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Posts Tagged ‘Wings’

Tailgate Tuesday: Brazilian style protein

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016


Tailgate Tuesday is our weekly contribution from our resident pitmaster, Joe Pichey from GoBlueBBQ. These tailgate recipes will be posted each Tuesday throughout the football season and will feature a variety of appetizers, main courses, and sides to help you be the king of your next tailgate. Lane’s BBQ, a Bethlehem, Ga. based BBQ company, sponsors this season’s feature by providing their killer rubs and sauces for use in the recipes. Buy them here. In addition, Fogo Charcoal provides charcoal to use in each recipe. Buy it here.

Previous: Cedar planked scotch eggs, Pork tenderloin sliders with grilled cheese, Chicken street tacosSausage and cheese poppers, Tomato pie, smoked corn pudding, Maple planked salmon, Sous vide steak and burgers, Bacon cream cheese
Full Archive here.

I have found the ultimate grill toy. This is the accessory of all accessories. This is the SUPERMAN, BATMAN, and HULK of grilling toys, all combined into one backyard, tailgating beast of a grilling toy. It’s the Carson Rodizio Backyard Brazilian Rotisserie and it’s taking over the BBQ world. I love all my grilling gadgets and try to use them as much as I can, but this one gets me excited when I know I get to use it. I start planning on Monday for a Saturday cookout when I know this is coming out to play. If you love the Brazilian steakhouse experience, then you are going to love this and most likely order one as soon as you read this. Trust me, this is the toy to have for any grill in the backyard.


Almost anything you want to grill.


Skewer it, season it with Lane’s BBQ rub and sauce, light the Fogo Charcoal, turn on the rotisserie and SPIN. It’s really that easy.

I have not found much that you can’t cook on this thing. There are so many different skewers and attachments that you can cook anything from corn on the cob to lobster tails followed by glazed pineapples and shrimp skewers. This is a BEAST of a machine. I was lucky enough to cook with Blake Carson (the inventor of the Carson Rodizio) at the Big Green Egg Eggtoberfest in Atlanta last month. We were part of the national championship team and served nearly 5,000 hungry people. Everyone agreed that the Rodizio was the highlight of the show. This thing is built to cook on a charcoal grill, a gas grill, a Big Green Egg or other style commode cooker, and most other outdoor cookers. It’s extremely versatile and will impress your friends at the next backyard tailgate.


The Rodizio comes with six skewers that will hold anything you can imagine that needs skewering. My favorites include chicken wings covered with Lane’s BBQ One Legged Chicken Sauce and Sweet Heat or SPF 53 Rub. Sausages are also a huge hit at the tailgates. If you have a great steak laying around, just stick a skewer in it and start her spinning.

You can also toss on a few chunks of pork tenderloin and sprinkle them with parmesan cheese to get a crusty exterior. SOOOO JUICY!!!!


The juices dripping from meat cause a few flare ups that kiss the meat and add that nice char we all love so much. If you have a nice hunk of french bread, stick it on the top rack and watch her brown.

The controls allow you spin a varying speeds while the different sized skewers allow for a variance of meats and veggies. So far, the Lane’s BBQ spices and rubs have worked on any and all spinning goodies.

From bacon wrapped shrimp covered in Lane’s Sweet Heat to the pork belly charred over the Fogo coals for 45 minutes, the fun is endless. As are your options. On my most recent cook, I tossed a few potatoes seasoned with Lane’s SPF 53 and some olive oil into the tumbler. They were crispy within 30 minutes and had a smoky flavor that only an outdoor grill can impart.


Toss on a few folded bratwurst and watch the juices drip. These were sliced up and served on slider buns with ketchup, mayo and a slice of lettuce. So simple yet so tasty.

But my favorite of all time are the chicken wings, drenched with Lanes One Legged Chicken sauce and dusted with SPF 53 or the Sweet Heat. The edges are so crispy and the interior is juicy and tender.

This really is a must have for all backyard BBQ enthusiasts. Grab some wings, skewer ’em up, and yell GO BLUE at game time! Let me know when you do, and I’ll be right over.

Visit Carson Rodizio to purchase a Carson Rodizio Kit for your backyard grill. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Visit Lane’s BBQ to purchase their fantastic line of rubs and sauces. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Visit Fogo to purchase their premium lump charcoal. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, andInstagram.

After growing up in Michigan, Joe now lives in North Texas where he can barbecue year ’round. He cooks mostly on Big Green Eggs and some Webers and has competed in BGE competitions. When he’s not watching Michigan football, he also teaches BBQ classes at a local grilling store and does some catering. You can follow Joe on Twitter at @mmmgoblubbq and Instagram at @gobluebbq.

