Let’s get to know them a little better:
Michigan’s three best overall players – all potential first round picks this following summer – have all been terrific so far this season. Tim Hardaway Jr. is leading the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game and has also really increased his efficiency so far in his Junior season. After shooting 42% in his first two years as a Wolverine, Hardaway is currently shooting 56% from the field and all around, he’s become a far more complete player. Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III – yes, another son of a former NBA player – has also shot the ball efficiently with a field goal percentage of 55%. He plays the game with the poise of a Senior and his 7.5 rebounds per game lead the team.
Then there’s court general Trey Burke.
This past summer, Michigan fans feared they were losing their starting point guard for the second straight season. After Darius Morris left for the NBA in 2011, it looked pretty clear at times that Burke was going to bow out of his career early as well. But his decision to stay is what makes the Wolverines the title contender they are this season. Burke’s not only one of the nation’s best set-up men, but he’s a great scorer as well. He’s second on the team in points with 16.7 per game and his 7.5 assists per game are best amongst players throughout all the major conferences. With a better supporting cast around him, Burke is a prime first-team All American candidate.
The other two players that have started every game for Beilein are Senior guard Matt Vogrich and Junior forward Jordan Morgan. Neither player is out there to boast a flashy game, but they both have very specific roles in Beilein’s system.
One of the biggest staples in the Beilein offense it to limit the amount of turnovers to maximize possessions. And so far this season in 84 minutes on the court, Vogrich has been guilty of only 1 turnover. His job is to continually move the ball and take the open shots when they’re there. So far, his shots been a little off this season, but he’s been relieved by the hot start of Freshman Nik Stauskas and Beilein knows he can trust his Senior guard to do all the little things.
Morgan, on the other hand, is someone you’ll never see take a shot from more than a couple feet from the hoop. Dunks and layups are about all he attempts and with the economical and wise shot selection, Morgan’s made 62% of his field goals in 2-plus years as a Wolverine.
What Michigan has greatly lacked over the course of Beilein’s tenure has been a reliable and dependable bench. Beilein likes rotating players quite often, but the caliber of players coming in after the starters hasn’t been nearly as good in the past couple years as it is on this year’s team.
Freshmen Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary would be starters on just about any other team in the country. Stauskas is the team’s third leading scorer at 13 points per game and has been absolutely lights-out from beyond the arc so far this season. The 6’6” native of Ontario, Canada is shooting 58% from three and is averaging better than 2 threes per contest. And his 95% clip from the line isn’t too shabby either!
Then there’s McGary, who was one of the top recruits in the nation. At 6’10”, McGary has great fundamentals in the post and is the team’s best rebounder – averaging 5.7 boards per game in just 14 minutes. It’s likely Beilein will move McGary into a starting spot over Morgan at some point soon, but for now, McGary remains one of the nations most effective big men off the bench.
He’s rarely considered amongst the NCAA’s top coaches, but if John Beilein can lead this team to a title this year, he’ll receive a much-deserved spotlight, and the Wolverines can finally complete that awkward 20-year period that’s followed the departure of the Fab Five.