Twitter Mailbag: Point Guard, Horford, McGary, Leadership and More

Dylan Burkhardt
Burke[1]@HokeMania21 What should we expect from Trey Burke?
@MichaelIanPPete I know there is no way of knowing, but what is your personal feeling on Trey Burke starting, % chance? In your opinion

Trey Burke was far and away the most popular subject among submitted questions. Everyone wants to know whether Burke will start, what impact he will make and how he fits into the team. The last two times I saw Trey play live he displayed the full spectrum of both why he could excel and why he might struggle.

The first game, an 84-81 win over Lakewood St. Edward’s, showed off everything there is to love about Burke. He was aggressive, played with emotion and single handedly kept his team in the game. He finished the game with 35 points on 14 of 21 (7-12 3pt) shooting and played well enough to turn a few northeast Ohio natives into Mr. Basketball believers. His competitiveness, leadership and feel for the game are impressive but it’s his three point shooting which could enable him to make the biggest impact on the 2011-12 season. His shooting ability will prevent defenses from sagging off of him, a luxury that Darius Morris never had and will prove more effective with other viable offensive and shooting threats surrounding him.

The second game was the Division I semifinals at Value City Arena in Columbus. Burke’s Northland team won the game but he struggled in both of their final two games, finishing with 15 points on 4 of 17 (0-5 3pt) shooting and more turnovers than assists. Burke was frustrated with Garfield Height’s pressure defense and could never find his shooting stroke. At a listed 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, he’s the smallest player on the Michigan roster and could struggle with the physical nature of the league. Play close attention to the impact that Burke can make on the game when his shot isn’t falling. If he’s getting his teammates involved and not forcing things, it’s a safe bet that Michigan is winning. The concern is that he reacts like a traditional freshman: getting frustrated, overdriving and settling for below average three point looks.

I won’t deny that I’m a fan of Burke’s game. He lives and breathes basketball and seems to have the right approach to the game. There will be bumps along the way but right now Burke is in the driver’s seat.
@Haveninak: have the bigs gained good weight? Especially interested in Smotz and Horford.
@hailtothevictor:  saw jon horford the other day in the league, it looks like he put on a bit of (good) weight … target weight?

Jon Horford was the heavy gainer over the summer. He was listed at 6-foot-9 215 pounds as a freshman and is now listed at 6-foot-9 250 pounds on the current roster. Horford was the player that obviously needed to get bigger and 250 pounds makes him the heaviest player on the roster. It remains to be seen how he carries the new weight and what impact it has but it’s certainly encouraging that he was able to put on that much muscle.

Evan Smotrycz added 10 pounds, from 225 to 235 pounds, which is impressive considering I thought he had to turn bad weight into good weight. Reports from Smotrycz’s summer gym back in Boston were that he added onto his vertical and improved his shuttle times significantly over the summer.

Finally there’s Morgan, who checks in at the same 240 pounds from a year ago. Of the three returning bigs, Morgan is the one player that didn’t need to add weight and could do to just improve conditioning, vertical, etc. Some other notable measurements: Max Bielfeldt checks in at 6-foot-8 240 pounds and should provide muscle. Colton Christian and Zack Novak are the same weight from a year ago, 215 and 210 respectively.

@RealGarthVader Who’s your starting 5? I’ve got Hardaway, Douglass, Novak, Morgan, and Smotrycz.

Right now I’ll go with Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz and Morgan. Novak, Hardaway and Morgan started all but one game last season and are as close to sure things as possible. Smotrycz and Burke are the question marks. Smotrycz provides Michigan the offensive look with the most potential but he obviously has to earn it. Burke is the only true point guard on the Michigan roster and, if you remember, Beilein wasn’t scared to start Darius Morris from day one during his freshman year.


