By Everett Cook, Daily Sports Editor
Published November 14, 2012
The Michigan men’s basketball team has one of its most talented squads in recent memory, which means there are roster options aplenty.
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Here’s a breakdown of this season’s roster:
Point Guard: After sophomore Trey Burke was suspended for the first exhibition of the season against Northern Michigan, freshman Spike Albrecht was thrust into a starting role that no one expected him to occupy. Albrecht impressed, scoring 16 points with six assists in his collegiate debut against the Wildcats.
After the game, Michigan coach John Beilein joked that even though Albrecht played well, there would be no point guard controversy. That’s what happens when the starter is a preseason All-American.
Still, having Albrecht on the roster will be crucial for the team’s depth, especially during Big Ten play. Burke averaged just over 36 minutes a game last year, partially because the Wolverines didn’t have another true point guard they could rely on. Burke had to play.
It’s a little different this season now that there is a legitimate backup option in Ann Arbor. Burke will get his minutes, but there will undoubtedly be games in January and February when Burke will need a couple minutes to get off the court and rest. Albrecht — a solid ball-handler coming off the bench — might play fewer than 10 minutes a game, but an important 10 minutes nonetheless.
“I think Spike is going to contribute a lot more than people think,” Burke said at Big Ten Media Day. “He’s a good point guard and does a good job of scoring when he needs to, and sees the court well.”
Guard/Forward: The shooting guard might be the only starting position that could change between now and Big Ten season. After two exhibitions and two regular season games, the starter has been senior Matt Vogrich. His role offensively isn’t that complicated — he’s the shooter in the corner with no slashing responsibilities.
But so far, Vogrich hasn’t been shooting at the level of someone whose only job is to shoot. He’s 4-for-16 from deep if you count the two exhibition games, and while he is a hustler and plays solid defense, his role is to shoot.
The guy behind him right now is freshman Nik Stauskas, who might be billed as one of the most prolific shooters in Michigan history by the time his career is over. Through two games, he’s shooting 70-percent from deep, and while that number will certainly decrease, it’s fair to say the Canadian will lead the team in 3-point percentage.
Vogrich has more experience and is a better defender than Stauskas at this point, but by the time Big Ten play rolls around, don’t be surprised if it’s the freshman instead of the senior in the starting lineup.
The small forward will be Tim Hardaway Jr., who has looked like the Wolverines’ most complete player in this young season. Whatever Hardaway did in the off-season is paying off so far, as the junior has already looked better on defense, in rebounding and in distributing the ball than he did last year. On a team with more offensive weapons all over the roster, Hardaway isn’t going to be relied upon as much for scoring, and a more complete Hardaway is a good thing for Michigan.
Forward/Center: Here’s where things could get interesting, because this is arguably the best big-man talent that Beilein has ever had. While the combinations of bigs could change depending on what offensive mood he is in, the starting forwards will almost certainly be Glenn Robinson III and Jordan Morgan.
The lone freshman starter is Robinson, who is a combination of a guard and forward in Beilein’s four-guard offense. He is a 6-foot-6 offensive weapon who can shoot as well as he can drive, and a leaper who has already been at the receiving end of several alley-oops from Burke and Hardaway.
The big man on the court is Morgan, the 6-foot-8 redshirt junior who will be counted for all things interior — scoring, defense and rebounding.
Behind the two starters are where the combinations become intriguing. Freshman Mitch McGary has been coming off the bench to replace Morgan about five minutes into every game. The freshman is 6-foot-10 and has a ton of talent, albeit raw talent. The coaching staff will help him develop until he sees more and more of the floor.
McGary is naturally more of a center, but he can also play forward. If Beilein wants to turn his team from small to big very quickly, he inserts McGary into the forward role alongside Morgan, which he has at times already this season. Having a 6-foot-10 power forward is an interesting lineup maneuver that Beilein could look into against certain, bigger teams down the road.
The other variable among the bigs is Jon Horford, the talented redshirt sophomore who is coming off an injury-shortened 2011-12 season because of a stress fracture in his foot. Horford and McGary could play together, or Horford and Morgan could play together, to create another two-big lineup.
Point is, this roster could go big or small depending on the opposing team and Beilein’s mood, which should be exciting for anybody looking for points this season at the Crisler Center.