Tuesday Thoughts: Darius Morris, Scheduling & More

Dylan Burkhardt
on
darius-morris-michigan-7[1]

Rumors are running rampant over Darius Morris’ status but, for now, everyone should take a deep breath. Tim posted some very rational thoughts on Morris and his future that are worth your time but here’s my take on the situation.

First off, John Beilein clarified the situation by pointing out that Morris has only reached out to the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and hasn’t officially entered his name in the draft – a major difference from what was reported by the Free Press. Morris has every right to pursue his NBA opportunities, in fact I would encourage him to. He wants to be an NBA player and this is the first step down that road.

Underclassmen begin this journey by soliciting feedback from the NBA Draft Undergraduate Advisory Committee. This committee is designed to provide prospects with candid, honest and useful feedback about their NBA draft standing. If the committee tells Morris that he has the potential to be a first round pick, he should continue along with the process and enter his name in the draft. Go through the workouts and see where he stands. By going through the process with genuine effort, but still making correct and educated decisions, you are able to alleviate any doubts and “what ifs” during the upcoming season. If Morris impresses scouts and is given a first round guarantee, by all means I would encourage him to go. If he’s not going to be drafted in the first round, he should return to school.

For now all we can do is sit back and watch the process unfold. Forget about foolish talk that this will destroy team chemistry or anything like that. E’Twuan Moore, Alex Tyus and Talor Battle are just three players that went through a similar process, entering their names in the draft before withdrawing, that were just fine during this season. Morris won’t be interfering with the rest of the team, most of whom will finish finals and head home for a while, working out on their own. If anything, this process will just make Morris a better player going forward.

Scheduling

The Gazette published a few tidbits about next year’s Big Ten schedule. The takeaways:

  • There will be no protected rivalries.
  • Every Big Ten team will play seven teams twice and four teams once.
  • The single plays will be determined at random with one exception. All schools will play their single plays from the last two seasons twice for the next two years. That means Michigan is guaranteed to play Purdue and Illinois twice during both of the next two seasons.
  • There will be only four Big Ten Tournament byes, resulting in one more first round game.

The new scheduling system will likely create some very imbalanced schedules. Michigan will play only one game per season against four the following teams: Indiana, Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska and Minnesota. Draw Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State as single plays and the chances of winning the Big Ten increase exponentially. The in-conference strength of schedule also decreases considerably.

Ideally this will balance out, and it’s nowhere near as bad as the Big East’s 18-team behemoth, but it’s obviously something to pay close attention to going forward. The Big Ten schedule is expected to be released sometime in April after the Final Four.

Positions

Max Bielfeldt told AnnArbor.com that he expects to play the four position at Michigan:

You look at high school seniors and then look at them freshman year and they are totally different with their bodies. So I think right now they like me playing the four and, depending how I develop, they said I might play a little five as well.

This makes sense because this is one of the more significant holes on Michigan’s roster. After Zack Novak graduates, the position looks to be manned by just Evan Smotrycz and Colton Christian. There are some obvious concerns about Max’s ability to guard some opposing fours but he would seem to be a nice fit offensively – reportedly a good passer with some range on his jumpshot – and on the glass. Bielfledt might not be an instant impact player at the four but Michigan could need his production there for his sophomore year.

Beilein spoke in his roundtable about getting Carlton Brundidge the ball and letting him work off of ball screens and that should be music to CB’s ears. Watching him in high school is endlessly frustrating because his team rarely gets him in a position that best uses his talents. Brundidge has a very specific skill set – attacking the basket – and Michigan should be in a situation to ease him into the rotation naturally. Not forcing him to run the point guard or undertake roles that stretch his limits. Get him coming off of curls, screen and rolls and driving the ball aggressively to the basket.

In and Out

I’m not sure how many times Jared Sullinger has to say it before people believe him: he will be returning to Ohio State next season. He says its true. His dad says its true. Everyone remotely associated with Sullinger is saying it’s true. That means that Ohio State is your consensus preseason favorite to win the Big Ten next year, especially if William Buford follows suit.

Garrick Sherman headlines the early list of Big Ten players that won’t be returning to their respective schools. The Michigan State athletic department announced yesterday that Sherman would be moving on. Peegs.com has a great early look at the incoming, graduating and transferring players in the Big Ten next season.

