Social Media Mailbag: December 9th

Dylan Burkhardt

We definitely want to make this a regular feature so don’t hesitate to tweet or facebook us your questions to include in the next mailbag.

Why are we the fourth youngest team in NCAA? This is John Beilein’s fourth year. Should have more experienced team. – Artdogg

John Beilein was hired on April 3, 2007, just a few days before the late signing period for the class of 2007 – adding recruits to this class was not really an option. Beilein managed to retain Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady while allowing Alex Legion to slip away. Harris is now a Cleveland Cavalier, Grady dons a winged helmet, and Alex Legion has ended up at Florida International after stops at Kentucky and Illinois. You have probably heard on Michigan broadcasts that the Wolverines don’t have any seniors. I have a hard time blaming Beilein for the lack of any seniors considering this was an Amaker class and a class that was basically stuck in between two regimes.

While each of Beilein’s recruiting classes have shown consistent improvement, 2008 was undoubtedly his worst. Michigan swung for the fences with a couple of big time prospects – most notably Klay Thompson and Joe Trapani – but came home empty handed. German swing forward Robin Benzing committed to Michigan but fell one question short of qualifying on his SAT.  Michigan was left with Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Ben Cronin (with Laval Lucas-Perry transferring in). Add in the fact that Cronin never played a meaningful minute due to his hip problems and Laval Lucas-Perry being dismissed over the summer, and you are left with a young team.


How long until the new coaches pay dividends in getting commitments from guys? Recruits speak highly of them but they still go elsewhere (Amir Williams)Q_Crush

First off, Jeff Meyer might not draw as many headlines as Bacari Alexander’s infectious personality but he has been very productive since landing his promotion. Meyer was Glenn Robinson III’s lead recruiter and was also instrumental in Trey Burke’s recruitment. He has strong Indiana connections and has put them to work in the loaded Hoosier state.

Recruiting is a process and it’s rare to find instant gratification without something not adding up.  Bacari Alexander and Lavall Jordan have seemingly put an emphasis on younger kids including the classes of 2012 and 2013. JaVontae Hawkins, Sherron Dorsey-Walker, and Nick Stauskas are all 2012s that think highly of Michigan and a number of well regarded 2013 recruits have already visited Ann Arbor. Recruiting is a bottom line business but I think it’s fair to start judging their results on the recruiting trail in the class of 2012 – making the next year or so critical.

What do you think is one surprise that, if continued, could get some surprise wins in the Big Ten seasonkevinblazaitis

Defensive rebounding. I’ve touched on this before but this team’s success hinges on their ability to control the defensive glass. While all of Beilein’s teams have Michigan have been considered weak in this department, his 2009 tournament squad was a bit of an exception. During conference play, that was the third best defensive rebounding team in the Big Ten.

This year’s team has done a very good job on the defensive glass, as they rank 17th in the nation which is better than any other conference team. Strength of schedule naturally plays a part here, as Michigan has played only one good offensive rebounding team (Syracuse), but the numbers are certainly encouraging. If the Wolverines can control the defensive glass in conference play, they might have a chance to pull off some upsets.

Why have we gone away from the 1-3-1 and played mostly man this year? – cflexter

In short, it hasn’t worked. While there is some more length on this roster, they aren’t comfortable running the zone and opposing teams have picked it apart pretty easily. However, Michigan has a top 40 defense right now so it’s tough to complain. Michigan has also worked in a 2-3 zone as well, which has been relatively successful. I would like to see the Wolverines tinker with their various zones over the next four games, just because I think they might need them come conference time.

What are the chances that Michigan will land a big man with the 2012 class? – Scott Bradley

I’m not sure that Michigan needs a big man in the class, it could probably go either way. Horford has the work ethic to make a year in the weight room worth it, Jordan Morgan has been impressive, and Blake McLimans is still just a freshman. Considering that those three will be juniors when the class of 2012 sets foot on campus, it might be a good time to get a big man involved.

The situation gets tricky with only two scholarships to give. The most prominent 2012 Michigan targets with scholarship offers are all wing guards – Hawkins, Dorsey-Walker, and Stauskas – and all three would provide upgrades in talent at the two and three positions. The second problem is that there just aren’t that many serious post targets right now. Michigan missed on Matt Costello and now is in a bit of waiting game to see who develops. Jordan Hare, Mitch McGary, and a few others are on the radar but it remains to be seen what level of mutual interest there is. Big men are notorious for developing late in the game so you can be sure that Michigan will have their eyes peeled. If they don’t land a big in the 2012 class, any that they land in the 2013 class would still have a year to develop before being called on to play serious game action.

