The Michigan basketball team has an exciting season ahead, with many new faces but a few returning ready to lead. With the loss of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary this roster has a new look. Returning guards Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. will be anchoring the back court this season.
Recently, the Michigan Wolverines completed a four game exhibition tour in Italy and came out victorious in all four by a wide margin. Coach John Beilein gave us a preview of what his starting lineup and rotation will be this season during the Italy tour. All four games Beilein started three returning guards in Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert, and Derrick Walton Jr. This should not change throughout the course of the season, as the main expectations rely on the returning players’ shoulders this season.
The front court is lacking a returning big man this season, so the four and five spot will be occupied mainly by freshmen. All four games in Italy, Coach Beilein started Kameron Chatman as the power forward, which was expected. Chatman has very high expectations this season to represent that stretch four threat from the perimeter and attack the rim. The center position for the Wolverines will be most likely split between two players. Mark Donnal started all four games in Italy, but Ricky Doyle usually started as center during the second half. We can expect these two freshmen forwards to handle the bulk of the load inside this season.
Although Doyle was not the starter, it can be argued he had the best tour in Italy. He averaged 11.5 points a game and led in rebounding with eight per game. Coach Beilein stated after the tour, “There were two things Ricky really did well: rebound in traffic and finish in traffic.” Coach Beilein referenced one of Doyle’s double doubles, “Those are big things for us. He’s only 6’9 but he plays even bigger than that on some occasions and today was one of them.” Doyle could end up starting at center for the Wolverines if his play remains at a high level.
With Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary not returning, Michigan is going to need players to step up inside offensively but mainly defensively. Doyle is strong, physical and talented offensively. The Wolverines will need Doyle along with Donnal, DJ Wilson, and Max Bielfeldt to step up defensively this season to fill the void in the paint.
LeVert and Walton Jr. will be leading Michigan’s back court this season with the help of rising star guard Zak Irvin whom had a break out trip in Italy. While Spike Albrecht will not start he will still be an important piece and leader in the back court coming off the bench. Talented freshman Kameron Chatman as of now has that four spot locked up, as he provides a dangerous option at that position with his ability to shoot and attack the basket using his athleticism. The center position is not as black and white, with the possibility of Donnal or Doyle starting this season. But, Coach Beilein may interchange them as necessary. Michigan may have a young starting roster without a senior and two freshmen, but there is no shortness of talent.