Michigan Basketball's Fresh Presence Could Spell a Return to Dominance

Chris LucasCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2008

Okay, so it's definitely not the Fab Five...or anything close. However, the freshman class at Michigan Basketball has been a big reason why the Wolverines are 8-2 (with huge top five victories over Duke and UCLA) and on the cusp of breaking into the Top 25. 

The summer arrivals of freshmen Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Ben Cronin, and Eric Puls have been combined with the recent eligibility granted to Arizona transfer freshman Laval Lucas-Perry to provide a stellar supporting cast for DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris.

Through the first 10 games, Novak and Douglass have seen consistent burn in the starting rotation (both averaging 20 min. a game) and average six and five PPG respectively. 

More importantly, they are shooting .412 and .385 respectively from behind the three-point line.  This sharp shooting has been a crucial addition to the inside work of Sims and the slashing ability of Harris.

In recent years, teams could double down on Michigan's lone scorer or scorers, and the inability of the supporting cast would lead to missed opportunities or turnovers. 

In their two upsets this year, Douglass hit multiple threes against UCLA and Novak hit four against Duke. 

Zona transfer Lucas-Perry will add another sharpshooter to the mix.  Out of high school Lucas-Perry was Rival's No. 20 point guard.  He played five games at Zona before deciding to transfer and alternated starting games with Zona's PG Jr. Nick Wise for a time.

In his first game as a Wolverine on Saturday, he nailed four threes on his way to 14 points in just 16 minutes. 

While he is still unproven, this is an encouraging start to his career at Michigan, and he should definitely see an increase in minutes as he gets more familiar with the system. 

7'0" freshman Ben Cronin and 6'10" freshman Eric Puls will provide a solid foundation on the block for the future.  While they haven't played much yet, this could be a good sign.  Any defense with two low block players over 6'10" is a force.

Nowadays, where players are good for only one or two seasons before bolting to the NBA, solid players with four-year experience are key to building and retaining a top 25 program. 

(See Duke and UNC for examples, who have their foundations built on upperclassmen.)

While Harris is a viable candidate to jump to the NBA next season, these five freshmen are the type of players that will remain three and four years.

Their leadership could develop into the return of basketball dominance to Michigan.