Michigan once again cruised to victory in their second game in Italy, defeating the Vicenza All-Stars 93-53 yesterday afternoon. Zak Irvin again led Michigan in scoring with 18 points, sinking 7/8 field goals, including 4/5 threes—he's now 9/10 on three-pointers over Michigan's two games on the tour.
Freshman center Ricky Doyle posted an impressive double-double with 15 points (6/8 FG) and 14 rebounds (5 offensive) in just 19 minutes. Fellow freshman Kameron Chatman added 17 points and six boards in 21 minutes. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 13 points and got to the line regularly, shooting 7/11 from the charity stripe. Austin Hatch once again got on the court for the final few minutes, this time getting off a shot attempt, though it didn't quite go down.
Full box score (click to embiggen—turnover, steal, and block numbers weren't available):
We were lucky enough to have a reader who's in Italy and caught the game, and he emailed us his impressions of the team. A huge thanks to Kyle for sending this along; all opinions are his own, of course, as the Italy games aren't being streamed online.
1. Who will start at the 5? Doyle. Mark Donnal started and Beilein pulled him 1:49 into the game to teach him something specific. Doyle then came in and played a huge majority of the game. The most surprising thing about the whole game to me was Ricky Doyle. He was by far the most vocal on defense of everyone as a true freshman. His basketball IQ is obvious (calling out screens he could not see, making the correct pass). Crafty moves and very good at boxing out.
This is not even close as to who will start the season opener. Doyle seemed to play at an intelligence level far beyond his years. Donnal seemed a bit timid, got outrebound by a 45 year old 3rd round draft pick at your local YMCA, and definitely is not prepared for the rigors of being a big man in the Big 10 (mainly mentally, lacks confidence not talent). There were not even flashes of someone that was a top 150 recruit. Donnal was extremely disappointing. There is not an argument as to who will start the season opener. It is Doyle.
2. Who will be draw Brian’s ire as the most likely to shoot a lot of long two-point shots early in the shot clock? Kam Chatman guaranteed. I counted six, although one was at the end of a quarter…but still. He is smooth on offense, made a few sweet passes, and you will like him a lot. Offensively, he could might be more useful than Robinson III immediately.
3. Spike didn’t play very much and when he did was not awesome Spike. Derrick Walton almost seemed a bit disinterested against the talent level of Birracrua. Still, I have no qualms at point.
4. Who will replace Mitch McGary as Andrew Dakich’s dance partner? Austin Hatch. He was the most fired up in pre-game, was into it the whole time from the bench, and everyone (fans and players) loved him as he entered the game and led the post-game “Hail”. He is a definite asset to the program.
5. Holy Pants! Half the team wore blue leggings under their shorts.
6. Who will redshirt? Not Aubrey Dawkins. He looked very athletic and is far ahead of MAAR at this point on offense and defense. Assuming D.J. Wilson gets healthy; MAAR should take a redshirt and be a solid contributor after that. He played and scored some points at the line late, but the stats do not reflect what I saw. Maybe nobody redshirts.
7. This opponent was not good, old, and not really a team (their offense was primitive and not indicative of a European squad that they could be with familiarity). The U-M offense was not smooth but didn’t have to be with most of the guards being able to simply take guys off the dribble. Knowing Beilein, it will work itself out, especially when he figures out how to best use Chatman and Irvin. Irvin didn’t miss much and even made two three pointers after stepping out of bounds when he looked like he was in due to the volleyball-like lines on the court. He still did not finish strong or do any cool drive and dishes. “Not just a shooter”? We’ll see. I’m hopeful.
8. Biggest problem? Rebounding. This team looks to be even worse than any team he’s had at rebounding and they’ve never been overly good. I’m dreading Wisconsin and any other ‘big’ team. This team might not get a rebound against last year’s Texas team. This is a huge issue and is not going to go away. Score a lot of points and make three pointers, please.
9. Atmosphere. The overwhelmingly Italian crowd was polite and respectful. The kind of crowd you’d bring home to mom. They cheered at the rare crafty European moves that would baffle any American. The half time entertainment was a live (maybe the best) Italian rapper. The piped in music was mostly unedited American rap. If anyone gets a chance to travel abroad the next time Michigan travels…do it!
Thanks again to Kyle for passing along his impressions; he says he'll be at the last couple Italy games, too, so hopefully we'll have more of this as the team wraps up the tour.
[After THE JUMP, quotes from John Beilein and a few players courtesy of the athletic department.]
Quotes courtesy of the athletic department.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On what he saw from his team today ... "It was just good to see them play together because we did make some steps in the last game and we also discovered some things we have to work on a lot. There are so many opportunities for us to get better, including turnovers and missed foul shots. What I'm proud of is that fourth quarter; we held them to eight points."
On adjusting to the 24-second shot clock in Europe ... "We have a much better feel for how quickly we have to get the shot off and how quickly we have to read and react. With all the players out on that court for the first time, this is invaluable film for us moving forward."
On Ricky Doyle's elevated play on the glass and progress from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman ... "There were two things that Ricky really did well: rebound in traffic and finish in traffic. Those are big things for us. He's only 6-9, but he plays even bigger than that on some occasions and today was one of them. Muhammad has really gone out there and used his speed, where he has been able to get to the foul line again; that's two games in a row. Right now I think what we are valuing is his ability to see the floor when he's going his quickest."
On the crowd and atmosphere ... "It was really good to have a crowd like this in this nice arena. Michigan travels very well; the brand travels very well and I think we saw how excited people were to see us over on this continent and in Italy in particular."
Sophomore Zak Irvin
On how he feels through two games overseas ... "I'm really in a great rhythm right now. The ball has been falling in warmups, but I have to give credit to my teammates who keep finding me when I'm open. They're the ones helping me knock down these shots."
On how the team has progressed between games ... "I think watching film earlier today helped out a lot. We have a growing team, so we know we have freshmen that are still learning the game and the way we play. Also, the team we played against today played like they knew more about the game, being an older team. They were physical, but we came out with a win."
Freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
On his reflections through two contests ... "It's been a great experience (so far). Not many people get the chance to play as a freshman before the season starts. It gives you a good chance to get in a rhythm with the team and work on good chemistry. I think I've played decent; the team is playing better so it doesn't really matter how I'm playing as long as the team is winning and I can contribute."
On picking up the system ... "It's kind of confusing at first, but as you pay attention and focus in practice it's a little better, and easier to pick up. Then once you get in a game, it's more fluent."
Freshman Ricky Doyle
On the differences between games one and two from his perspective ... "Game one, we were shooting really well. Zak was 5-for-5 from the field. In this game we weren't making as many shots, but I transitioned from the first game to the second game. I watched a lot of film, and watched what I could do to get those 50/50 rebounds that I should have gotten. Coach BA really helped me take an easier approach to getting those rebounds, giving me simple steps and it worked. Being more aggressive and timing my jumps are some of the things I paid attention to and tried to bring it back out on the court."
On how the team has adjusted to the system thus far ... "The plays are running more smoothly; I know I have a hard time remembering some of the plays, coming in fresh, but having these games, you have to play through your mistakes. It's only a 24-second shot clock and you only have so much time to play; it's really helped me remember the offense more and it's really opening my game, helping me see the court more."