Michigan basketball 2015 season preview: D.J. Wilson

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

DJ Wilson(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

While we’re in the midst of football season – a season of rebirth and return of the Michigan of old – college basketball is surprisingly just around the corner. Michigan Basketball tips off their own season next week with a team that is looking to prove that last year’s mediocrity is firmly in the past. As usual, we will begin to preview the season looking at the newest and youngest players first before finishing with the seniors (they exist this year!).

#5 D.J. Wilson
Class Redshirt Freshman DJ Wilson headshot
Major Undecided
Measurements 6’10”, 240
Hometown Sacramento, Calif.
High School Capital Christian School
Position(s) Wing, Center
Committed Oct. 6, 2013
Fun Fact Has a 7’3″ wing span
Career Stats
Pts Reb Ast Stl TO Min FG% 3Pt% FT%
2014-15 0.4 1.2 0 0 0.2 4.8 25.0 0.0 0.0
Career 0.4 1.2 0 0 0.2 4.8 25.0 0.0 0.0

Last year’s preview

Career to Date: D.J. Wilson arrived in Ann Arbor last summer as a mostly unheralded freshman coming off of a back injury that slowed him during his high school years. During some scattered minutes on the floor in Michigan’s first five games, Wilson looked mostly like a clueless freshman on the floor, often running around like a headless chicken.

But there were some flashes of potential. Wilson’s impressive 7-foot-3 wingspan allowed him to get beat once or twice and still recover for a block, while his athleticism and shooting stroke turned some heads in practices and warmups.

Early on, however, Wilson suffered a knee injury that sealed his freshman year fate. If it wasn’t already clear before, the redshirt became imminently obvious within a couple games of Wilson riding the bench. The Sacramento native healed throughout the season and finished the year at full strength, but never saw the floor again after the Wolverine’s nailbiter loss to Villanova on November 25. He’d finish the season learning the offense and balling on the practice squad.

Wilson would go on to spend his summer in Ann Arbor training in the now-fabled Camp Sanderson and packing on muscle to his lanky frame. He reportedly gained nearly 25 pounds while adding a crazy seven inches to his vertical leap – all the more impressive considering Wilson was no slouch athletically, especially for his size.

Now, it’s time to see what the real D.J. Wilson can do. He’s received praise from a number of sources close to the team, including John Beilein himself, for making noticeable strides on the court while improving his body. Wilson was also the standout during an open practice on Monday night, showing off a nice bank shot from the elbow during fast break drills while knocking down a couple long shots and grabbing a few impressive rebounds during 5-on-5 scrimmage; nearly all his minutes came at the wing (4) position, but what stood out most was his comfort level in the flow of the game. Minutes will certainly be difficult to come by in a stacked rotation, but Wilson has the tools to earn them if he puts it all together.

What We Know

1. Wilson is versatile: Ask D.J. Wilson to describe his game, and the first thing he will say is that he likes to provide versatility. I don’t think I could come up with a better word myself. Wilson has a solid body for a big man but skills to thrive on the wing. He is quick enough to guard an opposing four but long and strong enough to pester a big man. His shot can stretch out to three-point land, but Wilson is also a terrific athlete for his size and should develop into a good finisher at the rim. During Monday’s scrimmage, Wilson played almost exclusively at the four position, which could be hugely important as Zak Irvin continues to recover from back surgery and projects to at least be limited for a couple weeks. D.J. didn’t disappoint. He looked confident with his outside shot and rarely hesitated – unlike early on last year – and his size really stood out. Wilson could also see time down low in a pinch, however, giving him a good chance to earn minutes regardless of the starting lineup and early rotation.

2. Oozes Potential: Athleticism can go a long way in basketball. That’s doubly true if you are 6-foot-10 with a head of hair measuring well over 7-foot and arms stretching 7-foot-3 across. That’s what D.J. Wilson is working with. And, oh yeah, he is also comfortable shooting from just about anywhere on the floor. Offensively, we’ve already discussed where Wilson could fit in – either at the four or the five slot – but defensively he could have even more potential. On Monday, Wilson played a few possessions at the top of a 1-3-1 zone. That is a hypothetically devastating change-of-pace defense considering opposing offenses also have five fewer seconds to work with on the shot clock this season. I truly think that D.J. Wilson has one of the highest ceilings on this Michigan team. He’s a gifted player that seems to be just figuring out his game; with Beilein, I think there’s a good chance that Wilson comes close to reaching his potential as a killer inside-out threat on offense and a shot-blocking/turnover-creating mad man on defense.

What We Don’t Know

1. So he has potential. Can he reach it? I keep using that word – potential. D.J. Wilson has a lot of it, but at this point, that’s about all he has too. Outside of one short practice open to the public, there are still plenty of questions concerning the redshirt freshman’s ability to fine-tune his play. Those concerns have to be exacerbated a bit considering just how lost Wilson looked on both ends of the floor early last year, but one would think a year of watching and learning will help him get acclimated on the floor and develop chemistry with his teammates. Still, in the end, Wilson needs to turn that potential into results.

