With Michigan's three freshmen arriving on campus the transition from the 2012 team to the 2013 edition has officially begun.
Point guard Derrick Walton, wing Zak Irvin and forward Mark Donnal are the three players (not counting walk-ons) joining last year's title game runner up.
For the Wolverines to be able to replicate last season's success five-star recruit Irvin and four-star recruit Walton will be the keys.
As much as I love Spike Albrecht and think Caris LeVert can be a contributor, they are not 25 to 30 minute players on a Final Four level squad. Both are best suited as complimentary players off the bench.
The duo of Walton and Irvin give Michigan the best opportunity to carry over what made the Maize and Blue play at the level they did in 2012 - a high powered, ridiculously efficient offense.
It would be unfair to expect Walton to simulate what star PG Trey Burke did last season. Burke averaged 18.6 PPG on 46% shooting including 38% from three. He added 6.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals. His turnover percentage was 13.4, which was impressive.
A key to help Walton smoothly go from the high school level to the college level will be the Wolverines' secondary ball handlers' ability to take pressure off him. It's a completely different world of basketball; there will be times he struggles. During those situations Nik Stauskus can help running pick and rolls and Mitch McGary can have the offense run through him in the post. Head coach John Beilein will have the ability to diversify the offense.
Another player who will be able to contribute immediately on the offense side will be Irvin, who is 6'6', 180 pounds. He has the potential to be the best wing Michigan has seen in a really long time.
This is the spot where I think Michigan could possibly improve from last year despite the fact Irvin is replacing a first-round pick in Tim Hardaway Jr. Out of the players the Wolverines ran their offense through last season Hardaway was their least efficient player. As he had been throughout his career, Hardaway continued the pattern of being inconsistent not only from game to game, but from half to half. If Irvin can bring more consistency in the 28 to 35 minutes I expect him to be playing by the time we get deep into the Big Ten season, it will be an upgrade to what Timmy brought.
Undoubtedly, I am expecting and asking a lot from these two players, but under Beilein we have seen freshman have success and out do expectations they had coming in. Hopefully it will happen again.