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Posts Tagged ‘Lavall Jordan’

Lavall Jordan leaving for head coaching gig at Milwaukee

Thursday, April 7th, 2016


Lavall Jordan(Allison Farrand, The Michigan Daily)

Michigan assistant basketball coach Lavall Jordan has reportedly accepted the head coaching job at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jordan has been at Michigan since the 2010-11 season, helping to guide the Wolverines to a record of 143-70. He has been instrumental in the development of guards Darius Morris, Trey Burke, and Derrick Walton over the past six seasons.

Prior to joining the Wolverines, he spent four seasons as an assistant at Butler and three as an assistant at Iowa. He graduated from Butler in 2001, where he starred for the Bulldogs and was a two-time All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference performer.

Jordan takes over a Milwaukee program that went 20-13 last season, but did not bring back head coach Rob Jeter. Jeter went 185-170 in 11 seasons as head coach, but the Panthers have not finished in the top three of the Horizon League since 2011-12.

“As we begin the process of searching for a new head coach, we will identify candidates who believe in our mission, possess high character and integrity and have a proven track record of continued success,” Milwaukee athletic director Amanda Braun said at the time.

Jordan certainly fits that description, though this will be his first head coaching job.

There have also been rumors of fellow assistant coach Bacari Alexander also leaving for a head coaching job — likely at Detroit — which will lead to a major shakeup in John Beilein’s staff.

2015-16 Michigan basketball season review: A season of what-ifs

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016


UM BBall(MGoBlue.com)

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. A year after struggling to a .500 record while two potential stars watched from the bench nursing injuries, Michigan was supposed to bounce back this season. This would finally be the season that John Beilein had some seasoning in his team, with senior leaders that had been to the National Championship before and a pair of juniors who played key roles on an Elite Eight team the following year.

The Michigan Wolverines entered the 2015-16 basketball season primed to show what their healthy, veteran squad could do in a college basketball landscape that lacked any team that clearly stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Senior Caris LeVert was returning from injury after deciding to forego a likely guaranteed NBA paycheck for an opportunity to prove himself.

Fellow senior Spike Albrecht was also coming back after a junior season that saw him sometimes spectacularly lift a shorthanded team to victories that should have never been possible – and he was also supposed to be healthy and ready to roll with a pair of new hips.

Junior Derrick Walton, like LeVert, entered the season at 100 percent after missing the majority of his sophomore season with an injury. And classmate Zak Irvin was back to show everyone that his end-of-year evolution from Just A Shooter to All Around Threat was real.

Sprinkle in a promising group of sophomores that included an eye-popping athlete in Aubrey Dawkins, a quiet but creative playground-style baller in Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and a promising big man on the rise in Ricky Doyle, and it looked as if the 2014-15 season could be just a blip on the timeline of a dominant five-year run for Michigan basketball.

Alas, sometimes the world of basketball is a cruel place.

Perhaps Irvin’s offseason back injury and ensuing surgery should have been a bigger omen than it was perceived to be at the time.

If that wasn’t, then a couple early drubbings at the hands of Xavier and UConn would prove to be all the foreboding necessary.

Sure, Michigan bounced back with an impressive win over Texas and managed to squeak into the NCAA Tournament with a few big time conference home wins and a heart-pounding win over Big Ten champion Indiana in the conference tournament – the season’s unquestionable highlight – but the season certainly didn’t meet some lofty expectations.

A nail-biter victory over Tulsa in the First Four of the Big Dance preceded a season-ending loss to Notre Dame that could not have been a better microcosm. After jumping out to a 12-point halftime lead behind crisp offense, hot shooting, and an efficient fast break attack, the Wolverines faded just as fast in the second stanza with defensive miscues, a brutal scoring drought, and a lack of a killer instinct.

UM BBall 2(MGoBlue.com)

Unfortunately, the team we all thought was going to help us forget last season ultimately became almost a mirror image of that group.

LeVert, an All-American candidate who looked every bit the part in the non-conference, went down at the end of Michigan’s first Big Ten game and missed all but 10 minutes of the rest of the season.

Albrecht, a vocal leader, an excellent passer, and a tremendous shooter, shut it down much earlier on after realizing that his hips had not healed nearly enough to allow him to play effectively or pain-free.

Walton remained healthy for the most part, and his three-point shooting returned to freshman form, but his tantalizing finishing ability from two seasons ago continued to lag behind all year without LeVert around to distract opposing defenses.