The real intriguing departure could be Purdue head coach Matt Painter. Rumors have swirled about Painter’s interest in the Missouri head coaching job and he will reportedly meet with Missouri officials today. Is this just a ploy to earn more money from a notoriously cheap athletic department or would Painter actually leave his alma mater for Missouri. We should find out soon enough.

  • Quick Darshan

    Obviously, we won’t know until he starts playing, but I would think that Bielfeldt would be more suited to guarding opposing fours and rebounding than Smotrycz. Especially since the book on Bielfeldt is that he’s not afraid to mix it up. Smotrycz was just a freshman of course, but I felt more comfortable with 6’4″ Novak guarding the post and rebounding at the four spot.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I guess I should clarify. I was more responding to guarding quicker and more athletic fours that Evan couldn’t stay in front of. I’m not sure that Max can stay in front of a guy like Christian Watford either.

      • Or Melsahn Basabe.

        • Kenny

          Wotford is out but Basabe is going to be around next year, and that’s why Christian has a role on this team, neutralizing these athletic 4s on defense. If Christian develops some sort of offensive game, I like him at 4 and Smotrysz at 5.

          Also interesting is that Basabe played at St Mark, same school of Nate Lubick and Stauskas, and Beilein didn’t recruit him.

  • bl11

    C. Iverson is leaving Minnesota as well.

  • steve

    just curious as to why OSU would be the favorite next year… they have sullinger and craft returning and deshaun thomas as a sophomore… if william buford returns then I would probably agree but losing lighty, diebler, lauderdale is a lot… i dont really know how their recruiting class looks (assume it is probably really good) but I would say they have some major losses to overcome…

    • billiam

      Who would you put ahead of them?

    • Kenny

      There recruiting class is ranked #4 by ESPN. If Sullinger and Buford return, it is hard to not having them as the favorite.

      • Anthony

        Agree i think even with those 3 guys alone you could compete for a big ten title…

  • gpsimms

    I know that if Darius enters his name into the draft and then drops out, then he will not be able to enter his name into the draft a second time unless he is 100% gone.

    But what about this draft advisory board thing? If he gets feedback, and then does not enter his name, can he get feedback, the draft, and return in his junior year?

    I know it probably matters none, and he’s probably gone after junior year regardless, but I have this dream scenario where we make the final four or something next year and Darius and Tim make a blood oath to come back for the next year and win the whole thing.

    In that scenario, Darius would probably not bother with pre-draft stuff next year anyway, so like I said I think it’s a completely moot point.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Don’t think there are any limits with the advisory committee. But not 100% positive.

      • gpsimms

        thanks. excellent lightning reply. have you been working out?

    • gpsimms

      “…get feedback, *enter* the draft, and return in his junior year *(for his senior year)*…”

    • DutchWolverine

      I could be wrong, but didn’t JB say that you can only get feedback one time? I would have to check the tape, but I think next year he either enters his name or he doesn’t. There would be no pre-draft evaluation/advisory board.

      • Dylan

        If Morris goes through and put his name in the draft, he can’t withdraw next year. That’s different than the advisory board.

  • mat

    As this freshman big man class matures, there are a lot of lineup permutations that might make sense. e.g. McLimans or Horford (if he can develop that outside jumper) should be able to play beside Morgan. I wouldn’t assume that Smotrycz and Biefeldt are the only options at 4.

    But yeah, any of the “big men” may have trouble with a quicker 4-man. In that case though, I’d expect to see see more of the 4-guard lineup with either Robinson or Vogrich taking on the ‘undersized 4’ role that Novak has embraced. Its a situation where the zone can help as well.

    • Sam

      Well, I actually ran into McLimans over the weekend and he said he has recently begun practicing only at the four position.

      • Kenny

        Interesting! It seems that Beilein is experimenting something new. Neither McLimans nor Max Bieltfelt has the ability to put the ball on the floor.

  • Section13Row15

    Here’s why OSU will be the favorite next year (as much as it pains me to say it). Of the returning guys you mentioned, Sullinger was a 5* recruit, Craft was a high 4* and top 20 PG in the country out of HS, Deshaun Thomas and Buford were also both 5* recruits and top 5 at their positions coming out of HS. All of these guys will likely develop over the summer. Not to mention Jordan Sibert (4*, #14 SG) who barely played this season as a freshman, along with Lenzelle Smith and JD Weatherspoon who were both high 3 stars at their PG and PF spots respectively. And those are just the returning guys. Next year they have a whole new crop that can only add depth to that already dangerous (but somewhat untested) lineup. This includes the #2 and #15 Centers in the nation (both from the state of MI) in Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, two stud 4* wing players in Laquinton Ross and Sam Thompson, and a top 10 PG in Shannon Scott. It will be interesting to find out who takes over as the outside sniper but with Sullinger in the low block, it’s going to be another tough year for Big 10 opponents seeing that a lot of the name brand guys are graduating this spring.

