Michigan Basketball: 5 Effects Roster Changes Will Have on Wolverines in 2014
Early departures from the Michigan basketball program have made way for a talented group of incoming freshmen, which will change almost everything about the Wolverines' approach to the 2013-14 season.
A bigger starting five may be just around the corner. Several other players will need to produce at the offensive end to account for the losses of All-American Trey Burke and first-team All-Big Ten guard Tim Hardaway Jr. This is nothing out of the ordinary for a college basketball team, though.
Rosters seldom remain completely the same for two straight seasons, so teams are constantly affected by change. Michigan is no different from any other program in this regard. Change is coming, and the Maize and Blue faithful should keep an eye out for these five effects in particular.
The Michigan Wolverines were able to overcome their lack of experience last season, thanks to strong leadership from sophomore point guard Trey Burke and junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
Those two have passed up their remaining years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft, though. Last year's captain, reserve guard Josh Bartelstein, and four other seniors are departing as well.
If the Maize and Blue are going to overcome their youth once again, new leaders will have to emerge. The most likely candidate to fill the leadership void is none other than fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan.
Up until an ankle injury in late January, Morgan had been a fixture in Michigan's starting lineup. Morgan made 53 consecutive starts and played in 89 straight contests.
After losing his starting spot to Mitch McGary late in the 2012-13 campaign, expect Morgan to come back more motivated than ever. There is a great chance for Morgan to return to the starting five, but he will have to hold off rising redshirt junior Jon Horford.
Look for McGary and fellow rising sophomore Glenn Robinson III to take some of the leadership responsibilities off the shoulders of Morgan, too.
Less Three-Point Shooters
Although Nik Stauskas will be back for his sophomore season, the Michigan Wolverines will be without two of their most dangerous three-point shooters. Both Burke and Hardaway. shot better than 37 percent from beyond the arc. The pair will be missed by fans of the three-ball.
Hardaway had the ability to catch fire from distance. In six games last season, Hardaway knocked down at least four treys. It is no coincidence the Wolverines went 6-0 in those contests.
Meanwhile, Burke struggled to consistently knock down threes, but often turned to his deep shot late in games. Fans of the Kansas Jayhawks know all too well, Burke can score from anywhere on the floor, despite the fact he only averaged 38.4 percent from long range.
Burke's 30-footer helped Michigan cap a 14-point comeback, which allowed it to advance to the Elite Eight.
Having Stauskas in the starting lineup once again should help the Wolverines avoid a major falloff. The Canadian guard shot 44 percent from behind the three-point line last season. It is unlikely Stauskas' production will fall off during the 2013-14 season, especially with Burke and Hardaway gone.
Incoming freshmen Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal all shoot the three relatively well. Relying on those three, though, to account for the loss of Burke and Hardaway is unreasonable.
A Decrease in Offensive Efficiency
For much of the 2012-13 campaign, the Michigan Wolverines were a model of efficiency at the offensive end of the floor. Michigan led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.54 per game). Much of the reason why the Wolverines took care of the basketball was Burke (3.0).
Without the dynamic, yet remarkably turnover-free brand of basketball Burke brought to the table, Michigan is set up to take a step back in this category. Rising sophomore point guard Spike Albrecht will not cough the ball up a whole lot, but he will not be the distributer Burke was either. The same goes for Walton, who is at his best in transition.
There are going to be some growing pains for Albrecht and Walton. The former played just 8.1 minutes per game, while Walton has yet to see any action at the college level. Mistakes are inevitable.
Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary both give Michigan's offense a chance to be explosive once again, though, it will be nowhere near as efficient. Losing the consensus player of the year tends to cause a bit of a drop off in how well an offense flows.
Wider Scoring Distribution
When a team loses its top two scorers it is only natural for more players to get involved offensively the following season. The Michigan Wolverines will be no different during the 2013-14 campaign. Burke and Hardaway combined to average 33.1 points per game a year ago.
Scoring will have to come from plenty of new places this season for Michigan to contend for a Big Ten Conference title.
Robinson and McGary will be the two primary scorers for the Wolverines. Both have the potential to pile up close to 15 points per game. Stauskas and his 11.0 points per contest from last season are returning as well.
Where the rest of the offensive production will come from is up in the air at this point. Walton and Irvin both have the potential to be consistent scorers. If Caris LeVert packs on some weight over the offseason, he could be a threat to drive the lane and create shots inside the arc.
Another encouraging sign for Michigan came in the form of 17 points from Albrecht in the national title game. Albrecht will not score in bunches on more than a few occasions, though, the Wolverines have plenty of other weapons to make up for that.
Any points Michigan gets out of big men Morgan and Horford will be a bonus.
Overall, Robinson and McGary will be the top two scorers, but after that the distribution of points will be much wider than it was in 2012-13.
A Bigger Starting Lineup
A small starting lineup, which primarily featured an undersized center, three guards and a small forward, hurt the Michigan Wolverines during the toughest part of their Big Ten schedule. With Robinson moving to the 3, head coach John Beilein is pondering the idea of starting two big men.
If Beilein does indeed follow through with beefing up his starting five, Morgan and Horford will be battling for a starting job in the coming months. Either one would provide Michigan with plenty of experience and outstanding defense in the post.
Stauskas will likely retain his starting spot, however, LeVert could make his way to the top of the depth chart.
At point guard, Albrecht and Walton are going to be in a battle to round out the starting five. Walton is the more athletic guard, but Albrecht's experience, high basketball IQ and shooting abilities (47.5 percent) will give him more than just a puncher's chance to beat out the incoming frosh.
By the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Michigan could wind up with a smaller group of starters than it began with, especially if Irvin lives up to his 5-star billing.
Still, as of now, fans can get excited about seeing a bigger lineup on the floor to tip off the season.