Irvin, a deadeye shooter just two seasons ago who blossomed into a big-time athlete and passer as a sophomore, started the season in a major funk and never fully developed into the go-to guy many expected. Certainly his offseason procedure didn’t help matters there, as his athleticism took a noticeable hit and his shooting became increasingly sporadic. After shooting 42.5 percent from deep as a freshman and 35.1 percent last season, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball failed to crack 30 percent by season’s end, while his free throw shooting followed the same mysterious downward spiral (71.4%, 68.9%, 65.8% year-to-year-to-year).

In turn, what everyone saw as a memorable season in waiting became a year that may soon be forgotten.

But it’s hard to put the disappointment on any one player or coach. Beilein was once again dealt a hand that few, if any, coaches around the country would have been able to compete with.

Think about it. Take two veterans – one the undisputable star player and another an ultra-reliable vocal leader, ball-handler, passer, shooter, and all-around charmer extraordinaire – away from any team in the country in a year dominated by upperclassmen and try to find one that marches on to the same beat. Many, I would venture to guess, would run straight into a brick wall while others would struggle to power their proverbial engine up the side of a mountain.

In many ways, the job that Beilein and these players did to even play their way into the Big Dance was remarkable. A team lacking its biggest sure things managed to take down the likes of Maryland and Purdue in the regular season before grinding out a win over the class of the Big Ten in a virtual road game. Sure, there were a number of losses mixed in, and many of them not pretty, but by season’s end, Michigan would have wins on its resume over three five seeds and a six seed.

Likewise, it’s hard to criticize a group of players that had to adapt to completely unfamiliar circumstances midway through the season. One day the do-it-all senior was there to carry the torch and the next day he was done. How do you adjust to losing a guy that leads the way in scoring, assisting, and rebounding overnight — the guy that runs the show and has the ball in his hands with the shot clock winding down?

Quite simply, you don’t.

Yet again, a promising year faded into a chorus of what-ifs. There’s no denying that it was a disappointing season in many ways, but there’s also no denying that much of it was out of the team’s power.

For better or worse, the group that ended this season together should be back almost in its entirety come fall. And while the what-ifs of this season pain Michigan fans now, they will eventually fade and make way for newfound excitement and frustration, more expectations and heartbreak, and more promise and surprise on the horizon.

‘Tis the game of college basketball.

The Far-off Season
Reasons for Optimism

1. Everyone is Back!
For those fans who think college basketball revolves around the freshmen sensations at Kentucky every year, take a look at the remaining 16 teams left in the Tournament today. Nearly every team relies on a junior or senior to be the key cog, or at least to be one of the prime performers. From Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden at Kansas to Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes at Virginia to Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige at North Carolina to Elgin Cook and Chris Boucher at Oregon (oh, those are all 1 seeds? interesting…), experience is the name of the game.

Experience has been a foreign concept to the past few Michigan squads until this last one, when much of the experience disappeared somewhere between a quarter and halfway through the year. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Wolverines figure to start all upperclassmen, including seniors in Walton and Irvin. And while the improvement hasn’t been as rapid as hoped in those two, I expect another leap.

For a couple quick examples, feel free to look at Denzel Valentine and Buddy Hield’s numbers over their first three seasons before emerging as the top Player of the Year candidates as seniors (hint: Hield has nearly doubled his free throw rate and 3pt% since his freshman season while Valentine went from shooting liability and turnover machine to…well, we all know how good he was this year). Rising junior Duncan Robinson should also figure to improve now that he has a full season of live ball under his belt at the highest level.

2. The Newbies
Michigan welcomes a four-man class in 2016 that includes an undersized point guard recently named Ohio Mr. Basketball (NO I AM NOT TRYING TO DRAW PARALLELS TO TREY BURKE), a lanky wing from Pickerington Central in Columbus who looks to do a bit of everything (NO I AM NOT TRYING TO DRAW PARALLELS TO CARIS LEVERT), and a pair of big men to add to the mix at arguably the weakest spot in the lineup (see? No parallels).

Xavier Simpson figures to back up Walton at the point and should add some creative scoring punch after averaging 27.2 points per game in high school (buoyed by a couple of ridiculous scoring nights) while Ibi Watson should be in the minutes mix on the wing. Bigs Austin Davis and Jon Teske are both probably a season away from getting big time minutes but will add competition down low. Teske in particular could develop into a nice rim protector not seen around Ann Arbor since Ekpe Udoh swatted anything within five feet of him.