What are two surprises and two disappointments you’ve seen from the team so far this year?JContiz3


  • Defensive Rebounding: I’ve already touched on this above, the defensive rebounding has been strong and it’s extremely important.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan has exceeded my, admittedly low, expectations in numerous ways. He’s not going to dominate games but he’s shown plenty of potential.


  • Three Point Shooting: 31%. Just not good enough. Douglass is shooting 51% but no one else has been able to match his hot shooting. Hardaway at 10 of 42 (24%) is certainly troubling. Hopefully they can find their shooting stroke this December.
  • Turnovers: This might be a bit harsh, as we’ve been spoiled in the turnover department under John Beilein, but Michigan has been a bit too loose with the ball and hasn’t been forcing turnovers on the defensive end to compensate.

I know it’s early, but gun to head prediction, Michigan an NIT team this year?Steve_Donohue

Pomeroy projects Michigan to go 15-16 overall (6-12 in the Big Ten), a record which wouldn’t put them in the NIT. With just 16 teams and guaranteed bids to regular season mid-major conference winners, the NIT is no sure bet for every high major team with a record over .500. I’d say that the NIT is an attainable but difficult goal. This team will have their fair share of struggles in a loaded Big Ten conference.

The Big Ten has five teams in Pomeroy’s top 15, and ten in the top 75, with Iowa coming in at 81. There are not going to be many easy wins in this conference. If Michigan makes it to 10 non conference wins (meaning they beat Utah, Oakland, NC Central, and Bryant) they would still probably need something like 7 conference wins to make the NIT, that would be very tough. Right now I’ll say no, this team won’t make the NIT.

Once the practice facility is done how much is that expected to help in recruiting top talent? – Jeremy Courtney

The practice facility will certainly play a part in recruiting. Slated to open next fall, the 2011 class will be the first class to get to practice there. Even more importantly, kids in the 2012 class could get a chance to see it live and in person on their official visits before the early signing period. Everyone likes new facilities and I know that a number of recent Indiana commitments have mentioned the Hoosiers new facility, Cook Hall, when they committed.

Some of the more interesting possibilities arise once the facility actually opens. First, Michigan’s team and elite camps won’t have to be spread between the CCRB, IM Building, and Crisler Arena. I’d also love to see Michigan’s new facility used for an AAU tournament, similar to the one that took place on Indiana’s campus last spring, or high school tournaments similar to the Holiday Hoops Invitational or Izzo Shootout held in East Lansing. These are great opportunities to get loads of kids on campus and start to build a relationship, even informally, early on.

  • bilbo

    this is great dylan, i’m glad to see that it will be a regular feature. your blog keeps getting better and better.

    • JimC

      For sure, if it wasn’t for this stupid job I have….I would be spending hours every day

      • Paul

        This is a wonderful addition to an already awesome site!!

  • Thanks, Dylan. Your writing has grown in confidence and polish along with your blog; it’s great to see.

    Would you mind putting up a FAQ or Ethics link somewhere on the banner so that we can obtain a sense of what’s objectionable/will get deleted, etc.? A couple of times I’ve been on the “cutting edge” of deletions that left me perplexed as to what was unacceptable in them. If you state and maintain a philosophy/policy then it won’t come across as arbitrary to readers. You definitely seem to use the hook more than they do over at mgoblog, which may not be a bad thing. But knowing the ground rules would help. . .

    • P.S. I agree about the NIT. It’s very difficult, looking over the remaining schedule honestly, to imagine us getting in.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I don’t really have set guidelines for deleting posts. If you ever have a question about something that was deleted, don’t hesitate to email me:

      • JimC

        I agree w/”guidelines” something brief would help us all.

  • UM Hoops Fan

    If we can go 10-3 OOC (wins against Utah, Oakland, NC Central, Bryant and loss to KU), here’s how I see the Big Ten schedule shaping up:

    Good chance (kenpom gives us 60% chance or better):
    IU (home)
    Iowa (home)
    PSU (home)

    Pretty good chance (kenpom gives 50% or better)
    NWU (home)
    Minny (home)

    Some chance but definitely won’t be favored (kenpom gives us 22-39% chance)
    Iowa (away)
    PSU (away)
    IU (away)
    NWU (away)
    PU (home)
    OH St (home)
    MSU (home)
    Minny (away)

    Very little chance (kenpom gives us 11% chance or less):
    MSU (away)
    Illinois (away)
    Wiscy (away)
    OH St (away)

    Kenpom gives us an estimated 15 wins, which basically means winning the first two categories or nabbing 4 of those and then an upset in the 3rd category. I would say the Iowa and PSU away games are the mostly likely upsets, followed by the IU away and MSU and PU home games. Obviously a long way to go, but it seems like 14-16 wins pre-B10 wins is the likely range, but I’d guess that 17 is more likely than 13.

  • sullycu

    Great post!

