Michigan Basketball: 5 Biggest Red Flags on the Wolverines' Roster

Zach Dirlam@Zach_DirlamSenior Analyst IIJune 13, 2013

Michigan Basketball: 5 Biggest Red Flags on the Wolverines' Roster

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    Red flags are on college basketball rosters all across the country. The Michigan basketball program is no different. 

    Even last season's team, which made a run all the way to the national championship game, had its fair share of issues throughout the year. A group forced to replace its two best players and five seniors will certainly have some red flags.

    Whether or not the Wolverines are able to overcome these worrisome things will determine how much they accomplish this season. A Big Ten Conference title will be out of reach if the following five things hamper Michigan throughout the 2013-14 season. 

Unproven Leaders

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    Every team needs leaders. The Michigan Wolverines are undergoing some major turnover in this regard. Trey Burke led with his All-American point guard play, while Tim Hardaway Jr.'s three years in the program gave him a strong voice in the huddle and on the floor. Neither will be back this season. 

    Instead, the 2013-14 team will be guided by rising sophomores Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Strong performances in last season's NCAA tournament made the two budding stars. The next step, though, is for Robinson and McGary to become leaders.

    Passing on the NBA draft was a step in the right direction. Now, both need to be the figureheads for the Wolverines both on and off the floor. 

    By season's end, McGary and Robinson will have taken the reigns of this Michigan team. For the time being, however, the fact that neither is a proven leader is a bit of a red flag.

Only Having 2 Upperclassmen

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    Although none of the five seniors from last year's team made significant contributions, having several upperclassmen on a team helps stabilize a young group. Only two upperclassmen will be on the Michigan Wolverines' 2013-14 roster. Meanwhile, a total of 10 freshmen and sophomores are going to suit up. 

    Thankfully, the pair of seasoned veterans have been hardened through adversity during their careers in Ann Arbor. 

    At one point, rising redshirt senior forward Jordan Morgan started 53 straight games. An ankle injury in late January changed everything, though. Morgan lost his starting spot to Mitch McGary. His minutes declined even more due to poor performances late in the season. Out of anyone on this year's squad, Morgan will have the biggest chip on his shoulder.

    All the while, Jon Horford has battled various injuries throughout his years with the Wolverines. Horford battled a dislocated knee in 2012-13. A right foot injury kept the Grand Ledge, Mich. native out of all but nine games the year before.

    Those experiences will help Horford and Morgan guide another young Michigan bunch. Even still, having just one senior and one junior on a roster is a red flag. 

Fewer 3-Point Shooters Than 2012-13

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    When the Michigan Wolverines' offense is firing on all cylinders, three-pointers are usually falling. In the four of the Maize and Blue's five NCAA tournament wins last season, they hit at least eight treys. Most of the perimeter points came from Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. The two combined for 23 threes during the Final Four run.

    Sophomore guards Spike Albrecht and Nik Stauskas are the top returning perimeter threats. Both shot better than 44 percent from beyond the arc in 2012-13.

    Beyond those two, though, there is no one opposing teams will dread seeing along the three-point line. 

    Incoming freshman Derrick Walton is a streaky jump shooter. He can knock down shots from all over the floor, but there will be plenty of hot and cold stretches. The same can be said about fellow newcomer Zak Irvin.

    The majority of Irvin's shots should come from inside the arc as a frosh. In 21 games for Hamilton Southeastern High School as a senior, Irvin only shot better than 45 percent from distance four times. On nine occasions, less than 30 percent of the 5-star prospect's threes went down.

    Hopefully, another three-point shooter will emerge. As of now, however, there are not a whole lot of perimeter threats on the Wolverines' 2013-14 roster.

Nik Stauskas' Defense

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    There is no doubt Nik Stauskas has a lot of improvements to make at the defensive end of the floor this offseason. More often than not, Stauskas was a liability on defense for the Michigan Wolverines last season. 

    Unlike the 2012-13 roster, though, there are two players capable of replacing him in the starting five. Both Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert will be gunning for Stauskas' spot. What separates those two from Stauskas is their ability to defend. 

    Offense is what keeps Stauskas at the front of the rotation. The 6'6", 190-pounder averaged 11.0 points and shot 46 percent from the field as a freshman. Those numbers are more than good enough to keep Stauskas in the starting lineup.

    If he does indeed continue to start, his defense is going to be a concern. And if Stauskas gets into a shooting funk, his value to the Wolverines plummets.

    A starter who plays less than suspect defense is always going to be a red flag.

Young Point Guards

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    For the second time in three seasons, the Michigan Wolverines will have to replace their starting point guard. The role will once again be taken over by an underclassmen. Young players running the point is always a bit concerning, especially in John Beilein's complex offense.

    Derrick Walton appears to be the best fit to replace Trey Burke. Playing in transition is his strong suit. Creating shots for others in the lane is also one of Walton's most prized traits. A streaky jump shot will allow him to be a scoring threat in spurts of the campaign as well.

    At the end of the day, though, none of those things will matter if Walton does not take care of the basketball. Same goes for Spike Albrecht.

    In just eight minutes per game, Albrecht proved more than capable of running the offense. Taking on an expanded role this season will prove whether or not he is dynamic enough to be the starter.

    No matter which one of the two young point guards wind up being the starter, limiting turnovers and consistency will be more important than anything. Those are also two things underclassmen tend to struggle with.