The Michigan Wolverines are looking for a positive return from an injury plagued 2014-15 season that crushed their hopes and dreams of a postseason appearance. Head coach John Beilein has produced success in the previous seasons and will expect nothing less from his team in the 2015-16 season, which is Michigan's 100th season as a basketball program.
2014-2015 Record: 16-16 (8-10 B1G)
The team graduated three players to the NBA draft after a a Big Ten Conference regular-season championship in the 2013-14 season and came back as a younger than ever. Heading into the 2014-15 season, the Wolverines were without Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, who all moved on in their career.
Michigan started the season ranked 24th in the AP Poll, but fell off due to multiple injuries. The preseason All-Big Ten selection, Caris LeVert, injured the foot that he had surgery on in May, which kept him out for the season. While LeVert was out, point guard Derrick Walton was also sidelined for the season. His injury, along with LeVert's, occurred in January.
The first sign of struggle came with a four game losing streak, which included losses to New Jersey Institute of Technology, Eastern Michigan and SMU. The also were defeated by No. 3 Arizona, 80-53. Losses against Michigan State on February 1 and February 17 put a damper on the already rough season.
Michigan played their final game of the season on March 13. It was a loss to No. 6 Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. They finished with a .500 record, which was not expected from the players, coaches or fans.
Key Returners: Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Ricky Doyle, Derrick Walton, Spike Albrecht, Aubrey Dawkins.
Michigan will be brining back their 2014-15 leading scorer Caris LeVert, who dropped 14.9 points per game last season. He was accompanied by Zak Irvin, who totaled 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game over 32 games played. Aubrey Dawkins showed signs of dominance and averaged 7.0 points per game.
Key Departures: Max Bielfeldt
Max Bielfeldt, a forward, was lost to Indiana after the 2014-15 season. During his junior season, the Wolverines gave him 14.5 minutes per game. Bielfeldt scored 5.1 points per game and pulled down 3.6 rebounds per game.
Moritz Wagner: Berlin, Germany
Moritz Wagner is the first German-born player in the history of Michigan basketball. The 18-year-old from Berlin will learn the four and five positions. He has not shown the physical ability, but eventually will. Once Wagner finds his groove, he could be a key part of this U-M team.
"I like that he's versatile, but I think he can really see the game and pass the ball very well," Beilein said on June 1. "He's got good instincts and he's extremely competitive. Brings a lot of energy every time he's on the court."
Wagner scored 16.5 points per game and added 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game last season for ALBA Berlin's Euroleague junior team. In the Adidas Next Generation U18 Tournament, he averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He could have signed for a professional German team, but committed to Michigan on April 5. Wagner went with Michigan over Arizona, Auburn, California, Connecticut, Duke, Providence, UNLV, Virginia and more top programs.
Projected Starters: Derrick Walton Jr., Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins and Ricky Doyle.
Key Reserves: Spike Albrecht, Muhammad Al Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and D.J. Wilson.
2015-16 Season Outlook:
The Wolverines have the ability to soar through the roof and return to the postseason and become a serious threat. However, most are not sure how to rate the Wolverines coming into the season. With the shooters they have on their team, Michigan has the chance to become a Big Ten Conference championship contender and a Final Four contender. Michigan will start their quest on November 13 against Northern Michigan.