Twitter Mailbag: McGary, Novak, Defense and More

Dylan Burkhardt

bilde[1]From @MichiganPrepStars: What are the chances of Michigan landing Mitch McGary and/or Gary Harris if at all?

Michigan has a shot at McGary. The Wolverines have already landed an unofficial visit, made McGary’s top six and have developed a strong relationship with the SYF Players AAU program after landing commitments from Glenn Robinson III and Max Bielfeldt.

On the other hand, it’s tough to be too optimistic when the competition includes Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky. There’s a reason that McGary is ranked among the top five players in the country: he’s really good.

A recent report from Evan Daniels noted that Michigan was one of the teams most often mentioned in regards to McGary. However, there’s also been plenty of talk that most people don’t have a clue what McGary’s going to do. McGary took a trip to Florida this week and outlined his visit plans in a new blog on ESPN:

At the beginning of September, I’m taking an official to Michigan [Ed: WMU game]. After I get back from there, I’ll take an unofficial visit to Kentucky, then Sept. 6-7 I’ll take an official visit to North Carolina. After that I’ll head over to Duke from Sept. 8-10 for an official. I’m gonna watch Duke play Stanford on the football field. Then I’ll head to school on Sept. 11.

I think the Gary Harris dream has probably ended at this point. Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue appear to have a leg out in front in that recruitment and it’s tough to imagine Michigan making it back into the picture, even with Harris’s 2013 high school teammate Zak Irvin headed to Ann Arbor.

From @rbraidwo: will we still occasionally see Novak at the 4?

Novak has played the majority of his minutes at the four position for the last three seasons and I don’t see any way that he doesn’t play any minutes at the four this year. We say it every year, but this season it might finally be realistic for Novak to play significantly fewer minutes at that spot. I expect Novak to start the the off guard, similar to last season, with Smotrycz starting the four. Evan Smotrycz’s improvement and impact on the game will have a direct correlation to the number of minutes that Novak plays at the four.  If Smotrycz is productive, stays out of foul trouble and can defend opposing fours, Novak will see his time at the spot diminish. Michigan also has a bit more flexibility at the four spot this year with a bigger and stronger player like Max Bielfeldt as a potential option, or perhaps Colton Christian continuing to develop.

From @IndyHSHoops: With Michigan’s recent recruiting success in Indiana, do you expect the Wolverines to continue to recruit the Hoosier state hard?
I don’t think there’s any doubt that John Beilein and his staff will continue to focus on recruiting the state of Indiana. The talent is most certainly there and Michigan has made strides with recent coaching moves and recruitments. Assistant coach Jeff Meyer has years of experience, having coached at Purdue, Butler and Indiana during his career, and he has made an immediate impact. Similarly, Lavall Jordan played at Butler and is well respected by many throughout the state that remember his playing days.

Early on in Beilein’s tenure he focused on the state of Indiana. Michigan swung and missed on several Indiana prospects – most notably Gordon Hayward – and took flyers on a pair of kids that weren’t highly regarded but have become fixtures in the Michigan lineup: Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. The relationships that the Michigan staff has cultivated with the AAU programs across the state – most recently the SYF Players and Eric Gordon All-Stars – should have nothing but a positive effect going forward as the Wolverines begin to focus on younger talent in the Hoosier State.

From @rbraidwo: how good was Morris on D? should we expect a downgrade with Burke starting?
This is a good question and the answer is a bit multi dimensional. Morris had great size and strength, which made him a capable defender, but I would never consider him a great defender. Stu Douglass was generally tasked with guarding quicker guards (Battle, Lucas, etc.) and Morris exerted a lot of energy on the offensive end of the floor.

Burke, at 6-foot-1, is a much smaller player than Morris and he’s also much quicker. It’s tough to expect a true freshman, one that’s also trying to learn John Beilein’s intricate offense, to be a great defender. There are some freshmen that simply excel as defenders at the next level, someone like Aaron Craft for example. Burke might not have the ability to be an elite level defender out of the gate, but he certainly has the potential to be an average to above average perimeter defender at this level.

From @jetsgreen: does Hardaway have All-American potential this season?

When you talk about All-Americans in the preseason you obviously have to focus on guys like Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes. I don’t think Hardaway did enough last season to be considered as a pre-season All-American, on the other hand he played nearly as well as one for the final two months of the season. Can he put that sort of performance together for a whole year? If he can then, he’s more than capable of playing at an All-Big Ten first team level and perhaps earning a nod on someone’s second or third team All-American roster when all is said and done.

  • umkevin

    This is confusing. Recruits can’t take official visits until classes start their senior year, yet McGary talks about taking three officials before heading to school. Is he taking the first week off from class, or are those really unofficial visits? What am I missing here?

