Open Thread: Searching for a No. 2 Scorer on the First Day of Practice

Dylan Burkhardt

(caption) Michigan players (left to right) Zack Novak, Matt Vogrich (hands on court), Evan Smotrycz, Darius Morris, Jordan Morgan and Stu Douglass react to a three-point attempt by junior guard Corey Person late in the Wolverines' victory. Person's shot missed.  *** Michigan defeated Tennessee 75-45. The Wolverines outscored the Volunteers 42-16 in the second half to blow open a close game. Led by Zack Novak with 14 points, the Wolverines had five players score in double digits. *** The Michigan Wolverines take on the Tennessee  Volunteers in a second-round NCAA tournament game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photos taken on Friday, March 18, 2011. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )
Photo: Detroit News

Basketball practice begins in Ann Arbor and across the country today with the first regular season game less than a month away. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the leading returning scorer for the Wolverines. Hardaway averaged 14 points per game last season but is also the only returning player to average over 10 points per game last season which leaves Michigan searching for a number two scorer this season.

The Candidates

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan averaged nine points per game last season and is Michigan’s second leading returning scorer. However, a significant chunk of his baskets were assisted by Darius Morris. Does Morgan expand his game? Does he find similar pick-and-roll opportunities from Hardaway and Burke?
  • Zack Novak: Novak has improved his year-over-year scoring output by roughly one point per game each season, continuing that trend would put him right around 10 points per game as a senior. Despite his improvement, Novak still has the feel of a shooter, not a scorer, and has used just 14 percent of Michigan’s offensive possessions throughout his career.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass seems to add more responsibilities to his plate each season. He’s a shooter first and foremost but he’s also Michigan’s primary defensive stopper on the perimeter and will have to spend more time at the point guard position this season. With that added responsibility, it’s tough to imagine his scoring output increasing significantly.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Smotrycz is an intriguing choice. He gained 36 pounds and is more equipped to deal with the rigors of Big Ten play. He proved himself as a three point shooter (38 percent last season) and if he’s able to improve inside the arc (43 percent last season), he should be able to increase his scoring output significantly.
  • Trey Burke: The most likely candidate to start at point guard, Burke’s greatest asset offensively is his three point shot. His shooting ability and quickness could easily allow him to pack a scoring punch.
  • Carlton Brundidge:  Nobody is quite sure where Brundidge will play (he declared himself a point guard at media day) but there’s no questioning his scoring ability. Brundidge put up huge point totals throughout his prep career in high school games, AAU events and at the prestigious Nike EYBL. If he’s in the game, he’ll be attacking the basket and scoring the ball.
Who do you expect to be Michigan’s number two scorer? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
  • JodyLockman

    Smotrycz should emerge this year to fill that role…CB is no. 2.

  • Ratley

    Is that a typo????  Smotz added 36 lbs!  I know his frame can handle more weight, but can I safely assume this was “good” weight?  He has to step up and be a scorer this year for this team to exceed.

    • Not a typo. He reported at media day that he went from 200 to 236.

    • kennyYe

      I am sure it is more good weight than bad. Beilein had some nice words for him in the media day. 

  • MHoops1

    It will be Smotrycz, and I’ll go one step further–if Smot isn’t a double digit scorer this year, we will fall below expectations. He has a very diverse skill set which includes being able to put the ball on the floor and get mid-range or close shots against guys who have to play him tight to take away the 3; the problem, last year, was that he coudn’t convert. I think he takes a quantum leap up this year, ala a John Shurna at Northwestern. We need it to happen–the fall off from Darius to Trey/Carlton when they are playing PG will likely be 7-8 ppg, and Evan is the guy most likely to make up that slack.  

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Stu and Zack will both have games where they score 20+ and are the leading scorer (or 2nd), as they did in past years.  So too will Vogrich and/or Burke and/or Brundidge.  This won’t be a team where game in and game out THJr and Smote are 1-2 by a large margin.  However, I do expect THJr to be the leading scorer on average and perhaps in most games, and Smote to be 2nd in avg with more big games than everyone but THJr.

