John Beilein was on the podium this morning in Chicago to preview Michigan’s upcoming season at the annual Big Ten Media Day. Beilein spoke about Caris LeVert, expectations, the desire to get back to the Final Four and Michigan’s Italy trip. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
JOHN BEILEIN: Well, it is good to be here and get the season going again. We’ve been practicing for a little bit, but October 15th, yesterday, was the first day we really opened up camp and said we’re in it now. This is the time of the year to get the media and all our obligations out of the way so we can really concentrate over these next four weeks to get ready for our first game.
Q. Caris LeVert named first‑team, how do you think he’ll handle the spotlight this season?
JOHN BEILEIN: Well, you never know. He was in it a bit last year. I mean, there were several games where we just went to him because people were doing things with Nick or with Glenn, Jordan Morgan, Mitch, so we just went with him. He’s sort of used to it. I love his personality because he doesn’t let things bother him very much, so I don’t think he gets too excited or he gets too worried about either situation.
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Michigan junior guard Caris Levert was selected to the Big Ten’s five-man preseason All-Big Ten squad this morning.
LeVert averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a sophomore and will be asked to shoulder more of the load during his junior year after the departures of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Jordan Morgan. The 6-foot-7 junior is projected as a first-round pick and will hope to follow in the footsteps of his former teammates Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas, the conference’s last two Big Ten Players of the Year.
Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky was the only unanimous selection on the five-man team while Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway and Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker were also selected.
The Big Ten also released the top three teams in the preseason pol. Wisconsin was a unanimous choice to win the league, followed by Michigan State and Ohio State. While the full poll is not released by the conference, an unofficial poll of league beat writers picked Michigan fifth.
The Big Ten conference won’t release an entire preseason poll at Thursday’s Big Ten Media Day, opting instead to just unveil the league’s top three teams.
However, Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch, completed his annual poll of Big Ten writers (27, up to two per program) for the upcoming season.
The league’s media voted Michigan to finish in fifth place, behind Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska.
The Wolverines won the conference by three games last season, but will be forced to deal with the departures of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Morgan, Mitch and Jon Horford this season. Wisconsin is the odds on favorite to win the league, drawing 378 votes, 56 votes ahead of second place Ohio State.
Michigan received 286 votes, just 13 votes behind Nebraska and 60 votes ahead of Minnesota at No. 6. Find the entire conference poll after the jump. (Photo: Dustin Johnston) [click to continue…]
With the start of college basketball around the corner, we’re breaking down Michigan’s roster player-by-player. Today, we start with Spike Albrecht. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
Last summer, Spike Albrecht spent the summer as something of a folk hero. He had exploded onto the national scene with his heroic 17 point performance in the championship game and he had asked Kate Upton out on a date and gained tens of thousands of Twitter followers.
With a freshman point guard coming into the fold, there was some speculation that Albrecht could push to start during his sophomore year. Instead, Derrick Walton won the job fair and square, as many expected. While Albrecht played more minutes as a sophomore, his role was still very similar to his freshman year. He came off the bench, ran the offense effectively and shot more than his fair share of threes.
Albrecht only reached double figures in one game, but he still had his moments, particularly the Iowa game where he got the start and led Michigan to a win in Walton’s absence. Now a junior, Albrecht is Michigan’s oldest player and ready to take on a significant leadership responsibility.
“Spike Albrecht at every point was the voice of the team,” Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer said in recollecting Michigan’s Italian tour. “He just took it upon himself. Certainly Caris, Zak and Derrick are right there. It certainly is a Mt. Rushmore in terms of this group moving forward with the leadership pieces.”
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Three years ago, Michigan won the Big Ten with a starting lineup that measured 6-1, 6-3, 6-5, 6-4 and 6-8. The Wolverines were one of the smallest teams in the country and while they certainly rebounded like it, they also found a way to win.
Since then, John Beilein has been forced to overhaul his roster almost every season. The only players from that roster still playing college basketball are doing so at other schools. In its place is perhaps Beilein’s best combination of length and versatility yet. The Wolverines can now lean on a starting lineup that measures: 6-1, 6-7, 6-6, 6-8 and 6-9.
For all of the questions about Michigan’s youth and inexperience this season, there’s a lot to like about the roster that John Beilein has constructed. It’s tough to say how they’ll all fit together, but it’s clear that there’s a very flexible group for Beilein to develop.
“We have guards, we have forwards and we have a guy that plays in the middle. Sometimes we will have four guys out there at one time that are guards,” Beilein said. “Because of Kam’s ball-handling ability, I think he can play a lot of positions. This may be one of our more versatile teams.”
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When Michigan’s coaches spoke to the team’s centers about expectations for the upcoming season, one of them wasn’t particularly impressed.
“Ricky Doyle, being a true freshman, said ‘Coach, that seems like a low expectation,’ ” assistant Bacari Alexander recalled on WTKA-AM (1050) on Wednesday morning.
Alexander had told the trio of Doyle, redshirt freshman Mark Donnal, and senior Max Bielfeldt that he hoped they’d combine for 15 points and 15 rebounds per game this year.
“There’s an ability to have an inside-out approach that allows them the ability to really be a threat from 15-17 feet,” Alexander said. “Because they’re young, we can grow that range over time to make those guys remind us of some of Beilein’s previous teams, when he had really deadly big men who could shoot.”
Much of that production will likely come the duo Alexander called “thunder and lightning”: Doyle and Donnal. And in contrast to Jordan Morgan’s dependance on the pick-and-roll, the Wolverines will have more versatility at the position this year.
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