Andy Katz, Roster Composition and an East Coast Bias?

Dylan Burkhardt

Number 9

If you thought Andy Katz was crazy before, he’s not giving you any reason to change your mind. After early entries he has moved Michigan up to ninth in his latest preseason rankings.

The Wolverines make for a strong three-team race at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State and Purdue. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims decided to go back to Ann Arbor and weren’t tempted by false hope in the draft. As a result, Michigan should have its strongest team in years.

We should be good next year but I’m still not ready to put us close to the top 10. But hey, all those recruits that want to play for a top 10 team should commit now while Michigan still qualifies.

East Coast Bias?

I saw the idea of bias thrown around in the comments yesterday and apparently it comes from this tidbit from Brian over at MGoBlog.

I’m getting a little skeptical of these reports from NERR because identical ones are showing up at Scott Hazelton’s site. Hazelton runs a basketball school/camp sort of business and Smotrycz is a protégé. The glowing reports might not be 100% fair and balanced, then. Might want to scale those down to places where Smotrycz is not a titan astride basketball.

That’s not to say the last two weeks haven’t been very good for public perception of Smotrycz’s game: every national pundit who’s offered an opinion has been extremely positive, and most have brought him up apropos of nothing except his ability to ball.

I’m not sure what exactly Brian is thinking here but I want to make it clear that the reports are coming from New England Recruiting Report, NBE, Scout, and wherever else. They are not coming from Scott Hazelton. The Hazelton blog is essentially quoting people including Evan Daniels (, Reggie Rankin (ESPN), Clark Francis (Hoopscoop) among others who have seen the Mass Rivals play.

The one area where NERR and NBE might be a bit biased is in the sense that they probably are looking for Smotrycz before the national sites. They focus on the east coast so it’s only natural that they pay closer attention to the east coast kids. The bottom line is that these reports aren’t coming from an AAU or camp coach, they are coming from numerous scouting services. Because we have seen such similar reports coming from regional and national sites, I feel pretty comfortable with the reports that Smotrycz is playing exceptionally well.

Roster Composition

With Smotrycz in the fold and the news that the Regan recruitment appears to be cooling off I think it’s time to take another look at how the roster breaks down over the next few years.

2010-2011 — Sorted by Age
Guards (1/2): Laval Lucas-Perry (Jr.), Stuart Douglass (Jr.), Darius Morris (So.), Matt Vogrich (So.)
Wing (3): Manny Harris (Sr.), Zack Novak (Jr.)
Big Wing (4): Anthony Wright (Sr.), Blake McLimans (So.), Evan Smotrycz (Fr.)
Bigs (5): Ben Cronin (So.), Jordan Morgan (So.)

Manny Harris’ status is obviously up in the air which leaves a gaping hole on the wing. With two scholarships available, three if Manny leaves, it appears clear that at least one of those has to go to a wing. Because there are limited scholarships in the class of 2011 I think Michigan will stick to a three man class in 2010.

There are four big men tied up in the classes of 2009 and 2010 with McLimans, Smotrycz, Cronin, and Morgan. After following Will Regan’s play through the last high school season I am convinced that he is a very good prospect and will be a contributor somewhere. The math just doesn’t make sense to include him in this class. I think Michigan has to use their remaining two scholarships on back-court/wing players.

In the class of 2011 there are tons of talented in-state prospects. Big man Amir Williams has scouts drooling over his abilities and Carlton Brundidge can put points up in a hurry. With a three man class in 2010, Michigan will have two scholarships to give in 2011.

  • AC1997

    I’m really wondering where McLimans fits in the future of this team. We keep talking about how he’s probably 50-50 to redshirt next year. It doesn’t seem like both him and Morgan will play enough to burn both of their redshirts (barring a major injury to Sims or Gibson) so one of them redshirts.

    Let’s assume it is McLimans since he doens’t appear to have the physique to play in the B10 yet. If that’s the case, isn’t Smotrycz just a better version of McLimans? They’re essentially the same height, same build, and same type of player but Smotrycz is more talented at this point.

    So I could see McLimans being an end-of-the-bench type of guy that plays a few minutes in a back-up role throughout his career. We need those types of players and I realize that anything can happen when a guy gets to college (re: Novak), but it makes me wonder about our front-court of the future.

    Who knows – maybe we can play a front-court of McLimans/Smotrycz/Cronin in two years and have the best 1-3-1 defense ever!!! =)

  • Jay

    I agree with Katz, JB has maybe the best 1-2 punch in the big ten returning next year with a slew of underclassmen that seen alot of minutes last year. On top of that add in our class, and this team should have its hopes set on the top 15. Nobody is saying national championship, but this team last year was hands down on the cust of #20-30 last season. No departure of Manny or Peedi, UM should be alot better meaning top 15. Yes we lost leadership, but we didnt lose box score production.

  • bball

    hey everyone, its Craven Morehead! Thanks for bringing your douchebaggery over here and screwing up a perfectly good comments section! I sense a banhammer from here to go along with you exiled status at mgoblog will be forthcoming posthaste.

