Michigan is, from top to bottom, one of the most complete and fundamentally sound basketball programs in the country, so of course it has a shot to win the Big Ten on a yearly basis.
Wolverines coach John Beilein has made that so.
While they’ll need to find ways to win without Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, the Wolverines should find and occupy a spot near the top of the league standings in 2014-15 and emerge as a favorite to win both regular-season and postseason champion honors.
But how will they do it? How can they do it?
Easy. They just have to follow this blueprint.
Stay the Same, Coach
Other than winning a national championship, Beilein has done just about everything a coach can do in order to ensure—dare we say it?—a Hall of Fame career.
Yes, HOF. I said it.
There aren’t many coaches at any level, in any sport, who are as respected as the Wolverines’ front man who was recently rewarded for his sportsmanship and integrity by the NCAA, per Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com.
Beilein is one of a few coaches who represents everything right with collegiate athletics. He’s a mentor who champions the idea of really doing things the “right way.”
He’s yet to cut down the nets at the Final Four, but he’s been there once. He’s yet to establish his program as the true juggernauts, but he’s right on the edge…and this season could be the tipping point, despite having lost three stars to the NBA draft.
Beilein is an all-round developer of student-athletes. There is no need for the 61-year-old to alter his approach—his teams have proven that much year after year on the court.
Jumpstart Kameron Chatman
Michigan’s shiniest new import is a year away from true stardom, but he might as well get started now. At nearly 6’7” and 200 pounds, the true frosh should immediately add positive production from the wing.
Sure, mistakes such as turnovers and poor decision-making will happen; they’re a part of the learning process.
But Chatman fits both a need and a want—he can run with the frontcourt, which needs personnel, and he can score, an area in need of a kick now that Stauskas, Little Dog and McGary aren’t available.
"His basketball IQ has been outstanding," Beilein recently said, per MLive's Quinn. "He's picked up some of our concepts and some of our actions as quick as anybody we've ever had."
Nick Baumgardner of MLive sees things coming together for Michigan at the wing:
Kam Chatman seems like the guy Beilein drew up in his brain when he created what equates to a wing/4 in his system. A true fit at UM— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 14, 2014
Place Some Focus on the Frontcourt
A steady platoon of multitooled forwards and centers have helped Michigan gain momentum under Beilein.
From contributors such as Jordan Morgan, to stars such as DeShawn Sims and Robinson, the frontcourt has always had the ability to dictate the outcome of a game.
Beilein's recruiting more by the season, and he has two impressive candidates primed to make their presences felt this winter: Mark Donnal, a redshirt freshman, and Ricky Doyle, a true frosh.
Both roughly 6'9" and 235, they'll fill voids left by Robinson and McGary. Each long and athletic, Donnal and Doyle also fit well into Beilein's system. That makes sense. Beilein is definitely a system coach who recruits to fit a style, not for star rankings or hype.
While in Europe, the pair has fine-tuned smoothness, per Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, by growing more comfortable with "Euro" style, a style that's becoming a signature of successful and versatile bigs.
Can't hurt to get that down now, right? It'll only help down the road.
Beilein on @michiganinsider : As time went on (Doyle and Donnal) got more comfortable with Euro style... great progress defensively— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) August 29, 2014
Caris Carries Le’Load
At guard, a sophomore from Pickerington, Ohio, Second Team All-Big Ten, No. 23, Caris LeVert pic.twitter.com/mBlEamNbiZ— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 16, 2014
By the way, how’s my French?!
Since 2008, the Big Ten Player of the Year has come from either Michigan or Michigan State four times (two each). On top of that, each team has been in the mix for the conference banner nearly every season, with the Wolverines winning two in the process.
See where this is going?
Take a really early guess, just for guessing's sake: Will Michigan be a serious contender in the B1G?
Figured as much.
Caris LeVert is one of the most improved players in the nation, and he also happens to be an early favorite to win league POTY honors in 2014-15.
As a sophomore, in addition to averaging 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, he proved to be a solid defender and an invaluable all-around asset.
Due to coaching, he's one of many Wolverines who simply knows where to be on the court most of the time.
Now a junior, the 6'7", 200-pounder is being looked at as the obvious go-to guy for Beilein, who also has rising talents in Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton.
It sounds easy. And it is. Basically the formula is this: Beilein continues to do what he does, his players follow suit and Michigan contends.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81