This is my first of three positional group previews for the 2012-2013 Michigan basketball season. This could very well be the most interesting positional group for Michigan because of the depth and flexibility of the position. The guards and big men are not solidified by any measure, but projections for the way they will be set-up for the coming season are pretty straightforward in comparison to the way the wings could end up. Even a quick glance at the roster will show the confusion about which players will dominate this role.
Of the 15 man roster, there are 4-7 players that could end up playing on the wing this year. The reason I'm using a range is because several of these players including Josh Bartelstein, Corey Person, and Nik Stauskas have the potential to play some other positions on the floor. All three are listed as guards, but each of these guys could easily play the 2 spot and some of them like Stauskas even have a shot at playing the point in the future. In Beilein's system, there isn't a ton of difference between the 2 and the 3 spots, which means there is a lot of crossover between the wings and the guards.
If we eliminate the players that will likely make very little impact on the floor (Bartelstein, Person), we can get the list down to 5 players. Obviously, they have the potential to get on the floor at points, but it's very likely that the only time they will see the floor is during garbage time. They're great leaders for the team, but they probably won't get a lot of time. Following the same line, I have already predicted that freshman shooting guard Caris LeVert will be receiving a redshirt for this season. I could be wrong, especially if some players don't step up or get injured, but I truly believe he should get a redshirt this year.
This leaves us with what I believe to be the 4 players that will contribute the most to the wing position. These are Glenn Robinson III (GR3), Tim Hardaway, Jr., Nik Stauskas, and Matt Vogrich. Two of these players (GR3 & Stauskas) are freshmen and the other two are juniors and above. It should certainly be a good mix with this divide of youth and experience. Along with this, some of these players have a very different style than others. For instance, Stauskas is primarily a shooter. This will likely put him in the 2 spot, but I could see him moving around under the right circumstances.
As of now, I have projected that Hardaway and GR3 will be the starters for the upcoming season at the 2 and the 3 spots. I do think there's a chance that Stauskas and Vogrich can make some noise, but I think these are the players that are going to be able to give Michigan the best chance at victory. Beilein has said that if Stauskas can improve his defense, he will be getting some serious playing time. However, his main goal this year will likely be coming off the bench and shaking up the offense and flow of the game. This is an important role and something Vogrich was supposed to do last season, but he didn't live up to his hype.
Vogrich is perhaps the most interesting case of the four players. He has the experience and necessary skills to demand serious playing time this year, but he really took a step back last season. Part of this was due to his inability to make 3-pt shots, but he had less playing time last season than he did the year before by a significant margin. That's not a good sign going forward. I think Beilein is going to try to use Vogrich pretty extensively at the beginning of the year, perhaps even starting a game or two, but I think Vogrich will ultimately be replaced by Stauskas as the shooting man off the bench.
Despite the unknowns surrounding the wing for Michigan this season, there are a good number of capable players that should be able to fill this role. Plus, guys like Hardaway will have the ability to rotate to different parts of the wing to accommodate for other players. For instance, he might play the 2 spot when GR3 is on the floor, but the 3 spot when Stauskas is on the floor. Having this flexibility will be important as the season goes on because it will allow Michigan to have more looks and be more prepared if a player goes down to injury. This probably won't be the strongest position for Michigan, but it's definitely one that could develop into an important part of the team and could be crucial in any successful run for Michigan.