    On to the discussion, I’m all for optimism, but top ten is a little lofty. We had some luck on our side this year (see two 20point second half comebacks for one example). But I’ll buy a top 25 squad all day with improved shooting all over the place and a dominant duo tearing up lesser competition. The number of options for a third scorer stepping up on any given night goes from three (Douglas, Novak, LLP) to legitimately 5 or 6 or even 7 with an improved Ant Wright&Gibson as well as Vogrich (if he can produce like Stu or Novak) and Morris – who’s ranking seems to indicate he could impact much more than the two freshman this past year. Add in Cronin if we play a team full of pipsqueaks, and we’re loaded, man.

  • ypsituckyboy

    Best 1/2 punch in the Big Ten? I’m a huge Michigan fan, but I think I’d take Hummel/Johnson over Harris/Sims. What thinkest the rest of ye?

  • Ryan

    Ypsitucky – I would take Harris/Sims over Hummel/Johnson, but I would probably take Hummel/Johnson/Moore over any threesome we could put together.

  • UMDC

    With my maize and blue colored glasses firmly in place, I would not under any circumstances trade Hummel/Johnson for Harris/Sims.

  • Tweeter

    AGree with Ryan. I would take that threesome over anything that we can put out there right now, but I would take Harris and Sims over any other twosome.

    As to the Katz comment: I could see this team working their way into a top ten this year, but I would not put them there right now. People are downplaying the loss of Lee way too much. The guy was not the most talented player around, but the fact is that Michigan played markedly better with him in the lineup. That alone tells me that we need to be careful about projecting where this team will be. I personally believe that Morris will be solid next year and what the team will lose in terms of man to man defense from Lee’s departure, we will gain more on the offensive side of things plus added size to the 1-3-1. That said, lets wait and see what happens.

  • Kenny

    AC1997, I can see both Morgan and McLimans red-shirt next year as long as there is no major injuries and Cronin recovers well. for the latter, I would believe it is the case reading from regan’s recruitment.

    I do expect Gibson and Wright step up their games next season. Both had bright moments last season, especially in the last 3-4 games when they were given the chance to play. The rotation of Sims, Cronin, Gibson, Wright, Novak at 4/5 affords Morgan and McLimans to red-shirt.

  • Kenny

    I agree with Tweeter, Lee’s importance to this team is way underestimated by those who don’t follow this team closely. To compensate for the loss of Lee, LLP needs to step up his game.

  • Dave

    im very excited to see manny/llp/sims on the floor at the same time next year for many many minutes……….that is 3 very dangerous players capable of doing many things…..beilein im sure has had crucial meetings with llp and he will be working on many things over the summer…… more excited to see what he brings to the table next year more than anybody else (maybe morris)………..its going to be very interesting and intriguing to see how things play out

  • Jim

    Dylan, great stuff as usual! What’s the word on Cronin? Is he coming along well? Does it look like he’ll definitely be ready to play next year?

  • Joe

    Morgan won’t be redshirting.

  • GregGoBlue

    Harris/Sims/Puls. You heard it here first.

  • ToBlav

    We’ve gone from playing walk-ons who weren’t close to ready (Merrit and Lee before this year were playing like walk ons), to having the above discussion and nobody even mentions scholarship worthy Eso. Think about that. Beilein has done an amazing job to this point.

  • Tom Too

    I think how LLP comes to play, coupled with Morris’ play, will be the keys to next year. We know basically what everyone else will bring. Maybe Gibson staying off his butt after dunks will be crucial, as well.

  • gpsimms

    Will Michigan bring in 2 more even if Zeigler/Prather/McCallum all go somewhere else?

  • Ken in Vegas

    That’s a great question gp, and one I’ve been wondering about. I actually think that your scenario is the most likely situation, along with Moses committing to Indiana, so in that case it is a must that we sign Hardaway. Even that’s not a sure thing, so what would be our plan then? Maybe we would just save the scholarships. I would assume Eso would probably get one.

  • Sam

    Yeah, I hold similar questions as gpsimms here. Going after Zeigler, Prather, and McCallum is going to be a BIG time hit-or-miss situation. Luckily, I think Beilein has been doing a wonderful job of lining up plan-B type players in Dragicevich and Hardaway, Jr. along with possibly Morgan being available. At this point, let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  • gpsimms

    Yeah Ken, I always figured pulling 1/3 was ‘best case scenario,’ and we’d see some combination of Regan/Hardaway/Morgan…

    Now it seems like we’ve dropped Morgan and Regan, so it kind of seems to me Beilein’s decided we either get an elite, or we hold out for ’11.

    It’s a good thing we picked up Smot early, it seems like Beilein is not going to have any Ronald Coleman-esque classes, at least.

  • Adam VO

    Michigan preview on Goodman’s FoxSports blog. Not a whole lot of new info.

  • Ken in Vegas

    All I think about is sports, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been more excited for a basketball season then this. Too bad it’s so far away.

  • Don’t for get about Alex Dragicevich either. I think he’s still an option. Morgan says Indiana is leading, which is troubling with the connection with his dad, but I think Michigan is still involved there.