Report Card 2011: Non-Rotation Players

Dylan Burkhardt


Jon Horford, Blake McLimans and Colton Christian all played at least a handful of important minutes at some point this season but never saw consistent playing time. The trio played fewer than 200 minutes on the year and didn’t make it off the bench in six or more games. Due to the limited sample size available to judge these players, we’ll keep it short and combine them all into one “report card”.

Jon Horford


MPG PPG RPG eFG% DR% OR% O Rtg Usage
6.8 2.0 2.0 48.9% 24.7% 11.4% 102.8 19.0%

Of the players outside of Michigan’s core rotation, Jon Horford showed the most promise. It was also clear that the game was moving just a bit too fast for him to make an impact as a freshman and he was also slowed by a knee injury late in the season. Both of these factors, as well as a general lack of strength, limited Horford’s playing time but didn’t prevent him from demonstrating his ability for stretches. The one thing we know for certain is that Horford can rebound the ball. Horford’s rebounding percentage numbers were very impressive – rebounding a quarter of opponents’ missed shots while on the floor – and it will be interesting to see if they hold up with more playing time.

He didn’t do a whole lot offensively but he did convert a very solid 21 of 38 (55%) of his two point shots. He had confidence to fire away threes, especially early in the season, but made just 1 of 8 long range attempts. Most of his scoring came from strong point guard play and offensive rebounds. Horford does have a few back to the basket moves but is still a bit too methodical with his movement on the block.

When you look at Horford, the most encouraging thing is that most of his problems this year are fixable. He can get stronger and the game will almost certainly slow down over the course of his career. A long summer in the weight room along with some 1-on-1 versus his older brother should do wonders for his game. He struggled with defensive rotations at times this season, and that’s another problem that should be alleviated by experience.

The best case scenario is that Horford improves by leaps and bounds and is ready to play 15 minutes per game backing up Jordan Morgan at the five position. Horford might have more natural tools than any other big man on Michigan’s roster and, after watching Morgan’s rapid improvement, it’s tough not to be excited about his future.

Blake McLimans


MPG PPG RPG eFG% DR% OR% O Rtg Usage
5.4 1.16 0.8 32.9% 9.8% 8.3% 84.3 18.1%

McLimans was supposed to be Michigan’s perimeter shooting five man that would stretch opposing defenses. Unfortunately that never quite happened. McLimans played that role, attempting 19 three point shots on the season, but made just one three pointer all season (5.3%). If McLimans was able to hit three point shots more effectively, it would go a long ways toward masking some of his other flaws such as his team low defensive rebounding percentage. Similar to Horford, the game seemed to move a little too quickly for him and he constantly looked rushed, especially on the offensive end.Three point shooting is the key for McLimans to play an important role on this team going forward. If he’s not able to make threes, I’m just not sure what else he can bring to the table.

Big men have mysterious development cycles so it will be interesting to see what sort of improvement Blake makes before his sophomore season.

Colton Christian


MPG PPG RPG eFG% DR% OR% O Rtg Usage
4.7 0.2 1.3 18.1% 22.0% 12.7% 63.4 10.2%

Christian played some key minutes in several games for Michigan. The jumpshot he hit against Michigan State was clearly the play of his season but he seemed to make several other key plays this season (the tap out in Minneapolis stands out as well) despite rarely playing more than 2 or 3 minutes per game. He improved significantly as a defender over the course of the season and also demonstrated very good rebounding ability. By the end of the year he seemed to be a good enough defender and rebounder that his lack of offensive abilities were manageable for short stints.

Still, his offensive numbers were anemic and he only attempted a field goal on 6.5% of Michigan’s possessions while  on the floor. He made just 2 of 11 field goals in the 127 minutes that he played on the season. Christian’s offensive game was so limited as a freshman that expecting a huge leap is unfair.