3. A More Manageable Big Ten
The Big Ten should be strong as usual next season, but take a quick glance at some of the top teams and there’s reason to believe Michigan should be able to make up some ground. League champion Indiana loses Yogi Ferrell, Max Bielfeldt, and Nick Zeisloft (and possibly Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams as well); Michigan State waves goodbye to Valentine, Matt Costello, and Bryn Forbes; Maryland will see Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman depart (almost certainly along with Melo Trimble and Diamond Stone); Purdue graduates A.J. Hammons and Raphael Davis, etc. Yes, other players will also come and go, but there is rebuilding to be done in almost every Big Ten city but Ann Arbor.

Reasons for Pessimism

1. Everyone is Back
Sure everyone is back…but everyone is back from that. Will a team with ultimately the same core be able to make a big enough jump? Only time will tell, but there is certainly improvement needed in the offseason.

2. Defensive Woes
I’m not sure how Michigan’s defense will take a substantial step forward with all the same personnel and the same coaching staff short of a miracle. LeVert probably had the most potential on that end, and while I generally like Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s defensive skill set, there are still some giant holes that have no apparent quick fix.

3. Where is the Improvement?
Unfortunately, one could make an argument that Rahk and Mark Donnal were the only two Wolverines to take major steps forward. Arguments could be made that a handful of other players actually regressed (Irvin, Dawkins, Doyle) while some merely treaded water. If the team is going to improve greatly a season from now, the individuals on the team are going to need to improve along with it; unfortunately we don’t have too much to go off in that regard. The big man problem could be solved if Donnal continues to make strides and Moritz Wagner emerges as a consistent option as well, while there should be plenty of options on the wings to find serviceable parts.

A Couple Offseason Happenings to Make Note Of

1. On the way out?
With four freshmen coming in and only three scholarship spots opening up, someone is going to need to leave town to make room. I won’t speculate too much on individual players, but one might presume that a jumbled big man or wing rotation, declining minutes, and/or a sense of homesickness could influence a Wolverine or two to seek greener pastures.

Alternatively, Austin Davis could hypothetically take a prep year to even out the numbers, but I expect to see some attrition instead. To make things a bit more complicated, Spike is eligible for a medical redshirt and could also figure into scholarship discussions. If he and the coaching staff agree on his return, one fewer scholarship would be opening up.

2. A New Look Coaching Staff?
Some are calling for a shakeup in Beilein’s assistant coaching staff of Jeff Meyer, Lavall Jordan, and Bacari Alexander, and I think we will see some movement in that department – but not necessarily by way of firing. Meyer is approaching the end of his career and could foreseeably step down if he thought it was best for the team while Jordan and Alexander will certainly get looks from mid-majors looking to fill head coaching vacancies. My best bet would be that Bacari leaves for a head job while Jordan and Meyer remain – but that’s merely a guess. Regardless, if at least one assistant does not return, expect Beilein to scour the coaching ranks hard for a defensive-minded assistant.

3. Donnal Reclassifying?
Early on this past season, John Beilein abruptly changed Mark Donnal’s class standing from redshirt sophomore to true junior, meaning he was at the very least considering the Max Bielfeldt treatment for the third-year big that was struggling to meet expectations despite considerable opportunity. Just as abruptly, Donnal then emerged as Michigan’s no doubt top option at the five spot with a 26-point, nine-rebound, three-block performance at Illinois in the conference opener. And while Donnal’s head-scratching mistakes and mysterious aversion to dunking the ball did not fully disappear, he was a generally reliable finisher and rebounder throughout the season. As Brendan Quinn from MLive quipped a few weeks ago, I believe Donnal is due to be reclassified back to his redshirt status.

Michigan basketball season preview: Freshman D.J. Wilson

Monday, November 3rd, 2014


2014-BBall-FreshmanPreview-DJWilson

Michigan Basketball is right around the corner, and it’s time now to start looking at the new and returning Wolverines as we begin to preview the upcoming 2014-15 season. As in the past, we will begin by taking a look at the unknowns – the freshmen – and continue with position-by-position breakdowns featuring the rest of the squad and conclude with a complete season preview, including our picks for breakout players, team MVP, record, postseason finish, and more. Get excited!

