2008-2009 Season

Does Beilein Need Post Players?

I wrote in my preview of the center position about the lack of depth at the post position but I’m starting to wonder if John Beilein is that worried. I took a look at players 6’8 or taller on Beilein’s teams at West Virginia to see how many post guys were on the roster each year. I haven’t seen a lot of these guys play but D’Or Fischer is one of the only guys who seems to be a “true big man” in terms of size and rebounding.

2003 (14-15; 5-11)

  • 22    Josh Yeager    F    6′ 8″ (14.2mpg,4.8ppg,1.2rpg)
  • 34    Kevin Pittsnogle    F/C    6′ 11″    Fr (26.6mpg,11.6ppg,4.8rpg)

2004 (17-14; 7-9))

  • 34    Kevin Pittsnogle    F/C    6′ 11″    So (22.7mpg,10.2ppg,3.7rpg)
  • 40    D’or Fischer    C    6′ 11″    Jr (27mpg,10.8ppg,6.2rpg)

2005 (24-11; 8-8)

  • 1    Luke Bonner    C    7′ 0″    Fr  (4.2mpg,1ppg,1rpg)
  • 34    Kevin Pittsnogle    F/C    6′ 11″    Jr    (19.3mpg,11.9ppg,3.7rpg)
  • 40    D’or Fischer    C    6′ 11″    Sr (19.2mpg,7.8ppg,4.3rpg)

2006 (22-11; 11-5)

  • 33    Rob Summers    C    7′ 0″    Jr (3.8mpg,0.5ppg,0.4rpg)
  • 11    Joe Alexander    F    6′ 8″    Fr  (3.6mpg,1.3ppg,0.7rpg)
  • 34    Kevin Pittsnogle    F/C    6′ 11″    Sr  (36mpg, 19.3ppg, 5.5rpg)

2007 (27-9; 9-7)

  • 11    Joe Alexander    F    6′ 8″    So   (25mpg,10.3ppg,4.3rpg)
  • 33    Rob Summers    C    7′ 0″    Sr (21.6mpg,4.4ppg,4.6rpg)
  • 43    Jamie Smalligan    C    7′ 0″    Jr  (14.4mpg,5.4ppg,3.2rpg)
    (Side bar: It’s almost shocking that Smalligan started for Huggins last year and saw his minutes only decrease by 3 per game while his scoring and rebounding numbers were basically cut in half. The drops in his shooting percentages are also remarkable: 50% to 30% and 45.6% to 18.3% on three pointers)

Beilein never had more than 3 guys 6’8″+ on his roster at West Virginia, for comparison Michigan State has 6 this year (Gray, Herzog, Ibok, Morgan, Roe, Suton). Michigan has four on the roster this year Cronin, Gibson, Puls, and Sims (Puls is only a walk on so maybe this could be considered 3). Of course there are still questions swriling about Cronin’s health and whether he will be cleared to play. If he is not cleared, there is only one true center on the team.

First off these lists prove that he has never really had a stable of big men. And even then there are a lot of names on this list that I wouldn’t even call true post players. If you cross Pittsnoggle, Alexander, and Smalligan off the list as not “true big men” you are left with one or two true post players per year.

The argument of course is that the Big Ten is a more physical conference than the Big East which tends to be more of a guards conference. This may be true to an extent, but what dominant big men are in the Big Ten this year?  B.J. Mullens at Ohio State and Michigan State’s stable of big men come to mind. DJ White, Sean Pruitt, Kosta Koufas, Brian Butch, and Dan Coleman are just a couple of the dominant post players that moved on. While there are certainly other post players that will step up this year, 8 of the top 15 (6 of the top 7) rebounders in the Big Ten last year  have moved on.

So would it be optimal to have more depth in the post? Probably. Will it be critical that this team can master Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone to negate some size concerns? Definitely. It will also help that Michigan has two solid rebounders on the wings in Manny Harris (4.2/game) and DeShawn Sims (5.4/game).  Overall I think Beilein is in a situation that he is more familiar with how to adapt to than last years problems and we should get ready to see a lot of 1-3-1 zone this year.

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