With the National Championship game officially in our rearview mirror, we’ve reached the point in the off-season when national journalists churn out the first of many “way too early preseason top 25” lists. Not surprisingly, almost every national analyst has Michigan somewhere within their top-25. NBCSports’ Mike Miller has Michigan projected at No. 9, Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn at No. 13 and FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman at No. 17. Rivals.com appears to be one of the few publications that doesn’t have Michigan ranked. These early rankings obviously don’t mean much, especially when NBA draft entries will change the landscape over the next month. Despite the apparent foolishness behind these lists, one thing is clear: the national media feels great about Michigan’s 2011-12 team.
One of the many renovations that will be made to Crisler Arena this off season is the installation of new video screens. TS Sports, the company responsible for upgrades at the Bradley Center (Bucks), American Airlines Arena (Mavericks/Stars) and Value City Arena (Ohio State), will be implementing the new design. Here are the details from the release as well as a rendering (right):
In conjunction with Phase I of the Crisler Arena renovations, TS Sports will replace the current center-hung scoreboard which was installed in 1998.
“The new video system at Crisler Arena is a basketball fan’s dream,” said Vice President of Sales Matt Ritter. “The system will feature 14 LED video displays from Lighthouse Technology tracking all major events throughout the game – instant replays, fan shots, hustle stats, animations, graphics and much more.”
The new center-hung at Crisler Arena will consist of 14 LED video displays:
· Four (4) 12’ x 16.8’ Pi10 10mm main displays
· Four (4) 6.28’ x 16.8’ Pi10 10mm scoring displays
· Four (4) 6.28’ x 6.3’ Pi10 10mm advertising displays
· One (1) 2.1’ x 81.9’ Pi10 10mm top video ring display
· One (1) 2.1’ x 44.1’ Pi10 10mm bottom video ring display
New scoreboards will also be installed at Michigan Stadium and Yost Ice Arena as well, more details here.
In his first college basketball game, against Division II Northern Michigan, Matt Vogrich hit five three point shots, he was also crossed over several times and looked completely overmatched defensively. The latter turned out to be a much bigger factor in Michigan’s 2009-10 season. Vogrich seldom played after that first game, severely limited by his lack of quickness defensively, and made just six more three point shots over the next 31 games of his freshmen season.
There were serious concerns over whether Vogrich could play at this level, even as a shooter off the bench. In his sophomore season, Vogrich tripled his playing time and improved his shooting numbers, seeming to provide Michigan with an opportune boost off of the bench in several key moments.
Before the season I mentioned that Evan Smotrycz might have one of the most difficult transitions of any of Michigan’s freshmen. That sounded odd because Evan was the top rated recruit in Michigan’s class, an RSCI consensus top 100 player, and appeared to be a perfect fit for John Beilein’s system.
One of the toughest positions to transition from the prep to college level is a perimeter oriented four man. 6-foot-9 players with skill show out on the AAU circuit, where the level of defensive intensity is a bit lacking, but to utilize all of those skills on the college level is a different fight. There are exceptions to this rule (see: Robbie Hummel) but for the most part it’s tough for these type of players to play an efficient brand of basketball as freshmen and Evan Smotrycz’s up and down year followed this rule. He displayed tantalizing flashes of his potential with nine double figure scoring games, tied for 4th on the U-M roster, including game changing performances versus Clemson and Michigan State. There were also a boatload of 2-9 and 3-11 type performances that demonstrated the freshman wasn’t quite there yet.
Stu Douglass seems to be a common scape goat among Michigan fans but, by the time his career is over, he’s on pace to be ranked among the top 10 Wolverines in minutes played and top 5 in three point field goals made. His junior year was his most productive statistical season to date, despite shifting between various roles. Douglass opened the season as the sixth man, providing a shooting boost off the bench. He played more minutes as the season progressed, eventually moving into the starting lineup and growing into Michigan’s primary perimeter defender as well. Many Michigan players saw their roles change throughout the season but Douglass’ shift was the most dramatic.