Michigan Basketball: 5 Players Who Most Need Good Performances in Italy
Before the Michigan basketball program begins practicing in the fall, it will have the pleasure of heading to Italy to participate in four exhibition games in an effort to build team chemistry and camaraderie before the 2014-15 season starts.
Michigan is set to start play against a local Italian All-Star team in Rome on Sunday, according to Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com, before visiting similar teams in Vicenza and Como in their nine-day trip away from Ann Arbor.
While the sights are nice and a trip to Europe is always fun and enlightening, John Beilein and company will also treat the excursion as business and a way to get several key players to step up their play.
With that said, here are five players (listed alphabetically) who most need good performances in Italy.
As the prized jewel of the 2014 recruiting class, Kameron Chatman has big shoes to fill. Will the expectations prove too much of a burden for the promising incoming freshman?
A 6'7" wing forward, Chatman is a jack-of-all-trades on the basketball court, capable of doing a lot of things really well. He can attack the basket, dish the rock and rebound well for his size. Thus, he can be used at a variety of positions.
How Beilein uses Chatman in Italy could be a sign of things to come.
As a redshirt freshman expected to contend for minutes in the frontcourt, Donnal has a lot to prove this year. He can kick things off with a fine showing in Italy.
With the Wolverines losing Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford along the front line, Donnal is a player who has to make a good first impression. He doesn't have to be much of a scorer, but he has to be an effective rebounder and defender, at least initially.
The Wolverines will hope Donnal plays with confidence in Italy and brings it back to Michigan with him.
Ricky Doyle is another young big body that can increase his value with a good showing in Italy.
Like Donnal, Doyle will be asked to chip in on the front line given the personnel losses the Wolverines have endured in the offseason.
As a true freshman, there will be some bumps along the way, but all Doyle needs to do is play solid defense, rebound, set good picks and occasionally score a few buckets to be effective.
The Wolverines don't need the world from Doyle. They just need him to be a solid role player. If he has a solid performance in Italy, it will go a long way in making his freshman season a success.
Zak Irvin is almost assured a spot in the starting lineup. Nevertheless, he needs to refine some of his skills before the games count for real in November.
We know Irvin can shoot, and shoot well—shooting .425 percent from three-point range his freshman year. However, it would be nice to see him become more active in the lane and attack the rim.
I have already outlined five things he needs to do to have a successful 2014-15 season, and scoring off the bounce is crucial to his development.
It will be interesting to see if Irvin can assert himself more on the Italy trip.
The only reason Caris LeVert is listed here is because he is coming off May foot surgery and needs some time to get back into shape prior to the start of the 2014-15 season.
We all know of LeVert's talent. He will be the heart and soul of the team with the departures of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. That we know.
However, it would reassuring and comforting to see LeVert get back to what he does well and get his conditioning back on track.
His health is vital to Michigan playing at a high level, and while he may be a tad rusty on this trip, it should be business as usual for LeVert once fall comes around.
It would still be nice to see him have a solid showing in Italy, though.
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