|Saginaw Valley State||20||28||48|
The best college basketball teams always seem to have some combination of veteran and young talent, versatility, and a certain amount of depth. Through two exhibition games, Michigan has shown that they have all of this – and then some.
John Beilein has to be pleased with the way his team is shooting the ball, as the Wolverines poured in 78 points on 29-of-51 field goal attempts (56.9 percent), including a strong 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) from behind the three-point line. Of those buckets, a whopping 23 of which were assisted, good for a ridiculous 79.3 percent assists-to-field goal ratio (did I just make a stat up?). And once again, it was a freshman that led the team in scoring as Glenn Robinson III finished with 17 points on a hyper-efficient 7-of-9 shooting (3-of-5 from three), including another monster alley-oop from third-year vet Tim Hardaway, Jr.
With two mediocre GLIAC teams in the rearview mirror now, it’s still hard to say anything conclusive about this squad going forward, but it certainly looks the part of a top-10 team. Michigan’s two wins have really never been in doubt, and having experienced some exhibition scares in the past, Beilein must be pleased.
Four of the five Fresh Five have shown that they are ready for the college game and will garner significant playing time, led by Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Nik Stauskas. Tre Robinson appears to have a starting spot locked down while both McGary and Stauskas seem to be guys that will be first off the bench. Spike Albrecht saw 17 more minutes tonight, and while he only scored two points, he did dish out two assists to only one turnover and made it quite evident that he will be the primary backup for Trey Burke. Caris LeVert seems to be a good bet to redshirt at this point, but his future is full of potential.
For those who wanted to see two true bigs on the floor together, tonight was the time for it, as Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary shared the court for a good deal of time in the first half and proceeded to dominate the glass on both ends of the court, helping Michigan grab 88.5 percent of Saginaw Valley’s misses and 42.3 percent of their own misses. Morgan is noticeably thinner and will look to continue to improve on his touch around the basket while grabbing all the rebounds he can get his hands on. McGary again showed off an admirable motor and big-time energy; at one point he tipped a pass on defense over the half court line then chased it down while being harassed by a defender before grabbing it and slamming all in one vicious motion.
Jon Horford sat out once again, but the latest word is that he should still be on schedule to suit up for Friday’s regular season opener against Slippery Rock. With the size and he skill that he brings to the table, Horford will probably squeeze both Blake McLimans and Max Bielfeldt out of the regular rotation, but having two serviceable big men on the bench is not a bad problem to have.
If one thing is certain at this point, however, it’s that Michigan has plenty of talent and not a lot of selfish players. The assist numbers speak for themselves, and another game with fewer than 10 turnovers (seven tonight) will undoubtedly make Beilein sleep well tonight. After the first exhibition game he said that he is always happy to keep the turnovers in the single digits; to be taking care of the ball this well early on is a terrific sign for this young team. The best player on the court tonight had to be Trey Burke, who scored 16 points at will and handed out eight assists while coughing the ball up only once. Those are All-American type numbers.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. seems to be playing much more within the flow of the offense early on, and his six assists show that he is really embracing the role of being more of a facilitator. His points will come, but two points are two points no matter who puts the ball in; Timmy is starting to realize that he doesn’t have to score 15 every night for his team to be successful.
The one glaring area that will need to improve for Michigan as they enter the regular season is free throw shooting. The Wolverines combined to shoot only 7-of-14 from the charity stripe tonight, with Mitch McGary going 0-for-2 and Caris LeVert shooting 0-for-3. There will be games this season that come down to one or two possessions, and free throws will be the difference. Shooting 50 percent, wide open from 15 feet away is simply unacceptable at this level of basketball, and Beilein knows that and will do everything he can to make it a non-issue.
Again tonight, however, it was all Maize and Blue. Balanced scoring has gotten it done in the preseason and balanced scoring should be the name of the game into the early part of the regular season. Scorers will emerge and the rotation will be cut down to around eight or nine players, but Michigan has four or five legitimate options that could lead the team in scoring on any given night. It’s a safe bet to assume that Michigan fans’ excitement is well-deserved right now, and that John Beilein likes what he sees. The season is only four days away. Michigan appears ready.
|Final Game Stats|
|01||Glenn Robinson III*||7-9||3-5||0-0||1||1||2||0||17||2||0||0||2||26|
|10||Tim Hardaway Jr*||2-5||1-2||0-1||0||3||3||1||5||6||2||0||1||26|