2. Can he carve out a niche? Wilson will have opportunities to earn minutes, especially early on this season while Zak Irvin (and to a lesser extent as regards to its impact on Wilson’s minutes, Spike Albrecht) recovers from an offseason injury, but will he be able to seize them and carve out a reliable spot in the rotation? Based off his spot on the first team in Monday’s open practice, Wilson seems to be on the right track, but there is no shortage of talent on this roster and no lack of guys fighting for the same minutes. Wilson could even find himself in the starting lineup at the four if Irvin is not back yet (which seems pretty likely at this time). Kam Chatman, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner will also be vying for those minutes, however, and Beilein will be sure to experiment plenty while figuring out his best lineups and rotations throughout November. If Wilson slips up a couple times on the wing, those teammates will be happy to eat up the extra minutes. Luckily, Wilson’s versatility should give him a chance to earn minutes at the five as well, but Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal figure to feature prominently there too.

Burning Question: Has Wilson started to put the complete package together?

The athleticism has always been there, the size is now there, and the shooting and rebounding should be there too, but are the intangibles in place for Wilson to feature as a significant piece this season? It would be impressive to say the least for the once-lost freshman to earn a solid spot in the rotation in his second freshman season, and all signs point to that being a good possibility.

Favorite Big Ten Opponent: N/A

The Last Word: I was very high on Wilson’s game coming out of high school, and though maybe that wasn’t completely wrong, I was clearly off in my prediction that he would be a key piece as a true freshman. Somewhat luckily for my miserable guesses, however, Wilson really didn’t get the chance to fully showcase himself in a shortened year. I’m high on him again this year too, though, and think that D.J. Wilson’s court awareness should begin to match his burgeoning toolkit this season under John Beilein, Jeff Meyer, and Bacari Alexander. I think Wilson will earn a spot in the rotation backing up the four (and I will officially predict that he starts the season opener) even after Irvin’s full return while also seeing spot minutes at center. Wilson just has too many skills to keep off the floor entirely, and I think we’ll see plenty more flashes this go-round mixed in with a handful of head scratchers. Overall, Wilson will be solid – and as Marshawn Lynch knows, that’s a good thing.

Stat Predictions: 5.0 points (50.0 FG%, 35 3-PT%, 70 FT%), 3.0 rebounds, .5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks in 11 minutes per game.

Michigan basketball position preview: The wings

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014


As we edge toward Saturday’s season opener, let’s take a closer look at each of Michigan’s three position groups, starting today with the wings.

For all intents and purposes, John Beilein really operates his basketball teams with three positions – the point guard, the big men, and the wings. Positions 2 through 4 are very similar offensively and require many of the same actions on each possession. Wings in John Beilein’s offense are expected to be adequate ball handlers, good passers, and primetime shooters. Here are the players who will be seeing time at the wing this season:

The Starters

#21 Zak Irvin – 6’6″, 215 – Sophomore
2013-14 stats: 6.7 pts (43.4% FG, 42.5% 3pt, 71.4% FT), 1.3 reb, .4 ast, .4 TO, 15.4 min/game
Projected 2014-15 stats: 11.5 pts (46% FG, 41% 3pt, 75% FT), 4.2 reb, 1 ast, 1 TO, 33 min/game

Last year, Zak Irvin was about as much of a Just a Shooter as possible, with a full 74.5 percent of his attempts coming from behind the arc. He often looked uncomfortable putting the ball on the floor, and his slashing was almost non-existent. Over the offseason, however, Irvin remained dedicated to improving his game by staying in Ann Arbor over the summer, and the results are apparently already. The former Indiana Mr. Basketball reportedly increased his vertical leap by some five inches without hurting his outside shot, and showed that off last night.

In Italy, Irvin was on fire from downtown and led the team in scoring with a whopping 20.8 points per outing. Perhaps more impressively, he was also the second-leading rebounder on the team, hauling in 7.3 rebounds a game. His bounce and rebounding ability were both on full display in the team’s exhibition season opener in which Irvin slammed it home three times and pulled in an impressive five rebounds – something that will continue to be important given the team’s youth down low.

Going forward, Irvin will continue to work on becoming a threat to take it to the hole, but he doesn’t need to be a world-beater in that department for the Wolverines to thrive. If Irvin can knock down shots at a high clip again, finish in transition, compete for rebounds, and play solid defense, his job is more than accomplished. Look for him to have a very nice sophomore season, the season during which John Beilein likes to see his players make their biggest leaps (think Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert), while playing the bulk of the minutes at the 2 spot.

