17-18 Focus: Michael Hurt

Sophomore Michael Hurt is heading on the European Tour this summer coached by Larry Brown as Hurt prepares for his second year as a Gopher.

Statistically Speaking

The Good. Michael Hurt played in 26 of 34 games earning the spot as the ninth man in the rotation his freshmen season for most of the season.  Played 5.8 minutes a game in those 26 games and made all the free throws he took.  Didn’t accumulate enough stats to really go into great detail but we are hoping the summer tour of Europe provides daily numbers to look through.

The Not so Good.  Michael took 20 shots in his 26 games and made 2 of 14 three-pointers for 14 percent.  Had six assists to six turnovers.  Made six of 20 shots overall.

17-18 Focus

Michael would have earned more time last year if he would have been a more confident shooter and if his defensive positioning was better.  People on the message boards think Michael doesn’t have the foot speed to defend the wing but for the most part I don’t believe that was the issue.  Sure there may be times he has catching up catching up when out of position but that is the issue right there, most guys have a problem catching up when they rotate and are out of position regardless of foot speed.

With a year under his belt I firmly believe that Hurt will improve his positioning on close-outs, ball screens, rotations from one or two passes off the ball to defending on the ball.  That needs to happen and he has to be a more confident shooter.  Last year Michael simply wasn’t a confident shooter which showed in the percentages.

Michael has it in him to be a good shooter from the arc and an off ball active scorer a time or two a game.  We saw him score four hustle baskets this year and Hurt has done a lot of that in his career.  Can he shoot from the arc?  Michael made 64 of 143 threes as a senior in high school at JM for 43 plus percent.  He’s always been able to hit open threes so I expect him to have a Dupree McBrayer style rebound (Dupree had a terrible start to his career shooting threes making 2 of his first 27 and turned it around to 40 plus percent as a sophomore).

Playing Time.  Looking at last year’s rotation there is the six minutes Michael played a game and the 27 minutes a game that Akeem Springs (everyone else is back).  Of course things will shift around and injuries have to be taken into account but there are two new guards looking for time (Isaiah Washington and Jamir Harris) plus Davonte Fitzgerald should be healthy enough to play.

How much will Michael play?  I expect him to be a dependable guy both ways with position defense, halfcourt offensive decision making, and playing hard.  But a lot is going to depend on his three point stroke.  If it is hitting I think he will be on the floor, if he struggles with the touch this roster has many guys ready to grab that time.

The play that sticks in my mind is the late game three that Hurt made at Northwestern.  His teammates exploded not just because it was a big make but because Michael’s teammates love his effort and character. They want him to succeed.

Projected Stat Line.  We have to do this in scenarios.  If Michael is hitting at 34-40 percent from the arc I see him playing off the bench a couple rotations a night meaning 9-14 minutes give or take each night.  If he shoots like he did last year the minutes will be less. This roster has 11 guys who I believe can get time next season but we all know that situations arise that put guys on the bench in street clothes.  This team needs shooters and dependable players to step in and fill the Springs graduation and Michael can shoulder some of that load if that shot is falling.

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