  • Mattski

    Interesting question but your equally interesting analysis tends to suggest that they’re going to have to share the rock/do it by committee.

    What I am praying for is that both Brundidge and Burke are ready to contribute, with both Stu and Hardaway distributing the ball, providing some calm and steadiness when it’s needed. Intriguing, for sure, and I personally am even more intrigued by what Horford’s going to bring to the table than Smotrycz.

  • Sven187

    I have no doubt that Evan will be our #2 scorer. I’m expecting 12-13ppg out of him this season. #3 will probably be a revolving door.

  • Billiam

    Here are some interesting reasons for Smot:
    1.) I think Novak moves down the the 2 more this year, opening up time for Smot
    2.) His biggest problem last year was driving to the rack.  He’s now stronger and more athletic.
    3.) We all saw the progression that THJ, Morgan, and D-Mo had under the coaches.  Smot was ranked higher in recruiting than all of them. 
    4.) 2nd year under Coach B is the year most players have recently gotten better.  Smot=Soph

    • Mattski

      All good thoughts. But for some reason–although I want to see him thrive–I have never been convinced that Smotrycz was going to live up to his potential. It seemed like his hurdles were in some ways psychological. . . that he got a little intimidated at times last year, but was starting to “get it” toward year’s end. Maybe that’s just reading in too much.

      • sane1

        I don’t think Smotrycz was intimidated at all. Tentative at times, maybe. Inconsistent, yes. But he has a lot of confidence in himself. At Breslin, for instance, he made a couple of nifty moves for hoops in the paint against MSU’s bigger front line. Not intimidated at all.

      • WingedKnight

        You could say the same for Darius Morris his freshman year.Thats pretty normal for a freshman.   I think you’re definitely reading in to it too much.

        • Mattski

          Never had that feeling with Darius. He was always super-confident, including after he screwed up. It’s certainly true that Evan’s confidence grew. . . but whether he lives up to the high expectations is my question, and I think it’s in doubt. Again, hope he does. 

          • Mattski

            But (btw) I was one of the people who believed in Darius early on last year when others doubted. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. 

  • JBlair52

    Smot all the way but I think it will be interesting to see how the others contribute.

    I think Morgan will be about the same.  Horford, with added minutes, could add a couple as with Vogrich and Brundidge.  I think Burke at the 1 won’t score as many as Morris did so we’ll see less scoring from the 1.  Novak I think will be about the same, maybe a point higher than last year.

    The guy I see surprising i his contribution is Stu.  If he can actually play his natural position for once (2 man) then I think he can toss in 8-10 per game.  He’s had games in the 20’s just about every season and I thnk he’ll be the number one guard coming off the bench be it at the 1 or 2.

  • section13row15

    Wow, no love for JMo? Why doesn’t anyone think he’ll be better this year? He’ll still get touches and he positions himself well to be found in pick and role situations. If he found a semblance of a jump shot over the summer then watch out.

    • JBlair52

      I think that’s the key – the jumpshot.  He’ll get minutes and he’ll get opportunities. I could easily see him at 10 – 11 ppg but the team is so balanced, it’s hard to think where the points will come from.  THj and Smotrycz seem to be the leaders for scoring, then you’ve got Novak, Stu, Morgan that have proven they can contribute (but how much?) and you’ve got Burke that will be on the floor a lot.  Then add in Vogrich and Brundidge and Horford possibly getting some points here and there.

      • sane1

        JMo was very dependent on DMo to get him the ball in scoring position. Not sure he’ll get as many quality/easy hoops this season.

        • Chad

          JoMo has added FOUR inches to his vertical and has been working like a DOG this summer. He is super ripped and looks incredibly strong. Mark my words, #2 scorer!

          • anton

            IF he can stay out of foul trouble.

          • Mattski

            My pick in the poll. Hardaway was getting very good at finding JMo on the pick and roll, too. 

            At the end of the season, someone has scored the most points. But I’ll bet it’s a different guy many, many nights. 

