"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
As we embark into the first week of football I wanted to post one last thing about the basketball team's trip to Italy. I'm sure UMHoops will have several detailed posts this week that will do a better job of summarizing the trip, but I thought I'd start a thread to get people talking about it. While the competition was disappointing and thus any conclusion should be taken with that in mind,
What did we learn about the team?
Irvin made the sophomore leap.
Before the trip I was skeptical that he could become much more than a shooter this season and that others would have to step up to replace Stauskas. Now I think Irvin will be the alpha male of this team. He shot lights out from the FIBA three point line and also was active in the paint and on the boards. He'll start at the 3 and play 30+ minutes per game.
We should be fine at center.
Mitch McGary sadly isn't walking through that door this season, but we may not miss Morgan and Horford as much as we feared. Donnal and Doyle more than held their own in Italy and each had double-doubles. Perhaps this is where the poor competition is most obvious, but they seem to be pretty interchangeable and good for a minimum of the 15/10 slash line that we hoped for last season. Considering everyone was skeptical of Doyle and wanted Donnal as a stretch-four, this is very encouraging.
Chatman will remind us of GR3.
I mean that in just about every way possible. The good news is that he should be fine as the starting 4 on this team and contribute in a variety of athletic ways. He should be able to perfom similar to GR3 from the past two years - 10-12ppg, 5-6rpg. He will also probably have an inconsistent jump shot and frustrate Brian by taking long 2s. But he seemed active at both ends and should be capable of 25-30 minutes at the 4.
Beilein knows how to find talent.
Okay, this isn't something we learned in Italy, but more evidence surfaced. All of the unheralded freshmen had exciting moments and the fight for playing time will be fierce.
What didn't we figure out yet?
How good will the PGs be?
Based on last year we know that Walton and Spike will be fine, but we don't know yet whether they will help make up the slack from the loss of so many talented players. Walton finished with a strong final game both otherwise struggled. Spike didn't play that much but also played well in the final game. Perhaps they saved their best performances for when the game was actually competitive. But whether Walton made a sophomore leap isn't clear yet.
Who is going to red-shirt?
We know that this is the deepest team Beilein has ever had. We know that historically Beilein has played an 8-9 man rotation. But we don't know who from this large freshman class will redshirt. My gut feeling was that MAAR and Wilson were the most likely candidates, but now I'm down to just WIlson. As talented as he probably is, there isn't an obvious need for him in the rotation and his injury and weight may warrant a redshirt. If I had to guess, I'd say they try to RS him. MAAR played significant minutes and showed he could be a huge spark off the bench. He may only get 10 minutes once the B10 season starts, but hard to see him sitting now. Likewise Dawkins seems to have solidified the back-up spot at the 3/4 wing positions. Doyle is playing 20mpg at center. So either Wilson displaces someone once he's healthy and drives a redshirt on someone like Dawkins, we see an Izzo-like 11 man rotation, or Wilson gets the RS.
Will Max be anything more than he has been?
With how well the Donnal/Doyle combo performed, it seems that Max is once again stuck as the emergency third center.
How good is this team?
They looked unstoppable in Italy and better at this stage than most expected....but there's a lot of work to do before they take on a tough conference and tough schedule.
Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.
Not sure if anyone saw this...I didn't see comments on the board so thought I'd share. Mods, if it's been posted please delete this forum.
I dig the call-out. I wonder who's pulling this string in the AD.
Long live Belien.
Michigan faced a tougher test against the Mantova Stings, which will move up to Italy's second divison this year, than they had in their first three games of the Italy tour. Despite falling behind early in the third quarter, however, the Wolverines still managed to win with relative ease, holding the Stings to ten fourth-quarter points to win 96-76. Michigan finishes with a perfect 4-0 record in Italy, and they'll head back to Ann Arbor this weekend.
Zak Irvin led the team in scoring for the fourth time in four games with 16 points to go along with ten rebounds. Six other Wolverines, including three freshmen—MAAR, Ricky Doyle, and Aubrey Dawkins—finished in double figures. Full box score (click to embiggen):
Tweet of the day goes to this guy:
— Kevin McCarthy (@kevmc21) August 22, 2014
Basketball-related Macbeth reference? TMD.
Postgame quotes courtesy of the athletic deparment.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On what can be gained from today's game in comparison to the previous three contests ... "Every game has helped us in different ways. These games are not about the score, but experiencing playing basketball with a team like we have right now. As we went through the games, we saw new things that we have to learn. Today we played a very experienced team; they had a plan. They haven't been practicing a lot, but the things that they ran are a part of European basketball everywhere. They picked us apart at times, however we scored some points, too."
On whether or not the team got what he wanted them to get out of the Italian Tour ... "Without question. The number one thing is that we got extra days of practice and we also got to play these four games. Close to that in importance is the relationship-building we were able to do on this trip. From player-to-player, player-to-coach and coach-to-player, that was really tremendous. Now let's all get home safely, and this will have been a tremendous trip."