#23 Caris LeVert – 6’7″, 200 – Junior
2013-14 stats: 12.9 pts (43.9%FG, 40.8%3pt, 76.7%FT), 4.3 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.2 stl, .3 bl, 1.7 TO, 34 min/game
Projected 2014-15 stats: 15.5 pts (45%FG, 42%3pt, 81%FT), 5.1 reb, 4.5 sat, 1.5 stl, .4 bl, 1.5 TO, 35 min/game

There’s no doubt who this Michigan team’s star player is. That would be Caris LeVert, the 20-year-old who was all set to play at the mid-major level for Ohio University until then-coach John Groce left Athens for Champaign and chose to not bring LeVert with him. I guess Illinois’s loss is Michigan’s gain.

After an up-and-down freshman year that saw a young, gangly, skinny, and oft out-of-control LeVert go from surefire redshirt to inconsistent contributor on Michigan’s NCAA Runner-up team, the sophomore exploded onto the scene as a sophomore and played Robin to eventual lottery pick Nik Stauskas’s Batman.

Now, the reins are all his. LeVert has bulked up to a once-unimaginable 200 pounds and has as complete an offensive game as anyone in the country. Standing now at 6’7″ (will he ever stop growing?), LeVert should be Michigan’s go-to scorer from the wing and the secondary general to Derrick Walton. You’ll see plenty of pick-and-roll action drawn up for LeVert at the 3 position that Stauskas thrived in, and LeVert’s size, quickness, shiftiness, shooting, and passing ability make him a dangerous weapon off the curl. He will also be called upon to play solid perimeter defense, where his length and foot speed should lead to further improvements on that end of the floor.

The early returns for LeVert are very positive, after posting a team-high 16 points and six assists last night with only one turnover. What the stats don’t show, however, is the ease with which the veteran now operates. The Columbus, Ohio native was like a tub of Jell-O in human form when he arrived in Ann Arbor, sometimes to the point where it looked like he wasn’t even controlling his own extremities. Now, only two years later, LeVert plays with an air of cool and operates incredibly smoothly across the floor without comprising any of his quickness or shiftiness.

#3 Kameron Chatman – 6’7″, 210 – Freshman

For a complete look at Chatman, please see his freshman preview.

Kam Chatman arrived in Ann Arbor as one of the few players under John Beilein that chose Michigan over other top-ranked programs. That’s certainly no shot at Chatman; Beilein, after all, is highly selective when scouting high school players and considers off-the-court character perhaps more than any other coach in the country. It’s not Chatman’s fault that Beilein has consistently gotten the job done with more diamond-in-the-rough types.

Now Chatman has a chance to prove his high regard was not a fluke, and after immediately grading out as a rotation player under John Beilein and his assistants’ scouting, the Portland native looks to have locked up the starting 4 spot this season. In last night’s exhibition, Chatman appeared to be the most relaxed freshman on the court, and though his shot didn’t fall consistently (he air-balled two threes and swished another), his stat line was impressive: nine points, six rebounds (one offensive), four assists, and zero turnovers in 25 minutes. The freshman will still have plenty of learning to do and needs to find his stroke consistently as the season gets rolling, but he looks like a nice piece to the puzzle at this point.

The Bench

#2 Spike Albrecht – 5’11″, 175 – Junior
2013-14 stats: 3.3 pts (40.4% FG, 38.7% 3pt, 77.8% FT), 2 ast, 1.1 reb, .5 stl, .4 TO, 14.7 min/game
Projected 2014-15 stats: 5 pts (43.5% FG, 40% 3pt, 80% FT), 2.5 ast, 1.4 reb, .7 stl, .7 TO, 15 min/game

Let’s be clear on one thing: Spike Albrecht is a point guard. The only reason I am including him here is that John Beilein has said on many occasions leading up to this season that Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton will share the floor for some time every game. Last night, Albrecht played 20 minutes while Walton notched 21 of his own (and probably would have had a few more if not for a cramp), and they were both on the floor for approximately 3.5 minutes. During the season, I expect to see Walton running the point for around 32 minutes a night with Albrecht getting all the backup minutes there and another seven or so at the 2-spot.

Albrecht’s role is very clear on this team. Beilein wants him to shoot when he’s open, find the open man, and take care of the ball. Albrecht did those three things very well last season, and with another year of experience under his belt, I expect more (albeit small) improvements. He’s under-sized and not super athletic, as evidenced by his casual layup on a full breakaway last night, but Albrecht is usually very smart with the ball and is adept at finding the open man for the corner three.

#24 Aubrey Dawkins – 6’6″, 190 – Freshman

For a complete look at Dawkins, please see his freshman preview.

