The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
2014 italy tour
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.
Highlights courtesy of UMHoops
Michigan once again cruised to an easy victory in their third game in Italy, defeating Petrarca Padova 116-52 while limiting their opponents to just 16 second-half points. For the third time in three games, Zak Irvin led the team in scoring, netting 22 points while hitting 7/10 shots from inside the arc (he finally cooled a bit from outside, going 2/6 from three). Mark Donnal bounced back from a lackluster performance in the second game with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Caris LeVert posted an impressive 17-8-4 stat line.
Full box score (click to embiggen):
Postgame quotes courtesy of the athletic department:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On how the team may be exceeding expectations thus far ... "Our defense exceeded what I thought we could do today. We started slow, but as the game went on they were very good at their dribble-drive attack. We made it difficult for them to get the ball in the paint and then they had to rely on three-point shooting and we guarded that as well. The defense then became our offense."
On Mark Donnal's development since coming overseas ... "We continue to show Mark and Ricky (Doyle) film so that they can get better. I really don't care what each one does; I care what they do collectively. Tonight was 29 points and almost 20 rebounds between the two of them. It would be too much to think about getting 20 and 20 from them, but if we needed to get double-figures, that's a heck of a big man."
On the value of experienced guards like Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton Jr. ... "I'm glad Spike was out there (with them), but to be honest I don't pay attention to what year the players are. I just try to get everyone equal minutes and have everybody learn a little bit of rhythm. In games like this, we just want to get video on it so we can teach players why things work and why things don't work. That's what's real for us. We practice against ourselves and while we get better doing that, when you practice against others and you don't know their schemes and you have to guard their themes, that's very helpful to our progress."
On the team's experience at the U.S. Military base today ... "These young men have seen some special things on this trip, and they all really enjoyed today. To be with the troops, feed them and sit with them and then go see some of their weapons and trucks, tanks and humvees; the team loved that. We were on our feet a lot today. It has been about six straight days spent on our feet and they responded, so I'm happy about their whole attitude. They're enjoying it and embracing the culture that we're exposing them to. At the same time, they're coming to play."
U-M Sophomore Zak Irvin
On his mindset for today's game ... "My teammates told me, if my shot wasn't falling, to get to the basket and that's one thing I didn't do a lot last year. It's one of the big things I wanted to work on for this year."
On the effectiveness of the zone offense ... "We thought we were going to see some zone (defense) when we came over here to Italy. We didn't see it in the first two games but we did see it tonight so it took us a little bit of time to get adjusted, but we made our adjustments and we were able to counter what they were doing and make it productive."
On general feelings about the first three games from a team perspective ... "We've had three great games. Each game we're getting better. You can see it when we watch film, defensively we're getting better. Our goal was to hold teams under 60 points and we were able to do that again tonight; then scoring 100 points is something special."
On the team's experience with the U.S. Military today ... "To be honest, it was breathtaking seeing all those men and women fighting for us even though they're overseas. You have to give them all the credit in the world and be grateful for everything we have."
U-M Redshirt Freshman Mark Donnal
On his double-double performance today ... "It was definitely a good game for me coming off of yesterday's game. Yesterday I was in foul trouble, so this got my confidence up a little bit and I was pretty happy with my performance. My teammates found me open and I got some easy buckets."
On the biggest difference in his game from yesterday to today ... "Just getting past the defense in offensive transition. Spike and Doc (Andrew Dakich) were able to find me."
On his impressions of the team's adjustments so far ... "Especially with a growing team like us, it's important for us to see both zone and get some different looks on defense and I thought we executed pretty well today."
U-M Freshman Aubrey Dawkins
On his success in today's contest ... "I think I have been getting a little more comfortable every game, and a little more of my natural game came out today. I played within the offense, so things came to me and I capitalized."
On the importance of rebounding in today's offense ... "People have told me in the past that crashing the boards and getting involved in the game helps you stay in the game and not be passive on the court and zone out. It keeps you focused on doing something to help the team. That's what really got me going."
On making so many adjustments, such as the shot clock difference and learning the new offense ... "I think it's coming along nicely; that showed up in the game today. It's becoming more fluid and natural."