Sophomore Spike Albrecht
On the experience as a whole, from a basketball perspective ... "It was a great experience for everyone and a lot of fun. I was happy with the way the guys came over here and played and the unselfishness that I saw, especially from the freshmen; they were unbelievable. They had a really strong showing over here."
On the way the team responded to a tight second-half score in today's game ... "That was one thing I was looking forward to seeing. When things went a little south, how would we respond? We did a great job refocusing and bringing lots of energy. Our depth was great tonight; we had guys stepping up off the bench and we really played well."
On the experience from a team bonding perspective ... "It was unbelievable -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We got to see things most of us have never seen in our life and may never get to see again, so to be out here because someone else was willing to pay for it is special. We can't thank them enough for the opportunity. It means a lot to every one of us."
Junior Caris LeVert
On the takeaways from this four-game tour ... "It was a great experience coming out here, especially for the freshmen to get comfortable with our offense and our defense and go out there in a game setting and do what we've been practicing."
On the resilience the team showed in the second half of today's game ... "They were up in the second half, so we had to turn up the defensive intensity. We knocked down some shots in the third and fourth quarters, so that was big for us. Off the bench, Muhammad really played well when I was in foul trouble, so that was huge for us."
On the experience from a team bonding perspective ... "Only a couple of guys had been over here -- I think Mark and Derrick, so for us to come overseas and play basketball and be with each other like this was a great bonding experience. We went to some great places like the Vatican and the Colosseum, so it was a blessing to be able to come over here."
Sophomore Derrick Walton Jr.
On how he felt about his performance in today's contest ... "The key for me was just being aggressive and knowing that the team needed me tonight. I came out and hit shots I'd be expected to hit during the season, so the early start was important."
On the four-game tour as a whole and what it has done for the team ... "Mostly it built confidence. For the freshmen, being able to come out and play with us to get a couple of games under their belt gives us team chemistry."
On how the team will benefit down the line from this set of games ... "In the Big Ten, no game is going to be a 20-point game like we had here. It's all getting us ready for the one-possession, two-possession games. As far as getting out and jumping on teams, we've done that in the past, and it doesn't happen often but when you're playing like we have it can always be a possibility."
On the experience from a team bonding perspective ... "It's brought the team a lot closer together. We have a lot of young guys that we've only seen for a couple months, so being able to room with them, talk with them and learn about their personal lives, it brings us closer together on the court. It makes for better continuity out on the floor."
Finally, here are the full combined team/player stats from the four games in Italy (click to embiggen):
Caveat on the turnover/steal/block numbers—those weren't available for the second game, so the totals may be a little misleading. A big thanks to the Michigan basketball media staff for compiling these; I believe they had to do three of the games by hand.
In a much closer game, Michigan defeats Montova 96-76. Montova managed to keep it pretty close most of the game, even briefly taking the lead just after halftime, but Michigan puts it away late and wins by 20.
Game tweets here:
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The Stings should pose a pretty good challenge for our fledgling Wolverines. One could compare the Stings to an NBADL team.
(Bolded info plagiarised directly from UMhoops. All hail Dylan)
Mantova went 18-10 in the third division of Italian basketball last season and bumped up to A2 Gold, the second division, this year.
The Stings are upgrading this year in preparation for the move. They signed several new players including Aristide Lande,
a power forward loaned from top Italian club Virtus Bologna and who played with Italy’s U20 Gold Medal team in 2013.
Italian-American center Ryan Amoroso,
who averaged 15.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season, and Riccardo Moraschini
an Italian international who played for Virtus Roma (the team that just signed Jordan Morgan) last season, and Robert Fultz
a 32 year old guard with years of experience.
Dylan says the biggest challenge for Michigan will be battling against Mantova’s leader in the front, Johndre Jefferson.
Jefferson graduated from South Carolina in 2011 and while he only averaged 2 points and 2 rebounds per game in college, he’s blossomed in Italy. He’s 6-foot-10 and averaged 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, shooting 60% from the floor. Jefferson’s size, experience and athleticism should give Michigan’s frontline all it can handle overseas. Jefferson’s size, experience and athleticism should give Michigan’s frontline all it can handle overseas.
I believe that these are the "Grown Arse Men" people have been clamoring for Michigan to face. If Ricky and Mark can hang with these guys, it will bode very well for the season as a whole.
Interview and story re: Austin Hatch coming up on the Today Show for anyone who's interested in watching. Not sure of the exact time...just referenced that it'll be in "the next hour."
Looks like he was interviewed by Maria Shriver (or, "Skeletor," as my wife calls her).
Get out the tissues. Or start chopping onions or release some dust in the air.