Posts Tagged ‘Mark Donnal’

Michigan basketball 2013-14 season preview

Friday, November 8th, 2013


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)
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

Big Ten Basketball Media Day transcript: John Beilein

Thursday, October 31st, 2013


Big Ten Basketball Media Day is in full swing in downtown Chicago and each coach got a few minutes at the podium to speak to the media. Below is the transcript from Michigan head coach John Beilein.

In addition, Michigan was picked by the media to finish second in the Big Ten this season behind Michigan State and just ahead of Ohio State. Both Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III were selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team along with Gary Harris and Adreian Payne of Michigan State, Aaron Craft of Ohio State, and Tim Frazier of Penn State. Harris was selected as the preseason player of the year.

Opening statement

COACH BEILEIN: Good to get to this point of the year where we’re ready to start another season. I like my team. I like the way we practiced. Different format has allowed us to experiment with some things and give us a little bit more contact with the players, more access.

But it’s a long season and we still have a long ways to go, even to get ready for our first games let alone our conference season. But I do like our team. I like the way we’ve approached the preseason. But we have a lot of things to replace. We have five seniors that graduated last year that were incredible leaders for our team and sacrificed so much for the other guys.

Now you lose two guys to the first round of the NBA. There’s obviously some replacement to do. At the same time, there’s 25 or 30 shots out there. There’s another 80 minutes out there. I think our guys are embracing the opportunities that they have in front of them.

Q. Obviously recruiting is very accelerated, Coach, but how have you seen making it to a national championship affect recruiting since then, please?

COACH BEILEIN: That’s a common question. Recruiting is such a unique science to it. I think there’s been good things and I think it hasn’t made a difference in some other ways as well. Certainly I think we’re on a lot of people’s lists. At the same time, everybody has different reasons for choosing their next university, the university they’re going to go to. So I’ve seen some really good things, but at times it’s maybe not the right fit. So we just keep doing what we are doing.

The young men we did have in recruiting probably were not the Trey Burkes and the Tim Hardaways, weren’t on the top of anybody’s lists. There’s a lot of different ways to form a good team.

Q. The past few years you’ve been here, can you sense the target on Michigan getting bigger from the other Big Ten teams?

COACH BEILEIN: No, I don’t think about that at all. I think all the time that we are — we’re just trying to be the best that we can be. And we have enough things to do to grow our program right now let alone worry about any target on our back. We just keep playing and trying to improve and take each day trying to improve, really.

Q. There’s been a lot of discussion about Glenn perhaps changing positionally a little bit, moving more toward the perimeter. Is that happening? And, if so, how is his skill development affecting the process?

COACH BEILEIN: Really, last year he was not an inside player at all. So he’s been a perimeter the whole time. I think the biggest difference is what I just alluded to. There’s 80 more minutes and there’s a good 20 to 30 shots, scoring opportunities that Trey and Tim rightfully took upon themselves last year that are wide open. We want him to fill a lot of those opportunities, attacking from all different sides.

We can play big. We can play guards — all guards. We can do a lot of things. He’ll probably be on the floor no matter what we do.

Q. Regarding some of the new rules aimed toward decreasing the physicality of the game, the Big Ten’s a physical league, do you think the league’s in any way being targeted by those rules?

COACH BEILEIN: The people that have changed the rules over time have really had a good record at doing this. There’s some experimentation probably we would have preferred at times. But we led the country in not fouling last year. I think we were number one or number two in not fouling. So I don’t think there’s going to be a big change in how we coach.

And the block charge, I hope it simplifies things. I do not know that it does. We have to wait. And this is where I defer to the experts and say, okay, if they think it will work, they’ve done enough research on it, we just go and we adjust from there.

But we’ve had a scrimmage and inner squad scrimmage. I haven’t seen the difference, in particular, in how the game was called against us. And I think other teams have a drastic difference. But who knows.

