Next up in our positional Big Ten previews, which will feature guards, wings, combo forwards and bigs, we have the wing guards and forwards. The wing group is highlighted by Ohio State senior William Buford, Michigan sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. as well as a pair of true freshmen. [Previously: Guards, Bigs]
1. William Buford – Sr. – Ohio State
Upside: Buford is the fifth most efficient returning player in the Big Ten that used over a fifth of his team’s possessions and should have even more opportunity this season with the departures of David Lighty and Jon Diebler. He’s a lethal three point shooter (44 percent last season) but has struggled a bit inside the arc, and needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. Downside: One of the most underappreciated stars in the Big Ten, Buford has been overshadowed by his teammates’ starpower throughout his career. First it was Evan Turner and last season it was Jared Sullinger. Sullinger is back for another year which means Buford won’t be the featured player yet again. [click to continue…]
The Gophers lost 10 of their final 11 games last season despite a promising non-conference start. What are the expectations for this season in Minneapolis?
With so many new faces on the team, the only real expectation is to not lose 10 of the final 11 games. The Big Ten should have something of a down year, with the departure of so many of last year’s best players, so finishing in the top half of the Big Ten is a goal. But no one would be shocked if the Gophers slide off the bubble into the NIT. But hey, that is better than last year, and better than most other teams in this town in the last year.
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.
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.
Upside: Sullinger dominated the league last season and he spent the off-season getting in shape – bad news for the Big Ten. He converts on the block, gets to the free throw line, dominates both backboards and rarely turns the ball over. The only thing that he doesn’t do well is block shots. Downside: Sullinger loses a pair of wing guards that made over 40 percent of their threes last season, without such shooting prowess on the wings he should see even more double teams this season. [click to continue…]