I was hoping for an actual interview with Caris, but it's fairly fluffy stuff about his journey and UM bball's journey back to relevancy. Likely nothing new for any serious patron of our fair blog, but always nice to get the exposure.
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."
According to MLi ve, Caris LeVert played through noticeable pain much of last year. This is according to GRIII and Nik Stauskas. He complained of foot pain as well as sore knees . Obviously he had foot surgery recently to repair a stress fracture of his foot.
We can now return to talking about all of the injured players on the Michigan State basketball team.
Seriously this makes me even more optimistic of another huge uptick in LeVert's play now that he should no longer have to worry about his foot. I'm not sure if the foot issue could have contributed to the knee tendinitis but I would assume it might.
He earned and invitation to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy this summer and will probably attend the camp that takes place the end of June.
Thinking back on the season, its very easy to look beyond Caris contribution to the team. Most of the credit often goes to Stauskas and Coach Beilein for the incredible season. And even though Stauskas, McGary, and Robinson are getting all the NBA hype, Caris had arguably the best season from a defensive and offensive perspective. He was soo clutch on so many occassions getting the hard hoop either by driving it in or spotting up for a huge 3. And he often had to guard the best players on the opposing team.
I can't wait to see what huge steps he's going to make next year.
Video of Caris (Before he realized Coach K is the Antichrist)