2010-11 Player Profile: Stu Douglass

Michigan guard Stu Douglass (#1) plays for Michigan against Ohio State at Crisler Arena on Sunday, January 3, 2010. The Wolverines won 73-64. (ARIEL BOND/Daily)

Last year, Stu Douglass was one of a trio of supposed shooters for Michigan who couldn’t seem to put the ball in the basket from deep. Douglass, Manny Harris and Zack Novak were three players who certainly should have been able to fill it up but for whatever reason posted 3-point field goal percentages that hovered around 30 percent. For Manny, it was mostly his hamstring. For Novak, it’s appeared that he was tiring himself out boxing out and defending players much bigger than him. The jury is still out on Douglass, who shot 32.9% from three, and the key to his season will be whether or not he can turn it around from long range.

One issue that contributed to his poor shooting was the fact that Douglass was forced to play point guard for long stretches. Darius Morris was expected to take a strangle hold on the point guard spot as a freshman and allow Stu to play his naturally off guard role but two things became clear very early on: Morris was really the only point guard on the roster and he wasn’t ready to play 30+ minutes per game. This forced Douglass to play a lot of minutes at the point guard position. His function on this team should be primarily to catch and shoot, which is why it’s so imperative that he starts making those open 3’s he couldn’t knock down last year, but it also looks like he’ll still back up the point guard slot as well.

John Beilein said at Michigan media day that Douglass would be battling Morris for the starting point guard spot, but if the exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State is any indication, we will likely see Stu at both the one and two. It’s safe to say that if Darius continues to play as well as he reportedly has in practice, the starting point guard job is his. Zack Novak looks like he’ll be primarily playing the 2-guard, and he is likely to play significant minutes. The lineups are fluid right now but Stu played some point guard and some two guard in his 21 minutes during Michigan’s exhibition game versus Saginaw Valley.

20091209_Stu_Douglass[1]

Reasons To Be Excited

  • Experience: Stu has experienced a lot in two years, from coming out of nowhere to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009 to being a part of one of the most disappointing teams in the country in 2010. This experience will help he and Novak develop into the leaders of the team, a role they will be given by necessity.
  • Shooting: Despite last year’s struggles, Douglass is still a good shooter. Even last year he had his moments (six 3-pointers against Coppin State, five threes versus OSU in the BTT, four threes at IU, etc), and when he gets hot from beyond the arc he’s someone every team has to account for. He just needs to be less streaky and more consistent.
  • Turnovers: Or rather, lack thereof. Douglass had the third-best turnover rate on the team last year at 15.6%, behind only Zack Novak and DeShawn Sims, despite being a primary ball handler. For comparison, Darius Morris’ turnover rate last year was 27%. Darius has matured, but it’s nice knowing Michigan has a reliable, sure-handed option at point guard if things get out of control.

Reasons To Worry

  • Shooting: I know this was also a strength, but despite Douglass’ rep as a shooter, and how smooth his jump shot is, he has never had a truly reliable shooting season at Michigan. Last year’s 32.9% from three wasn’t great, and the 33.5% he shot his freshman year wasn’t much better. While a shooter like Stu should be able to turn it around, it will definitely be something to worry about if he starts the season off slow.
  • On-The-Ball Defense: Stu has improved greatly in this regard, but still struggles to stay in front of quicker guards on the defensive end. Michigan doesn’t have a true defensive stopper so Douglass will likely be forced into some tough defensive match-ups this year, where he has shown he has battled. To his credit, heis one of the best off-ball defenders on Michigan’s roster and has done a terrific job fighting through screens and sticking with shooters.
  • Playing Time/Role: If Darius is more effective at the point guard spot and Novak plays significant time at the two guard – where does Stu find minutes? The most likely option at this point appears to be 20-25 minutes backing up both Morris and Novak. Matt Vogrich also has the potential to play the two (as well as the three) and could also cut into Douglass’ minutes.

