Photo from Michigan Basketball on Facebook
Facility Dreams Become Reality
With last week’s release of Crisler Arena renderings, the facilities that Michigan basketball fans have dreamt of became just a bit more real. Facilities have been a bit of an old wives tale in relationship to the Michigan basketball program over the last decade and chance. From stories of Tommy Amaker purchasing his own carpet and a VCR in his new office to the basketball team being relegated to practicing in the IM Building for every reason from the Pow-Wow to leaks and excess condensation during the summer.
In the next couple years those will be distant memories. The practice facility, infrastructure, seating and scoreboard improvements will go up this fall before the complete stadium makeover a couple years down the line.
These are undoubtedly exciting times and a massive step forward for the program. Michigan might be one of the last schools to build a practice facility but it should also be one of the nicest. The facilities are already having an effect on recruits, as all of them will spend their time in the facility, and that effect should only grow as they are able to see the actual facility rather than look at videos, dirt, steel and computer renderings.
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Much was made of Darius Morris’s dramatic improvement that saw him go from disappointing freshman to potential first round draft pick. While it’s unlikely that any player on next year’s roster will improve as much as Morris, the opportunity is there. Morris was responsible for roughly half of Michigan’s offense last season and there are plenty of shots and possessions up for grabs next season.
What defines a “breakout player”? It’s more than just routine improvement. A player like Morris improved but he also was presented the opportunity to flourish. Morris always had the tools, but was clearly not comfortable in the college game as a freshman. His physical ability – size, strength and passing ability – combined with his incredible work ethic yielded dramatic improvement which wasn’t unleashed until Michigan’s two primary shot-takers (Harris and Sims) moved on. In this post we’ll take a closer look at the breakout candidates on the current roster and the reasons they are likely or unlikely to breakout next season.
Obviously the chances of a Morris-esque leap are far fetched, but there are some candidates who have the chance to go from role player to key contributor.
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Michigan has added another non-conference game to it’s 2011-12 basketball schedule, a home game versus Iowa State. The game is the first leg of a home and home series with the return trip scheduled for 2013.
The Iowa State series should be intriguing as there are some notable ties back to the state of Michigan. Former Michigan State players Chris Allen (eligible this season) and Korie Lucious (not eligible this season) both transfered to Iowa State while Detroit Southeastern big man, and former Michigan recruiting target, Percy Gibson switched his commitment to the Cyclones.
The game might not pack the punch of a truly marquee home game like we’ve seen in recent past – Georgetown, Connecticut and Kansas – but it’s also the kind of game that helps create a balanced strong schedule. It will be interesting to see how Michigan finalizes the non-conference slate. Michigan could add a bigger name to the schedule, but there will also be some guarantee games (we’ve heard Alabama St. is a likely possibility for a low-major opponent).
Michigan will play in the Maui Invitational, a field which includes Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Georgetown, Tennessee, UCLA and Chaminade. The Wolverines will also host Towson and Bradley while traveling to Virginia (Big Ten-ACC Challenge) and Oakland (at the Palace).
All notes on next year’s schedule are maintained here.
The off-season is a great time to make improvements, big and small, to the site to help improve your experience. (We’re also able to use your generous end-of-season donations to add new features.) A couple weeks ago we revamped the commenting system, upgrading to a Disqus system that has received strong positive feedback thus far. Next up is an upgrade to the mobile version of the site.
The look is clean and simple but still allows you to do almost everything you would do from a web browser. All of the most recent posts are easily accessible and you can access the menu to browse through static content, tags and categories. You can post and read comments with a mobile optimized view and also watch all of our videos with the push of a button. We are aware of one feature that’s not working at this point, the recruiting profiles, but we’re actively investigating a solution.
We will continue to make tweaks to the new look but are also looking for your feedback. Fire up your smartphone, give the new mobile look a try and share your thoughts in the comments.
Michigan is recruiting Ohio big man Mark Donnal as hard as anyone in the country and the 6-foot-9 sophomore has opened some eyes this spring.
Joe Eberhardt was on hand at the Indiana State AAU Tournament and had the opportunity to see Donnal in extended action. He passed along this video, with a scouting report after the jump.
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