Transcript provided by FastScripts by ASAP Sports, courtesy of the Big Ten

Michigan hoops preview: Concordia

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

The last time Michigan stepped on the court for game action it was playing for the national championship. Now, with the top two leading scorers in the NBA, Michigan returns to action against a fellow Ann Arbor university, Concordia. The Cardinals play in the NAIA and finished last season with a 14-17 record, 12-10 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. Here’s how their numbers compared to Michigan’s last season:

Michigan vs Concordia (exhibition) – Crisler Center – 7pm EST
75.2 Points/gm 73.8
(1,093-2,260) 48.4 Field Goal % 42.9 (793-1,847)
(296-769) 38.5 3-pt FG % 37.8 (224-593)
(450-642) 70.1 Free Throw % 69.5 (479-689)
11.5 FT Made/gm 15.4
35.0 Reb/gm 37.9
14.5 Assists/gm 12.1
9.4 Turnovers/gm 15.5
63.3 Points/gm 73.2
(941-2,221) 42.4 Field Goal % 43.5 (783-1,799)
(242-745) 32.5 3-pt FG % 35.5 (207-583)
32.1 Opp. Reb/gm 36.1
6.1 Steals/gm 6.3
2.8 Blocks/gm 2.2
Returning Leaders
Nik Stauskas (11.0), Glenn Robinson III (11.0) Points/gm Josh Fugate (13.4), John Schaeffer (15.9)
Mitch McGary (6.3), Glenn Robinson III (5.4) Reb/gm Jesse Schienke (4.9), Aaron Olsen (4.0)
*All stats from 2012-13 season

This season, the Cardinals were picked to finish eighth in the WHAC under new head coach Ricky Yahn, who played at Wheeling Jesuit University, the alma mater of John Beilein. Yahn served most recently as an assistant coach at George Mason last season and had stints at Cornell and Longwood before that. Concordia is his first head coaching stop.

The leading scorers from last season are back in senior John Schaeffer and junior Josh Fugate. Schaeffer, a 6-0, 170-pound guard, averaged 15.9 points per game a year ago, earning First Team All-WHAC honors. Fugate (6-2, 195) was second on the team with a scoring average of 13.4 points per game and earned Honorable Mention All-WHAC. Senior guard Andrew Patrick (8.9 points per game) is the other returning starter in the backcourt.

Senior forwards Jesse Schienke and Aaron Olsen were the team’s top two rebounders last season and both return. Schienke (6-7, 255) is the biggest player that sees much action for the Cardinals, while Olsen stands 6-5, 215. Lucky for them they don’t have to deal with Mitch McGary who is out with a back injury, but they will still have their hands full with Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford.

With one other exhibition game next Monday against Wayne State before officially opening the season ten days from now, look for Beilein to experiment with his lineups and get the freshmen quite a bit of playing time to see what they can do in certain situations. No matter who Michigan puts on the court, the Wolverines’ length, athleticism, and overall talent will be too much for Concordia to keep up with. Seeing the maize and blue back on the court will be a welcoming sight, but don’t expect much of a game.

Tickets are still available for as low as $5, so if you’re looking for something to do tonight consider heading over to Crisler. The game won’t be televised, but you can follow online via MGoBlue All-Access (subscription required) or listen on the IMG/Michigan Radio Network.

2013-14 Michigan basketball player preview: Mark Donnal

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

(Jeremy Wadsworth, The Blade)

Just as we did last year, we will kick off the basketball previews with a look at the incoming freshman class before analyzing the returning positional groups. With Michigan seemingly becoming a younger team each season under John Beilein as more and more players leave early for the pro ranks, freshmen will continue to be called upon to play minutes, and often in very important situations. Of the eight returning scholarship players, only Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are upperclassmen; the other six all sit with sophomore standing. It’s becoming commonplace across college basketball, and Michigan is no different. So without further ado, let’s begin with the least-highly ranked player in the 2013 Michigan basketball recruiting class.

