Mailbag: Rule changes, Aubrey Dawkins, recruiting & more

This week’s mailbag looks at rule changes, Aubrey Dawkins, the power forward position, recruiting priorities and more.

The UM Hoops Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted (@umhoops), e-mailed or sent via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can. 

bacon141: How will the new rules impact Michigan’s offense/defense? Positive, negative, or little overall impact?

Let’s run down some of the quick rule changes first.

The officiating focus on freedom of movement, enforcing the directives established before 2013-14 and physical post play should all be net positives for Michigan. Reviews on potential shot clock violations seem like a positive (and obvious) change for everyone. Removing an extra timeout should also make the game much enjoyable to watch.

Then there’s the 30 second shot clock and what that will mean for Michigan. I think that 30 seconds is just enough that we’ll see some impact, but probably not as dramatic of an impact as some expect. There’s still a fair amount of dummy motion or wasted time in many college offenses that we’ll see trimmed down.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that we’ll see more token full court pressure just to eat up clock time before falling back into a zone and leaving less opportunity for halfcourt execution. Could the shortened clock make the 1-3-1 zone more effective? It’s possible, but I still think we’ve seen Beilein mostly pivot away from the 1-3-1 zone when he has a full roster capable of playing man-to-man.

As a basic tenet, more possessions is generally an advantage for the more talented team. That’s why you see underdogs often slow the tempo — it’s no coincidence that last year’s Michigan team was the slowest under John Beilein.

I ran some of the numbers from Synergy Sports to compare how many ‘late clock’ shots Big Ten teams took in the final four seconds of the shot clock last season. Michigan actually led the league with over six percent of its offensive possessions resulting in shots in the final four seconds of the shot clock.


While that’s an interesting stat, I also think it’s more a product of Michigan’s shorthanded roster for the final two months of the season. Just 4.6% of U-M’s possessions were late clock shots in 2014 and just 4.4% in 2013.

Even with Michigan’s ‘high-usage’ in late clock scenarios, we’re only talking about 138 possessions in a 36 game season or just under four per game. For his part, Beilein doesn’t seem too worried.

At Michigan, Beilein’s intricate read-and-react, ballscreen offense previously had a shot window of 10 to 15 seconds in which as desired shot would be produced. The drop from 35 to 30 seconds will change that.

“Maybe it will be 8 to 15 seconds now because it will come quicker,” Beilein said.

: How many recruits are we still looking to take in 2016? Just a PG? Or PF too?

With Tyus Battle already in the fold, point guard is the top priority for Michigan in the class of 2016. Among the point guard targets, Cassius Winston has emerged as the number one target on the board.

I don’t see any need to try to add a power forward to the 2016 class with two big men already signed in that class along with Moritz Wagner and DJ Wilson as freshmen this season. I do think there’s a chance that the Wolverines could add some other form of wing talent if the situation arises.

mgobluehoops23: How do you see the 4 position shaping out? Do you think it will be a mix and match kind of thing or the best player will play?

This is the big question facing next year’s team and maybe not because it’s the most important, but because there are the most unknowns involved.

Aubrey Dawkins, Zak Irvin, Kameron Chatman, Duncan Robinson, DJ Wilson and Moritz Wagner all should be in the equation. But each one of those options have their own unique questions.

You could make an argument for any of those six to start the four spot and probably convince me that it’s the right option. But we haven’t seen three of the six play any significant minutes at the Division I level and last year’s primary options, Dawkins and Irvin, probably aren’t ideal fits at the four spot. Someone in that group is going to win the spot, someone else is probably going to be frustrated that they are left out.

The versatility means that Michigan could eventually mix and match, especially early on in the season, but I think eventually we’ll see a typical eight or nine man Beilein rotation.

jakerblue: Dawkins had a few great games last year, and a lot of people seem to be projecting him as starter. But it seems most of what he can do is replaceable by other 4s on the roster. So how important is Dawkins having a good season actually to UM’s success?

Continuing along with the four spot, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Dawkins’ skillset is redundant. He’s a legitimate shooter and arguably the best athlete on the team. It’s easy to find minutes for someone that can do both of those things. He needs to improve defensively and on the glass, but if he’s able to do both then he’ll be a valuable asset.

In many ways, Dawkins’ freshman season was very similar to Zak Irvin’s freshman season. He hit big shots, but didn’t create much offense for anyone. There’s always a role for someone like that on just about any team, but maybe not a featured role.

Offensively, I’d like to see Michigan get Dawkins more involved in two areas. In the mid-range off of screens and curls for easy jumpers and finishing at the rim. The Wolverines lacked that finishing punch and with a little additional strength, Dawkins certainly has the bounce to pick up some easy points with dunks along the baseline.

nswanMichigan made Miles Bridges’ final 8. Is there any real shot at landing him? What has his interaction with Michigan been at this point? It almost seems like Mich and MSU are getting the obligatory home state mention

Bridges has continued to list Michigan over the past few months, but I certainly wouldn’t say the Wolverines are leaders in his recruitment. The relationship has improved over the last year or so, but Kentucky and Michigan State are probably two of the schools to watch right now — especially after Fred Hoiberg left Iowa State for the Chicago Bulls.

Bridges’ final eight included Michigan State, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Iowa State and Louisville in “no particular order”.

Voltron_Blue: Any early word as to how summer workouts are going, who looks good, etc?

Summer reports always have to be taken with a bit of caution, but watching current players lead camp drills on Saturday it was clear that several have made impressive physical gains.

Ricky Doyle and DJ Wilson have both made obvious physical improvements and it was also nice to see Derrick Walton looking healthy and bouncing around throughout the camp. Much has been made about Duncan Robinson’s impressive shooting in drills and practices, but Aubrey Dawkins looked as smooth as ever shooting the ball as well.

Seeing almost the entire team — Zak Irvin returned home for the spring semester — on campus and building a chemistry is perhaps the most important element. In the past, one or two players would be around for camp, instead Michigan has essentially its whole roster. The chemistry should be miles ahead of where it was last year, even with the trip to Italy, and should help this group hit the ground running in the fall.

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