Outlook

Stu Douglass will be at his best as a catch-and-shoot guy when he’s on the court. In the exhibition game he showed flashes of taking the ball to the hoop, but it remains to be seen if he can do this against higher level competition. His role should be primarily shooting and now that Darius seems to be taking over at point guard, there’s reason to believe he’s moving back into that role. The only issue is whether or not his shot will follow him there. If it does, you’re looking at a very productive season. If it doesn’t, well, then you’re looking at last season but without all the starts at point guard.

Ideally, Douglass will play significantly less than last year’s 33 minutes per game, allowing him to fill his role and hit a few three point shots. He will spell Darius at point guard, where he’ll be what he was last year: a sure-handed guard who knows the offense inside and out but most likely won’t create much off the dribble or create a lot of offense for others. But for the vast majority of his minutes, he should be looking for his shot and little else.

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Not the finest moment for the website, which has unfortunately been swayed into the anti-Stu crowd. Stu got more easy buckets for other players in the exhibition game than anyone else — drive and dish to Morgan, entry pass to Horford, etc. He’s the best perimeter defender on the team, best lateral movement ability. Look for Stu to shoot high 30’s from distance, be the backcourt do-it-all guy, and outperform the naysayers once again.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    If Stu shoots in the high 30s from distance, he’ll be a very valuable asset. When you say do-it-all guy, I agree because he’ll likely play the one and two. I also wouldn’t necessarily call this a “nay-saying” post. Joe wrote this but I think in the past I’ve been ripped for being overly supportive of Stu as well. :-) You can’t win.

  • georgeesq.

    I don’t agree that on the ball defense is a problem for Stu. I think that he had greatly improved on that last season, and should be even better this season.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    georgeesq: I agree that he’s improved but I still think there is an issue… Can he guard a guy like Will Buford? E’twaun Moore? Keith Appling? There are some big time two guards in this league that I don’t know if you want to match him up with.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Very fair analysis. Stu is certainly not a terrific defender, not sure where these comments are coming from. Stu has shown progress of being able to create shots and make some nice entry passes, but the bottom line is his ceiling just isn’t very high. And if he can’t at least contribute with hitting 3s then his impacts are going to be minimal (regardless of whether his minutes are).

  • georgeesq.

    Can anybody stay in front of those guys consistently? I’m not sure what people expect. I mean, who has shut down Moore one on one? To really contain the best players, you need to play solid help defense and rotate. Stu plays smart and plays his angles well. He moves his feet and does as good a job as anyone of staying in front of his man.

  • Tom_McC

    It comes down to expectations…I think people have heaped far too much expectation on Stu given what he is and what he’s been asked to do.

    I think we forget…Stu was a Sophomore last year. Not only was he a So., he was asked to fill a role that was something he’d never done before. All things considered, I give Stu credit for hanging in there and doing his job, even if he had his struggles shooting the ball.

    Stu seems to be a pretty convenient scapegoat and while he certainly has culpability in what transpired last season, I think that culpability tends to be inflated.

    Stu has been a good soldier and the hope for this year is that he’ll get to be “Stu” again i.e., more SG then PG, and that should help him find his comfort zone. Stu is a reliable defender and I’m not sure if it is fair to expect Stu to handle guys like Lucas, Moore and Buford because there are one or 2 guys in this league that can shut those guys down by individually.

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Dylan, it’s true that you can’t please everybody all the time, but that can also be an excuse for bias.

    Stu is the best perimeter defender on the team. He may not be able to guard Lucas or Battle one on one, but he does as good a job as anyone. They can’t guard each other one on one. And Stu does it withough fouling, with the 58th best F/C ratio in the country last year.

    Stu took a lot of tough 3-pointers last year. Basically, in late-clock situations, the team had two plays: (1) throw it to Manny for a drive and (2) throw it to Stu, no matter how far back he was and hope he could stick a shot. This post talks about how open his 3s were that he missed. No doubt he missed some open ones, but his 3s were generally tougher than others — Manny and Darius because people dared him to shoot, Zack and Peedi because they were defended by bigs.