Aubrey Dawkins should provide a nice outside threat and the rare “wow” dunk in limited minutes this season at the 3 and 4 positions. He has all the tools to become a very good player down the line, but he’s at the wrong position to make a huge impact this season. Look for similar output to LeVert’s freshman year but in fewer minutes.

#5 D.J. Wilson – 6’9″, 220 – Freshman

For a complete look at Wilson, please see his freshman preview.

John Beilein has made it clear that his long, versatile freshman will end up as a wing forward down the line, and that’s where the majority of his minutes should come this season as well, but he’ll also spotlight at the 5-spot along with Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle.

Right now, Wilson looks more comfortable facing up on the wing, and he should see the majority of Chatman’s backup minutes there. His size and athleticism give him two valued assets defensively, and Wilson’s offensive range and driving ability will make him a very tough guard. His face-up game is in the mold of consensus All-American Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin, and his varied skillset make him a very intriguing prospect. Look for Wilson to see 10-15 minutes a night at the 4 and another 5-10 at the 5 position.

#12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 6’4″, 175 – Freshman

For a complete look at Abdur-Rahkman, please see his freshman preview.

Luckily for basketball writers covering Michigan, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman looks to be a year or two away from being a major contributor in Ann Arbor. His quickness and slashing ability give him a skill set that not many on this team possess, but Rahk still needs to get the offense down and finds himself behind the likes of Derrick Walton, Spike Albrecht, and Zak Irvin for minutes.

In looking at Rahk’s profile, one number should stick out too – 175. Despite being five full inches taller than Spike Albrecht, Abdur-Rahkman is the same exact weight. And Spike is no heavyweight. I don’t think Abdur-Rahkman will redshirt this season, as Beilein continues to talk as if all the freshmen will get their opportunities, but he certainly won’t find the court in every game, especially against early heavyweights like Syracuse and Arizona.

Minute Breakdown

2-spot (traditional shooting guard):
32 Zak Irvin
7 Spike Albrecht
1 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
3-spot (traditional small forward):
35 Caris LeVert
2 Aubrey Dawkins
2 Kameron Chatman
1 Zak Irvin
4-spot (traditional power forward):
25 Kameron Chatman
12 D.J. Wilson
3 Aubrey Dawkins

How Michigan’s wings performed relative to expectations

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Stauskas dunk vs MSU 2-23-14

Back in November, as the Michigan football team was limping through the conference schedule and many of the maize and blue faithful started to turn their hopes to the hardwood, Sam penned a preview of the basketball season, complete with team and player predictions. It was no easy task as the Wolverines were replacing Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Most anticipated a solid sophomore leap from Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, but Caris LeVert’s improvement turned out to be a pleasant surprise that no one saw coming.

Sam pegged Michigan to finish 30-7 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten, tying for the conference title and advancing to the Elite Eight. When the Wolverines started the season 6-4, it looked as if his predictions were way too optimistic. However, the young squad clicked and ran its way through the Big Ten, finishing 28-9 overall and 15-3 in the Big Ten. Instead of sharing the conference title, Michigan won it outright for the first time since 1986 and then advanced to the Elite Eight, falling just short of a return trip to the Final Four.

In addition to the team preview, Sam wrote a series of player previews: the wings, the big men, the point guards. He made his predictions for each player’s points, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, and minutes. Let’s take a look at how each player performed relative to Sam’s expectations. Today, we’re reflecting on the wings.

Nik Stauskas
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
Predicted 13.5 3.5 1.0 0.5 1.0 33.0
Actual 17.5 2.9 3.3 0.6 1.9 35.6
Difference +4.0 -0.6 +2.3 +0.1 +0.9 +2.6
2012-13 Difference +5.8 +0.7 +0.1     +18.5

Stauskas blowing kissesRecap: Michigan’s second consecutive Big  Ten Player of the Year, Stauskas exceeded nearly every expectation. As a freshman, he proved he could snipe from three-point range, but because of Burke and Hardaway, he wasn’t asked to do much more. With those two gone, however, he took over.

In Sam’s preview, he wrote, “The sophomore claims to have increased his vertical leap by some six inches while putting on 16 pounds of muscle without losing his surprising first-step burst and shooting stroke. If true, Stauskas will easily contend for scoring leader on the team and will again be a nightmare for opposing coaches.” Stauskas certainly looked and played the part.

Future: Stauskas declared his intentions to enter the NBA Draft last week, and while Michigan fans hate to see him go, virtually no one can blame him. His draft stock soared to a potential lottery pick, so there’s no use risking injury by spending another year in college at this point. His production will be tough to replace, but as Beilein proved this year replacing Burke and Hardaway, it’s not impossible.

