“Right now we are working on everything and we’re not great at anything.”
That is how Michigan head coach John Beilein described the progress to this point of his 2017-18 team as the opening game approaches.
Wednesday afternoon Michigan hosted their annual media day for the men’s basketball team, the 11th time Beilein has been apart of it.
Here are a few takeaways from Michigan’s media day.
A quarterback at point guard?
Yes, Beilein did bring up a “quarterback controversy” during his time at the podium.
Whether or not that was relating to the football teams current situation, it did in fact connect with his teams current situation at point guard.
Derrick Walton Jr. has now moved on and graduated from the program and it suddenly left a void to be filled at the position. While Xavier Simpson is returning from last year’s squad, his average of just over eight minutes per contest wasn't enough to convince Beilein that is all they needed.
So he and his staff acquired Jaaron Simmons, a graduate transfer from Ohio of the Mid-American Conference. The idea behind this was to add experience to the depth chart at the position, however, the system Beilein has implemented at Michigan isn't something you can pick up over night.
Therefore, Beilein essentially is trying to find his “quarterback”.
"Flat out inexperience really," Beilein said. "We had Xavier (Simpson) last year playing five or six minutes a game and Eli (Brooks) coming in as a freshman. If there was an experienced player that we felt was a Michigan fit and was a guy that had a lot of experience. We thought that we better be sure. It was even before D.J. went pro, we had a pretty good front line coming back here. Let's make sure we have that quarterback and let the cream rise to the top and they're really competing."
While most will assume Simmons is the clear favorite for the starting job, due to his experience and numbers with the Bobcats, but Beilein says the competition is still wide open.
“We might have a quarterback controversy. A three-man quarterback controversy,” Beilein said as he laughed.
Who’s next in the front court?
It is clear to anyone following Michigan basketball Moritz Wagner is “the man” for the Wolverines this season as he was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team.
The question is, other than Duncan Robinson playing at the four, who will come off the bench and give these two a blow?
Enter Austin Davis and Jon Teske.
While there has been plenty of hype around the coming of Davis, Beilein said that Teske has outperformed him as of late in practice.
“I’m just telling you last year the scout team might score 16 points and (Davis) might score 12 of them,” Beilein said. “Now, accountability and defense and all these other things are what he needs to get good at.
“When (Davis) gets to 212 degrees, when he’s boiling, he’s going to be really good. He just has to get there first.”
Can Charles Matthews be a leader?
The Kentucky transfer went from being a possible one-and-done player to having to wait his turn along Michigan’s bench due to transfer rules.
Now, his second chance is right on the horizon.
“When the lights go on, it’s a little bit different,” Beilein said. “(Matthews) has had some great days at practice and some not so great days, he just has to keep working through it.
“The talent is there, now, its will (Matthews) be able to do the things to win games. Can he make winning play after winning plays.”
In Matthews only season with the Wildcats (2015-16), he averaged 10.3 minutes, 1.7 points and 0.4 assists per game.
After finishing last season with a Big Ten Tournament Championship and a Sweet 16 run, the expectations returned to a higher level for the program.
With Walton and Zak Irvin graduating, D.J. Wilson going pro and Mark Donnal transferring, it will be a lot of new faces attempting to answer those challenges.
Beilein said that the early schedule is full of difficult matchups and was honest in saying this team will have “plenty of bumps” along the way.
“Our early schedule, were going to be hit with stuff and we just need to say ‘okay, this is just a part of the process’,” Beilein said. “We’re not going to keep thinning about last year because you can’t be saying that. It’s a process.”
Beilein said his team needs to be given patience and people have to watch it come along, even though Beilein wishes it would happen, it has been the story almost every year.
“We continue to try and rebuild or reinvent every year,” Beilein said. “Sometimes we get to win early and sometimes we won’t be.
Here is a look at Beilein’s press conference and more from UMHoops.com