    With all the negativity, Joe actually missed the biggest question about Stu — assertiveness. That’s the big question. Will Stu be aggressive, get himself in a shooting rhythm, take advantage of his work on getting to the tin, etc. He sometimes has a tendency to defer, which can be great as its unselfish, but this team and he will benefit greatly if he can ratchet up the assertiveness this year.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    I know that Stu’s role and comfort level early on will be one thing that I’m focused on. You make a very good point on assertiveness and I think a lot of that has to do with how comfortable in his role he is — point guard or off guard.

  • Section13Row15

    I agree completely about “assertiveness” being something we need to watch for in Stu this season. The off-season reports were good, and I saw a couple of moves in the exhibition opener that weren’t in his repertoire last year, but if he defers to other team members often, that isn’t good. Stu needs to be one of the guys we count on game in and game out if we want to surprise some people in the Big Ten. That OSU game he played in the BTT last year, the UCLA and UCONN games his freshman year, those are the ones you can look back on and say that he can be a difference maker.

  • Sam

    Call me crazy, but I maintain that Stu will lead this team in scoring. I still don’t see any way he doesn’t eventually work his way into the starting lineup, but I am confident that Beilein will find 30 minutes a game for him off the bench if need be. Also look for his 3 point shooting to shoot up to around %40.

  • UM Hoops Fan

    For the record, I’m not saying Stu is an all-B11 player. He does have limitations and needs to be more consistent. I just think this post downplayed his importance to the team in the past, as far as it went, and going forward. He’s pretty integral to the success in a variety of ways, much more than just a catch and shoot guy, especially in this offense with this young team. But maybe I came out firing a bit too strong on the post.

  • Kenny

    I am not sure if Stu will lead this team in scoring but in the exhibition game, he looks like a leader than anybody else on the team.

  • wayman britt

    How well Stu plays will definitely have an effect on our season. He needs to consistently hit 4 for 7 or 4 for 8 from the 3 point line. I like our chances to win if he can shoot above 39% from the 3 pt line.

  • ZRL

    I’m pretty sure Stu’s struggles from deep were mostly in non-conference play. During conference play he shot around 38% from deep, yet we still finished 7-11.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    Stu shot 32.1% from three during conference play last year.

  • Deacon Blues

    If you’re looking for a player to significantly improve his 3FG%, Novak is a more logical candidate than Douglass. Novak shot .344 (the national average) as a freshman before regressing last season. Maybe he’ll improve now that he’s back at the 2.

    But Douglass shot basically the exact same from distance last season (52-158) that he did the season before (52-155).

  • JBlair52

    Didnt Douglass shoot pretty well over in Europe? I thought his 3pt % was something around 40%.

  • http://umhoops.com ToBlav

    I like Stu’s basketball IQ. He sees and understands what is going on on the floor. If I were Santa I’d give him better quickness especially with the ball. He is valuable.

  • Tweeter

    Always been a big fan of stu and felt he got a bad rap from the UM fans. Never understood why that was. I agree with a lot of the points made in the comments, although I do not think he will lead the team in scoring.

    All I know is that both the last two years he was on the bench early in the year and Beilein figured pretty quickly that the team was better with him out there. He was the team’s best on and off ball defender last year. Morris was close in terms of on ball and may overtake him this year. Douglass was also the only player other than Manny and Sims that could create his own shot last year. Hopefully this year with THJr, Smote, an improved Morris and Novak playing in his true position, there are more guys that can do that.

    I love the idea of bringing Stu off the bench as he can come in and play multiple positions and gives you a lot of flexibility. The problem is that he has never seemed comfortable in that role. He always seems to force the issue too much when he comes off the bench. Hopefully as he matures that will not be a problem and he can become a guy that plays 25+ minutes off the bench and provides leadership, offense and solid defense.

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