Per Clint Jackson – Rivals.com’s Duke, North Carolina and ACC Insider on Twitter
Evan Smotrycz isn’t the best player on the Michigan roster. He’s not replacing the best player on last year’s roster. He’s not even the best shooter or rebounder on the team. Despite all of that, Smotrycz just might be the most important piece of the puzzle for John Beilein’s squad.
Smotrycz had an up-and-down freshman campaign but when he played well, Michigan played well. The Wolverines were 7-2 when Smotrycz reached double figures and those two losses were to Duke by two points and Ohio State by four points. The Wolverines were capable of winning games without Smotrycz but when the combo forward was hitting shots he added that ever necessary peripheral scorer to supplement their more consistent primary options.
The Mitch McGary recruitment is finally reaching an end. Scout.com’s Brian Snow first reported ($) that plans have been made for McGary to announce his college decision on Thursday. Adam Zagoria reached Mitch’s father who confirmed that the announcement would be televised by ESPN’s family of networks.
ESPNU’s Recruiting Nation program is scheduled to air at 5 p.m. on Thursday evening.
McGary will decide between his final three schools of Duke, Florida and Michigan. The Wolverines have been considered the front runner for McGary’s services for the greater portion of the last month – a sentiment that’s been echoed nationally and locally. However, nothing is ever final in recruiting until the ink is dry on the letter of intent and some of the best recruiters and schools are still in the picture.
With KJ’s retirement, Tim Conner is taking over the reigns as the chief representative of The Only Colors to participate in this year’s Around the Big Ten season preview feature. Conner agreed to answer questions about last year as well as what will make this year different. (Previously: Penn State, Minnesota, Ohio State)
It’s tough to define last year as anything but a disappointment for Michigan State fans. With Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers gone, what are expectations like for the coming season?
It was not a fun year to be a Spartan fan. The team had one of the worst offenses of the Tom Izzo era and seemed gripped by turmoil and frustration throughout the season. Izzo himself was suspended a game for a secondary NCAA rules violation, guards Chris Allen and Korie Lucious were dismissed from the team, and a first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament seemed a predictable end to a long and trying season. Still, they did end up with 19 wins and managed to make the Tournament for the 14th straight year.
It was a big weekend for Michigan as the Wolverines had a pair of important scrimmages, an inter-squad scrimmage on Friday and a scrimmage at Toledo on Sunday. At media day, John Beilein discussed what a critical role these scrimmages and exhibition game (Friday vs. Wayne State) play in determining the regular season line up and rotation.
The scrimmage on Sunday was closed to the public and deemed “secret” by the NCAA but it’s become an annual ritual for tidbits to spread across the internet. The reports generally have very little correlation to the season’s results as they are glorified practices that are heavy on situational play and lineup tinkering.