Monday Roundup: Assistant coaches, Big Ten race, transfers and more

Dylan Burkhardt

Here’s a rundown of some recommended reads across the Michigan basketball landscape. 

MLive’s Brendan Quinn profiled new assistant coach Saddi Washington.

Washington dismissed Michigan’s recruiting mandates as a detriment.

“We’ve won Big Ten championships and we’ve been to the Final Four — I’m not one to come here and disturb the pot,” Washington said. “There’s some success to that blueprint. Is there room for adjustments or tweaks? Perhaps. But there has certainly been a level of success following that pattern.”

Beilein continues to note that he plans to give more responsibility than ever to his new assistants.

“We may do more of that than I’ve ever done, putting more responsibilities on particular assistant coaches,” Beilein said last week at the Big Ten meetings. “Whether it’s offense, we do it a little bit on some facets of the game right now. But I know I can’t wait — we haven’t had that type of time, we’ve been recruiting — to sit and talk and find out what his ideas are, what ours are, and try to blend them.”

“That’s one of the reasons he was hired,” Beilein said of Donlon. “I’ve known him for years. When we played (UNC) Wilmington, he was playing there, their defense was just so good, consistent every day. And then I’ve watched him ever since then and see this great defense. Anybody who can hold Oakland to what they did, it’s really tough. … (Oakland) scored a lot on Michigan State. So he’s a premier defensive talent.”

John Gasaway took an early look at next year’s Big Ten race and tabbed Michigan in the No. 5 spot.

Consider the analytic challenge posed by Michigan. Strictly speaking, this is an NCAA tournament team that returns all five starters: Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton, Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman andMark Donnal. Then again, this is also a defense that allowed conference opponents to convert a whopping 56 percent of their 2-point attempts in 2015-16.

Coach John Beilein’s veteran rotation is unlikely to magically transform into Virginia on defense in the span of just one offseason, of course, but there may be disproportionately rich rewards to be earned if the Wolverines’ interior D can simply approximate the league average. For starters, Robinson is possibly the first 45 percent 3-point shooter I’ve ever seen who makes me feel like that level of accuracy represents not a fluke but merely his floor.

Transfers were a hot topic at the Big Ten meetings in Chicago and John Beilein sounded off on the issue:

“We all feel very strongly that there’s issues with the transfers and we’re all trying to find (a solution),” he said Tuesday at the Big Ten conference offices. “Every situation’s unique, and we’re … saying the solutions are varied, but let’s keep putting ideas out there to make us better. It’s everywhere in men’s basketball. You couple that with NBA attrition, and sometimes it’s hard for coaches to build programs because they’re patching tires.”

Here’s a video look at Caris LeVert’s NBA Draft prep:

2017 point guard Zack Dawson has emerged on Michigan’s radar. He’s averaging 13 points and four assists per game on the Nike EYBL circuit.

EM: Which schools show interest that haven’t yet offered:

ZD:I’ve picked up interest from Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Georgia, Michigan, Miami, and UF. South Carolina, UCONN, & FSU reached out.

EM: Can you tell us a little about the Michigan interest? Is it preliminary and which if any coaches have you talked with?

ZD: The coach I talked to from Michigan was Coach Saddi Washington. They have very high interest. When I was talked about and placed on their board, everyone was very enthused.

Potential late add Harold Baruti never received an offer from Michigan and jumped on the chance to attend Utah.

Further expansion doesn’t appear to be in the immediate plans of the Big Ten:

Athletic directors gathered at the Big Ten headquarters for meetings this week said the topic has not been discussed.

It’s a sharp contrast from the Big 12, where presidents are considering expansion from 10 teams. The league is mulling whether adding two more members, splitting into divisions and playing a football championship game will increase its revenue and chances of participating in the College Football Playoff.

“We have other things that we’re focused on,” Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst said. “The stability is terrific, that’s for sure.”

Inside the Hall examines breakout candidates for every Big Ten school including Moritz Wagner:

Michigan – Moritz Wagner: The German big man showed flashes of his potential as a freshman, but never really put things together consistently enough to carve out a significant role for the Wolverines. That should change as a sophomore. Wagner made over 70 percent of his 2s last season and with Ricky Doyle and Kameron Chatman transferring, he’ll be a key piece for the Wolverines.

  • A2JD

    Dylan- If you feel comfortable with giving an opinion: Do you think Michigan has lost out on any potential recruits with their No Visit- No Offer policy? Also, do you think other coaches negatively recruit against Michigan with regards to that policy?

    • I don’t really see it as a huge issue. How many kids have ever committed to a school without visiting?

      Some schools extend so many offers that they are almost meaningless (Indiana) while others are more like Michigan. I think the selling point for a school that doesn’t extend many offers is that it has more meaning and is more serious.

      I can’t really think of a recruitment where the difference was that Michigan didn’t extend and early offer or something along those lines.