Glenn Robinson III
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
Predicted 14.0 6.0 1.5 1.3 1.3 35.0
Actual 13.1 4.4 1.2 1.0 1.2 32.3
Difference -0.9 -1.6 -0.3 -0.3 -0.1 -2.7
2012-13 Difference 0.0 +0.9 -1.2 -0.2 +5.6

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at IllinoisRecap: Robinson was expected to be the team leader in the absence of Burke and Hardaway, but it was Stauskas that took on that role. Robinson was frustrating at times, but picked up his play over the last third of the season, playing his best ball down the stretch, scoring nearly a point more than his season-long average in the NCAA Tournament.

In his preview, Sam wrote, “The knock on Robinson all of last year was his lack of aggression and his inability to create for himself. And despite tying Stauskas as the third-leading scorer, Robinson always seemed to quietly go about his business throwing down alley oops and cleaning up a couple misses down low.

“This year, look for Robinson to make a little more noise, even if he isn’t scoring 20 points every night. As long as he can make defenses respect his shot and his slashing ability, he should highlight a team chock full of talented wings.”

For the most part, Robinson was still the player that quietly went about his business. He just did it a little bit better than last year.

Future: Like Stauskas, Robinson already announced his decision to enter the NBA Draft. Unlike Stauskas, this came as a surprise to many who thought he could use another year in college to prove he can be a go-to guy. His draft stock has hovered around the end of the first round based on his perceived potential. But that potential could also allow him to work his way up to a higher pick during pre-draft workouts.

Caris LeVert
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
Predicted 8.0 3.0 0.5 3.0 1.2 25.0
Actual 12.9 4.3 2.9 1.2 1.7 34.0
Difference +4.9 +1.3 +2.4 -1.8 +0.5 +9.0

LeVert vs OSU 3-15-14Recap: In his freshman campaign, LeVert was a string bean that came off the bench to provide solid defense for less than 11 minutes a game. He showed potential, but nobody saw the leap he made during his sophomore season coming. He was easily the most improved player on the team, raising his scoring average from 2.3 to 12.9, rebound average from 0.8 to 4.3, and assist average from 0.2 to 2.9.

In Sam’s preview, he wrote, “Last year was Caris’s opportunity to learn the game and Michigan’s style in spurts. This year, Beilein seems to think he’ll be playing so much that the bigger concern is going to be finding time to rest him.

“Most people would have been skeptical of that quote just before the summer, but after seeing LeVert dish out 10 assists in the first exhibition game and record 16 points in 28 minutes two nights ago, it’s clear that the Pickerington Central product is ready to shine.”

Shine he did, especially in games in which Stauskas was shut down. LeVert scored 24 against Duke, almost single-handedly keeping Michigan in the game, and had a four game stretch late in the conference schedule in which he scored 22, nine, 25, and 23.

Future: With Stauskas and Robinson gone and Mitch McGary still undecided, it’s now LeVert’s team. The lightly recruited, baby-faced kid from Columbus weighed making the jump to the next level as well, but elected to return. As the leading returning scorer, he’ll be tasked with the role of go-to man and try to become Michigan’s third straight Big Ten Player of the Year. If he shows even the slightest improvement throughout the offseason, that’s certainly a realistic possibility.

Zak Irvin
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
Predicted 9.5 3.0 1.5 1.0 1.5 21.0
Actual 6.7 1.3 0.3 0.2 0.4 15.4
Difference -2.8 -1.7 -1.2 -0.8 -1.1 -5.6

Zak Irvin vs NebraskaRecap: Irvin came in with a lot of potential, but it’s never easy to forecast the production of a freshman.

In Sam’s preview, he wrote, “For the freshman, it will be all about consistency this year. Irvin has all the tools to be a very good defender and a diverse scorer, but he needs to realize that Michigan has a bevy of riches on the offensive end and pick his spots wisely.”

In reality, LeVert’s progression from gangly defensive sub to a very good offensive threat probably limited Irvin’s production a bit, but that’s okay. Irvin was called upon to play a similar role to Stauskas last season: three-point sniper. The Fishers, Ind. native is capable of much more than that, and will be able to prove it next season, but was simply needed to knock down threes in 15 minutes a game. And he did just that, making 62, second only to Stauskas.

Future: Irvin will be tasked with making the sophomore leap next season. He’s in line for a starting role and will need to be much more than simply a three-point sniper. He has the game to do much more, but come November it will be time to prove it. He’ll need to raise his scoring average at least into double digits to make up for the production lost by the departures of Stauskas and Robinson.

Come back later this week for a look back at how the big men and the point guards performed relative to expectations.

Predicting Michigan: The wings

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

Michigan was led over the past two seasons by Trey Burke, a score-first point guard who quickly evolved from an unheralded Ohio Mr. Basketball winner to a top-10 NBA Draft pick. With Burke’s loss, and the loss of Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 14.5 points per game, head coach John Beilein will need to find a way to replace that scoring.

