Five Questions: ESPN.com’s Chantel Jennings

Back from vacation and back to previewing Indiana’s big opponents with the media members who know them best. This week, Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com’s WolverineNation joins us on the Scoop. Chantel is a close friend of mine and one of the best writers I know. Case in point, if you have an ESPN Insider account, read this.

Here’s five questions to Chantel regarding the surging Wolverines:

1. Is there any stopping Trey Burke? Where are his limitations as far as where his game is at in his freshman season?

He hasn’t shown too many limitations – he can create for himself, he can create for his teammates. He has incredibly good court vision and runs the floor like a seasoned veteran. However, if I were to pick a limitation it would be that sometimes he’s too risky on defense. Against Minnesota when he was closing out against their shooters he often jumped to try and block shots. Sometimes Gophers just got their shots off soon enough, other times, they jumped pump faked and went by. He needs to stay on his feet. He’s quick enough to stay with most people when it’s a straight-up one-on-one possession, but when he jumps he risks a.) Giving away an easy shot b.) Picking up a foul or c.) Both. It’s just not smart.

2. How much has Michigan used the 1-3-1 this season? Do you expect it to be a factor against Indiana?

Michigan coach John Beilein uses the 1-3-1 zone defense sparingly, mainly just to keep opposing offenses on their heels. I assume in a place like Assembly Hall where the Hoosiers are (obviously) so comfortable, we’ll see it more than we have in previous games. It won’t be too often just because of the height disadvantage the Wolverines have in the paint. Whenever Michigan runs a zone, they risk picking up cheap fouls on help defense, so Beilein will have to be smart about it.

3. Michigan’s two senior leaders are from the state of Indiana, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak. What kind of boost do they give this Michigan team, which is full of younger guys?

Yes, they are young in age but not in experience. Novak and Douglass have as much experience as anyone in the conference and sophomores Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz don’t play like young guys. And Burke, well I don’t know where his freshman season went because clearly it’s not happening now. But Novak and Douglass are important because they’ve been through it all, through the ups and downs of games and seasons, so when Michigan gets streaky in games (or in this season), the team is going to look to those two to keep the Wolverines level-headed.

4. What kind of ceiling do you think we can expect for the Wolverines this season? Are they capable of a top three finish?

I think it’s definitely a possibility. I think Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are all going to be fighting for those top three spots. But this is the Big Ten, so you never know what could happen.

5. Size and a serious lack of a post game seemed to be an issue for Michigan before. How well have they corrected that issue? Or is it still a weakness going forward?

That will be a weakness for Michigan all season. Sophomore forward Jon Horford has a stress fracture in his right foot, which leaves the brunt of the post duties to redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan. Beilein has remedied the problem a bit. He has moved Smotrycz to Morgan’s backup, which forces defenses to play Michigan a bit differently. Defensively, it puts the Wolverines at a disadvantage, but, offensively it forces teams to play Michigan different, especially the high-ball screen.

10 comments

  1. We aren’t interested in reading a Michigan homer piece on a BLOOMINGTON newspaper website.

    How are the Wolverines surging? Who have they defeated that is any good?

    I look forward to you bolting to the unemployed vacant factory state up north as soon as you get the chance. Buh bye.

  2. Being a close friend of yours appears to have skewed your judgement. Now I dont have ESPN insider to read more by your friend, but… this little article provided no great insight or objectivity. Michigan is NOT going to seriously challenge for top 3 in the conference. Wisky is a better team than Michigan. And since conference play began Iowa looks better than Michigan too. (I don’t think Iowa IS a better a better team, just saying to this point, they have played better.) Plus, Michigan lacks depth and heighth… and in this conference, this year, that will be a real achilles heel. BigMan is right… this kinda smells like a homer piece.

  3. I like having the guest perspective. I’m in the camp that thinks Michigan is pretty darn good this year. Well-coached, balanced scoring, great 3-pt shooters and a talented point guard. I agree with Just Is that they lack depth and height, though. And I don’t think they’ll beat Indiana in Assembly Hall. Go IU!!!!!!

  4. Reading that piece about scUM’s B10 BB fortunes is a direct contrast to reading my piece written about IU’s BB fortunes. Neither very deep. Sorry.

  5. Hey, leave Ryan alone..Dustin probably made him write it in the quest to paint Scoop as objective.

    More likely scenario: This is nothing but a natural reaction from Ryan…When you begin to fall in love with something far more crimson true and deep in genuineness, there is a initial tendency for the manifestation of a guilty conscience to defend the only nest you previously were nurtured. It’s a form of rebelling before his heart succumbs to the pure beauty of Assembly Hall hoops.

    I’m willing to give Ryan enough time to work through the emotions. He’s not a lost soul like Kellenberger or Korman.

    Go Hoosiers!

  6. I don’t see any issue with this piece. Why do you only want the same perspective all the time? That can be (as Chantel might put it) a. Boring b. Dangerous or c. Both…

    To be fair to UM, they have lost only to two ranked ACC teams, and do have a couple higher profile wins beating Memphis and UCLA. Minnesota obviously has some issues but had been playing well coming into the game.

    Trey Burke does seem to be the only guy that could challenge Cody for FOY honors, and Hardaway is tough. They don’t suck as a team.

    That being said I think IU is measurably better, should have a tremendous advantage with Zeller, and have an elite wing defender, in Dipo, to put on Hardaway or switch over to Burke if he gets on a roll. Remy Able and Jones also provide size and length to put on Burke IF Jordy struggles.

    IU should win this games in the vicinity of 10-15 points at home…

  7. Man you guys are chippy lately. Ryan’s done a few of these. He did one with the Kentucky reporter and he’s tried to do more. That’s exactly what he was trying to do is bring more perspective to the situation. He’s going to try to do more. Some of you guys will care. Some of you won’t. That’s all.

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