@BrandonGerth: after Novak is gone. Who is stepping up to take his vocal leadership role that has been so vital to there recent success

This question is probably a year too early because we are just about to begin this season, but it’s an interesting storyline to watch as the season progresses. Novak and Douglass are the unquestioned leaders of this team, with Novak obviously the more vocal and impactful of the two, but part of their responsibility is to help the younger players on the team begin to take ownership of the program. Novak addressed that mentality and much more in a Q&A with Chantel Jennings from Wolverine Nation:

If anything, this year, I don’t want to say I’m going to take less of a leadership role but hopefully I don’t have to do it as much. Because the idea behind a sustainable program is that you have someone to step in right away. I’m not going to be here next year, so I think if it’s just two years in a row and it’s me leading all the time and no one stepping up, next year what would happen would be what happened our sophomore year where we had this huge void.

As for the players that would seem most likely to step into a leadership role in 2012-13, a couple stand out. Novak mentioned Hardaway as someone that has stepped up his leadership role but I’d look for Jordan Morgan to make strides in the leadership department as well. Two other candidates are Matt Vogrich, who will be the only true senior on that roster, and Trey Burke, who has a fiery competitive attitude and could make strides entering his sophomore season.

@dangerdav: mitch mcgary
@bouje what are michigan’s chances with mcgary? So youre sayin’ there’s a chance?!

Yes, Michigan has a chance at McGary. He thoroughly enjoyed his official visit, his AAU coach is in the Wolverines’ corner and the Michigan staff continues to do everything that they can. Most recently, Bacari Alexander stopped by Brewster’s open gym earlier this week.

That being said, there’s no denying that Duke has made an impact in McGary’s recruitment. Last week’s report that McGary’s family was favoring Duke hints at what the Michigan staff are up against. Mitch continues to reiterate that he’d like to take officials to Kentucky, Florida and Maryland and for now the Wolverines have to wait things out.

This site is supported by donations

Like what you see? Click the button below to donate and access exclusive content.

  • Mattski

    Glad you agree with me about Morgan’s potential leadership role, Dylan :). His dunks and warrior spirit energize the team. 

    • kennyYe

      Completely agree

  • kennyYe

    THJr will for certain handle the ball more with the departure of Morris. My concern is how this will affect his game. Burke, if he is a good defender as advertised, will contribute early as a defender and a shooter but it will take time for him to get comfortable to run the offense. Without Morris, both THJr and Smotrysz need to step up.

    It is also funny that almost everyone has completely written off McLimens but I think that he could be a pleasant surprise for this year’s team.  

    • Mith

      McLimians was so dreadful last year that’s its hard NOT to write him off.  Any contribution he makes will be a welcome surprise.

    • Wayman Britt

      Kenny – It’s not funny when McLimens shot less than 20% and was out rebounded by guys half his size last year.  I would love to see him contribute this year and be a pleasant surprise, but I don’t know.

  • GregGoBlue

    Now that Horford has taken care of the size issue, the bigger thing to me is to see if he can take care of his fouling issue. If he is able to stay in the game, I suspect he’ll be a real force off the bench for Morgan. This is one of the more intriguing storylines of the season, I think.

    Speaking of the bench, I like our bench this year. Vogrich, Horford, likely Stu, and maybe some Brundidge and Colton Christian (wild cards) in there as well.

    • deSal

      brundidge will play

  • Jj

    Noticed in several posts that you want to push Stu to the bench.  What do you have against the guy?  He was clearly the best perimeter defender on the roster and he’s a senior.  Defense and leadership and shooting – why would Bielien bench a guy like that?  Each year he tries other guys but Stu ends up starting because he’s the best option.

    I know you’ve argued before that his shot wanes with more minutes, but that doesn’t at all account for the difference in level of competition (i.e. of course he shoots better and plays less against the soft non-conference schedule…)

    If Burke and Smot prove the team is better with them in the lineup than Stu – great.  But we aren’t there yet.

    Excellent work as always, I just disagree with how Stu should be used.

    • Kevin in GR

      It seems to make more sense to have him come off the bench for a couple reasons…..For one, I doubt we would want to have both Burke and Brundidge on the court at the same time next year, given they’re both freshmen. Second, I remember how Beilein tries to have balance on the court with the 1st/2nd teams so there’s not a huge dropoff when they go to the bench. Also, it would seem as though Burke would be a nice compliment to Novak, while Douglass would be a nice compliment to Brudidge.