Next up is freshman big man D.J. Wilson.
Previously: Ricky Doyle, Kameron Chatman

#5 D.J. Wilson
Measurements 6’9″, 220 7/18/14 Men's basketball promos
Hometown Sacramento, Calif.
High School Capital Christian HS
High School Stats (2013-14) 13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game
AAU Team Superstar
Projected Position(s) Wing Forward/Center
Committed Oct. 6, 2013
Major Suitors Gonzaga, California, Columbia, Boise State, Colorado, USC
Chance of Redshirt 0 percent
Recruiting Rankings
Rivals 4-star – Overall: 86
Scout 4-star – Overall: 69, Position: 14
ESPN 4-star – Overall: NR, Position: 41, State: 14, Grade: 75
247 3-star – Overall: 247, Position: 55, State: 23, Grade: 87
247 Composite 4-star – Overall: 123, Position: 32, State: 14

Background: It’s no secret that John Beilein has made a living recently off bringing in less highly touted players that he sees something in, coaching them up, inserting them into his system, and then watching their uncanny development lead to great team and individual success.

The list of these under-the-radar guys goes on and on, with players like Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Caris LeVert having made recruiting services eat their words. Perhaps next in line at Michigan is forward D.J. Wilson, who comes in with skills you don’t expect to see from someone who is 6’9″ with a 7’3″ wingspan.DJ Wilson

Behind every under-recruited player is usually a reason, however. For Wilson, it was as simple as growing too fast for his own good. After sprouting three inches before his junior year of high school ball, Wilson’s back literally broke on him, forcing him into a brace that stretched from below his waist all the way to his chest. The injury kept him out for AAU season and part of his junior year, and to make things even more iffy, Wilson’s Capital Christian School wasn’t giving him much exposure, with only about 400 kids in the entire school.

By the time Wilson was healed up and preparing for his final year of high school ball, many prospective colleges had already moved on. But an eye-opening game on the summer circuit in which Wilson scored 22 points and pulled in eight rebounds against 2015 5-star forward Ivan Rabb at a team camp at the University of California-Berkeley kept John Beilein and staff hot on the trail.

At the start of his senior year, Wilson received consecutive visits from Beilein, Jeff Meyer, LaVall Jordan, and Bacari Alexander. Other colleges were starting to sniff around again, and Wilson took official visits to Columbia and Gonzaga in late September before rewarding the Wolverines’ coaching staff’s dedication to him, and visiting Ann Arbor the weekend of October 4. Beilein extended a scholarship offer on that official visit and Wilson committed within a day.

Michigan was the biggest name recruiting Wilson to the end, but the lanky forward says it was his relationship with the coaching staff, Beilein’s history of developing under-recruited players into NBA draft picks, and an opportunity for early playing time that made the difference.

The opportunity is certainly there, and it’s Wilson’s for the taking. Will the big man prove Beilein’s diamond-in-the-rough radar accurate again? Only time will tell, but signs are pointing up.

Video:





What He Will Provide:

1. Versatility: When I asked Wilson at Media Day what he felt his biggest strength was, he immediately responded with “versatility”. Wilson has the size to play the four or the five position in Michigan’s offense, but also seems to have the handles, quickness and athleticism to play the three if needed. Beilein said that the coaching staff is still trying to see where Wilson fits best, but he mentioned that he thinks he’ll end up as a forward. Wilson himself thinks that his versatility will be key in exploiting mismatches on offense, where he could go against a guy three inches shorter and either post up or shoot over him without giving up anything on defense. Regardless of where he ends up fitting into this team’s plans, D.J. Wilson is already refining a solid all-around game and will provide a welcome movable piece on both sides of the floor. His shot is smooth, his athleticism is terrific for his size, and his basketball I.Q. has been praised by Beilein.

2. A Potential Shot-Blocking presence: Assistant Coach Bacari Alexander told me that he sees Wilson, Ricky Doyle, and Mark Donnal all as potential rim protectors for this floor, but it seems clear that Wilson’s combination of legitimate 6’9″ height (7’0″+ hair included), a 7’3″ wingspan, and plus-athleticism give him a head-start in that category. Beilein has yet to have a true post presence when it comes to rejecting shots, and Alexander himself admitted that all three freshmen still probably have quite a bit of learning to do before becoming bona fide Ekpe Udoh-types, but I like Wilson to have at least 10 multi-block games this season.

3. Stretching the D: Like Mark Donnal, part of D.J. Wilson’s intrigue comes from his ability to shoot from deep. Wilson mentioned at Media Day that right now he is more focused on improving in the post with BA coaching him up, but I suspect part of that has to do with an already established comfort level on the outside. The native Californian doesn’t get a ton of air under his feet when shooting, but with his size, length, and quick release, he more than makes up for it and looks fluid from beyond the arc and in the mid-range game. I’m still waiting to see Beilein deploy the pick-and-pop at Michigan and unleash the inner Kevin Pittsnogle of his current bigs, but something tells me I won’t be waiting much longer.

