Michigan Basketball: 1 Reason Each Starter Will Be a Success in 2014-15
When Michigan opens its 2014-15 season, the starting lineup for its basketball program will have a nice blend of talent, experience and youth, and how the players mesh should determine how successful they are this coming year.
Three players are almost assured of starting spots—point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and wings Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin. From there, head coach John Beilein could go a in couple of different directions to round out the starting five. Expect redshirt freshman forward/center Mark Donnal and true freshman Kameron Chatman to have the inside edge, though, on locking down the last two starting spots.
So, listed in this slideshow will be each projected starter and the one reason why he will be a success in 2014-15.
PG: Derrick Walton Jr.
One reason why Derrick Walton Jr. will be a major success this year: Become more of a facilitator
There is no denying the fact that Walton Jr. had himself a solid freshman campaign, averaging 7.9 points, 2.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds while being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
However, with the personnel loss the Wolverines endured, Walton will have to take on more responsibility this year. Hopefully, he can elevate his game to all-Big Ten status while upping his assist totals (say to five or six assists a game) and getting his teammates more involved.
It's not fair to compare him to Trey Burke, but if Walton Jr. can take a similar leap Burke did between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Michigan will be much better off for it. In other words, if Walton Jr. can be just a poor man's Burke, the Wolverines will be set.
SG: Caris LeVert
One reason why Caris LeVert will be a major success this year: Takes leadership role to new heights
We all know how effective a player LeVert can be, both offensively and defensively. There is no denying his talent.
What he has to do this year to be a true success is take the reins and become a strong leader, either vocally or by example. With Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III gone, LeVert has to rally the team around him and have a season in line with the kind Stauskas and Robinson III enjoyed last year.
As the elder statesman of this team, expect LeVert to break out and become an all-Big Ten performer while raising his national profile in the process.
SF: Zak Irvin
One reason why Zak Irvin will be a major success this year: Becomes a 13- to 17-point scorer
While deferring to guys like Stauskas and Robinson III, Irvin was just a secondary part of the Wolverines' rotation in his freshman campaign. But with them now gone, he'll be tasked with taking on a more important primary role this year.
As a super sub last year, Irvin showed he can score—and in a variety of ways. Again, with the scoring punch they lost, someone besides LeVert has to step up, and that's where Irvin can help out.
After averaging 6.7 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 43.4 percent from the field last year, if Irvin can at least double that scoring output and become Robin to LeVert's Batman, then Michigan will be on solid ground.
SF/PF: Kameron Chatman
One reason why Kameron Chatman will be a major success this year: Makes immediate impact
As a heralded recruit (a 5-star, according to Scout.com) coming in, Chatman has some big shoes to fill, as he will likely assume Robinson's role with the Wolverines.
It would be beneficial if Chatman can come close to providing double-digit scoring while also being a dependable force underneath the basket. Although he is a wing forward, Chatman has been hailed as a plus rebounder for his size. At 6'6" and 200 pounds, Chatman has an active body that is effective at both ends of the floor.
Although there could be some growing pains initially, Chatman has the tools to be an instant-impact player while challenging for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
PF/C: Mark Donnal
One reason why Mark Donnal will be a major success this year: Be an effective rebounder
Michigan doesn't need Donnal to be all that special, at least not offensively this year. All it needs is for him to battle under the boards, play some good defense and be a solid role player on offense.
With Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford gone, Donnal and other big men, like Ricky Doyle, have some heavy lifting to do. However, Donnal learned a lot last year while practicing with the team as a redshirt. Hopefully he applies what he learned and becomes a viable option in the post.
If Donnal can haul down 6-8 boards a night, then he'll have done his job this year.
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