Michigan Basketball: 2014 Offseason to-Do List for Wolverines
For the second straight season, the Michigan basketball program enters the offseason trending upward. This is a far cry from the pre-John Beilein offseasons. During those days, the Maize and Blue faithful simply had football to look forward to. Things are a bit different now, and plenty of Wolverines fans cannot wait for this group to get back on the floor again.
There are four things Michigan has to take care of this offseason, though.
The following four items on the Wolverines' checklist will be critical to their success next season. With all the talent they should have coming back, another great campaign appears to be on the horizon.
November cannot get here soon enough.
Assess the Roster
The first thing on the to-do list for Michigan's offseason is assessing what is left of last year's team in combination with the incoming prospects. Until Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary make their decisions about whether or not to enter the NBA draft, this item cannot be checked off. It is impossible to project positions and personnel groupings without knowing who is staying and going.
This should be cleared up relatively soon, though.
Stauskas' decision should not be far off. On the other hand, it could be a bit longer before McGary and Robinson announce their plans.
According to head coach John Beilein, once a decision is made, there will be a formal announcement. Do not believe any other rumors or reports unless they come from Michigan.
"We are in the process right now. Over last week and this week, we’re gaining information," Beilein said Wednesday morning on the "Michigan Insider" radio show on WTKA 1050 (h/t The Detroit News). "We’ll put it together and when we’re ready to announce what decisions are being made, we’ll announce it."
Do not bank on Stauskas coming back, but Robinson and McGary could benefit from another year in Ann Arbor. Expect the unexpected when it comes to those two.
Developing talent has been a staple of John Beilein's program going all the way back to his days at Canisius. He has always been able to do more with less, which is why, given the amount of athleticism returning, Michigan will be a contender for some time.
Three players need to make significant strides forward during the offseason: Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.
In LeVert's case, he made incredible progress last offseason and simply needs to build on that. He ranked third on the team in scoring (12.9 points), shot better than 40 percent overall and from beyond the arc and dished out 2.9 assists per game.
Defensively, he is as good as they come. Opposing wings and guards are going to have a tough time getting around LeVert next season.
He has all the tools to take over games like Nik Stauskas did, which could result in Michigan having the Big Ten player of the year for a third straight season. This offseason will be big for LeVert, especially if two or more Wolverines declare for the draft.
Irvin needs to improve at the defensive end while developing his ability to put the ball on the deck and attack the rim on offense. He showed flashes of this last season. Now it is all about making it a consistent weapon.
Finally, Walton will need to ready himself for a much larger role in the offense next season.
"I think he’s a guy who we can play through more than we did this year," Beilein said during his Wednesday press conference (h/t UMHoops). "Obviously Nik, Caris and Glenn we played through more this year...That’s something Derrick’s going to want to do.
"He turned 19 the other day, and for him to play the whole year at 18 is amazing, as well. I have so much confidence (in him). His workout the other day was excellent. I have so much confidence that the game continues to be an easier one for him to dissect and see as he plays at this level."
Sort out the Conundrum at Center
Jon Horford's decision to transfer from Michigan and play out his final season of eligibility elsewhere came as a bit of a surprise. It also leaves the Wolverines with a serious question mark at center.
Getting Mitch McGary back would solve the issue. When healthy and in peak form, he is capable of gobbling up 30-plus minutes per game. Averaging a double-double is not out of the question for him either.
The only thing is that no one knows where he will be playing next season. If he winds up entering the NBA draft, Michigan would have a major hole to fill.
This would also force rising redshirt freshman Mark Donnal to play significant minutes. Incoming freshman Ricky Doyle could use a year to redshirt and put on weight, but he will be asked to contribute immediately without McGary in the fold.
If McGary opts to return, the coaching staff can ease Donnal into the mix and allow Doyle to settle in as a member of the practice squad.
Sorting out who the backup and starting centers will be is a high priority for Michigan this offseason.
Establish a Role for Kameron Chatman
There is no doubt that Kameron Chatman will see the floor as a true freshman. The question is exactly how much he will play and what role he will occupy.
Again, this is difficult to project without knowing exactly who is coming back, but playing at the 4 would be a safe bet. He will see some minutes at the 3 as well, especially if Caris LeVert has to shift to the 2 as a result of NBA departures.
There is no question Chatman has the skill set to contribute right away. He is not the freak athlete that Glenn Robinson III is, but he can attack the rim and shoot a little bit better.
Michigan will get a chance to break in Chatman relatively early. The Wolverines get to venture over to Europe during the summer and play against professional competition. This is the perfect chance to see what they have in him.
Once the NBA draft's early-entry period passes, everyone will have a much better idea what role he will be asked to play in 2014-15.