The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview J By John Borton ordan Morgan may have exceeded everyone���s expectations but his own. The second-year player, who arrived overweight and lost his true freshman season to injuries, drew little preseason attention from outsiders in the fall of 2010 ��� just like his team. By the time he fought with his teammates to the cusp of a Sweet Sixteen in March 2011, Morgan stood as one of the Big Ten���s better big men. ���Jordan Morgan is an intense competitor,��� noted Bacari Alexander, per game, and second among its rebounders, pulling down 5.4 missed shots a contest. His 62.7 percent shooting led the team, largely because he found himself on the receiving end of feeds from Darius Morris and others, putting the 6-8, 240-pounder in position to score from point-blank range. The plays involving pick-and-rolls became an integral part of Michigan���s offense. Also, 73 of Morgan���s 188 rebounds came off the offensive glass, giving him chances for putbacks. One doesn���t have to look very far Coming Up Big A Breakthrough Year Reveals Frontcourt Development Michigan���s assistant coach assigned to molding the big men. ���He has a vision for himself. It���s his aspiration at one level, but also practical in the sense that he wants to be a professional. He invested an inordinate amount of time with our strength and conditioning and sports medicine staffs, to overcome the injuries he experienced his freshman year. ���As a result, you saw a transformation in the kid���s body from being maybe 40 or 50 pounds overweight to becoming this well-chiseled player. He had the conditioning and the stamina to enjoy success. Conditioning is truly half the battle.��� Morgan certainly did battle. Coming to Michigan with little recruiting fanfare, he revealed as a redshirt freshman what hard work and coaching can craft out of sizable raw material. He finished third among Michigan���s scorers, averaging 9.2 points After redshirting his first year at Michigan and transforming his body, Jordan Morgan averaged 9.2 points per game last season, the third-best mark on the team, and 5.4 rebounds a contest, which ranked second for the Wolverines. photo by per kjeldsen to see other major developments on the horizon. Sophomore Jon Horford added roughly 30 pounds onto his 6-9 frame from a year ago, and at 250 stands ready to supply a greater measure of rebounding and defense. Sophomore Evan Smotrycz got serious about his mom���s home cooking and U-M strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson���s offseason program. As a result, he jumped dramatically in terms of the bulk he���ll bring to the Big Ten fray. ���After we lost to Duke, I was weighing in at 200 pounds even,��� Smotrycz recalled. ���I went home, put a lot of work in, with a program from Jon Sanderson. I put on 36 pounds, all muscle.��� Smotrycz then paused and allowed a grin to escape. ���Well, it���s not all muscle, but it���s not all bad weight,��� he cautioned. ���I increased my vertical jump, so I���m in a good position right now.��� U-M head coach John Beilein made certain to point out that all summer workouts are voluntary. ���Based on their bodies, they volunteered very well,��� he said. All recruits are brought in with an eye toward their potential for devel- opment, Alexander assured. How hard they���re willing to work goes a long way in predicting where they���ll wind up. Alexander himself brings credibility to the table in working with Michigan���s frontcourt. A former standout at Detroit���s Southwestern High School, he went on to play two years of college ball at Robert Morris, followed by two at Detroit-Mercy. There he played a role in two Midwestern Collegiate Conference championships, making the all-conference defensive team as a senior. As a coach at U-D Mercy, Ohio University and Western Michigan, Alexander developed a number of successful big men. He���s not hesitant to jump into a drill or a discussion about what the Wolverines��� big men can achieve if they follow the plan. ���You can say, ���There is a formula that is proven, that can get you to the next step, if you���re willing to buy in.��� That helped,��� Alexander noted. With Morgan, for instance, Alexander sought the proper buttons to push and found someone willing to be motivated. ���The true motivation lies in your ability to establish agreements,��� Alexander assured. ���What Jordan and I were able to agree on was that each day we step on the practice floor, we would invest a ton of time in what I like to call sweat equity. ���The first season, our goal was to be excellent at catching and finishing plays. This season, we want to continue on with that theme, but we want to add to those scenarios 15-foot jump shots. As we move forward, we���ll talk about back-to-the-basket moves, and in his senior year we���ll be able to sit back and let instincts and IQ take over, based on the experiences he accumulated. That���s the plan.��� Morgan and the Wolverines needed to go to Plan B at one point in the 2010-11 schedule. Michigan got off to a 1-6 start in Big Ten play, threatening to sink whatever fleeting hopes the Wolverines harbored. From that point to the final, thrillfilled drive to a near upset of Duke in third-round NCAA Tournament action, U-M found another gear, with Morgan no small part of it. ���Jordan realized through those first seven Big Ten games that, ���I have to add an e-r to working hard,��� AlexNovember 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 61

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