Thursday, November 1, 2012
By Michael Rothstein
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan has its first look at its basketball team on Thursday night while its football team continues to try and figure out a way to deal with depth issues as it fights to reach the Big Ten championship game.
Will the Wolverines get to Indianapolis? What will the Michigan hoops team show?
These questions are debated in this week’s WolverineNation roundtable, where our staff takes on three issues surrounding Michigan sports.
Losing left tackle Taylor Lewan for any length of time would cause a major reshuffling of the offensive line.
1.Michigan has depth issues all across its football team this season. Which position group concerns you the most?
Michael Rothstein: Offensive line. Twice, Michigan has been really close to seeing a starter drop for a while -- Taylor Lewan in the opener and Ricky Barnum last month. Instead of being able to plug in another lineman, the Wolverines have to shift guys all across the line any time one gets hurt. The Wolverines have been fortunate not to have a significant injury to a starter, but if they do, that is the spot where there could be major problems.
Chantel Jennings: I'd say running back. The Wolverines have been reluctant to go past Fitzgerald Toussaint even though he hasn't produced, which makes me think that they're seeing something we're not or they believe that anyone else on the depth chart wouldn't be able to do any better. Either is a possibility, but the fact we just haven't seen any major yardage from the running backs on a team that calls itself a "running team" seems a bit fishy to me. That's why the Wolverines landing 2013 prospect Derrick Green is such a big deal.
Tom VanHaaren: If Denard Robinson's nerve boo-boo doesn't get better then it's absolutely quarterback that is the biggest concern. Once Robinson went out against Nebraska the offense was one dimensional and the Nebraska defense dictated the game.
2.Four games are left and the Wolverines need help to reach Indianapolis. Does Michigan make the Big Ten title game? If the Wolverines do not, who does?
MR: Yes, they do. The Big Ten is such a jumble this season -- even undefeated Ohio State is a little bit suspect -- that Nebraska could lose on Saturday and it once again puts Michigan in position to control things. As long as Robinson is healthy, the Wolverines find a way to get there, although facing the Buckeyes in the regular season finale is a major test.
CJ: I think Nebraska will make it. This weekend the Cornhuskers will have a test in East Lansing, but if running back Rex Burkhead returns that'll make the climb a bit less steep. Past that it's just Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa, which should all be manageable. Barring any kind of crazy upset or any major breakdown from Nebraska, the Cornhuskers should find themselves in Indianapolis on Dec. 1.
TVH: Michigan needs Nebraska to lose at least one more time since the two teams are tied with one conference loss. Nebraska plays at Michigan State on Saturday and then Penn State after that. If Nebraska loses only one more game then Michigan has to win out and they still have to go to Ohio State. I'm not sure that I see Nebraska losing many more games, so I think the Cornhuskers will be in Indy.
3. Michigan basketball season starts tonight with an exhibition against Northern Michigan. Who is the one player you are most curious to see this season?
MR:Caris LeVert. Every person I have spoken with about Michigan basketball this season has raved about the late addition to the Wolverines freshman class and said he has the potential to be very, very good. While he might not see a ton of minutes this season, if he performs well in the exhibition it could be one more reason it becomes really tough to keep him out of the rotation.
CJ:Tim Hardaway Jr. His on-court production and leadership is so crucial to the Wolverines' success this season. He can't have an up-and-down season like he did a year ago if Michigan wants to be Big Ten title contenders. Players and Hardaway Jr. himself have said that he has progressed from last season and is ready to step into the spotlight and be a consistent player this year. I think it'll be a bit longer until we really know if he can handle that pressure, but it'll be interesting to see.
TVH: I'm interested to see Mitch McGary. I know he has a slight injury, so his play might be limited, but this was the guy throughout the whole recruiting season abouth whom everyone was excited . Videos of McGary breaking backboards and lofty recruiting rankings have me intrigued as to what type of player he'll be for Michigan.