      So I don’t think I’d be too hung up on who “starts” as it’s really about what’s best for the team!

    • gpsimms

      yeah, also dylan has written a few posts about how stu’s production increases when his minutes are less. he doesn’t have anything “against” stu, that is just how he believes he should be used.

      personally, i think stu will start at some point this year.  we see it every year: someone come in, who we think will be better, they hit a freshman wall, stu starts playing 35 minutes and ultimately the team plays better down the stretch with stu in the game more.

      i would not be at all surprised if this happens.

      i remember everyone gave me a hard time when i said stu would play around 32-35 minutes during the last offseason, and while he didn’t play that many minutes the first half of the season, he did by the end.

    • I think Stu is best as a sixth man. That doesn’t mean I have something against him though. He is the best and most proven perimeter defender on the roster — something that I’ve tried to emphasize.

      Douglass as a sixth man gives you the most flexibility to adjust as the game goes on.  If the other team is proving too quick for Novak to defend on the perimeter then you bring him in next to Burke. If Smotrycz is struggling, you can slide Novak up to the four and slide Douglass in at the two. If Burke struggles, you have your back-up point guard ready to go.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak and Morgan line-up close games, especially early on.

      • Champswest

        Dylan, not to nit-pick your Stu 6th man thinking, but you can pretty much accomplish all of those same things by sliding Stu over from the point guard spot and brining in Burke. 
        The bigger issue, IMO, is who is going to be better at running the point (especially early in the season).

        • GregGoBlue

          No, you can’t. 

  • blucinic

    I get that we have a chance with McGary, but that it will be hard in terms of the competition with Duke. Let alone Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, and Maryland. I have two questions:

    1)  When do you think he’ll decide?
    2)  He is clearly in the “one and done” camp. Is that a foregone conclusion, particularly if he plays well that one year? What I’m not clear on is if there comes a point where you are actually better off looking elsewhere and forgetting about McGary. At this point, we’re holding open a slot for him. Does there come a time where we say, “Mitch, we would have loved to have you, we wish you well, but we can’t wait any longer, and we’re extending the offer elsewhere.”

    • gpsimms

      actually, i wouldn’t say we’re “holding a spot for him.”  if he decides to come, we could find ourselves in an awkward scholarship crunch next summer before the signing period.

    • SamGoBlue

      1.) No one knows right now, give the kid some time.
      2.) He is not clearly in the “one and done” camp, not really sure where you got that idea from. And no. Just no.

    • If McGary wants to come to Michigan there will be a spot for him. We aren’t really recruiting anyone else in 2012 right now so the notion that we’re “holding a spot” is a bit silly. 

      The chances of him being a one and done are very high – especially because he’s already older and a post graduate at Brewster (he potentially could enter the draft *this* season).

      He also plans to decide sometime before his season and sign during the November early signing period.

      • Champswest

        I put our chances of landing McGary at less than 50%.  So, as much as I would love to have him, I am not getting my hopes up.

  • Brian_W_97

    Kudos to the athletic department on the Crisler Arena refurbishment.  The new seats are much more comfortable than the test chairs that they had in place last season.  The seats are comfy and look great.  The new scoreboard is sweet also.  Really looking forward to the season.

  • gpsimms


    random request:  if it is ok with the dude who made the sweet video with the fab five, etc, can you put that video permanently in the 2010-2011 highlights tab?

    • I will add it to that page as well as update all of the other videos, I think a couple player ones aren’t there yet.

  • BlueFront

    Crisler looked really sweet yesterday.  Nice job by Michigan in hosting the open house.  Although my seats stayed in the same location, the perspective changes a lot.  It is going to take some getting used to being behind the student section and benches instead of sitting across the court from them.  

    • sane1

      Just the opposite for me. I was two rows above the MR last season. Now on the opposite side of the court. I liked being just above the students.

  • MusketRebellion

    Dylan, what would you say, would be the pros for McGary if he goes to Duke? It isn’t like Coach K has a great track record of bigs in the league, but it sounds like Duke is the main competition at this point.