      • A2JD

        Thanks. I was wondering if there were some kids that don’t plan on making a visit until they have an offer or not. It seems like Beilein’s approach is different but it may just be a case of me not knowing how other schools operate. Maybe a bunch take this approach, I don’t know. It sounded unique when it was first discussed.
        Also, having heard about names in the past like Diamond Stone and Stephen Zimmerman who were mentioned here as guys Michigan was recruiting but then were never extended an offer. Just trying to figure out why nothing ever materialized.

  • gobluemd16

    Can’t see the rest of the article, but Michigan 5th in the Big Ten next season? That would be a big disappointment.

  • David Remmler

    Recruiting continues to be a severe disappointment. Three straight classes outside the top 25 despite a Final Four and Elite Eight run. That’s ridiculous. The offseason has only revealed that recruiting has been even worse than the poor rankings. The “gem” and only highly ranked player of the 2014 class just transferred after two minimally productive seasons. The most athletically gifted player from that class also just transferred. This year’s class looked decent (although still very subpar for a program like Michigan) but now is looking really inadequate with two open roster spots. Simpson looks like an elite PG but otherwise the class is a gamble with recent recruiting busts suggesting another hidden gem is a longshot.

    I’m still looking forward to next season. But several players have to outplay expectations or make major improvements. On paper, it looks like a middle of the pack Big Ten team.

  • bobohle

    Dylan, again thanks for the updates. I agree with Mr. Remmler and A2JD below as well as Wayman Britt on almost every post about recruiting. It’s time to make adjustments in recruiting policy and procedure. No way we should be sitting on open scholarships again. To me 2017 has to be a banner class.

    • Champswest

      Re: Open scholarships.
      When three guys transfer after the season, what are we suppose to do? The cream of the 2016 class has already signed. Should we just grab some bodies to fill the slots? Should we over-sign by 3 every year so that we can have guys transfer and still have a full roster?
      What policies and procedures should we change?

      • Lopez

        Champ I have the same questions you have. Some seem to think that players just fall out of the sky. It also takes too to tango. Just because they are out there does not mean they want to come and most likely come off the bench. I think we most likely will be looking for a wing for dept. Not sure we will find a grad transfer 4. and difference maker 4’s for 16 most likely won’t happen.

      • AA7596

        Sign a grad transfer. It’s not that complicated.

        The problem is A) it’s a competitive market and B) I’m still not convinced Beilein is comfortable with it, given his previous comments suggesting it’s an academic sham. I know he has said he’s willing to, but the program’s actions so far belie that. The one guy they got close with was from the Ivy, and this is in a year where they obviously could use one.

        Dylan made a good point recently that U-M could be at a disadvantage because they have five returning starters and a grad transfer would want a big role. That could be, but MSU landed one, and there’s just no way to argue that there’s tougher roster competition in Ann Arbor than in East Lansing, irrespective of returning-starter numbers.

      • Wayman Britt

        First of all basketball recruiting is very very slimy. It just is, more than other sports. I don’t want UM to cheat, but hear are a few things they might want to do:
        1. Deal more with AAU coaches rather than high school coaches. Rick Pitino doesn’t even talk to H.S. coaches. UM may have to deal with “handlers” in a non cheating way.
        2. Contact more 5 star kids to gage their interest. I understand Jaylen Brown had to contact UM first before UM contacted him.
        3. Sometimes you have to take a risk on players who may have an edge or will stand up, UM always is looking for players who won’t make waves. This is just they way high calibare players are today.

        Some posters are going to take this the wrong way and think I am saying pay players, I am not, it’s just you have play at the edges. For example – Do you think Harbaugh would even consider hiring some of those H.S. coaches or parents of players that he did if they did not bring him good players. If you do, then you may want to go back to the 1950’s.

    • Barth Applefeld

      Yes, in a very general way. Beilein came from programs where he took players and developed them over 4 years. At Michigan, he can recruit better players, and sometimes they leave early after he coaches them up. Additionally, he had a few recruits that left for other reasons.
      The result has been that the last two years have been a learning process for him. Expectations are higher for him, rightly so, and having open spots late every recruiting year is not optimum, but it is a lot better than what came before and what goes on at other schools.
      Personally, I prefer it to one-and-done schools, of which I see two close up (one about to get severe NCAA sanctions I bet). Can’t blame players. In a way, can’t blame the schools (although they are ripping off the players by making a fortune off them).
      But who cares? It’s all about the winning and not about the students at all. My rant.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    i expect Wagner to have a big year…he will be our x-factor! with an experienced team finally, i expect us to easily be a tournament team and maybe contend for a BigTen title…anything that our freshmen give will be a bonus! this will be Beilein 1st upperclassmen team since West Virginia if im not mistaken…not including the team he inherited when he got to Michigan of course…these are all his players – good mix of seniors/juniors