        • Billiam

          Go back and watch tapes from the end of the year. THJ is executing the pick-and-roles too. 
          1.) Coach B said that they’re going to bring in more pick-and-role stuff
          2.) The aforementioned THJ screens (not to mention CB will be using them a lot…again, as per coach B)
          3.) Last, and actually MOST important: if you’re a good screener then you don’t lose that skill when the other guy leaves.  I think Malone would do well with any PG, not just Stockton; while those two were in the NBA, I believe the situation here is analogous.

  • Morgan could still get a lot of easy buckets.  I’m expecting to see guys like Hardaway and Smotz really drive to the basket a lot more this year.  Brundidge should also be a guy that comes off the bench and really attacks the basket.  This could mean a lot of dump off passes when Morgan’s defender goes to help or a lot of easy put backs.

  • q-sac

    all this debate is good – shows we have a lot of scoring options. i agree that i don’t think there will be a clear and consistent “#2” – but i think that will prove to be an asset, having a collection of talent that could “get hot” at any time. a lot of questions with this team, but this is the most excited i’ve been at the start of the season. can’t wait for november.

  • Bonefishken

    I agree with q-sac.  We have a lot of options with 5 or 6 guys, not including TH, who can easily put up 15 or more.  The big question, in my mind, is who is going to handle the ball with a high assist/to ratio.  I wonder if Darius has had second thoughts about his NBA choice with no contract.

  • JLeathead

    i agree that smot will be second then morgan. but i see burke being able to produce a lot his first year. 

    also, off topic but, thinking about our lineup we  should go all bigs in a game with horford and morgan down low smot and THJ on the wings and burke at point. 

    • Matt

      Won’t happen under Beilein.

  • storm33

    I’m sort of confused on the Evan Smotrycz weight gain…I thought the idea was that he was going to develop into a Gordon Hayward-style driving forward.  But this weight gain shows a shift in strategy, so I can assume we’ll see more of Evan in the post?

    • deSal

      i think the weight gain brings him up to par to be able to play like hayward.  it will let him “drive” with out getting pushed around like a pip-squeak

    • Billiam

      Think about it this way: CB is a slasher, even tho he’s way bigger than TB.  If TB were to gain weight, then he could still slash, as shown by CB’s style.  Smot is just trying to be able to add a weapon to his arsenal: strength, or the ability to bullrush opponents.

  • storm33

    Also, a random thing I noticed on the roster: Blake McLimans is listed as a Junior, not as a redshirt Sophomore.  I’m assuming that’s a scholarship decision? McLimans really hasn’t done much (except miss three pointers).

  • BlueFront

    Smotrycz.  But we were more successful last year when we had a variety of game high scorers than two years ago when we relied primarily on Manny and DeShawn.  One of the things I like about this team is we have a lot of guys who can score against Big Ten defenses.  I see us having games with Morgan, Vogrich, Douglass or Novak as #1 or #2 scorers.  When we tally the season though, I am betting Smotrycz will end up as the #2 scorer by average.

  • JBlair52

    Good debate.  I see Hardaway as the clear #1 scorer with 16-18ppg
    Morgan, Burke, Novak, Stu, Smotrycz could all be dropping in 8-11 ppg each.
    Sure have a lot of balance. 

  • Billiam

    I know it’s not related, but after Sparty it needs to be said: can we just have a #2 scorer in FB pleeze?

  • Wayman Britt

    Don’t want to give up on the football team yet, but I am sure looking forward to UM basketball after today.

  • section13row15

    Not saying this guy will ever be our second leading scorer, but did anyone notice from the media day pictures that Colton Christian looks like he put on a solid 20 pounds of muscle this summer?

    • deSal

         it is impossible to add 20 pounds of muscle in one summer without the aid of steroids.

      • Mith

        Calm down.  He didn’t say that he actually added it, he said he “looks like” it.

        • deSal

           i didn’t say that he did in fact say that, i was just stating a fact that doing that is impossible.  i wasn’t lashing out at him.

  • Uristarr

    id have to say it would be jordan morgan, michigans best play last year was the high pick and roll and i hope they expand on it go blue