    • MGoTweeter

      It may have to do with the fact that he goes to prep school, and may have been already considered a senior before now.  I remember there was some talk of reclassifying for the 2011 recruiting class.  

      • umkevin

        Good point. He must not have taken any (or at least not more than two) officials during his 12th grade year, in that case.

  • max

    Novak is at his best exploiting mismatches at the 4.  If he’s used primarily as a 2, he’ll be less effective and the team will suffer for it.

    • Bluebufoon

      Michigan has to blow Mitch McGary’s and his parents doors off, before the young man has an opportunity to visit Tobacco Road. If you look at available playing time and all the low post players in the NBA, I would think Carolina could be hard to beat. There’s no-way McGary should consider Duke, they would just turn him into another
      perimeter oriented jump-shooter. Compare the productivity of Duke’s Josh McRobert’s who came in as the National High School Player of The year versus Tyler Hansbrough, who left Chapel Hill as a three-time All-American and with a National Player -Of-the-Year award.

  • I have 3 items:

    1 – McGary = Yes Please!

    2 – Just watched the video of Stauskas against Baylor. Most of what he did was hitting from the outside, but anyone who can put up 27 points against a college squad, when he’s just going into his senior year of high school is okay by me. I still can’t believe he’s not ranked higher, not that it really matters.

    3 – I’m working on the season highlight video now, so look for it sometime in the next couple of weeks.

  • maxwell’s demon

    RE: Morris’ D.
    The fact that Stu guarded the top opposing guard, rather than Morris, may not be a reflection of Morris’ D but simply a strategic decision by JB to keep him fresh. I agree his defensive presence won’t really be missed, but it might not be fair to comment on his actual defensive abilities if they were intentionally harnessed for the sake of energy.

    • SamGoBlue

      I think if Morris was a better defender than Stu, you would have seen him playing against the opponent’s top guy on offense. This wasn’t the case. While Morris was long, he was never extremely quick and I never felt he fully played to his potential on D. With Burke being so under-sized, I could see him getting bullied around by a Jordan Taylor-type player, but hopefully he bulks up a little bit and keeps his apparently quick feet.

      • James

        I agree. Morris could get a little lazy on D at times, and had difficulty staying in front of quicker guards. He was by no means a bad defender, but he wasn’t great either.

        • Beilein’s Swish

          I do think this was by design.  If there was one player we couldn’t afford to get in foul trouble, it was Darius.  He was more than 50% of our offense, without a real back-up.

          • sane1

            I don’t think that it was about protecting Darius from foul trouble. Hell, he got benched for major stretches of games. Darius was simply not a good defender. His lateral movement was a step slow, his rotations were not quick enough, and he lost focus at times and made mental errors. I don’t want to overstate this, but Darius had he come back, needed to shore up his defense.

          • Kevin in GR

            FWIW, D-Mo did lead the team in steals (36). Next closest was Hardaway with 34.

          • Beilein’s Swish

            The guy averaged 35MPG, and that’s despite a couple of benchings.  I really do think they were protecting him from foul trouble (or he was protecting himself).  He really did exert himself much more on defense his Freshman year, and I still remember the great job he did on K. Lucas in the first MSU game.  

            He was basically irreplaceable last year, and the majority of his effort went to having to create offense.  My guess, if he makes the NBA roster (and there’s a season), we’ll see a ramped up defensive effort on his part (which is his true ability).

          • sane1

            I retract the benching part – DMo played 35+ min. in all but a few games. I stand by my opinion on his defense.

          • AlwaysBlue

            Protecting him from foul trouble only confirms the criticism.  His quickness was an issue which left him reaching too often.  Defense starts with the feet.

  • Colby84

    2013 big man lists Michigan as recruiting him hard and also another 13 big man Dominic Woodson from Texas is hearing from Michigan. He plays AAU ball for Ray Jackson’s program which maybe a help. Both kids sound like athletic posts.

    • SamGoBlue

      As I have said before, I’m fairly certain our 2013 class is set. While we might think about taking a big man if needed due to attrition, I wouldn’t set my hopes too high on Okonoboh. Coming from Tilton, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up in the Big East.

  • section13row15

    Darius got benched for major stretches of games??? I was at every home game last season and watched every away game, and I only remember one instance of this as more of a disciplinary thing, not because of his defense.

  • MichPrepStars

    Dylan, I agree 100% about McGary.  Michigan has a legit shot with McGary based on several factors.   AAU coach Wayne Brumm (SYF) warming up to the staff, the Michigan coaching staff being all over watching Trey and Mitch and the fact that Bielfeldt(SYF) and Novak are there now.  Plus, Michigan was also talking to him when he was not as highly touted.  McGary has also stated that Robinson has been his best friend for awhile.  Hard to take out Duke/NC, etc but don’t count Michigan out here.  I think this could be where Lavall and Bacari could prove how invaluable and underrated they are as recruiters.