Just one game into a season filled with expectations for the Michigan Wolverines’ fifth-ranked basketball team, Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke showed that they are up to the task in a 100-62 romp of Division II Slippery Rock. Whether or not Michigan’s tradition of announcing Slippery Rock football scores in the Big House had anything to do with the matchup was beside the point as Michigan cruised to victory behind the veterans in their only game before the NIT Preseason Tournament starts this coming Monday against the IUPUI Jaguars.
After a bit of a shaky start that saw the lead bounce back and forth early on, the Wolverines pulled away in the first half and never looked back. Hardaway, Jr. seemed to come out of the gates looking to prove himself early and often, and he did just that, pouring in 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting (5-of-5 3-pt) and grabbing 10 rebounds as he eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in his college career.
Michigan led by a comfortable 14 points at the half, but Trey Burke and a couple others seemed to be moving a little bit too fast, forcing a couple plays, and turning the ball over too often. Hardaway, Jr. was the only Wolverine to hit double digits by the half as John Beilein went with the same starting lineup as he did in the two exhibition games.
In the second half, the game got out of hand fast as Hardaway, Jr. threw down an incredible one-handed slam right in the middle of the paint and followed it up with two straight three-pointers, including an and-one from behind the arc that he failed to convert into a four-point play.
Of the freshmen, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary were most impressive, but Nik Stauskas showed some flashes of potential as well despite playing with an injured back. The Canadian made one of his two three-point attempts and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line to finish with seven points in 18 minutes. He did a good job of looking to create for himself, drawing two fouls in the process.
Tre Robinson was once again fairly quiet on both ends of the ball but still managed to put up 10 points (5-of-7 FG) and eight rebounds in 32 minutes, a clear statement that he will be seeing starter minutes all season long. McGary started to turn it on late after finding himself in foul trouble throughout the majority of the game, recording a couple thunderous dunks (one a well-timed put-back) on his way to nine points and scrapping for nine rebounds in just 12 minutes of playing time, an incredibly productive game considering his time on the court.
Overall, Michigan was strong on the boards, rebounding 37.9 percent of their own misses and 70 percent of Slippery Rock’s, despite going with a mostly-small lineup throughout the game.
Jon Horford saw limited action, but was fairly impressive in his eight minutes, recording eight points, one assist, one rebound, and one block. A completely healthy Horford may be a good bet to displace Jordan Morgan in the starting lineup, as the redshirt junior recorded only four points, one rebound, one assist, and one block in 18 minutes. The big man rotation is certainly something to watch going forward.
In the end, the shooting difference was all-too-evident, with Michigan shooting an uncanny 63.2 percent from downtown and 57.6 percent from the field and Slippery Rock managing only 28.6 percent and 36.9 percent, respectively, in those categories.
The Wolverines assisted exactly half of their 38 makes, with Burke leading the way with eight dimes. Beilein can live with the nine turnovers his team coughed up, but Trey will need to cut down on his five. Burke seemed to be out of sorts in the first 20 minutes, but the second half was a completely different story, as he seemed to score at will, showing off a killer mid-range game and a lethal stop-and-go hesitation move that seems to be a new development this season.
Matt Vogrich did well to kick off his senior season with a very efficient eight points on 3-of-4 shooting overall and 2-of-3 from downtown while also grabbing three boards and handing out an assist.
Going forward, I don’t expect the starting lineup to change in the near future. Horford and McGary should see more minutes in the NIT Preseason tournament and the two-big offense should be more prominent, but there were not a ton of weaknesses the Wolverines showed in their debut. Beilein will certainly see plenty to improve on, but this is exactly the kind of performance a top-five team is expected to have. In recent seasons, the early non-conference games weren’t always sure things for Michigan, but it seems as if this team may be too talented for that to be the case this year.
Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s big game could be a great sign for the junior, and if the rest of the team continues to light the nets on fire, there are few teams in the country that can stop Michigan.
|Final Game Stats|
|01||Glenn Robinson III*||5-7||0-0||0-0||2||6||8||0||10||2||1||0||0||32|
|10||Tim Hardaway Jr*||8-10||5-5||4-6||1||9||10||2||25||3||2||0||1||31|