There is certainly room for a defensive stopper at the combo forward on this roster, but to successfully fill that role Christian needs to improve by leaps and bounds on the offensive end. He needs to be comfortable shooting an 18-foot jump shot, show the ability to make backdoor cuts and prove that he’s a threat with the ball in his hands.  He doesn’t need to be a great offensive player, but if he continues to improve he should see situational minutes again next season.

  • I see Horford improving the most out of these three. I hope he improves so much that he can even get more than 15 minutes a game. It sure would have been nice if he would have red shirted this year.

    I don’t see McLimans getting much time at all next year. If he can’t hit the three he adds very little to the team. If he wants to get a great degree from a great university he should stick it out at UM, but if he wants to play basketball he might want to go to a different league. Fellow posters – I am not pushing him out, it’s just a choice he will have to make.

    • jmblue

      Practice observers swear that Blake makes threes then. Maybe he just needs to settle down when he’s in the game.

      • ZRL

        If you watch him during warm ups, he’s automatic. I think after the first couple misses it became mental. Hopefully he can clear his head this summer.

    • Mith

      I agree, WB. People get a little sensitive, but the fact is there are alot of guys competing for minutes. McLimians did very little this year to show he serves more time on the floor. Personally, I’d like to see him transfer and open up that scholarship. I realize that’s an early judgement and he very well may turn into a solid player over time, but we’ve got enough guys to get by jsut fine without him. If we can turn him into a younger(and possibly better) player, then that would be best.

      • Paul

        Yes, it would be good if he transferred. He’d probably have more success in the Ivy or horizon League

      • billiam

        MIth, I think there are two forces at work here. For the good of the team I hope he leaves (to open up the scholarship). But for the good of the kid, I hope he stays. He’s already made good friends, done two years, and dedicated this much. So…yeah, I agree with what you said from the team’s perspective (which I know you meant) but I wanted to add the caveat that it might not be good for him.

        Which leads, inevitably, to this: if he chooses to leave of his own volition, then good for him. However, there will always be a thought in the back of people’s minds that Coach B “forced” him out. Be careful what you wish for, because that perception is exactly what would be bad for the team. Also, I don’t think him leaving/staying makes that big of an impact. I doubt that we’d land a 5* in his place, and the roster is good enough as is.

        /Rant over

        • Mith

          I agree, I don’t want to see a nice kid forced out of the program ever. I am merely saying that if a kid says “Dang, there’s no future for me here, I could play a ton at another school, I’m gone”, then I wish him well and we move on. It is my opinion that McLimians will never be a major factor on this team, but maybe I’ll be horribly wrong. Regardless, I don’t mean anything bad against the kid.

    • Gary

      This point could be made about any player out of the rotation. There are 13 scholarships. Does anyone play a 13 man rotation in college basketball? No matter what, you are going to have at least three or four scholarship players whose primary contribution is going to be in practice. If they are doing a great job there, I won’t begrudge them a scholarship

      • Kenny

        well said, players Christian and McLimans may never play major minutes, but they both contribute to the team in many ways. The same can even be said about our work-ons. Eso made some critical plays in the first half of the road game at Iowa.

        • JD

          That’s a good point. If we weren’t so starved for an impact player in the paint, Blake being the player he’s been so far wouldn’t be as glaring. He’d be like Steve Stoyko was in the late 80’s. A guy you didn’t really think about (except for being a fan favorite) because he was backing up studs like Tarpley, Wade & Henderson (or Mills, Vaught & Hughes later).

  • MichBball

    Hey Dylan, love the blog. One question though, are you planning on making a top 10 plays of the past season post? Or something similar to that? Thanks, I appreciate the hard work you put into this.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Yeah. We’re going to be posting a bunch of videos over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned :-)

      • mich is boss

        Dylan, do you know when the official schedule comes out for next year?

        • Dylan Burkhardt

          No set date Last year I think they released part of the schedule earlier than normal. Big Ten schedules are due out in April.

