Trey Burke was far and away the most popular subject among submitted questions. Everyone wants to know whether Burke will start, what impact he will make and how he fits into the team. The last two times I saw Trey play live he displayed the full spectrum of both why he could excel and why he might struggle.
The first game, an 84-81 win over Lakewood St. Edward’s, showed off everything there is to love about Burke. He was aggressive, played with emotion and single handedly kept his team in the game. He finished the game with 35 points on 14 of 21 (7-12 3pt) shooting and played well enough to turn a few northeast Ohio natives into Mr. Basketball believers. His competitiveness, leadership and feel for the game are impressive but it’s his three point shooting which could enable him to make the biggest impact on the 2011-12 season. His shooting ability will prevent defenses from sagging off of him, a luxury that Darius Morris never had and will prove more effective with other viable offensive and shooting threats surrounding him.
The second game was the Division I semifinals at Value City Arena in Columbus. Burke’s Northland team won the game but he struggled in both of their final two games, finishing with 15 points on 4 of 17 (0-5 3pt) shooting and more turnovers than assists. Burke was frustrated with Garfield Height’s pressure defense and could never find his shooting stroke. At a listed 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, he’s the smallest player on the Michigan roster and could struggle with the physical nature of the league. Play close attention to the impact that Burke can make on the game when his shot isn’t falling. If he’s getting his teammates involved and not forcing things, it’s a safe bet that Michigan is winning. The concern is that he reacts like a traditional freshman: getting frustrated, overdriving and settling for below average three point looks.
I won’t deny that I’m a fan of Burke’s game. He lives and breathes basketball and seems to have the right approach to the game. There will be bumps along the way but right now Burke is in the driver’s seat.
@Haveninak: have the bigs gained good weight? Especially interested in Smotz and Horford.
@hailtothevictor: saw jon horford the other day in the league, it looks like he put on a bit of (good) weight … target weight?
Jon Horford was the heavy gainer over the summer. He was listed at 6-foot-9 215 pounds as a freshman and is now listed at 6-foot-9 250 pounds on the current roster. Horford was the player that obviously needed to get bigger and 250 pounds makes him the heaviest player on the roster. It remains to be seen how he carries the new weight and what impact it has but it’s certainly encouraging that he was able to put on that much muscle.
Evan Smotrycz added 10 pounds, from 225 to 235 pounds, which is impressive considering I thought he had to turn bad weight into good weight. Reports from Smotrycz’s summer gym back in Boston were that he added onto his vertical and improved his shuttle times significantly over the summer.
Finally there’s Morgan, who checks in at the same 240 pounds from a year ago. Of the three returning bigs, Morgan is the one player that didn’t need to add weight and could do to just improve conditioning, vertical, etc. Some other notable measurements: Max Bielfeldt checks in at 6-foot-8 240 pounds and should provide muscle. Colton Christian and Zack Novak are the same weight from a year ago, 215 and 210 respectively.
@RealGarthVader Who’s your starting 5? I’ve got Hardaway, Douglass, Novak, Morgan, and Smotrycz.
Right now I’ll go with Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz and Morgan. Novak, Hardaway and Morgan started all but one game last season and are as close to sure things as possible. Smotrycz and Burke are the question marks. Smotrycz provides Michigan the offensive look with the most potential but he obviously has to earn it. Burke is the only true point guard on the Michigan roster and, if you remember, Beilein wasn’t scared to start Darius Morris from day one during his freshman year.
@BrandonGerth: after Novak is gone. Who is stepping up to take his vocal leadership role that has been so vital to there recent success
This question is probably a year too early because we are just about to begin this season, but it’s an interesting storyline to watch as the season progresses. Novak and Douglass are the unquestioned leaders of this team, with Novak obviously the more vocal and impactful of the two, but part of their responsibility is to help the younger players on the team begin to take ownership of the program. Novak addressed that mentality and much more in a Q&A with Chantel Jennings from Wolverine Nation:
If anything, this year, I don’t want to say I’m going to take less of a leadership role but hopefully I don’t have to do it as much. Because the idea behind a sustainable program is that you have someone to step in right away. I’m not going to be here next year, so I think if it’s just two years in a row and it’s me leading all the time and no one stepping up, next year what would happen would be what happened our sophomore year where we had this huge void.
As for the players that would seem most likely to step into a leadership role in 2012-13, a couple stand out. Novak mentioned Hardaway as someone that has stepped up his leadership role but I’d look for Jordan Morgan to make strides in the leadership department as well. Two other candidates are Matt Vogrich, who will be the only true senior on that roster, and Trey Burke, who has a fiery competitive attitude and could make strides entering his sophomore season.
Yes, Michigan has a chance at McGary. He thoroughly enjoyed his official visit, his AAU coach is in the Wolverines’ corner and the Michigan staff continues to do everything that they can. Most recently, Bacari Alexander stopped by Brewster’s open gym earlier this week.
That being said, there’s no denying that Duke has made an impact in McGary’s recruitment. Last week’s report that McGary’s family was favoring Duke hints at what the Michigan staff are up against. Mitch continues to reiterate that he’d like to take officials to Kentucky, Florida and Maryland and for now the Wolverines have to wait things out.