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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


(originally published on 3-10-15)

The basketball season is almost over for the Michigan Wolverines. A loss to Illinois should put a fork in them, though we never underestimate the financial power of UM, and their subsequent ability to wrench decisions in their favor. (In other words, they may still "buy their way into" the NIT, even with a losing record. We'll have to wait and see.)

Whenever their season closes out, the familiar refrain of Michigan fans everywhere will begin anew. They will claim that their team was "too young this year" to be very successful, and if only they had more older players, they would waltz to a national championship. Remember those lines from football? Get ready for more of the same with basketball.

We will now explain why John Beilein always seems to have a "young team" at Michigan. We started the explanation in this article, by pointing out how rare it is to have a Senior Day in Ann Arbor with actual seniors on the team. It's especially rare for them to have seniors who are really good, or at least putting on a great show in their swan song.

John Beilein is following a strategy that served him well
in the bush leagues of college basketball.

He "releases" players before they reach their senior year
in order to make room for a new group of youngsters.

Nobody would have noticed this pattern at Richmond, Canisius, or Nazareth, where Beilein coached for two decades before landing his first big job at West Virginia. With one exception (LeMoyne), he wasn't even around long enough to recruit, sign, and coach a player to fifth-year senior status. But now, it's starting to become rather obvious.

Max Bielfeldt is a "redshirt-junior" who would normally be poised for his fifth-year senior season next year, but Beilein gave him his walking papers last summer. Jon Horford transferred out last year after three seasons, Evan Smotrycz left after two seasons, and Carlton Brundidge made himself a one-and-done under Beilein. (Smotrycz actually played against UM with Maryland this season, the school to which he transferred.)

The players who dropped out of college to attend the NBA are part of the picture, but this is not the whole story of the perpetual youth movement. It truly appears as if Beilein does not value experience, or perhaps many players simply do not like him very much as a coach.

Listed below, in exhaustive detail, are all of the players whom John Beilein recruited and signed-up as Michigan Head Coach. As previously reported, he has signed five classes, and generated five players who used all their playing eligibility at UM. (If Spike Albrecht graduates next year, he will be the sixth player to finish the whole race out of the 18 who started. We are assuming he will do so.) Beilein gets only about 2.6 years of playing time from each scholarship he awards.

Class of 2008:  4 players, 9 years of play (2.25 avg.)

BEN CRONIN, committed on 5-16-07
redshirted, played one year, then left

STUART DOUGLASS, committed on 9-12-07
played all four years and graduated

ZACK NOVAK, committed on 3-9-08
played all four years and graduated

ROBIN BENZING, committed on 5-22-08
never played for UM

Class of 2009:  4 players, 14 years of play (3.50 avg.)

JORDAN MORGAN, committed on 12-18-07
played all four years and graduated

DARIUS MORRIS, committed on 8-1-08
played two years, then left for pro ball

MATT VOGRICH, committed on 10-6-08
played all four years and graduated

BLAKE MCLIMANS, committed on 10-28-08
played all four years and graduated

Class of 2010:  3 players, 8 years of play (2.67 avg.)

EVAN SMOTRYCZ, committed on 4-9-09
played two years, then transferred

TIM HARDAWAY, committed on 6-29-09
played three years, then left for pro ball

JON HORFORD, committed on 3-26-10
stayed four years, played three, then transferred

Class of 2011:  3 players, 6 years of play (2.00 avg.)

CARLTON BRUNDIDGE, committed on 9-21-09
played one year, then transferred

TREY BURKE, committed on 8-24-10
played two years, then left for pro ball

MAX BIELFELDT, committed on 3-27-11
currently a redshirt Junior, expected to leave after season

Class of 2012:  4 players, 10 years of play* (2.50 avg.)

NICK STAUSKAS, committed on 3-27-11
played two years, then left for pro ball

GLENN ROBINSON, committed on 7-13-11
played two years, then left for pro ball

MITCH MCGARY, committed on 11-3-11
played two years, then left for pro ball

SPIKE ALBRECHT, committed on 4-6-12
currently in Junior season*

Five Year UM Recruiting Summary

18 total players signed to NLI
47 total seasons of play*

2.6 years average per player
(65% efficiency)

*we are assuming that Spike Albrecht returns for his senior season

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