Open Thread: Examining the Rotation

Dylan Burkhardt

Zack Novak, Jordan Morgan and Tim Hardaway Jr. started all but one game last season and can safely be penciled into the starting lineup. The other two spots in the Michigan starting lineup are more worthy of debate. The three primary candidates for the final two spots are Stu Douglass, Trey Burke and Evan Smotrycz. Smotrycz and Douglass split time in the starting lineup last season while Burke appears to be the most promising incoming freshman on the Wolverine roster.

In today’s open thread we want to hear who you think will round out the starting lineup. Will Michigan go with experience, young talent or size? Beyond that, how deep will John Beilein go on the bench? He used a short bench last season (Michigan ranked 337th in bench minutes last season) but appears to have more options this season with Jon Horford, Matt Vogrich, Carlton Brundidge and others. Answer both poll questions below and join the debate in the comments.

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  • Jj

    The key to the rotations are: 1. Primary ball-handler  2. Center 3. Novak’s position

    Coaches generally go with experience – especially at guard.  Douglass may or may not start, but he’ll finish.  Reliability, shooting, defense – this is Douglass, and this is what Bielien is about. While I think Burke will be good, Douglass will still get the most run of any guard.   But, one thing he’s not is a primary ball-handler, so you’ll see Burke, THJ, and even Bundridge share those duties.  I think the times where you’ll see a Douglass-Novak-Vogrich lineup will be very rare.

    I believe you’ll see a regression from Morgan w/o Morris around.  He’ll split time about evenly with Horford, who is the better rebounder and defender, with Smotrycz and McLimans supplementing at the 5 on occasion. Smotrycz creates matchup problems at the 5, and I believe Beilein will use him there to exploit that, perhaps with Christian or Biefeldt providing some rebounding from the 4 spot…or Novak.  Somebody with some ‘grit’ to offset Smotrycz’s lack thereof.

    Novak’s at his best at the 4.  He’s more effective there than at the 2 spot.  He’ll play some 3 too, but THJ going to soak up a lot of minutes on the wing, Douglass at the 2, and Vogrich will get his minutes too. Unless Morgan
    and Horford really step up, I think you’ll continue to see some of the undersized lineups that Bielien’s had great success with up to this point. 

    • gpsimms

       totally agree about stu.  i voted above that burke/smot will start the season, but i will also bet anything that novak still plays a lot of minutes at the 4, and stu will “back up” both guard positions enough that he has more minutes at guard than burke, brundidge, vogrich, or novak.

      the thing i am not sure about is the rotation.  i can see up to 10 guys getting minutes, but that seems like too many, so imagine 9 will be regular rotation guys.

      the one thing i disagree about is thjr handling the ball a lot.  i know he worked on it over the off-season, but he’s (or was) just as bad as manny when it comes to ball handling.

      he can handle catching the ball on the wing and taking a couple of dribbles over a screen to his right, but that’s about it.  thjr is so fast, that it’s wasting his speed when he’s got the ball in his hand (assuming he didn’t turn into evan turner as a ball handler over the off season, which, like i said, is doubtful).

      • Agree with Stu playing a lot of minutes but there’s no way he plays more minutes than Novak. (Feel free to quote me on this in February if I’m wrong ;-) )

        • gpsimms

          ha, i agree with you.  i said, “douglass will log more minutes at guard than novak.”

          number 1 and 2 in minutes will be thjr and novak (not necessarily in that order), no contest.

          • OK :-) blame my reading comprehension. I agree that Douglass will play more minutes at the 1 or 2 combined than Novak and we’ll see a lot of Novak (again) at the four.

  • storm33

    Just curious, why does everyone seem to assume Trey Burke will be better than Carlton Brundidge? Both are top-100 recruits, and Brundidge was higher on rivals even.

    • I think the two biggest reasons are:

      Burke is much more of a point guard.

      Burke had a better senior season.

      I think CB can play an interesting role on this team though.

      • storm33

        Do you think there’s any possibility of a Burke-Brundidge backcourt this year?

