For the first time since Michigan coach John Beilein has been at Michigan he’s going to have quite a few personnel options. The coach, who is known for his four-guard offense, now has enough big men in his program to run a stronger inside game with two primary post players.
“We have four or five, really six, that could play there at different times,” Beilein said. “That’s the versatility I love to have.”
Between adding 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman Mitch McGary to the roster and redshirt junior Jordan Morgan (6-foot-8, 250 pounds), who picked up the majority of the minutes last season, the Wolverines have two very strong inside players. The Wolverines also return healthy versions of redshirt sophomore Jon Horford and redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt. And on top of that, freshman forward Glenn Robinson III could be a Zack Novak-type player, with an extra touch of athleticism and finishing finesse.
In that group, Beilein has an arsenal of big-man weapons that rivals nearly every Big Ten school, and it could be the biggest key to this season.
“Offensively, it’s a lot of size and there are a lot of different guys who have different skills,” Morgan said. “Defensively, when you add that length and size when it comes to rebounding and contesting shots and just being a solid team overall it’s definitely going to help.”
Overall, it’ll make the Wolverines more difficult to game plan for. Opponents will need more defensive sets to counteract the threat of a two-post player offense from Michigan. And while that has been helpful, what Beilein likes most is how big of a presence his team has been on the glass so far.
Last season, the Wolverines struggled on the boards. Throughout the entire year, they were outrebounded and when it came to the offensive glass, Michigan accounted for 8.6 offensive rebounds per game, ranking 10th in the Big Ten. With the ability to grab those boards and either put back easy shots or kick it out to give the Wolverines an extra possession, Michigan will have an added element of offensive threats.
“It’s a different way of scoring,” Beilein said. “This is a good rebounding team. … It’s OK to score off an offensive rebound -- we haven’t gotten a lot of that. And if we can get 10 points off offensive rebounding, either through kickbacks or finishes, that’s a good thing.”
Defensively, the added length allows Michigan to have a bigger presence in the paint and force opponents to play the Wolverines differently. Michigan will be able to contest and alter shots more easily, and again, be a bigger threat on the glass.
But ultimately, until Beilein has more opportunities to really watch his team play together, he’s not positive how the addition of big men will affect the Wolverines’ total game. However, he did say that he spent more time cutting NBA game film of teams that featured two primary post players.
“I don’t know what were going to do yet until I can watch people over 20 hours and 20 more hours and 20 more hours,” Beilein said. “And then we get to the Big Ten schedule and we’ll be able to make other changes.”