Michigan 2014-15 Record: 16-16, 8-10 in the Big Ten
Key Players Lost: Max Bielfeldt and Austin Hatch (moved to student assistant).
Key Players Coming Back: Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin, Spike Albrecht, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, Kameron Chatman, Mark Donnal, D.J. Wilson and Ricky Doyle.
New Recruits/Transfers: Duncan Robinson (transfer) and Moritz Wagner.
For last year’s Michigan Wolverines basketball team, it was a case of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. With losses to New Jersey Institute of Technology (GASP!) and Eastern Michigan killing their buzz early on, and then the squad suffering devastating injuries to Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr, John Beilein’s squad went completely off the rails last year.
After making the NCAA Tournament for four straight years (and reaching the NCAA championship in 2013), it was hard for Michigan to have to settle for a .500 record overall (16-16) and finish with a losing record in the Big Ten (8-10). The Wolverines were built to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid, but a year after losing Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III, it wasn’t going to be easy as this was a season of adjustments.
So when you add it all up, you could see why Michigan finished the way they did.
LeVert was having a solid season before injuring his foot in January. He averaged 14.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game, while shooting .421 percent from the field, .810 percent from the free-throw line and .405 percent from the three-point line.
There was some concern that despite his season-ending injury, LeVert may still head to the NBA. But the Wolverines got good news as he decided to heal up and try to go out on a winning note next season in Ann Arbor.
Zak Irvin also had himself a fine sophomore campaign. He was second on the Wolverines in scoring with 14.3 points per game, while adding 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Irvin also shot .402 percent from the field, .697 percent from the free-throw line and .355 percent from the three-point line.
And prior to missing the last 12 games with his own foot issue, Walton averaged 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting .346 percent from the field, .833 percent from the free-throw line and .358 percent from the three-point line.
With five true freshmen (Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle and D.J. Wilson) and a red-shirt freshman (Mark Donnal), Beilein’s squad was learning on the fly last season and with the injuries they sustained, to finish .500 is not bad all things considered.
2015-16 Look Ahead:
With everybody coming back sans Max Bielfeldt, the Wolverines should be in prime position for another run at the NCAA Tournament. Considering the return to full health for LeVert and Walton Jr, Irvin emerging a legitimate scorer and the young guys gaining invaluable experience, the Wolverines should be one of the nation’s better bounce-back teams next season.
Expect a recharged and re-energized LeVert to make good on his last season. Last season certainly left a sour taste in his mouth and he should contend for all-Big Ten honors once again. Spike Albrecht is also still around and his veteran moxie will be a great asset too.
Beilein will be adding Division III (Williams College) transfer Duncan Robinson and German import Moritz Wagner to the club. Robinson is noted as a gifted shooter and will be a perfect fit in Beilein’s system. Wagner is high-energy guy who has an above-average basketball IQ and has a nose for the ball. Robinson and Wagner will add some nice punch off the bench.
So you see, all the variables are in place for Michigan to get back on track and return to the lofty status they were enjoying prior to last season.