On staying in the game mentally despite a lopsided score ... "You never want to get lazy on the court, because that's practicing bad habits. You want to keep playing the way you should play, no matter what the score is. Whether it's high or low, keep playing the same game so when there are close games there's no difference and you're always ready to go."
Get LochDawg on the case. What we have here is a failure to brand properly:
Stings vs Michigan, show assicurato per il primo test dei mantovani
It's been nine years since I used Fast and Easy Italian to prep for my trip to Rome, Sorrento, and Capri, so my Italian is a little arrugginito, but I like to think it means that spectators are assured that they will first be tested on whether they think Mantovani was a god. Also, there may be childcare, but certainly no mancare available at the arena. The Stings website, where we can learn that their roster includes a guy whose position is Play Maker. Paging Mike Valenti.
The men's basketball team defeated the Perugia Select Team, 99-60, in the opening game of their Italy exhibition tour. Zak Irvin led the way with 27 points on 10/13 (5/8 2PT, 5/5 3PT) shooting, followed by freshmen Kam Chatman and Ricky Doyle chipping in 12 apiece. Most importantly, Austin Hatch entered the game for the last few minutes, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd:
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014
The full box score, which was compiled by hand by the Michigan staff—hence no minutes played tally—is below (click to embiggen):
Visual proof of Irvin being Not Just A Shooter™:
Postgame quotes from John Beilein, Hatch, and more courtesy of the athletic department:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On the opening victory on U-M's Italian exhibition tour ... "Offensively, that first quarter was not what I was expecting. With us playing so well offensively that led to us playing so well defensively. You don't know what to expect in games like these. The first quarter was probably a little above what I thought we would do. The last three quarters were a little more predictable for a team on a trip like we are on."
On what he learned that will help going into the next game ... "We will have 48 hours before our next game. This film will be invaluable. There will be plenty of it that will coach the coaches on what we have to teach better. The second part is we will have a chance to sit down with players on the train tomorrow when we go to Verona. It will be just a great teaching tool."
On getting Austin Hatch getting into the last three minutes of the game ... "It was a special moment. Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over. It's something he has worked very hard for. It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands."
Freshman Austin Hatch
On getting into the game ... "(long pause) As you can imagine it has been a heck of a journey to get here. Playing basketball at the University of Michigan has been my goal since I was a little kid. It was unreal to be here and to have actually played a game. I really feel like I have that game under my belt now and I really feel like a Michigan basketball player."
On almost getting an opportunity to score ... "I am not going to take a shot if it is not the right point in the game. For example if I have an open three and I have a teammate who is open under the basket, you better believe I am going to be passing it to him. Yeah, it would be cool if I made a three. It would be a good story, but I am about my team and my teammates."
On leading the team in 'The Victors' ... "It was unreal. To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits. I always thought to myself, 'I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that.' Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that."
Sophomore Zak Irvin
On his opening 27-point, 11-rebound game ..."I really shot the ball well today; however, I have to give my teammates credit because they were looking for me and getting me the ball. The big thing for me was getting to the hole and I was able to do that. I was able to score inside and outside. It was a great start for us, a great game and hopefully we can keep this going."
On U-M's red hot first quarter ... "We came out shooting the ball really well. That just speaks volumes for our team. We are all looking for each other and playing unselfish basketball."
On how this team progressed ... "We are a growing team. There were a lot of things that went well today, but there is plenty we still have to work on. We can do better communicating and on the defensive end. We came out to Italy and had a great game, but we also just have to enjoy and really take in everything on this trip."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."It was great to see that, especially after everything that Austin has been through. To see him step out onto that floor just meant so much. I have known Austin since the eighth grade so to see him out there playing was just incredible. I hope he is able to do that a lot more during this trip and beyond."
Freshman Ricky Doyle
On playing his first game in a Michigan jersey ... "It was a lot of fun. Finally getting out there with all these guys was a great experience. There is a lot more to come. It's going to be a great year."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."He has been through so much and for him to be out here with us, it is phenomenal. He is part of our family. He is one of our brothers. Seeing him going out there was just as important to all of us as it is to him."