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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Where Michigan hoops goes now

By Michael Rothstein

The Michigan basketball roster had a major overhaul Wednesday afternoon when sophomores Evan Smotrycz and Colton Christian along with freshman Carlton Brundidge decided to transfer.

This is a big shift for a program that had been trending upward the past few seasons. It loses a former starter in Smotrycz and someone who was looked at as a likely backup point guard to Trey Burke in Brundidge.

It also leaves Michigan with more holes to fill than it had 24 hours ago. Here's the immediate aftermath:

Evan Smotrycz
Evan Smotrycz's 3-point shooting will be sorely missed.
Eso Akunne is Michigan's backup point guard: The Wolverines' biggest question in the offseason was going to be who would back up Burke. Many thought it would be Brundidge, who had struggled to pick up part of Michigan's offense but was expected to improve greatly from his freshman to sophomore season. Now, Akunne -- a senior walk-on who has been on the cusp of playing his entire career -- will slide into that spot without much competition. Michigan could hope either senior Matt Vogrich or junior Tim Hardaway Jr. improves enough with ballhandling he could slide in. The other option committed is freshman Nick Stauskas, who has been working on point guard skills this season. The Wolverines also could try to land a late commitment in this class at the point.

A minutes logjam is starting to clear up: With Smotrycz's departure, it opens up some minutes for the Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford, Glenn Robinson III, Max Bielfeldt and Blake McLimans grouping at the four and five. It also likely means McGary is going to be a probable starter along Morgan or Horford when the 2012-13 season opens in November. Christian could have factored in here as well.

Michigan will miss Smotrycz dearly: The Reading, Mass., native was Michigan's best statistical 3-point shooter coming back and the fifth-best all-time at Michigan throughout his two seasons. Considering the Wolverines lose a gunner in Stu Douglass and a reliable shooter in Zack Novak and now Smotrycz, 3-point shooting could actually be an issue next season. Michigan has only two players on the roster who can consistently make 3-pointers -- Burke and Vogrich -- along with the incoming freshman Stauskas. For an offense predicated on good 3-point shooting, this could be an issue.

Suddenly, Michigan has roster spots: The Wolverines thought they might be done recruiting until the Class of 2014 with all of their scholarships used up. Not anymore. Michigan has three roster spots to play with now and have been on the road recruiting. The Wolverines could take a transfer potentially, add a late signee or bank more scholarships for the Class of 2013.