Thursday, January 10, 2013
By Chantel Jennings
Each Thursday, the WolverineNation staff sits down to talk Michigan sports. This week, they look at national championships, the basketball team’s young’uns and one of the last big recruiting targets.
1) The national championship has come and gone, so, with the recruits Michigan is getting and Brady Hoke's expectations, how long is it until the Wolverines are competing at that level?
Michael Rothstein: It might be a while, especially since Alabama (and LSU, and Florida, etc.) aren't going away anytime soon. There's a difference, too, between being able to compete in a one-game scenario and winning those types of games. Michigan should be able to compete at that level by, say, 2014. Learning to win, and win consistently, at that level might take a little bit longer. Michigan is recruiting well, but to build what Alabama has takes class upon class upon class. But it is still far, far away from that level.
Tom VanHaaren: Probably a while. Hoke would probably tell you the same thing, but they first need to focus on winning the Big Ten championship. Michigan lost to Nebraska and Ohio State this season and needs to get to the top of the division before you can talk about national-championship level. It took Brian Kelly three years at Notre Dame, and that's pretty fast.
Chantel Jennings: Alabama is just at another level. There is an ebb and flow to college football, and right now is Alabama’s time. At some point, I assume, it won’t be, and that’s when there will be an opening for the Wolverines to step in. But I think Michigan needs to take baby steps. The Wolverines aren’t going to win the national championship immediately. The Wolverines need to win the Big Ten championship a few times before they’re on the Tide’s level.
Mitch McGary has been outshone by fellow frosh Glenn Robinson and Nik Stauskas, but he's improving steadily.
2) Multiple freshmen have picked up the Big Ten's basketball Freshman of the Week honor. If you had to award one freshman the award today, who would it be and why?
Rothstein:Glenn Robinson III. What Nik Stauskas has done is remarkable, but Robinson has been so efficient and so quiet about it, sometimes his numbers go unnoticed. His game is smooth and he has the ability to score both inside and outside. He might not be the best freshman in the nation right now -- UNLV's Anthony Bennett and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart are having better years -- but Robinson III might be the best freshman east of the Mississippi.
VanHaaren: Stauskas. How can the award not go to the freshman who’s leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage? He’s going to be the most difficult player for opponents when it comes to the scouting reports mostly because there’s nothing you can do when he’s on.
Jennings:Mitch McGary. He’s the post player who brings an entirely new level to Michigan’s play. By running a two-post offense, opposing teams have it that much harder. Plus, he has improved more and more every game and I think he has the most upside as a Big Ten player because the game is going to keep slowing down for him. By the end of the season, he could be the best big man Michigan has.
3) Derrick Green is probably the most talked-about name in Michigan's war room right now. What does he bring if he commits? How will the Wolverines deal if he doesn't?
Rothstein: He brings a starting running back Michigan desperately needs. There is little doubt he would have every chance to win the starting running back job, especially if Fitzgerald Toussaint isn't 100 percent at the start of the year. And with Toussaint, even if he is healthy enough to play, there's healthy and then there's having confidence in that health and in your moves, which often takes time. If Green doesn't commit, Michigan needs to hope Toussaint has a major recovery or Thomas Rawls or Drake Johnson can make major progress in the spring.
VanHaaren: He gives Michigan competition at the position. If Green commits then Michigan has three running backs in the 2013 class to go along with Toussaint, Rawls, Justice Hayes and Johnson. If nothing else he pushes everyone else to get better, but since he is the No. 5 ranked running back in this class he would add a wealth of talent. He's exactly what Michigan wants in a power runner, so it would be a big deal.
Jennings: If he doesn’t, Michigan better hope it can develop a power running back during the spring season because the Wolverines won’t be able to rely on yardage from Denard Robinson anymore. Deveon Smith is a talented back and I think he has flown under the radar, but I think he has potential. If Green commits, he could be a starter next year or at least push everyone else in front of him. If not, Michigan’s RB situation will be pretty interesting.