#34 Mark Donnal
Measurements 6’9″, 230

Hometown Monclova, Ohio
High School Anthony Wayne High School
High School Stats (2012-13) 18.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
AAU Indiana Elite
Projected Position(s) Power Forward/Center
Committed June 15, 2011
Major Suitors Butler, Indiana, Purdue (no reported offers)
Chance of Redshirt 50 percent
Recruiting Rankings
Rivals 4-star – Overall: 111, Position: 24
Scout 4-star – Overall: 66, Position: 13
ESPN 4-star – Overall: 89, Position: 23, State: 4, Grade: 82
247 3-star – Overall: 147, Position: 37, State: 4
247 Composite 4-star – Overall: 86, Position: 18, State: 3

Background: Like many Michigan prospects in the John Beilein era, Mark Donnal flew under the radar and committed to the program he felt most comfortable with early in his high school career the day Beilein called with an offer. Following the pattern, Donnal was pretty much an unknown out of the Toledo area until receiving that Michigan offer on June 15, 2011 – the first day coaches were officially allowed to extend offers to the 2013 class – and proceeding to climb the rankings. It’s the same story that happened with Glenn Robinson III in last year’s class and many others before.

Donnal comes to Ann Arbor as an under the radar recruit (Andy Morrison, The Blade)

With Donnal, however, there were never any fireworks on the recruiting circuit. Few, if any, other schools came calling; perhaps they thought he was too much of a tweener or to slow to want or perhaps they simply knew Donnal had found the perfect fit for his game in Ann Arbor and would be wasting time in pursuit.

Only the baby-faced Donnal truly knows what his full recruiting story was, but his style of play certainly leads me to believe that any coach in the country would have been remiss to try to pull this kid out of Beilein’s grasp. Donnal was never the flashy type on the high school court, and his numbers don’t jump off the page, but his fundamentals are, oxymoronically, extremely exciting. Having been coached by Dan Dakich while on the AAU circuit with Indiana Elite, Donnal seems to have learned that style points don’t count in basketball, and his well-rounded game backs that up.

What Donnal will bring to the table is something that Beilein hasn’t had since his days at West Virginia. Inevitably when Beilein is mentioned to unfamiliar outsiders, the first thought is what they consider to be a quirky, heavy-shooting style of offense. The next thing that comes to mind would probably be something along the lines of, “He’s that guy that coaches that Pittsnogle guy.”

In Donnal are shades of that Pittsnogle guy. Standing at a legitimate 6’9″ and boasting a solid 230-pound frame, Donnal possesses a jumper that most guards dream of and a back-to-the-basket game reminiscent of Tyler Hansbrough. In one game I caught during his senior year, Donnal attacked from all over the court, pouring in 34 points on a variety of jumpers, inside moves, and thunderous dunks while also grabbing around 13 rebounds and swatting a shot.

When all is said and done, I think Donnal’s career is going to be an excellent one in Ann Arbor, with a strong chance of being the best player in this year’s class. The rankings might not reflect this philosophy, but the fact that the former Anthony Wayne big man was never talked about on the recruiting road is likely a big part of it.

This year, Donnal joins a packed front court, but I still think he will work his way in for some minutes here and there before taking on a much bigger role next year.


What He Will Provide:

  1. 1. Scoring Versatility: While last year’s freshman class was packed with guys who simply know how to put the ball in the bucket and this year’s class may be called upon to be more role players, Donnal can certainly score in a variety of ways. His pretty jump shot will keep defenders honest, but Donnal’s post and face-up games are also pretty advanced for an incoming freshman. In a couple years’ time, Donnal will be a player who has a shot from anywhere on the court, and while it might not always be finesse inside, he will develop the strength to challenge defenders. One thing coach Bacari Alexander will like right away is Donnal’s tendency to catch the post feed high and finish high without bringing the ball down, where it becomes vulnerable to defenders’ hands.
  2. 2. Stretching the Defense: If John Beilein coveted one skill over all others in his players, it would be the ability to space the floor and stretch the defense for easier looks. Rarely will you see more than one Wolverine on the court at a time who is not a threat from deep, and with Donnal in the rotation, Beilein will again have the ability to throw out at least four shooters and make the defense pick its poison. As I’ve said before, Donnal’s stroke is incredibly smooth and easily quick enough to get off over just about any defender. We’ve seen Michigan run more and more ball screens over the past few seasons, yet rarely have we seen the pick-and-pop. Donnal will change that in a hurry, something that certainly will have Michigan coaches salivating over.

    Donnal is a versatile scorer for a big man (Jeremy Wadsworth, The Blade)

  3. 3. Rebounding: It’s often very difficult to project rebounding success from the high school to the college level, and particularly in big men because of the relative size differential. Donnal, however, gets after it on the blocks and is already, according to freshman walk-on Cole McConnell, the best leaper in the freshman class. Combine plus athleticism, tenacity, and size and you have a formula for what should be a good rebounder down the line.