          • mich is boss

            Dylan, also I was wondering if you will release your predictions for the starting lineup and rotation?

  • Brian W

    Glenn Robinson III has been named to the Indiana Junior All-Star Team and the Core 6 All-Star Team…

  • Michmich

    OT michigan hockey going to finals….. Go blue!!

  • JD

    I’d still prefer seeing McLimans try to work on his post game, if anything. It was a small sample size but he was a LOT more effective shooting inside the arc.

  • Brian W

    Max Bielfeldt threw out the first pitch at the Peoria Chiefs’ game on Thursday…

    The final Top 100 ESPNU 2011 player rankings have Carlton Brundidge at 73 and Trey Burke at 81…

    Since Michigan was rumored to play Texas next season, I’d previously asked how the state of Texas is recruit-wise. Looks like ESPNU has 5 players from that state in the top 25 for 2013, none of whom have committed. The state of Michigan has zero high school players in their top 25 for 2013.

    • Mattski

      Brundidge ranked ahead of Burke–that should make some fans re-think his possibilities. As smooth and wonderful as Burke looks, you would have to say that in a hard-banging B10 Brundidge brings some obvious qualities to the table.

      I wonder if we redshirt one of them? It won’t be every year we can reel in two such promising guards.

      • Kenny

        I think that they are very comparable skill wise. CB is stronger driving in and TB is a better outside shooter. On paper TB is 1 and CB is 2 but I think that Beilein would play both at PG position. CB might be better off the ball screening than TB, and TB is a better outside shooter.

      • Beilein’s Swish

        I don’t think anyone is redshirting, and they shouldn’t. Even a couple of minutes of experience will prepare CB and TB for the next year, when we could be without Darius (and possibly Tim Hardaway if he has a monster year) along with losing Stu and Zack to graduation.

  • MikeSal

    I think everyone can agree that Blake didn’t have the season he expected but someone said we should trade him in for a younger player…he’s was a RS freshman now going into his RS sophomore season. He still has plenty of game time left. I just can’t give up on him and I know coach B is feeling the same way. If he’s doing it in practice then that tells me he has the gaul to do it in a game. Mins are going to be scarce, and if he doesn’t have a good fall he might not get any mins. But I still feel like he has the ability. I have been to 1 game this year (At wisc) and 0 practices, so I don’t have visual proof to back myself up. But if he hits a couple of shots, and starts to get confidence, watch out. I know I’ll prolly get some flack for posting this, but I just don’t think we can count him out yet.

  • Bird

    Hear hear, MikeSal!

    Ever since Novak called him and Vogrich the team’s Harry Dunn and Lloyd Christmas I’ve felt there was a role for Blake on this TEAM, no matter what happened in the games. The preparation/practice contribution alone is enough to justify the scholly, but I do think there’s a very good chance the switch flips on an we’ll have a nifty 6′ 10″ bomber in our arsenal going forward.

    Don’t listen to ’em Harry — or Lloyd — you stay put. Go Blue!

  • ScottGoBlue

    I likewise hope none of these guys transfer. They’ve got plenty of time to develop still and be valuable contributors. Who knows what the future holds as far as the proverbial light going on? Or injuries? Or guys going pro? Or developmental ceilings? No reason for anyone to leave.

    The chemistry we saw this year should be reason enough to want everyone to stay. If the coaches are happy with each of these guys (and they are, by all accounts), then I’m happy.

    Predictions going forward: Horford legitimately competes for a starting spot at the 5; McLimans gives us an offensive spark at the 4; Christian becomes a defensive stopper at the 3 (the yin to Vogrich’s yang) with the added bonus of a decent jump shot inside the arc.

    Since all three guys were freshmen eligibility this year, I think the above predictions are well within reason. They will contribute. Glad they’re on the team.

  • David

    Some of you guys are jerks re: McLimans.