Instead of looking at the lost scoring as a problem, however, Beilein continues to view it as an opportunity for players to step up and lead the way. Burke and Hardaway combined to take more than 45 percent of Michigan’s field goals attempts a year ago and scored slightly less than 44 percent of Michigan’s points; if the 196 points scored over the course of two exhibition openers have been any indication, though, Michigan should be just fine in the scoring department.

But with a change at point guard to a freshman who will look to pass first, the Wolverines will rely heavily upon the 2, 3, and 4 wing positions to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Here’s how things will shake out:

Projected Starter: Nik Stauskas

Stauskas added some bulk in the offseason and is prime for a sophomore leap (

Stauskas is the wing player that Beilein has dreamed of having since first coming up with his unique system. The 6’6” Canadian is an absolute sniper from deep who can fire off his quick shot from just about anywhere on the court over anyone at any time. And while Stauskas did struggle a little bit later in Big Ten season and in a few NCAA Tournament games, an offseason spent in the weight room and on the half court in his backyard should pay big dividends.

The sophomore claims to have increased his vertical leap by some six inches while putting on 16 pounds of muscle without losing his surprising first-step burst and shooting stroke. If true, Stauskas will easily contend for scoring leader on the team and will again be a nightmare for opposing coaches.

Most players make their biggest overall jump forward in the transition from freshman to sophomore year, as the game slows down for them, coaching concepts are more easily absorbed, and the grind of the season is nothing new, and Stauskas should be no different.

For Stauskas, the offseason should have been a time to reflect on the past season and ensure consistent confidence in his stroke.

Beilein clearly loves a money shooter, and Stauskas should lead the team in three-point shooting percentage again (and this year I will not bet against him), but his driving ability could be the difference in Stauskas being a very good contributor and an All-Big Ten type.

A renewed focus on rebounding and defense will also be key if Stauskas is to make a splash on the national scene, and his increased measurements will be extremely beneficial there. In the first two exhibitions, he has also done a little bit of ball-handling, and while I don’t anticipate too much of that as the season goes on, versatility is always a good sign.

If Michigan is to make another run this year, Stauskas will be key. The minutes and the scoring will be there. Will everything else come together too?

Projected Stats – Stauskas
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
13.5 3.5 1.0 0.5 1.0 33.0
Career Stats
2012-13 11.0 3.0 1.3 0.6 1.1 30.5
46.3 FG%, 44.0 3pt%, 85.0 FT%
2013 NCAA Tournament Stats
2012-13 8.7 1.7 1.8 0.7 0.8 29.3
42.5 FG%, 37.5 3pt%, 75.0 FT%

Projected Starter: Caris LeVert

Caris LeVert came to Michigan as a gangly 6’5″ pole weighing about 170 pounds. Most people projected him to redshirt simply because he was too skinny to go through the grind of a college basketball season, but John Beilein and Co. saw something in him on the defensive end of the floor that was valuable enough to give the freshman from Columbus some minutes.

Beilein couldn't keep LeVert off the floor last season and he's in line for a huge leap this year (

In those spot minutes, LeVert was certainly no model of consistency. He was usually decent on defense, but he lacked coordination on the offensive end of the floor and was more often than not a liability. As a young freshman, he was not close to the level of readiness displayed by a few of his older freshmen teammates.

But LeVert gave it his all, knocked down a few shots, and turned heads with a solid eight-point, four-rebound, two-assist performance in 21 minutes against Syracuse in the Final Four.

A few months later, LeVert still looks the part of a young, skinny, maybe-not-ready-for-the-big-time college kid. Heck, he’s now even sporting braces.

On the court, though, some things have noticeably changed. Whereas LeVert often looked like a bowl of Jell-O contained in human form last year, the sophomore now looks calm and contained on the floor. Instead of his head seemingly whirling around at rapid speeds, LeVert clearly knows what’s going on this year. His shot has gained consistency and his body has gained some 20 pounds and one inch over the offseason.

The coaching staff has consistently raved about LeVert’s overall improvement and has praised his new-found pace. So while Stauskas’s improvements have yet to be on full display, LeVert is already clearly a far better player than his freshman self.

One more distinct advantage LeVert has in earning minutes is his length. Last year, defense got him on the floor. This year, his disruptive presence on that end should keep him on the floor. In fact, Beilein acknowledged as much after the preseason win over Wayne State.

“(LeVert) is gonna play a lot of minutes,” the head coach said.

Last year was Caris’s opportunity to learn the game and Michigan’s style in spurts. This year, Beilein seems to think he’ll be playing so much that the bigger concern is going to be finding time to rest him.