What He Will Have to Work On:

  1. 1. Defense: If there’s one area in which almost every freshman struggles, it’s on the defensive end of the court. Donnal doesn’t appear to be a noticeably poor defender, but it’s a safe bet that the big step up in competition from small town Ohio ball to Big Ten ball will open a few holes defensively in Donnal’s game. Donnal possesses solid size right now, but players like Adreian Payne and Adam Woodbury will cause some problems inside and quicker four men could be devastating early on.
  2. 2. Ball-handling: In my scouting of Donnal’s high school game, the big man did turn the ball over three times – two times he was completely pick-pocketed. For the four spot to be an option for Donnal, he will have to improve his handles and be comfortable putting the ball on the floor on occasion. Obviously very few big men can dribble and weave like point guards, but a certain level of competency is a must, especially in a Beilein offense that stresses protecting the rock.

Burning Question: Will Mark Donnal redshirt?

It’s a question that many big men have to deal with, and we’ve seen John Beilein’s staff go different ways on the topic before. Jordan Morgan redshirted as a freshman to add bulk and refine his skill set. Mitch McGary was clearly ready for the college game as a 20-year-old freshman, but he had his struggles as well. Blake McLimans and Max Bielfeldt also both redshirted, as did Jon Horford (due to injury). Guards are usually more college-ready and are less likely to redshirt, but I don’t think Donnal will redshirt because of a raw or lacking skill set.

The reason many project him to sit out this season is the jam-packed front court. With a returning All-American in Mitch McGary and a redshirt senior, junior, and sophomore in Morgan, Horford, and Bielfeldt, respectively, there are a lot of bodies to throw around in the post. More and more, however, people are talking about Glenn Robinson III sliding to the three position and McGary playing the majority of his minutes at the four, as both stated among their desires in returning for another season.

If Beilein sees that as a viable option, lots more minutes instantly become available at the four and five spots – both of which Donnal should be able to back up. If that truly is the case, I think Donnal will beat out Bielfeldt for spot minutes.

Projected Stats: 1.2 points, 1 rebound, 0.5 assists in 7 minutes per game

An interview with 2013 hoops commit Zak Irvin

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I recently had the pleasure to talk with Zak Irvin, one of the crown jewels of Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class, about the season that just ended, what his plans are for this summer, a little bit of Twitter fun with an old teammate, and much more.

Irvin was recently selected as Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award recipient, becoming the first ever Michigan signee to win the highly-coveted award. He follows last year’s Indiana Mr. Basketball winner, Gary Harris, to the state of Michigan and to the Big Ten, but looks to be his rival on the court next year should Harris return to East Lansing. Here is what Zak had to say:

Maize & Go Blue: First things first. Obviously Michigan’s season just ended in the National Championship game on Monday, but give me your thoughts on the year they had?

Zak Irvin: You know, I thought they had a great year, had a great start and ended up being the (second-to) last team left. When they got a four-seed, a lot of people didn’t think they’d go as far as they did, but they made a nice run. Overall they had a great season.

M&GB: Do you think the team’s success this season adds any pressure for you guys coming in next year?

Irvin: You know, I think it does. Them going to the national championship puts a target on our back, but I think we’ll be ready and we’ll play great together next year.

M&GB: You were in Atlanta last weekend along with Derrick Walton for a high school three-point contest. How did things go there?

Irvin: I definitely had a lot of fun, especially with Derrick as my roommate and who will be my teammate next year. There were a lot of great shooters there and we all had a great time. (Neither Zak nor Derrick won the contest, however.)

M&GB: Did you and Derrick talk about next season at all or meet up with Mark Donnal?

Irvin: No, I didn’t see Mark, but me and Derrick are always talking about next year together.

M&GB: Were you able to stay down in Atlanta for the Final Four games?

Irvin: No, I came home Saturday morning.

M&GB: Have you seen Austin Hatch at all recently?

Irvin: The last time I saw him was at the Michigan-IU game. It was great to see him cause I don’t get to see him that often, but we are real close with each other.

