Michigan Practice: Player Impressions


Photos from Michigan Basketball’s Facebook Page

I was on hand at Crisler Arena today to check out Michigan’s practice, which was open to the media.  Crisler was a hot box and while the player are used to it by now, the reporters certainly aren’t.  It was really valuable getting a look at some of the things they’re focusing on leading up to the trip to Europe and seeing how the freshmen are progressing. We’ll also have more video from practice as well as quotes from several players.

[More from practice: Beilein presser / Practice video part 1]

Player impressions

  • It’s become apparent that the two strongest leaders of the team are Zack Novak and Darius Morris.  I think all of the non-freshmen have been pushed into a leadership role because of how young the team is, but I think Novak and Morris are the ones to whom it comes naturally.  You could tell Novak was like that at times last year, and Darius has been dying to take over the role because that’s the role he’s always had as a point guard.  Say what you will about the talent, but those are a couple of strong leaders.
  • Blake McLimans is ready to play.  Jordan Morgan looked good and healthy as well, but McLimans looks really good.  He’s put on a ton of weight since he got here and he looks like he’s ready to compete in the post in the Big Ten.  He’s retained the excellent touch around the basket and the smooth jumper he arrived with, but his build is much stronger than where it was.
  • Colton Christian look like he can do a little more than just play defense and get rebounds.  He showed off a nice jumper and he’s real quick for his size.  He could do some slashing and he can play a lot of different positions, so he’ll get his opportunity.  He seems to have his mind set on doing more than garbage work as well.
  • I was impressed with Tim Hardaway, Jr. His shot is silky and he seemed to have a confidence on the court that most of the other freshmen didn’t have.  I didn’t realize how tall/long he was.  He’s going to be very useful on defense as well as on offense knocking down shots.  He’s also vocal and very supportive.
  • I went to see Jon Horford play last year for Grand Ledge, and the dude couldn’t keep his shorts up he was so skinny.  When I saw him today, he looked like he’d put on some weight, but he still has work to do.  He said he hasn’t put on as much as he would have liked but he’s still working.  He had some trouble during a post scoring drill where Ben Cronin would nail the post players with a big pad to simulate contact.  Matt Vogrich has gotten bigger as well and John Beilein said it has added a lot to his game and making his shot more consistent.
  • Evan Smotrycz is still slightly injured, but he seemed to be moving pretty well during drills and running sets.  His quickness isn’t all the way back, but his passing was good in sets and I think he’s definitely the most versatile player on the team.
  • SteinerBlue

    Thanks for the inside look at practice, Dylan. Excellent work. I’m really looking forward to see who emerges from among the young Wolverines.

  • Joe Joe Joe… Joe was at practice and this all his work.

  • jBdub

    Keep the content coming, guys. Love it. Speaking of such, any luck getting ahold of Costello regarding yesterday’s visit?

  • Mat

    Nice to hear some positive reviews. Perhaps this team will be a little better than most are expecting.

  • georgeesq.

    Horford would be the #1 candidate to red shirt, but Morgan and McLimans have stay healthy.

  • Kenny

    Does hardaway show any potential playing 1?

  • AG2

    I had a feeling there was some of Manny Harris in Tim Hardaway Jr. It will be good to have someone who can get to the rim when nobody’s shots are falling. Its also good to see the team get bigger this season.

    Its also very good to see this team receive some leadership. Here’s hoping everyone has bought in and is ready to play by November. You can’t expect much out of such a young team, but I’m still optimistic.

  • JB

    do people who’ve had a chance to watch these practices think hardaway has a good chance of starting? i know it’s early and hard to say based on limited drills/practices. as always great coverage.

  • Giddings

    As much as we all loved Manny and Peedi (and as important as they were to the team’s success the last few years), it seemed as if they were in their own world at times last year despite being counted on to unite the team and lead. Two years ago CJ and Dave devoted themselves to uniting the team and it worked wonders. Hopefully we see that from Darius and Zack this year…

  • Brick

    Hardaway is a 2/3 so there is no way he starts unless we start Novak at the 4. I think they really want to move Novak out of the 4 spot so he’s going to be the starting 3. Vogrich and Hardaway will get minutes backing up the 2 and the 3. Since Stu is the backup point guard, there will be more minutes at the 2 available when he’s playing point.

    I think the big question to be answered in Europe is what we are going to do with the 4. Most fans are handing the spot to Smotrycz but he’s going to have to earn it. Morgan is healthy enough to start at the 4 and Christian looks like he could be capable there as well.

  • aMaized

    C.Zeller down to 3 (no UM):

  • SteinerBlue

    My apologies to Joe on the oversight. I read and typed on the fly. My bad. Dylan gets no credit whatsoever, except that he pioneered and runs this great home for UM hoops info. :)

  • GregGoBlue

    news of McLimans’s progress is very exciting.

  • Charlie

    Thanks for the update. Like it was mentioned previously, nice to see some positives about the team :)

    What about Stu and Corey?

  • V.O.R.

    What type of injury does Evan have and what is the prognosis?

  • Brick

    Evan broke his pinkie toe playing wiffle ball (not kidding). He should be cleared for full court next week.

  • Ben

    Mgoblue Pictures..Colt 45 is RIPPED!

  • Encouraging. Would love it if Horford could redshirt, because I think he could be a serious player for us. Perhaps we’ll be better than advertised, but with job security in hand I hope Beilein feels he can think and plan long-term.

  • mitch

    Big year for Vogrich. I smell a transfer. Joe, how do you think he looked? Much improved? The same as last year?

  • Good report.
    What is Ben Cronin’s role with the team?

  • MGoBru

    Mitch – How do you smell a transfer? If his shot starts dropping he’ll get a shot out there.

  • ish

    does cronin’s roll with the team mean there’s a small chance he could return?

  • mitch

    I hope it does start dropping. He just disappointed me last season. I really hope he’s gotten stronger and gained some confidence.

  • Sam

    Cronin is apparently a student assistant. And no, there is no chance he could return.

  • James

    This team could be vastly improved defensively. Sims was a bad defender, Harris could rebound but lost focus way to much otherwise. There’s a decent chance that Hardaway and Smotrycz/McLimans/Christian will be a big improvement over those 2 guys defensively. Moving Novak to the 3 should help too.

    It will be interesting where the offense comes from. I would guess Hardaway Jr might be the #1 option considering how prolific he was in high school, but we’ll see. Replacing 35 ppg is not going to be an easy task.