    For heaven’s sake, he just finished his freshman year! Give him some time to develop before you make a decision on whether he can contribute. Kicking him to the curb is not cool.

    I played with a kid in high school who went something like 2/25 on 3’s during his sophomore season. The next year, the same kid set a school record for 3’s made and %, lead our team to a state finals game, and earned D1 scholarship offers.

    McLimans is a 6’10” guy with a pretty stroke. He might turn out to be a player too.


    • billiam

      Ok, I’m high on McLimans, but I don’t think people are being jerks. No one wants him to leave because he’s a bad person; they want more room on the roster. Wanting someone to leave doesn’t mean you’re a jerk. I believe that everyone was respectful in the way they said this? Did I miss anyone?

      P.S. I want McLimans to stay too.

    • Mith

      Sheesh, David, I’m not sure how I’m a jerk because I don’t think McLimians will be a good player. Half the fun of sports is discussing it and stating our own opinions and predictions. It’s not like I’m stating things like they’re fact. I wouldn’t mind him transferring, that’s my opinion. I’m not saying he sucks or I hate him or anything like that. I just don’t see him contributing much. I hope very much I’m wrong about it.

  • Quick Darshan

    I’m pretty high on McLImans. I like the way he moves his feet on defense. The fact that Beilien doesn’t chew him out when he jacks up a three makes me believe that he’s been told to shoot (presumably because he makes thim in practice).

    And one thing that I think really works in his favor is that he’s older than most players in his class. This often leads to a huge jump in production in the college game because he’ll be more physically developed than most players he goes up against.

    From what I understand, NBA scouts look for this type of thing to DOWNGRADE a player because it means he has a lower ceiling. But, from Michigan’s perspective, this is a good thing.

  • MikeR

    Given that Blake is a redshirt freshman, and will be a redshirt sophomore, there’s very little downside from Michigan with him staying in the program. I don’t think we’d try and fill another 2011 slot, and we’ll likely have another 2012 slot if Darius goes pro (with a team with a ton of junior talent, so not much immediate PT). So, the earliest we’d really need another slot is 2013. By then, if Blake continues to play a limited role, he could get his degree and but not get a 5th year.

    2013 would be a good time to add a slot, since we’ll only have one slot (Vogrich’s) assuming that Darius goes pro after next year, and there are no other early departures (although it’s possible that THJ could leave then opening another slot in 2013). In the meantime, if Blake matures and improves more, he could end up be a valuable player in 2013.

  • georgeesq.

    Wisconsin grooms guys just like McLimans for 2 or 3 years, and, just when you think that they’ve graduated a couple of key big men, another one with 2 or 3 years in the program steps up. IMO. it’s really up to Blake and how committed he is to working hard to gain strength and improve his game.

    • Tweeter

      good point here. I could easily see McLimans becoming a Nankovil by the time he is a senior. Strictly a pick and pop big. He could end up having a really nice niche on the team as an outside option at the 5 off the bench. Lots of time until then, its going to be fun to see how these bigs develop.

    • ForeverBlue23

      Yep. JB has talked about how kids develop at different speeds. Beilein finally is getting his roster in a place where he has the luxury of developing kids over a couple of years.

  • Mattski

    We’ve been over the a few times now re: McLimans. I just don’t think you write off a sophomore, esp. when word is he’s lights out in practice. And georgeesq is spot-on re: how Wisconsin grooms players.

  • ScottGoBlue

    ALSO: Next year should mark the end of the “Small Ball” comments people love to make about us.

    1: Morris (6’4), Burke (6’1)
    2: Novak (6’4), Douglass (6’3), Brundidge (6’1)
    3: Hardaway (6’5), Vogrich (6’4), Christian (6’6)
    4: Smotrycz (6’9), McLimans (6’10), Bielfeldt (6’8)
    5: Morgan (6’8), Horford (6’10)

    • ForeverBlue23

      Small ball was an effective weapon last season, often forcing the opponent to adjust to us and sit one of their big men. I like that we will have the versatility to attack with multiple looks.