M&GB: A few players on this year’s team, notably Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary, and other Big Ten teams, including your former teammate Gary Harris, have big decisions to make regarding their future careers. How do their decisions impact you and next year’s team?

Irvin: Just from playing with Gary three years in high school it definitely impacts me a lot, he really helped me to improve as a basketball player. Just watching Trey, Tim, and Mitch I just see myself, envision myself like them. I watch them and I’m just going to play hard and be the best that I can.

M&GB: Your own season ended with an early exit in the Indiana state playoffs to North Central, but how did you feel you played as a team and individually?

Irvin: As a team, we had a great regular season, finishing 17-4 when a lot of people didn’t expect that because Gary left. For myself, I received the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball awards so I thought I had a great year.

M&GB: What were your final numbers on the season?

Irvin: I averaged 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.

M&GB: You mentioned that you won Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award last week. Over the last seven years, the winners of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award have been Greg Oden, Eric Gordon, Tyler Zeller, Jordan Hulls, Deshaun Thomas, Cody Zeller, and Gary Harris. What does it feel like to be in the company of such great college and NBA players?

Irvin: It’s an honor just to have my name in the same category as those players. I’ve been blessed that all the hard work I’ve put in is paying off.

M&GB: When will you be moving up to Ann Arbor for summer classes and summer ball?

Irvin: I have to be in Ann Arbor on June 22.

M&GB: Do you have any plans as to what you want to study at Michigan yet?

Irvin: I want to study something with business, so I think maybe Sports Management.

M&GB: Have any of the Michigan coaches been in contact with you since Monday?

Irvin: No, I haven’t talked to any of them since then.

M&GB: What have the Michigan coaches told you to work on individually this summer as you prepare for college basketball?

Irvin: Definitely getting stronger because Big Ten basketball is so physical, so that’s a key thing I’m working on, just getting stronger in the weight room, and I’m always working on ball handling and shooting.

M&GB: What would you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of your game right now?

Irvin: I’d say my biggest strength is being able to mix it up, I can shoot a jump shot or take it to the hole. My weakness was getting down when a game is not going well, but my senior year I really worked on keeping a level head no matter what and really improved that my senior year.

M&GB: Lastly, what played the biggest factor in your commitment back in 2011 to play at Michigan?

Irvin: The coaching staff. The first time I stepped on campus the coaches made it known that I was a priority at the University of Michigan and I just have a great relationship with all the coaches there.

M&GB: Can you tell us about that picture of Gary Harris that surfaced on twitter of him wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt?

Irvin: (Laughs) As a matter of fact I was just talking with him about that a couple hours ago but that was from last year. When Michigan played Michigan State we had a bet that whichever team won, the loser had to wear that team’s shirt to school the next day, and Michigan won so Gary had to wear a Michigan t-shirt all the next day.

Scouting Files: 2013 hoops commit Mark Donnal

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Class of 2013 Mark Donnal | Wayne HS – Monclavia, Ohio | 6’9″, 200 | F

On Friday night, Sam had a chance to watch 2013 Michigan commit Mark Donnal play for Anthony Wayne (Ohio) against Maumee. Here is his evaluation of the recruit Michigan will be getting next season.


Strengths: If Nik Stauskas is the wing shooter that John Beilein craves in his offense, Mark Donnal is the stretch four/five man that the coach is drooling over. Donnal is listed at 6’10″ right now but is closer to 6′8″ with a body that is nearing college-ready. His arms are not extremely long, but he has the length to be a good defender and an adept blocker, and showed that with one huge rejection in the second half. And while Donnal is probably facing guys that are giving up four to five inches night in and night out, Maumee fans wore t-shirts reading “Three 6’6″ Mafia” to acknowledge the trio of 6’6″ big men on the Panthers’ roster.

The Three 6’6″ Mafia’s size, however, was simply no match for Donnal’s inside-out game. The 2013 Michigan signee did the majority of his damage down low early on, posting up in the heart of Maumee’s 2-3 zone and showcasing an array of moves to lead his team to a 34-21 halftime lead with 18 points and eight rebounds. His inside go-to move was a post catch with a quick spin to his right and easy finish on the left hand side of the bucket using nice touch off the glass. He also had one very nice spin to his left that resulted in a beautiful fade-away swish from the elbow. If Donnal can consistently make the shot, he will be nearly unstoppable regardless of who is guarding him.

