The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview ander said. ���I have to work harder.��� That is the epiphany that he enjoyed. ���Shortly thereafter, he went for career-best games. I would cite that point, right before playing Michigan State and thereafter, as to when Jordan Morgan really came on.��� The redshirt freshman learned plenty throughout the Big Ten battles, he admitted this summer. ���You try not to think about who you are going up against,��� Morgan said. ���You don���t want to be intimidated. But it is some of the best competition in the country. I try to embrace that and win my individual battles every game to help my team win. I like to embrace the challenge and go up against this competition and prove that I can play with anybody.��� Michigan���s big men in general have embraced the challenge of getting more prepared to do battle in the Big Ten. Morgan, Alexander noted, can be expected to take steps at both ends of the court. ���The next area we definitely have to concentrate on in this season, to add to the offensive things, is a great understanding of defense and defensive positioning,��� Alexander said. ���There is a lot to be desired still in his development. ���He���s learning to work early, which keeps fouls down and gives him longer minutes in games. That is the area of his game that we have to marry to the athletic success he enjoyed in our scheme. Moving forward, defensive intelligence is the area we have to key in on, to take him from good to great.��� When Morgan does get into foul trouble, Horford can give the Wolverines another presence in the post. He looks dramatically different than he did as a freshman, and insists he���s ready to take on more physical challenges. ���It took me a little while to get used to running with the weight, because it was such a big jump,��� Horford admitted. ���I can tell I���m stronger. When guys hit me, it doesn���t faze me as much as it used to. I���d say my contribution is going to be rebounding and blocking shots. Those are a couple of things I think I do pretty well.��� ���As Jon continues to increase his knowledge of where to be, the timing of where to be, executing the game plan, understanding our defensive 62��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 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. Photo by Per Kjeldsen and offensive principles, he���ll help us,��� Alexander said. ���What you���ll discover is a guy that led us in rebounds per minute. He has an incredibly high motor. ���The Horford family line involves guys that are late bloomers by nature. What you���ll see this year is a guy that is going to be able to earn minutes and contribute on a small scale, and as we go throughout the course of the season, as he gets more comfortable, he���ll be able to produce more and more.��� Freshman Max Bielfeldt immediately brings good size (6-8, 240) to the table. But he admits he���s very early in a learning phase with respect to all that John Beilein���s approach requires. ���There is so much at this level,��� noted Bielfeldt. ���He has a look for every single thing he does, and he has a name for it. You���ve got to remember every single one of these things.��� ���Max brings that IQ to the table,��� Alexander said. ���We have to determine how much water his sponge can absorb. In the freshman year, players come in and often suffer from information overload. When you���re suffering from those things, you���re asking, are the kid���s feet slow because he���s thinking a lot? Is he hesi- tant because he hasn���t gotten to a level of familiarity? ���Max���s whole deal is going to be getting an apprenticeship under Jordan Morgan and the guys above him ��� Jon Horford and Blake McLimans. That will really determine what his future is going to look like.��� McLimans has grown steadily bigger, filling out his 6-10 frame at 240 pounds. He can play at either the four or five spots and could even move out to a wing. ���Blake is one of our veteran big guys that has a great understanding of what we���re trying to accomplish, and the fluidity and flow of our offense, along with the responsibilities of our defense, based on his experience,��� Alexander said. ���One of the areas we envision him improving on is his competitive spirit ��� the ability to go out there and take on tough situations and embrace them as we put him in the fire.��� Smotrycz can also play a number of positions, from post to wing. He started 24 games as a true freshman, averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Alexander noticed immediately in fall practices the difference Smotrycz���s added bulk provided.

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