    You can’t really say that Michigan State will win the Big 10 this coming season after a brutal year and more attrition. You can’t say that Purdue will be in the mix without Juwan Johnson and Etwan Moore. You can’t say Wisconsin will win it since they can’t score and are losing Jon Leuer. That leaves OSU who lost the #1 player in the country 2 seasons ago and still won the Big 10 regular season and tourney championships.

    I’d love to say Michigan can contend for the Big 10 title but history tells me not to be quite so optimistic.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Wisconsin can’t score?

    • JB…

      fortunately preseason polls are not that meaningful. Take these random examples from last season:

      What team am I? I returned the big ten player of the year and best backcourt in the big ten. I added a 5* center and other good recruits to complement them. I made it to the national championship last year. We are preseason #2 nationally. Mateen Cleaves was a steal for the Pistons.

      Who Am I? I am ranked #11 in the big ten preseason and our starting center hasn’t played one minute of college basketball. I’m eleventh in the big ten.

      The bottom team swept the top one. Preseason rankings don’t mean anything at the end of the day.

      • Justin

        I give up. Who are the teams??????

  • Coolcat

    nope they cant

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Interesting considering Wisconsin was the most efficient offense in the Big Ten and the 2nd most efficient in the country.

      • gpsimms

        efficiency? if there is one thing that I have learned from this site, it is that you should never, EVER, for any counting statistic, divide by the number of possessions.

        • Mattski

          But how about if I go ahead and split the difference. The efficiency rating, as I understand it, offers a somewhat suspect perspective. But if you are #2, safe to say, you do score with comparative efficiency. To say that such a team “can’t score” doesn’t quite hit the mark. Respectfully yrs!

          • gpsimms

            dude, i was being sarcastic. the whole idea of tempo free means you ALWAYS divide counting statistics. that is what this site always does, over and over and over again.

          • Mattski

            Didn’t catch the sarcasm; if I really knew anything about tempo-free stats I would have. Consider me a little bit boned up. There’s a nice concise summary here, in case anyone else is interested:

            http://www.ehow.com/how_7775395_calculate-teams-offensive-defensive-efficiencies.html

        • Kenny

          What I learned from this site is that there are perceptions and there are truths.

  • TheHoke

    College basketball is 80% recruiting. As good a coach as Beilein is, he will never take us to where OSU currently is.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      To the sweet 16? Good enough to win a Big Ten championship? Where is OSU right now that Michigan can’t get under Beilein?

      • TheHoke

        #1 overall seed, 2007 NCAA finals, Big Ten regular season and tournament champions.

        Mich will never contend for a top seed in the Tourney, nor will ever win a Big Ten regular season title under Beilein.

        • JB…

          and butler and vcu are in the final four because of their recruiting (80%) and number 1 seeds, clearly.

        • Vinay Chari

          If teams like Butler and VCU can contend for the national title, so can Michigan under Beilein. College basketball may (or may not) be 80% recruiting, but there are different ways to recruit well. You don’t think Butler recruited well?

          • Anthony

            Butler and VCU though have an easier time getting in and i would not put vcu in butlers category…

        • Dirtgrain

          “Never” on sports blog message boards, while seemingly an attempt at being bold and cogent, is empty and unimpressive. Butler will never make the Final Four . . . oops.

        • MH20

          Fascinating insight. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Please email me at thanksforbeingadouche@areyouanousfan.com

        • MH_20

          WHAT WAS THAT YOU WERE SAYING, DOUCHEBAG?!

