Michigan Basketball: 5 Things That Should Worry Wolverine Fans in 2014-15
The Michigan basketball program is riding a high after making four straight NCAA tournament appearances and reaching the Elite Eight and the title game in the past two years, respectively. However, there are still a few things Wolverine fans might have to worry about in the 2014-15 season.
With the loss of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, the Wolverines have some holes to fill up and down the roster. We have seen head coach John Beilein retool before, and Michigan fans should have the utmost confidence in him.
The team has talent, no doubt, but there are still some concerns leading up to the start of the year.
Right now Beilein and the team are fine-tuning some issues in Europe, as Michigan is taking on a group of select all-star teams from Italy. So, the trip may provide us with a blueprint on how the team will address some key issues this coming year.
Here then are the five things that should worry Wolverine fans in 2014-15.
This is where the loss of McGary, Morgan and Horford particularly stings.
With little to no experience on the front line, the Wolverines will likely have to have a group mentality when it comes to rebounding. The Wolverines will need to have all hands on deck while crashing the boards as a team.
The team doesn't need its big men like Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle and Max Bielfeldt to be stars, they just need them to play some solid defense and grab some rebounds. Michigan certainly won't be lacking in scoring, but rebounding could be a sore spot all year.
Again, a team effort could do the job, but rebounding is something that is causing some panic among Wolverine fans.
Can the 2014 Recruiting Class Compensate for All of the Production Lost?
There is a lot to like about the 2014 recruiting class, which ranked 28th in the country according to 247Sports, but their inexperience could be a major factor this year.
In their first showing in Italy against the Perugia Select team, three freshmen scored in double digits, with Kameron Chatman scoring 12 points (5-of-9 shooting), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman adding 11 points (2-of-3 from the field) and Ricky Doyle chipping in with 12 points (6-of-7 from the floor).
It was a nice first showing for these freshmen, but obviously, the competition will be much steeper when the games count for real starting in November. How these freshmen (along with the currently injured D.J. Wilson) perform will go a long way in determining Michigan's success this coming year.
The Wolverines will head into the season with just one senior (the sparingly used Bielfeldt) on their roster. While senior leadership is not the end all, be all to having a successful team, it certainly helps.
With the loss of Stauskas, Robinson III and departing senior Morgan, the leadership mantle will now be passed down to junior Caris LeVert. We know what LeVert is capable of on the basketball court. No one is going to dispute his skills there.
But for LeVert to play at a higher level and keep the Michigan success train moving forward, he'll have to take on a more active leadership role. Considering his attributes and demeanor, LeVert should be up for the challenge.
Not to mention, sophomores Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin should also be more involved in this area as well. While these two guys are still relatively young, they have been through lot of battles in their brief time in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines no doubt have an excellent core with LeVert, Walton Jr. and Irvin leading the way, but after that, depth could be an issue.
Besides the aforementioned three players, the only other regular rotation player returning is Spike Albrecht, who averaged just 3.3 points per game last year.
Donnal, Bielfeldt, Chatman, Wilson, Doyle, Aubrey Dawkins and Abdur-Rahkman all have to step up their games on both ends of the floor if Michigan wants to contend for another Big Ten title and deep run in the NCAA tournament.
The starting five will likely be a formidable bunch, but they can't do it alone, and the second unit will need to pull its weight, too.
Beilein's teams are always well coached on defense, but a lot was lost from last year's team, and despite LeVert's stellar play on defense, the rest of the roster comes attached with some question marks on that side of the ball.
Walton Jr. and Irvin are no slouches by any stretch, but for Michigan to truly have a successful season, they will need them and the newcomers to play a vital role on defense.
Defense is all about effort, and Beilein should instill that drive in this group, but communication could be a tad rusty early on.
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