What He Will Have to Work On:

1. Strength: Wilson’s injury a couple years back probably didn’t help much in this department, and quick growth spurts in basketball players are generally paired with a lean body frame that needs work. That’s certainly the case with Wilson, who, though not overly skinny right now at 220 pounds, will look to add a solid 10 to 15 pounds of muscle before he’s able to compete and bang down low with the best big men college has to offer.

2. Back-to-the-Basket Game: Beilein has mentioned that D.J. Wilson could play center for a few minutes a game this season, especially in the case of injury or foul trouble, but if that is the case, Wilson will have to work on his post moves. His video showcases a strong face-up game for a big man and plenty of passing, dribbling, and driving, but rarely do you see Wilson turning his back and making fundamental moves to get easy layups. The caveat here, of course, is that Beilein rarely expects any of his players to back down defenders one-on-one, but it’d be nice to see Wilson continue to diversify his game at multiple positions after getting a strong grip on the offense.

Burning Question: Where will D.J. Wilson fit into the offense?

John Beilein flat-out admitted at Media Day that the staff is still very unsure of where to put Wilson to optimize his output, and with so many young players, those questions probably won’t go away tomorrow. If I had to guess right now, I think Kam Chatman will start at the four and just about split minutes with D.J. Wilson there, with the potential for a couple more minutes for Wilson at the center spot. Ultimately, Wilson should settle into the four spot nicely and provide depth at the three and five positions as well, but will he be able to grasp the intricacies of the offense enough early on to excel in multiple positions?

Stat Predictions: 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.0 assists, 1.0 turnovers, 48% FG, 38% 3pt., 75% FT, 25 minutes per game

Bottom Line: Wilson is going to be my pick for Freshman of the Year for Michigan, and I think he has the potential to develop into a very special player. His toolbox is absolutely packed and there appear to be very few glaring weaknesses in his game at this point despite flying under the radar out of high school. Wilson can score from anywhere on the floor, can rebound, block shots, and would be a major X-factor in a 1-3-1 defense. Look for a few monster dunks out of the freshman as he develops into the next unlikely pro prospect under Beilein.

Michigan basketball 2013-14 season preview

Friday, November 8th, 2013


(MGoBlue.com)

Six and a half years ago, an eternity for college athletics, Michigan announced the hiring of John Beilein from West Virginia. Beilein, whose father was a farmer and paper mill plant superintendent, made a name for himself with a unique system predicated on always having four players be a threat from three-point land.

Having coached at Canisius, Le Moyne, and Erie Community College, among other little-known schools, Beilein knew that he would have to devise some plan to be able to compete at the higher ranks. He was never going to get the best athletes or biggest players, so he had to continuously tweak his offense to make what he had work.

Somewhere along the way, Beilein was labled an offensive genius. Perhaps it was for the fact that he had never been an assistant coach in his life, or maybe it was his job in taking Canisius to the NCAA Tournament and winning a Tournament game as the head man at Richmond with a 14th-seeded team.

Wherever it came from, the mantra stuck through his time at West Virginia, where Beilein took the Mountaineers to the Elite Eight and the Sweet Sixteen with players that were simply not on the same level as the competition they consistently faced.

Beilein has built Michigan into a regular Big Ten title contender and national power (Brad Penner, USA Today Sports)

Eventually, Beilein’s success throughout the lower levels of coaching brought him to Ann Arbor and finally gave him the opportunity to show what his system could do with an equal playing field.

In his first year, competing with a team left over by Tommy Amaker, Beilein looked like he might have made a mistake. The Wolverines hobbled to a 10-22 record in the 2007-08 season and weren’t projected to do much better the next.

Soon, however, it seemed clear that Beilein had a plan. He led Michigan to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years with a squad picked by most to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten and upset the seventh-seeded Clemson Tigers in the first round.

Then, following another brutal year in 2009-10 in which Beilein’s preseason top-15 team flopped to a 15-17 record, question marks arose again.

With pressure mounting and Beilein’s first recruiting classes starting to mature, he made a move that would alter the course of Michigan basketball. John Beilein, a loyal and honest man if there ever was one, cleaned out his coaching staff, promoting Jeff Meyer permanently to assistant and hiring young guns Lavall Jordan and Bacari Alexander.

One season later, with his own coaches and his first Michigan team that featured only players that he had recruited, Beilein led the Wolverines back to the second round of the Big Dance.

Since then, he has not looked back.