    • Azad

      Our recruiting has essentially improved every year Beilein has been here. We were 4th place in the Big 10 this season, despite having had a couple bad losses and several close losses. This is with one of the youngest teams in college, playing one of the smallest lineups in basketball. Everything is on the rise for us. We still don’t have a Jared Sullinger, but there’s no reason why this team can’t go 12-6 or 13-5 in conference next year right? That would put us in contention for not only a Big 10 title, but a top 2 or 3 seed. And that’s just the possible prognosis for NEXT year…

    • um basketball fan

      Pretty bold comment considering we haven’t seen a D-1 Beilein program develop for any longer than 5 years. “Never” is a pretty strong word, especially when you look at the amount of work he’s done in other conferences in that amount of time (to include 1-seeds and conference championships). Considering he has said he wants to retire at Michigan, imagine what happens when he gets to build on the foundation he has been laying down. Take a genius coach versus a genius recruiter. A genius coach can garner enough attention to attract the good recruits. (Ex: Guess who recruited most of the stars from the WVU Final Four team last year? This was a result of achieving *significant* results with brilliant coaching in 04-05 that made the program more attractive to recruits– achieving *spectacular* results were not necessary.)
      I guess what I’m saying is that you clearly have missed the entire message of this season, from the unpredicted wins to the facility renovations and everything in between. This is a foundation. That’s what JB has been doing at every program he’s been to– laying and rebuilding foundations. He’s also known for extracting every last ounce of talent from his players and then some. When the foundation is firmly in place (personally, I think we’re close) and the “better” recruits start coming in, who knows what could happen? Not you, and truthfully not anybody.

    • Mattski

      You offer no evidence at all to support this perspective.

    • Uninformed.

    • rlc

      “[Beilein] will never take us to where OSU currently is.”

      Sitting at home disappointed after a second consecutive premature exit from the NCAA tournament?

      I think you’re right – Beilein will never take us there.

    • ScottGoBlue

      Gotta jump on “TheHoke”s back. I reject your premise. College basketball isn’t 80% recruiting. You can get a flash in the pan with great recruiting. But you get a solid program with great coaching. What if Beilein’s recruiting improves because of his coaching?

      Also, it’s easy to point to Thad Matta (or John Calipari or Bill Self or Roy Williams, etc) and say they just recruit the best players, which is why those programs are so successful every year. But that’s not the whole picture. Thad Matta clearly can coach a bit (as with the other guys). He built up the Butler program before arriving in Columbus, and did it without 5*s … 4*s … probably without 3*s. Recent Butler squads are standing on his shoulders.

      If you want to see what 80% recruiting gets you without coaching, look at Tubby Smith at Minnesota. It gets you under-achievement annually.

      If you want to see what great coaching gets you without great recruits … why, look right here. John Beilein has a general trend of over-achievement over the course of his career. Now, with a big name school, recent successes on the court, and soon-to-be great facilities … you just watch and see JB get great recruits and great results.

      • JD

        Matta only coached 1 year at Butler. It was a very good year for them but I wouldn’t say he’s the one who built them up.

        • JD

          I know that wasn’t really your point but I had to nit pick. He had 3 good years at Xavier, though.

        • ScottGoBlue

          True enough. My bad.

  • Johnnyumfan

    I saw Trey Burke play in the Ohio State division I playoffs in Columbus against Garfield Hts. He had a poor shooting game despite winning but Burke is a classic pg who can drive with either hand, has a very good first step, and good court vision. Burke is only 170 pounds and needs to get stronger because Cincinnati LaSalle, an excellent defensive team, which beat Northland soundly in the championship game, bothered him with lots of bumping , something he will see in the Big Ten on a regular basis.

    But there is no mistaking his talent as a pg. I expect as he gets older he will mature, gain strength, and become tougher.

  • Beilein’s Swish

    Thanks for the update on Morris. I had a feeling the FREEP was sensationalizing the news and was also being misleading. Snyder is an idiot who’ll put anything out there to get more hits.

  • Johnnyumfan

    Dylan again has given very insightful information on the Morris situation. I too am surprised at sports writers like Snyder who write fiction instead of fact. IF and it is a big IF, Morris is a first round pick, then he has a decision to make, because first round picks get guaranteed contracts. But Morris is not a lottery pick and is more likely to be a mid to late second round pick at best.

    Leaving now may be a risk for Morris that he may regret. But from what Dylan says, it appears D Mo is getting sound advice.

  • bird

    Huh, I guess Sullinger has a two-year contract.

  • Section13Row15

    I see your point Dylan but c’mon 33 points against Penn State in the Big 10 tourney and another egg laid against Butler I believe down the stretch in the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin’s scoring slowed way down towards the end of the season and it hurt them.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Sure they had bad games but you can’t judge them by just two games. That Penn State game was one of the slowest D-1 games all year, and a poor performance by Wisconsin. They’ve destroyed too many teams to say that they can’t score the ball.