      • ScottGoBlue

        Yeah, you’re right. I’m glad we’ve got that next year, too. The thing that gets me is that commentators have 2 things they know to talk about when it comes to Michigan: “small ball” and 1-3-1. And they notice an NBA surname or two on the backs of jerseys. Going forward, I hope we get recognition for who we are, not just the pre-processed talking points.

  • FL Wolve

    The thing with McLimans is that he’s now 3 years removed from HS so he should be going into his senior season. He rode the pine as a 5th year senior, he rode the pine while he redshirted, and he received very little PT last season. Maybe the light bulb finally comes on but I wouldn’t bet on it. If he hasn’t shown considerable improvement by now, when is it going to come?

    • Quick Darshan

      Like I said above, his age could be an asset. Often a big that’s old for his class will have a huge jump in production because he’s physically more mature than the players he’s going up against.

    • JD

      I get the argument some of you are trying to make regarding McLimans. The thing you miss out on is that he had a (not very impressive) of prep school before even coming to Michigan. He’ll be 21 in less than a month so he’s not even your average Red-shirt Freshman.

      He may still pan out but it will have to be a non-linear leap.

      • georgeesq.

        He never focused on basketball in high school and played on a very strong prep team for one season, where he didn’t start. He never played AAU. So he’s not as far along as he should be for his age. The argument here is about writing him off. Too soon, IMO.

    • Kenny

      Please do not forget that played volleyball and baseball in high school and has concentrated on basketball for 3 years. Beilein constantly talked about McLimans having good practices, it is just matter of time that it will translate to in game performance.

      • JD

        I’ll knock on wood. It would sure be a bonus if he could at least contribute at a Zack Gibson level.

        • Kenny

          I will be delighted too if McLimans can pull a Zack Gibson off himself. Gibson has some skills but somehow never developed enough strength to be effective playing inside.

    • UM Hoops Fan

      Well, that kind of “realism” lead some, cough cough, to predict 7 wins last year. Blake may never be a big contributor, but I’ll wait and see before I write him off. And by the way, plenty of kids start school late and redshirt, so the whole “should be a senior” thing is true only insofar as it applies to many, many kids. That some of our players are so young in comparison only shows how much room they have to improve compared to many college kids.

  • Brian W

    St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. Figured it was worth mentioning this since U-M missed out on Dom Pointer to St. John’s.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. is on the main page for ESPN’s college basketball section (alternating with a story about UConn). They have Michigan labeled as a team on the rise and have ranked them at number 13 (if Darius comes back) for next season.

    • Brian W

      Oops. That’s Sports Illustrated and not ESPN on the second one.

      • Cyrus Ernesto “Ernie” Zirakzadeh

        Thanks, Brian. I loved that clip.

  • JD

    Total Off-Topic question here:

    On April Fool’s Day, Coach Alexander posted-
    bacari34 Bacari Alexander
    Goodbye Twitter! It’s been fun talking with you all over the year.
    1 Apr Favorite Retweet Reply

    I thought this was a joke, being April Fool’s Day and Bacari being a Tweetaholic. Well, he hasn’t tweeted since.
    Is there an NCAA restriction put on coaches with regards to Twitter?

    • Rebecca

      No, he said he would stop doing twitter if someone didn’t get more followers… I think maybe it was Josh Bartelstein, but I’m not entirely sure.

  • Bluebufoon

    Wolve’s comment shows a lack of class and misrepresents the facts. McLimans played his fifth year at a prep school, that had 8 scholarship players on its roster and returned all five starters from the year before. That being said, I don’t think Beilein recruits Bielfeldt, if he is confident that McLimans and Horford were both big time contributors down the road. I ‘m not in favor of yanking scholarships but I do believe U-M and other quality schools will nudge a kid towards the door, if its in the best interest of the program.

