks. I for one don’t expect him to redshirt. He can help this team win now. He was also mentioned as one of the funniest guys on the team, more on that in a future video.
Max Bielfeldt looks like he could play linebacker for the football team.
What comes first?
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