    Its good to establish the team’s weaknesses because it helps get an idea of the great things the recruits will help us with.

    The three point percentage doesn’t scare me as much as the fact that they just are taking too many 3’s and not driving to the basket (with the exception of darius morris)
    Carlton Brundidge will help us a lot here
    As for the actual 3 point percentages…thats where Trey Burke comes in

    I’m not too concerned with turnover as there will be less of them with more experience.

    Defense is scaring me a little. There’s not a whole lot of athleticism. I would of loved to get dom pointer…he would of helped the team with the 1-3-1 with his length and just because he’s a freak athlete. (Did you hear he changed his name legally to “Sir Dom”?) Also I know the rebounding is good but on defense our post players are getting beat… partially just because they are in a 1 on 1 situation, but think of how Rocko Holmes and Keith Wright scored so much down low. I don’t know if Mitch McGary would help a ton in this aspect, but there’s always Europe…

  • eddie

    Can the world stop talking about Beilein’s teams and the 1-3-1 zone? While Beilein has had success with this zone at other stops in his career, and for a handful of games in 2008-2009, it is very clear that he has absolutely no allegiance to the zone and would much prefer to play whatever defense his team can most effectively execute. This current team is long enough, yet has been pathetic with the 131 on the 10 possessions that they’ve used it this year. Last year’s team barely used it either.

    It frustrates me to see the national media, as well as the chumps on BTN, keep touting it as Beilein’s main defensive scheme. If anything, as Dylan points out, UM has had much more success in the last two years with the 2-3 zone.

    • gpsimms

      It is funny to always hear about our 1-3-1 with a little bit of man on tv.

      But I do wonder…before I thought it was because our team was too short/slow. But this year our starting lineup is pretty long/fast. So, is the 1-3-1 coming? Is it hard to learn? Will we run it when this class is all sophs? Is Beilein changing defensive philosophies? Northwestern runs it, and they have pretty much the worst defense in the big ten.

      Anyway, my questions is…will we end up using the 1-3-1 for any significant % of possessions at some point in Beilein’s tenure?

  • Kenny

    John Beilein is going to be permanently associated with 1-3-1 zone. if he didn’t invent it, he is the one to make it known to most of the basketball world. So no matter where he goes and which defense he prefers now, people is going to keep talking about 1-3-1 zone. 1-3-1 zone is great when it works, but apparently this particular group of players have not got it right.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Michigan coaches are down in Bedford watching 2013 big man Jackson Lamb.!/scoopIPS

  • gpsimms

    poor jags. they were hangin in there. sullinger is too much.

    • maxwell’s demon

      40 pts? Really? Not looking forward to that match up.

      • Tweeter

        Sullinger is a beast. I watched a little bit of the second half tonight and their game against Florida; kid is the real deal. He may be the best player in the Big Ten. He runs well and has some very good footwork on the box. Plus I love his attitude. I was hoping he was going to be a Derrick Nix type of guy that just kind of loafs around, but to quote Jay Bilas, “he has a tremendous motor.” His inside presence combined with the perimeter players that OSU has, makes them very difficult to stop. If they show up on defense, there are very few teams that can beat them.

        I think IUPUI went up by about 9 near midway in the second half, then OSU just turned up the D and went on a 20 something to 4 run and it was over. During that stretch IUPUI barely even got shots off. Interestingly, Matta didnt sub at all in the second half at least up until I turned it off with about 2 minutes left. He just left the starters out there. Don’t know if it was a lack of confidence in the bench or he just wanted his starters to play harder and prove they could get it done.

  • Brian W

    The lady Wolverines overcame a poor first half to beat Kansas at Crisler. They were down by over 10 for a long stretch, but used some good defense in the second half to come back.

    • JimC


  • Sam

    I’m glad you pointed out Jeff Meyer’s recruiting accomplishments, but you forgot one important part. If you ever doubted Meyer’s recruiting strength, keep in mind that he is the reason Eric Gordon went to Indiana when he was an assistant there, for better or worse. It’s also interesting to note that when the coaches go out on the recruiting trail, BA is usually the one to stay behind (one is required to stay behind at all times).

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Meyer was crucial in Eric Gordon’s recruitment and was also specifically cleared of any wrong doing by the NCAA, FWIW.

      • Sam

        Yeah, Sampson is the only one that got in any trouble from what I remember (and he hasn’t popped up anywhere else…cough, cough Tim Floyd).

  • GrandChamp

    We are favored by 9 points tomorrow, kinda surprising.

  • Im sure I missed it, but how do we get questions anwered in the mailbag segment? I love it, it would be great to have this twice a week. Keep up the good work. I think the bball program is slowly picking up steam, and will be a big factor in the big ten starting next season. Hopefully Sullinger leaves OSU after this season. 40 points! Amazing

  • mitch