December 6, 2013
McCormick cites concerns, upside
Former Wolverine and current college basketball analyst Tim McCormick delves into the state of John Beilein's basketball team right now, in this weekly exclusive to TheWolverine.com.
On whether he's concerned over Michigan's 5-3 record at this point: "I'm not concerned. I'm a little bit disappointed. I also have seen the value of having guards. When you lose Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke, you're going to have slippage.
"There are also injuries on top of that, which have compounded the problems. It's not just missing some players in games. It's the practice, trying to integrate new guys into expanded roles. If you can't practice, it makes it more confusing."
On the biggest issue aside from injuries and post-Burke/Hardaway adjustment: "Someone made the comment that maybe this team isn't tough enough. Then I watched the Duke game. It resonated in my mind, when I watched closely.
"What he was referring to is not physical toughness. It's more mental toughness, making the right decisions at the right times. It's the mental toughness, too, to block out rather than just go chase a rebound.
"It's having the discipline to rotate quickly on your defensive rotations. Those are just things that come with time."
On Glenn Robinson III and what some consider a slow start: "He's immensely talented. Last year, he was in an A-plus role for himself. He was the third perimeter player, but he was playing power forward [on defense], so he didn't have to cover a lot of perimeter guys.
"A lot of his open shots were based on teams either doubling or offering significant help to cover Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke. A lot of his shots were open. A lot of them came in transition, based on the greatness of the guards.
"I still have a ton of confidence that he's going to have an outstanding year. Some of the talk about him leaving for the NBA last year, I thought, was way premature. NBA teams look at his athleticism, his length, and say he's going to be a really good NBA player someday.
"By coming back, he's learning a lot more than he would sitting on an NBA bench, or playing in the D-league. I still think he's got amazing upside."
On Derrick Walton's adjustment: "John Beilein's offense is difficult for freshmen to pick up. We've seen it a little over the years, that there's a learning curve a point guard will go through.
"Trey Burke picked it up faster than any of the others, but that just goes to his mindset, and the fact that he had a great high school coach, a really good AAU program, and he's played against the very elite high school players. He was very advanced.
"I think Derrick Walton has done a really good job, and he's had some games where you think he's the next Trey Burke. And, he's had some games where you think he's got a long way to go.
"He's about where I would hope he would be, and I think his coaches are immensely pleased."
On fellow freshman Zak Irvin: "During the Miami of Florida-Nebraska game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that I called on Tuesday, I gave my All-Freshman Team so far. Both Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin were on it.
"He is Michigan's next star, and will continue to make strides. I believe that with someone in his role, a bench support role, what you're looking for is helping your team win every third game. He's not going to go out there and be a difference maker every game.
"Freshmen and sixth men, there aren't many of those guys who are going to put up big numbers every game. But every third game, I think he's going to help Michigan significantly with his scoring and defense. I am really impressed."
On Mitch McGary trying to get back up to speed: "I think 15 points and 14 rebounds, in Cameron, on the highest stage, is pretty impressive. I've heard people talk about the skill level of Mitch McGary, how he's a good shooter and all.
"I just don't see that right now. I think his greatest asset is his energy level and his hustle and toughness. He's a finisher, and a rebounder. He's skilled from a steals standpoint, but in terms of making things happen with the ball, that's the next step he has to take with his game."
On the biggest characteristic he needs to see out of Michigan the remainder of the non-conference season: "Everybody healthy."
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