The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview N By Chris Balas o Darius Morris? No problem. If only it were that simple. Michigan head coach John Beilein knows replacing his sophomore point guard, a second-round NBA draft pick, won���t be so easy, especially after a season in which the 6-4 Morris broke U-M���s all-time singleseason assists mark (235) and helped lead the Wolverines to a fourth-place Big Ten finish. Morris��� play was a big reason the Wolverines reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament, losing by only two to a loaded Duke squad. good at this year, and get really good at it.��� In Beilein���s offense, that means finding two guards that can handle the ball and make decisions. The Wolverines have three primary options in 2011-12 with Burke, fellow freshman Carlton Brundidge (6-2, 200) out of Southfield, Mich., and senior Stu Douglass, who has seen enough time at the point in the last three years to be comfortable. Douglass��� strength remains shooting, though he���s a much better passer (2.1 assists per game for his career) than many realize. Burke and Brundidge, though, were playmakers in high school and have proven to be the nuances of the offense. Burke showed a knack for knocking down game-winners even in summer pickup ball, senior captain Novak said. He can shoot it and handle it, and he was in the top two for scrimmage assists (with sophomore wing Hardaway) in the early going, Beilein noted Oct. 25. ���He is very confident in his abilities,��� Jordan said ���That���s not cocky. If you���ve been doing something for a long time, you���re sure you can do that. Now it���s about marrying your skills with what the coach wants, and learning the guys around you and how to complement them. He���s extremely comfortable handling it ��� he Youth Movement Freshmen Vie For Point Guard Duties Grooming someone to take his place on a team otherwise laden with experienced talent is now the objective, and part of the responsibility falls on assistant coach LaVall Jordan, now in his second year in the program. His first was an unequivocal success, one in which he helped Morris emerge and U-M���s other guards play some of the best ball of their careers. This year, though, presents a different challenge ��� not only finding someone to replace Morris, but having freshmen as two of his top three candidates. Only one, head coach John Beilein noted in late October ��� Columbus (Ohio) Northland standout Trey Burke (6-1, 175) ��� had played the position his whole life, essentially groomed for the opportunity. But the program is just about to the point where when one leaves ��� no matter how good he was ��� the expectations don���t change. ���You just try to figure out what guys��� strengths are, how they complement each other,��� Jordan said. ���For us, it���s finding what groups work well together depending on what we need at the time in the game. We���ve got a lot of guys that can shoot it, and we need ways to penetrate the defense. ���We���re not going to try to mold guys into Darius Morris. We want to figure out what we���re going to be 56��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 adept at getting into the paint at the collegiate level, too ��� at least in the early going. ���I think those three guys are comfortable handling the ball,��� Jordan said. ���Trey Burke���s been a point guard all his life, so he���s a natural. Stu and Carlton ��� Stu���s kind of grown to become more comfortable and make decisions, and Carlton���s developing in that area, as well. ���It���s good to have three guys that can do it. If you can get two feet in the paint and make a play, you���re good. The other thing that helps us is to have other guys like Tim Hardaway, I think Evan Smotrycz, that can also get two feet in the paint and make decisions. ���It���s a little bit by committee, but I think Trey���s really comfortable with the ball in his hands, learning and listening. So is Carlton, and they���re learning from Stu and Zack Novak, as Coach Beilein desires.��� The freshmen did their part in the summer from a conditioning standpoint to put themselves in position. Burke, a self-professed ���skinny fella,��� gained 10 pounds of muscle, while the stocky Brundidge trimmed what Jordan called ���some of his baby fat��� before adding muscle and tone. They proved in the first week they were both Big Ten guards ��� ���there���s no doubt about it,��� Jordan insisted ��� and will continue to work to pick up wants that. He���s not afraid.��� Burke was one of the better shooters in his 2011 high school class, knocking down triples at a 48 percent clip as a senior. He averaged 23.6 points and was just as good a set-up man, adding 6.8 assists per game. ���He can shoot the basketball, but so can Carlton,��� Jordan said. ���I think Carlton has even opened our eyes with his ability, how accurate he���s been in these first few practices, so that���s exciting.��� So, too, is the prospect of Brundidge with the help of ball screens, something he didn���t see much of in high school. He was the focus of everyone���s defense, but still managed to average 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Learning the lead guard position won���t be as difficult as some might think, even though Brundidge was considered an off guard at Southfield. ���He had the ball quite a bit in his hands in high school,��� Jordan said. ���Obviously, our scheme will be a little different, learning where everybody else is on the floor ��� I think that���s the transition you make from Freshman Trey Burke, who averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 assists per game as a high school senior, is a top candidate to take over point guard duties for the Wolverines. photo by per kjeldsen

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