Michigan Basketball: Pass-Fail Marks for Wolverines' Top Players in 2013-14
The Michigan basketball season is finally underway. Well, Tuesday night was just an exhibition game against Concordia, but who cares? College basketball is back and will be heating up over the course of the next week.
The Wolverines have one more exhibition contest against Wayne State on Nov. 4 before the regular season kicks off.
With the season opener nearly upon us, it is time to set some pass-fail benchmarks for Michigan's top five players. By the time Big Ten Conference play begins, the following five players will most likely make up head coach John Beilein's starting five. Rising star Caris LeVert may be able to steal a starting job, but he will have to prove himself in the early portions of the 2013-14 campaign.
These benchmarks are based on what Michigan needs to contend for a Big Ten title and make another run at a national championship.
Derrick Walton: All-Big Ten All-Freshman Team
In order for the Michigan Wolverines to contend for a Big Ten title, incoming freshman Derrick Walton must play at an All-Big Ten All-Freshman team level. Given the number of assist opportunities Walton will have, garnering the aforementioned postseason honor should be attainable.
Walton showed plenty of potential in Michigan's exhibition opener against Concordia. It is dangerous to read too much into the major mismatch, but knocking down jump shots is not exactly like getting to the basket at will.
The 6'1", 185-pounder converted 4-of-7 field goal attempts, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, to finish with 11 points. Walton also dished out four assists and only committed one turnover. Those are stats the Wolverines would love to get out of him on a nightly basis.
At long last, John Beilein finally has a pure point guard to run his offense in Ann Arbor. The Maize and Blue faithful will love the results.
Nik Stauskas: 40-50 Percent Three-Point Percentage Against Ranked Opponents
It is hard to call Nik Stauskas' freshman campaign anything but successful. Not too many newcomers can step right into a starting lineup, average 11.0 points per game and shoot 46.3 percent from three-point range.
However, Stauskas seemed to disappear far too often against elite competition and struggled to knock down treys.
In games against the top five Big Ten teams and the NCAA tournament, Stauskas shot 33 percent (18-of-54) from beyond the arc. Additionally, the Canadian product failed to make more than two triples in each of Michigan's eight losses last season.
The Wolverines have seven ranked opponents on their 2013-14 schedule. To win those contests, Stauskas will have to be more efficient from distance.
Seeing as five of those contests are against league foes, his shooting will likely play a key role in whether or not Michigan wins the Big Ten.
Glenn Robinson III: All-Big Ten First Team
Again, it is not a good idea to read too much into a 117-44 victory over Concordia, but Glenn Robinson III looked like a completely different player on Tuesday night. The sophomore small forward scored 33 points on 12-of-15 from the field and drained 4-of-6 three-point attempts.
All of that came in just 25 minutes of action.
More importantly, Robinson's shooting mechanics were much more sound. This contributed to his outstanding performance. The St. John, Ind. native also looked aggressive and confident in his new offensive role, which is great news for the Michigan Wolverines.
Robinson will not be putting up 30 points a night, but there is no reason why he cannot average between 15-18 points given the improvements he showed against Concordia. This would be exactly the type of production Michigan needs to replace Trey Burke and contend for a Big Ten crown.
Jordan Morgan: All-Big Ten All-Defensive Team
Expectations are not going to be any different for Jordan Morgan than they were a year ago. All the fifth-year senior has to do is be a standout at the defensive end for the Michigan Wolverines. Anything Michigan gets out of the 2013 All-Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection on offense will be a bonus.
There are plenty of scorers on the roster. The Wolverines just need the undersized and frequently unheralded power forward to coordinate their defensive efforts.
So long as Morgan can stay healthy and Mitch McGary returns to full strength, teams are going to have a tough time scoring inside.
If Morgan can be the standout defender he was prior to an ankle injury in 2012-13, Michigan is going to be right in the thick of the Big Ten race.
Mitch McGary: All-Big Ten First Team
One thing became apparent watching the Michigan Wolverines advance to the Final Four last season: Mitch McGary can take this team to a national championship.
The sophomore power forward averaged a double-double in postseason play, which landed him on USA Today's Preseason All-American team. The only issue facing McGary now is a lower back injury.
Assuming the 6'10", 255-pounder is healthy, and he insists he will be back no later than Michigan's clash with Duke on Dec. 3, he will be a lock for the All-Big Ten team. Making the postseason All-American team will depend on several factors across the country, so it is unfair to set that as a pass-fail expectation.
Being a consensus All-Big Ten First Team selection would be all the Wolverines need out of McGary. This would likely mean he managed to average double figure rebounds and points, or at least come very close to doing so.
With a healthy McGary, there is no reason Michigan cannot make it to a second straight Final Four.
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