Most people would have been skeptical of that quote just before the summer, but after seeing LeVert dish out 10 assists in the first exhibition game and record 16 points in 28 minutes two nights ago, it’s clear that the Pickerington Central product is ready to shine.

Projected Stats – LeVert
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
8.0 3.0 0.5 3.0 1.2 25.0
Career Stats
2012-13 2.3 0.8 0.2 1.1 0.3 10.8
47.5 FG%, 54.3 3pt%, 83.3 FT%
2013 NCAA Tournament Stats
2012-13 1.3 0.7 0.2 1.3 0.7 8.0
72.2 FG%, 90.0 3pt%, 33.3 FT%

Projected Starter: Glenn Robinson III

There’s been a lot of talk ever since Michigan fans breathed a collective sigh of relief on April 18 – the day both Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary announced that they would return for their sophomore seasons in Ann Arbor – of Glenn Robinson sliding down to the three position and McGary moving to the more perimeter-oriented four spot. The idea behind these moves would be for both players to be able to showcase a more diverse skillset for NBA teams.

Robinson III came back for his sophomore season and could play himself into a high first round pick in next year's NBA draft (

Truthfully, though, I think John Beilein is going to do what is going to help Michigan win the most games, and right now, it seems that Michigan will operate better with Robinson at the four and one big down low. Perhaps things will change when McGary returns from his lower back injury, but that will be my assumption in the early going.

The good news for Robinson is that the two through four positions in Michigan’s offense are almost interchangeable. The difference, of course, comes defensively, but with Robinson’s chiseled 6’6”, 220-pound frame, manning up against the opposition shouldn’t be too difficult.

Regardless of what happens, Robinson will shine offensively. He made headlines recently when he maxed out Michigan’s vertical leap testing device at 12’3” and has already showcased a refined jumper and aggressiveness in the Wolverines’ two exhibition games that was rarely seen over the course of last season.

If LeVert has been crowned most improved already, Robinson is at least trailing closely behind. After an effortless 33-point outing against Concordia that saw the Indiana native score from all over the floor, Robinson poured in a quiet 15 against Wayne State on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and looked very good in making four of his five free throws.

The knock on Robinson all of last year was his lack of aggression and his inability to create for himself. And despite tying Stauskas as the third-leading scorer, Robinson always seemed to quietly go about his business throwing down alley oops and cleaning up a couple misses down low.

This year, look for Robinson to make a little more noise, even if he isn’t scoring 20 points every night. As long as he can make defenses respect his shot and his slashing ability, he should highlight a team chock full of talented wings.

Defensively, Robinson will also be called upon to mix it up with guys who can play inside and out, so his attention to the scouting report will be crucial, but his athleticism should make him, at the very least, an average defender.

Projected Stats – Robinson III
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
14.0 6.0 1.5 1.3 1.3 35.0
Career Stats
2012-13 11.0 5.4 1.0 1.1 0.8 33.6
57.2 FG%, 32.4 3pt%, 67.6 FT%
2013 NCAA Tournament Stats
2012-13 12.7 5.5 1.2 0.8 1.0 36.5
64.6 FG%, 33.3 3pt%, 76.9 FT%

Primary Back-up: Zak Irvin

The freshman out of Fishers, Indiana has already been profiled and talked about at length, but he will be the one spelling each wing position.

After struggling a little bit in the exhibition opener, Irvin got his feet under him against Wayne State and looked the part of a high-quality sixth man. With three straight first half threes and a couple pretty mid-range jumpers, Irvin’s shot looked much more fluid after just one game. A final tally of 13 points is surely something Michigan fans could get used to.

For the freshman, it will be all about consistency this year. Irvin has all the tools to be a very good defender and a diverse scorer, but he needs to realize that Michigan has a bevy of riches on the offensive end and pick his spots wisely.

His dribble-drive game already appears to be more advanced than Robinson’s and right there with that of Stauskas and LeVert, so it will be hard to keep him off the floor for long stretches.

Projected Stats – Irvin
Points Rebounds Assists Steals Turnovers Minutes
9.5 3.0 1.5 1.0 1.5 21.0

Bottom Line: Michigan’s team, as some vintage Beilein squads have done in the past, will rely on an offensively-gifted group of wings. With three returning sophomores that ooze potential and seem to have all taken their games to the next step over the offseason, the Michigan Wolverines should be just fine.

The big question will be how well the 6’6” projected starting trio can defend, but in most cases, they should be able to out-score the competition rather than look for the grind-it-out victories. With a pair of table setters running the floor, athleticism in bunches, and pure shooting strokes, Michigan’s wings are the real deal. Irvin, the Mr. Basketball of basketball-crazed Indiana, is merely the icing on the cake for what should be a powerhouse Maize and Blue unit.