        • I think Burke and Brundidge could play together at times… Not sure for how long but don’t see why not.

    • GH44

      Type your comment here.Burke is a true pg and Brundidge is a scoring guard. Burke also has a better shot but both will be good. The team NEEDS Burkes pg skills.

      • GregGoBlue

        I’m intrigued to see how/where Beilein will insert Brundidge this season. I think the kid is going to be lethal on the pick and roll in coming years as he is a pure scorer and can take a lot of contact, but where?! At the 3? The 1? 

        • Yep. He could do some interesting things offensively at the three, but you would need a taller 1 or 2 to defend the opposing 3. It will be an interesting situation for Beilein.

  • Tom, Too…

    I just got a cat and named him John Feline.

  • matt d

    Scout premium board is giving not-so good vibes on McGary now. Word is he has pushed the decision date back, and is considering taking other visits. Doesn’t mean that Michigan is no longer the leader, but it means that other schools are potentially closing the gap.

    • GregGoBlue

      MGoBloggers seem to indicate that it’s UF making a late push. 

  • bluemangroup

    i think vogrich plays a lot more than expected because of novak playing more minutes at the 4 where he is more efficient. Vogrich is our best shooter and its tough for a freshman to lead the team at the point

    • A2JD

      While I think Vogrich improved last year, I’d still say that TH Jr. is our best shooter.

  • SamGoBlue

    I still think we see Stu start the season at the 1, but by Big Ten season, we should see Burke starting at the 1 with Stu being the sixth man specialist, able to spell the 1 or 2. If Burke or Novak gets into early foul trouble, injured, or is just off, Stu can come in right away. If Smotrycz has any of these issues, Novak can slide to the 4 and Stu would come in at the 2.

    I also voted for nine players in the rotation, but it’s hard to project. Obviously I think Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrcyz, Morgan, Stu, Vogrich, and Horford get minutes. The wildcard for me is whether or not Brundidge and/or Colton are rotation-caliber players.

  • A2JD

    I could even see Max B. getting some spot minutes…..  I could also see him redshirt if Blake McLimans has improved over the summer.

  • kennyYe

    Several random thoughts1
    1. No freshmen starts early, stu started at 1.
    2. Both Burke and brundridge will be in rotation early, playing time depends on who is more effective at ball screening. And I hope thar brundridge will prove to people that they are wrong.
    3. Expect THJr to have the ball a lot but not as much as manny had.
    4. Horford will rotate at 5.
    5. Smotrysz shows real improvement and we finally see less Novak at 4.

  • Champswest

    If Beilein reads this blog, I’ll bet he gets a laugh at all of these wild ideas, including mine.
    I would disagree with Dylan, that Novak, Morgan & THJ are locks to start.  I think that it is highly likely, but not a lock.  Beilein will have so many options to use this year.  Also, are we talking about the starting 5 for the opener?  The start of league play? by season end? or, the most often used starting 5?  Because I see him using a lot of different combinations depending on the oponent. 
     I expect to see much less of Novak (maybe none at all) at the 4 (due to the improved other options there).
    I voted for a rotation of 8, meaning 5 starters and 3 guys who get most of the remaining minutes, but I expect 9 or 10 guys to get consistant minutes on a regular basis.

    • BlimpyBlue

      Novak will still get plenty of time at the 4.  When Smotrycz is out of the game, I would expect Novak to almost always slide over to the 4.  Plus, there will be plenty of times that Beilein will go with a small lineup during games with Smotrycz playing the 5 and Novak at the 4.

      Novak is going to continue to get 32-35 minutes a game this season, and the fact is that both he and the team have proven to be more effective when he’s at the 4 than it has when he’s playing the 2.  Hopefully Smotrycz’s gains this off season will have altered that, but the team is so comfortable with Zach at the 4 that I’d be shocked if we did not continue to see a lot of it this season.

  • Wd

    So if you are a great coach, and not some fan in the stands, do you play your best players, or your most experienced players???  Or do you simply play the players you like on your team????

    • BlimpyBlue

      Those three things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.