Tonight, Beilein will watch as Michigan adds an NCAA Final Four banner to the rafters of the Crisler Center. He’ll reminisce of last season’s dream run one final time, he said, and then it’s back to work.

Coaching transitions are never easy, and Beilein’s rise to the top at Michigan certainly did not come without some low moments, but he showed his true talents last year.

Now, Beilein will look to prove himself once again with a clean slate. It won’t be as difficult as when he was competing with under-sized players or guys that he never recruited, but there will be plenty of challenges. Michigan will play at Duke and versus Arizona, two top-10 teams, along with a trip to a packed Puerto Rico Tip-off in the non-conference alone. The Big Ten also projects to be the strongest conference in the nation, with four teams in the preseason top 25 and a few middle-of-the-pack teams that should also contend for an NCAA berth.

This year’s Michigan team is bursting at the seams with potential, however, and though it will be different from any Beilein team of the past, it’s a safe bet that the offense will thrive with a few tweaks here and there.

McGary will start the season in street clothes with a back injury, but is in line for a huge season once healthy

The Wolverines do lose Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and a few senior leaders, but they also return five sophomores who made waves as the Fresh Five last season and add a few very talented freshmen.

Derrick Walton, who will be called upon to lead this Michigan team as a freshman, will never be the same player as Burke, but Beilein doesn’t need that. He will tinker with what he has until he finds the right system. There probably won’t be as many pick-and-roll actions at the top of the key, and the ball will not rest in the hands of one player as often as it did with Burke.

Instead, diversity and versatility will be the name of the game. Walton and Spike Albrecht will be called upon to handle the ball and find the scorers, of which there are many, but Michigan should be able to field adept lineups featuring anything from two point guards on the floor to nothing but 6’6 players and above.

That versatility is almost unfair when given to a coach with an offensive mind like Beilein’s.

Nonetheless, Michigan will not be perfect, and already there are questions emerging. Mitch McGary, Beilein’s best ever catch on the recruiting trail, has been hampered by a lower back condition for all of fall practice and will not play in tonight’s season opener. He may not be fully healthy all season long.

The question of youth is also an issue. Can Michigan really expect to compete in the Big Ten and in the NCAA Tournament with a team dominated by underclassmen?

But that is the nature of college basketball. If there were no uncertainty, there would be no fun.

At this juncture of the year, Michigan looks to be in great shape. Boasting arguably the best athlete and one of the best shooters in all of college basketball (Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas) along with a preseason AP All-American (McGary), two freshmen with great offensive and defensive prowess (Walton and Zak Irvin), a wildcard sophomore who seems worlds better than last year (Caris LeVert), and a pair of veteran big men who are leaders on and off the court (Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan), Beilein seems poised to bring his team back to the promised land.

The long journey of the college basketball season begins tonight, and many eyes will be on Ann Arbor.

Brace yourself, for it’s the best time of the year.

2013-14 Michigan basketball predictions
Top 5 Scorers
1. Glenn Robinson III 14.0
2. Nik Stauskas 13.5
3. Mitch McGary 12.0*
4. Zak Irvin 9.5
5. Caris LeVert 8.0
Top 5 Rebounders
1. Mitch McGary 9.5*
2. Glenn Robinson III 6.0
3. Jon Horford 4.0
4. Jordan Morgan 3.5
5. Nik Stauskas 3.5
Top 5 Assists
1. Derrick Walton, Jr. 4.0
2. Caris LeVert 3.0
3. Nik Stauskas 2.0
4. Spike Albrecht 1.5
5. Zak Irvin 1.5
Top 5 Field Goal Percentage Shooters
1. Mitch McGary
2. Jon Horford
3. Glenn Robinson III
4. Jordan Morgan
5. Spike Albrecht
Top 5 3-Point Percentage Shooters
1. Nik Stauskas
2. Spike Albrecht
3. Zak Irvin
4. Glenn Robinson III
5. Caris LeVert
Minute breakdown
1 – Walton (26), Albrecht (14)
2 – LeVert (25), Irvin (15)
3 – Stauskas (28), Robinson III (7), Irvin (5)
4 – Robinson III (33), McGary (7)*
5 – McGary (18)*, Horford (12), Morgan (10)
Superlatives
Most improved player Caris LeVert
Most valuable freshman Derrick Walton Jr.
Most valuable player Glenn Robinson III
Final record 30-7 (15-3 Big Ten)
Conference finish T1
Postseason NCAA Tournament, Elite Eight
*denotes projected stats when healthy