    The Austin Hatch article is very encouraging. Even though the kid is not ranked nationally (yet) it appears John Beilein likes what he sees and ultimately thats the only evaluation thats important to U-M basketball. Hatch’s list of schools U-M, Notre Dame, Virginia and Purdue is fairly stout for a high school sophomore.

    • Fl Wolve

      Are you kidding me BB? I merely state that Blake is an older kid who hasn’t played much in 3 years and you want to push the kid out the door and yet I lack class? That’s some of the most twisted logic I have seen.

      • Bluebufoon

        I’m not advocating McLimans leaving or anyone else specifically but I do believe Coach Beilein has nudged folks toward the door in the past and he will again when he feels it is necessary or more specifically in the best interests of the program.

        Your comments about McLimans at Prep school is too harsh and not factual. Although the kid didn’t start, he played significantly on a team that was loaded with other Division I players, many of which were on the team the year before. Plus it is well-kown, as others have said, Big Men tend to develop at a much slower rate than other players while getting acclimated to college.

        That being said if U-M were able to secure a commitment from Mitch McGary, I would jump for joy because I’m convinced that kid would be lights out in Beilein’s system.

  • FL Wolve

    For the record, I’m not saying that McLimans should transfer or be asked to transfer. I just don’t think that there is much upside left for McLimans. Every team needs depth and role players who are willing take a backseat to the regular rotation guys and McLimans fits that role. In a year or two, he could eventually work himself into the rotation. My original post was just saying that the odds are not great that McLimans becomes a significant contributor. He can still contribute.

    Believe it or not, but not every kid pans out in college. It just happens.

    • Paul


    • BeileinsBricks

      Yup…totally agree. On a team with 13 scholarships, not everyone is going to be an all-star, but they all can fit in certain roles. Still, I think this next year is critical for McLimans. He needs to start contributing, otherwise he will be an odd man out. I think his ceiling would be Zack Gibson…which would be fine as long as Horford has a huge jump and Morgan continues to steadily build on a good freshman year.

  • Brian W

    There’s a tweet that Coach Beilein went to Brewster Academy to see 2012 big man Mitch McGary on Friday. McGary is 6-11 and plays on the same AAU team (SYF Players) as Glenn Robinson III.

  • Paul

    lol – Dayton seems to have out-recruited Michigan this year in the state of Michigan – getting 2 of the 1st team all-state players:|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    • georgeesq.

      Of course, we didn’t offer Henton or Gibson. Gibson on Dream Team is a bit surprising.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Interesting that Brundidge didn’t make the Free Press team but did make the Detroit News team. Gibson had a good season, he’s undersized but was very productive whenever I saw him play.

        • Will Wheaton

          Unsurprising as the Free Press anti U of M bias is well known and in full force.

  • Paul

    Props to Dayton though for snagging 2/5 of the Free Press – state of Michigan dream team!

  • ATLblue

    Draymond Green just tweeted saying “And yes I plan going to the NBA that has been a lifetime dream and goal and I plan on making that happen not waiting for it to happen”

    • ATLblue

      then tweets 15 minutes later “Sorry for the delay but… However I’m grinding ready to lead my young spartan dawgs to the promise land so let’s get it” im sure that scared MSU fans a bit

  • Kainkitizen

    I do see a future for all 3 of them as being the bench players coach beilein needs to build a successful program here at Michigan. Jon Horford means business and is ready to take on 15-20 minutes on the court behind Jordan Morgan. Blake just needs to build confidence with his 3pt shooting in game situations. The 2 makes he had, put a huge smile on his face when he saw the ball go through the net. which says he needs to believe and gain confidence in the game like he has in practice and warm-ups. Colton, I’m not quite sure about. He could be that 5 minute player that we need to come off the bench to stop a player offensive run for us. He has the quickness and size to defend position 1-3. I’d be very happy with that from him. He would be the energy guy coming off the bench from the defensive side of the ball.