The Wolverine

November 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BASKETBALL14-15 BY CHRIS BALAS W hen Michigan sophomore big man Mitch McGary went down with a back injury last year, cost‑ ing him all but eight games of the 2013‑14 season, the Wolverines and their fans were left playing the "what might have been" game. Fifth‑year senior Jordan Morgan was anything but a liability, playing the best basketball of his career down the stretch for a Big Ten champion‑ ship and Elite Eight team, but had U‑M had another big body to throw at Kentucky in a 75‑72 Elite Eight loss — especially one as talented as McGary's — a second straight Final Four might well have been in the cards. The "what if" spilled over into this year when McGary announced he'd forego his junior season for the NBA Draft, becoming a first‑round pick (No. 21 overall) of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Michigan will have to re‑ build employing a little‑used redshirt junior in 6‑7, 245‑pound forward Max Bielfeldt, a redshirt freshman in 6‑9, 240‑pound Mark Donnal, and two true freshmen in 6‑9, 245‑pound Ricky Doyle and 6‑9, 220‑pound D.J. Wilson. Replacing the scoring production might not be the biggest challenge for this group. Morgan was the big man with the highest scoring average at only 6.4 points per game last year, while Jon Horford (now at Florida after transferring) added only 3.8. The two also managed 9.2 rebounds per game between them. Defensively, though, Morgan was the traffic cop in the paint who helped get everyone where they needed to be. "It's very difficult on the defensive end to replace the kind of experience Jordan Morgan had," big man coach and assistant Bacari Alexander said. "When you have the kind of experi‑ ence Jordan, even Jon had, it's never easy to duplicate with freshmen. Even with a guy like Max who's been in the program and not had game repetitions or game intensity, it's re‑ ally hard to duplicate, as well. "As the great [UCLA coach] John Wooden used to say, repetition is the key to knowledge." Those reps are vital to the develop‑ ment on the defensive side especially, he noted. "And maybe not just in the post, BIG MEN, BIG GOALS Michigan's Frontcourt Will Be Young, But It's Talented

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