The Michigan basketball team plans a trip to visit and tour Italy next week. John Beilein took his Wolverines to Belgium four years ago and found it extremely successful. Can a trip to Italy bring together this young roster and bring enough preparation for the season?
Coach Beilein has an extremely young roster without a senior leader and a huge role placed upon the incoming freshmen. This trip should be an exceptional way for the freshmen to bond and create chemistry with the returning guards Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin and Spike Albrecht. This tour could be exactly what this team needs to create growth and give the returning guards a chance to display leadership.
With just a few months left before the season starts, this young and inexperienced team will have the chance to compete against some great competition throughout Italy which could prove immensely helpful. The Wolverines will be playing four exhibition games throughout Italy first starting with the Perugia Select Team. Next the Wolverines head to play the Vicenza All-Stars and Oderzo All-Stars back to back. The Wolverines’ final game of the tour will be against the Mantova Stings.
This tour of basketball will prepare this young roster as the competition is unlike any these players are used to facing. Kameron Chatman is expected to enter his freshman season and make noise immediately. These games against professional basketball players could really help prepare him and help get his early jitters done before Big 10 play.
Throughout this upcoming 2014-15 season eyes will be on Derrick Walton Jr. and his progression and leadership. The Wolverines were extremely successful the last two years behind the leadership of Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas. This roster needs a leader at the helms to pull the talent from incoming freshmen and returning players together. Along with the emergence of a leader point guard, this roster needs to possess a threat from outside the perimeter consistent with recent success of the Wolverines. Albrecht, LeVert, and Irvin need to show their dominant outside shooting this season to make up for a lack of size inside.
These four games could give this team a chance to bond together as well as give these players a chance to improve and prepare for the upcoming season. Last season, Zak Irvin vastly improved and proved himself as a knock down shooter from the perimeter which is exactly what this Beilein team is known for. These games could give Irvin a chance to gain confidence and experience which could really help out this Michigan team throughout the Big 10 and into March and April.
The Wolverines took this trip four years ago and Coach Beilein found it extremely satisfying as that team accomplished plenty with a very small roster and won the Big 10 tournament. This trip hopefully satisfies thus leading to greater success this season. These four games against professional Italian players could show us a lot about this young and inexperienced roster, and we’ll find out if this talented roster can come together to create success.