The graph also raises some interesting questions about Stu Douglass’ role going forward. What benefits Douglass? What benefits Michigan? How many minutes should he play next season? There is a large external component to this equation that relies on the other pieces in Michigan’s backcourt.
Does Darius Morris enter the NBA draft or return to school?
Are the freshmen guards ready to play? Offensively but more importantlydefensively.
Where does Zack Novak play the majority of his minutes? The two or the four? This is closely related to Evan Smotrycz’s development, something we’ll focus on in later report cards.
In an ideal world, Douglass would play somewhere around 25 minutes per game, all at the two position. That really seems like it would be the sweet spot, keeping him fresh enough to play a role offensively without taxing him by having him chase the opponents best player for 35 minutes This isn’t really a knock on Douglass, playing fewer minutes feels like a move that would make him a significantly more efficient offensive player.
The sticking point is that, in order for Douglass to play fewer minutes, Michigan’s perimeter defense has to improve across the board. Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Trey Burke, Carlton Brundidge and Matt Vogrich are the players most likely to play minutes at the one and two next season. None of the upperclassmen are necessarily known as great perimeter defenders and it’s tough to expect any freshmen to be a lockdown defender.
If 25 minutes per game is the best case scenario, the worst case scenario would be that Morris goes pro and Douglass is forced to split time at the point guard position with Trey Burke. That would be a situation eerily similar to Michigan circa 2009-10, when Douglass was forced to play major minutes at the point guard and struggled all season.
Douglass’ 2010-11 season was up and down but his defensive performance during the last two months of the year was extremely impressive. He’s not a perfect player but he’s willfully accepted whatever role this team has required. Ideally he’ll finally be able to grow into a role that is catered toward his strengths and really allows him to blossom into an efficient offensive player as a senior.