|Derrick Walton, Jr.||31.8|
Before the basketball season starts, the MGoBoard has posts about minutes per game breakdowns. Four games into the season, I think it's interesting to see how Beilein is allocating the minutes. Fortunately, MGoBlue.com has made this easy for all of us.
I left Ibi off the list. He's at 6.8 mpg. The rest of the roster is at 6.3 mpg cumulative. I think those 13 minutes will get allocated to the 8 players above when we get into Big 10 play. I'd like to see DW2 and Zak stay at 32 MPG. MAAR and DJ at 30 seems reasonable. I think Moe and Donnal will split the 5 minutes equally at 20/20. Moe may flip the above numbers in his favor, but he's not going to get north of 25 MPG due to fouls and occasional defensive hiccups.
So that's 11 more minutes to distribue. I think those go to Duncan and Xavier. What's been really interesting so far is it looks like Zak's minutes are exclusively at the 2 or 3 (probably not much difference between the two.) I say that because there have been lineups with a center, DJ, Duncan, Irvin, and Derrick. Who is the 2 in that lineup, Duncan or Zak? Again, probably doesn't matter. I just love seeing an actual 4 play the 4.
Despite losing star guard Caris LeVert for a month due to injury, Michigan currently sits in fourth place at 7-2 in the Big Ten; after a so-so non-conference showing, the Wolverines’ strong start to conference play has allayed any concerns about missing the NCAA Tournament. Still, there’s a lack of clarity with this team – even disregarding the uncertainty regarding LeVert’s return and ability to quickly and seamlessly reintegrate into the lineup.
With the notable exception of the win over Maryland, Michigan still is essentially a team that’s beaten the teams they should’ve beaten and lost to the teams they should’ve lost to (two neutral site games, UConn (loss) and Texas (win), were the only two against opponents close to U-M in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings). For the most part, the Wolverines’ wins in the Big Ten have been rather pedestrian: Rutgers and Minnesota were uninspiring home victories over terrible teams, sweeping Penn State isn’t a notable resume event, and the road wins in Big Ten play – over Illinois and Nebraska – were against teams that will surely miss the NCAA’s.
Still, between that win over the Terrapins, the complete lack of bad losses, and the tantalizing potential of adding an All-American level player to a team that’s already playing pretty well, there’s reason to hope that Michigan can round into a formidable squad heading into postseason play. The schedule from here on out in the Big Ten is undeniably harder – starting this week with home contests against Indiana and Michigan State. After Michigan’s solid start to the conference season, there are a few things we can point to as pretty important moving forward:
[After the jump, those things]
Camp Sanderson has paid off for Ricky Doyle, by the looks of this instagram pic. And for those that don't know, that's Duncan Robinson on the far right.
Sorry, don't know how to embed the pic.
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."
For those of you who love basketball and don't care that it comes in NBA form, Zach Lowe of grantland.com should be required reading.
He recently posted this article about Kyle Korver, now of the ATL Hawks. The reason I draw your attention to it is the three gifs partway down the page. Do those actions make you think of anything or anyone? If you said "hey, that looks just like the stuff M ran with Stauskas," then I say "me too."
The difference, though, is who the dribble handoffer or pick and popper is. With M it was either Morford or Walton instead of a Pittsnoglian-type, as it is in the first (Pero Antic) and second and third (Paul Millsap) gifs.
Here's where I get irrationally giddy about Zak Irvin and Mark Donnal running the same stuff. If Donnal can be a credible three point shooter, that could make Irvin, who may or may not be "just a shooter," structurally lethal.
This kind of action puts the opposing big in a terrible position, because they either have to show on Irvin and then try to get back to Donnal, or if they switch, that leaves Donnal able to get a shot off on a shorter wing.
To make it more concrete, imagine Adam Woodbury, Alex Gauna, or even Frank Kaminsky trying to deal with this:
Recall that Wisconsin's strategy for dealing with Stauskas was to sag in the lane and dare him to shoot a 16-footer. If they do that this year, that leaves Donnal either unguarded or switched on to a shorter player.
Anyway, I'm excited to see what Donnal and Irvin can do this year is what I'm saying.
There is a nice Mark Donnal story on Mlive.com . The story mentions how difficult it was for him not to play last year as he was holding his own against the starters.
The quote I liked to see was this:
Because of that, Donnal opted to attend both U-M summer sessions this offseason. He remained on campus, emulating last summer’s regiment of Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert that was often cited for their breakout 2013-14 campaigns. Joined by Irvin, LeVert (who is recovering from injury) and sophomore point Derrick Walton Jr., Donnal logged added hours in the gym and on the court. The group visited with U-M strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson “nearly every day,” in Donnal’s estimation. Three days a week focused on weight lifting. Some days consisted primarily of stretching, agility drills or endurance training.
Donnal noted his biggest emphasis has been “developing my body and fine-tuning everything -- working on post moves and making sure my jumper is alright.”
It sounds like he is confident and ready to go.