      • Exceptions that prove the rule IMO. The fact that they play at such a slow pace and people only seem to realize it when they have extremely abnormal offensive performances speaks volumes.

        • Mattski

          I dunno. I think it’s just a philosophy, and that there are a number of workable philosophies out there where bball is concerned, and that executing them well then becomes the goal. Whether said philosophy gets you championships, ultimately, becomes a tougher question.

          What has impressed me (again) in this tourney is that a cold shooting night on one team’s part is the greatest equalizer of all. A lot of people are noticing this, but I think that the absence of dominant big men makes that even more the case. Which is also why Michigan is suddenly also playing well, and Beilein is toying with getting two guys in the low post from time to time.

          • Mattski

            P.S. Am I the only one who thinks this makes for prettier bball? I’m kind of glad that the day of the dominant big man is over (actually, everyone is huge and no one is much huger). It just never seemed that fair or interesting when the Wilt the Stilts of this world could stand by the basket and plop it in while everyone else yapped at their heels.

            Just can’t warm to Sim Bhullar for that reason.

  • Brian W

    Glenn Robinson III was named to the first team Underclass All State Team by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Gary Harris and some other names you’ll probably recognize made the team also…

    http://hickoryhusker.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1204810

    Matt Painter is going to wait to decide between Missouri and Purdue (imo waitin’ for the counteroffer)…

    http://www.kansascity.com/2011/03/29/2761400_painter-will-wait-a-day-to-make.html?storylink=omni_popular

  • jim-e-p

    I am not a Matta fan, but I thought he exposed Wisconsin in their regular season rematch: get out there and guard Taylor. Stick with him out to 25′ and beyond and insist that someone else beat you. The rest of the team is so limited athletically that they can really struggle to generate anything. If you just sit back and let Taylor (or Hughes before him) comfortably run stuff at the top of the circle you will be in trouble.

  • Alex

    I want a piece of Sullinger and the Buckeyes next season. Throw Terrelle Pryor and Tressel if he’s still the coach also. Bring them on.

    • Gary

      I have a very hard time believing that Matta runs a clean program. Sooner or later, I think the scandal at OSU will spread to the hoops program as well.

      • Brian W

        If members of the football team were getting “hooked up” with tattoos for years, were some members of the basketball team (past or present) getting the same perks? That’s something I’ve wondered.

        • Mattski

          Sounds like it was more than tats people have been getting “hooked up” with, and at more than one program.

  • bird

    Jalen! How dumb can you be?

    • BK

      really. after he just drew all this attention to himself too.

      • Chris

        It actually happened before the documentary, it’s just being reported now.

        • Mattski

          And is it really that big of a deal? I’m not convinced.

          • MikeM

            maybe not, but for someone whose judgment has been questioned recently nationally, it doesn’t help at all.

  • C weezy

    Isn’t this Coach Beilien first season where every player was recruited by him? If so it was an amazing season w/o having a top notch all star recruiting class like Coach Matta!!

  • GMO

    I like the fact that we got bielfeldt and stauskas but I would have rather made a run at Gary Harris. Now we are left with no scholarships for next year and we are not able to recruit him unless we know for sure that darius is living after next season.

    • BlimpyBlue

      So, instead of accepting a commitment from a 6’6 top-100 level player that’s a great fit for Beilein’s offense, you’d rather we leave a scholarship open for a 5-star player that we are highly unlikely to land?

      • Kenny

        I think that everyone loves Stauskas on this board. The one with the question mark is Bieltfeld given that our front court is already loaded until 2014.

        The comment by Beilein of playing 2 post and the info that Bieltfeld and McLimans are working at 4 suggests that Beilein is experimenting some new new thing in his offense. It would be the most interesting thing to watch over the next season for Michigan fans and all the basketball theorists. My guess is that it will have a lot to do with ball screening and the quickness of Brundidge and Burke.

    • georgeesq.

      We made a run at Harris, and are still recruiting him. We waited on Ziegler, who was a lot more likely to land here than Harris is. How’d that work out?

    • Beilein’s Swish

      We’re not stopping our recruitment of Gary Harris. They’ll make room for him if he decides to come here, no matter what, so these commitments are independent events.

      Given all that, Gary Harris is not coming here anyway.