Mark Donnal (photo by Sean Work, The Blade)

Donnal also proved that he has the muscle to finish through contact and was very comfortable from the free throw line, making six of his seven attempts there despite constant jeers of “OVERRATED” coming from the small contingent of Maumee students that made the trip to Whitehouse, Ohio. By the time it was clear that Donnal would not be stopped, the Maumee cheers turned into “UNDERRATED” chants from Anthony Wayne’s student section, and rightfully so. Donnal missed his only three-point look in the first half, content to do his work in the post, but as Maumee continued to pack in the lane in an attempt to stop him, Donnal simply slid outside and showcased the three-point shot that undoubtedly sparked Beilein’s interest in the first place.

Big men aren’t usually adept from beyond the arc, and even when they are, their shots are generally not pretty. That is simply not the case with Donnal, however, as his smooth stroke looks like that of a guard’s. His catch-and-release shot is very quick, he gets plenty of air under his feet when he shoots, and his shooting motion is as pure as I’ve ever seen from a big man. With the pick-and-roll featuring so prominently in Beilein’s offense these days, expect Donnal to be involved heavily in pick-and-pop actions, which are so difficult to defend with a big man that can shoot.

His athleticism was also on display in the second half when he threw down two rim-rattling alley-oops and then had a beautiful drive and monstrous dunk late in the game that left the whole backboard shaking until Anthony Wayne regained possession on the other end. Donnal is certainly not a great athlete, but he has enough bounce to scare you. He also runs the floor well and has great hands in transition, but his speed will never be a huge asset.

Along with his overall scoring touch, Donnal did a great job gaining inside position when shots went up on the defensive end and showcased a soft pair of hands, cleaning up every board that was within his vicinity. He wasn’t overly aggressive on the offensive glass, but his defensive rebounding was very advanced. On a couple occasions, Donnal also showed off some nice handles for a big man and even tried leading the break once or twice a la Mitch McGary, but stopped that when he turned it over one time and heard it from his coach.

Donnal’s court vision was another plus, as he was able to find the open man on the perimeter on a couple occasions when the inside was congested, leading to a couple assists. He was also featured prominently in the press-break late when his team was struggling to get the ball over half court. He used his vision and height to make a couple very nice outlet passes that led to easy press breaks.


Weaknesses: It is really tough to find any weaknesses in Donnal’s offensive game at this point. Three of his six misses were from deep, and one of those was a half-court heave at the buzzer. Every shot he took looked like it was going in, and most did.

Donnal is rated 99th nationally by ESPN and 107th by Rivals

The biggest thing Donnal will have to improve on-court is his defense. He never stood out as a defensive liability on Friday night, but he didn’t show the aggressiveness I would have loved to see on that end and only recorded one block. Donnal mostly sat at the bottom of Anthony Wayne’s 2-3 zone and was rarely challenged inside, but there were a couple occasions where his feet plodded and he was blown by or shot over by smaller guys. He didn’t record a single foul in the game, which shows me that he needs to be a little more assertive in going for blocks when he can.

There were also a couple of decision-making gaffes that Donnal will have to improve on in college. He turned the ball over three times in this game and will need to know when he can make the fancy pass or lead the fast break and when to slow things down, all which are easily taught.


Outlook: Donnal will arrive in Ann Arbor this summer welcomed by a jam-packed front court that already features Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford, and Max Bielfeldt. There is no question that Donnal brings a unique skill set into the equation, and one that especially Beilein covets, but at this point I would guess he redshirts to have a full year of college under his belt. It’s entirely possible that Donnal could work his way into the rotation, but a year in the weight room and practicing against experienced big men could do wonders for his game on both ends of the floor. After that redshirt year, Morgan will be gone, McGary could very well have developed enough to leave early, and Horford and Bielfeldt will be a redshirt senior and a redshirt junior, respectively. Donnal should really be able to work his way into the lineup at that point and should be the starting four or five (depending on who else Michigan signs) by the time his third year rolls around, at which point I expect him to be one of Michigan’s leading scorers and a force in the Big Ten.