|WHAT||Michigan vs. Hillsdale|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||2 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||No line, you degenerates; Hillsdale is D-II|
THE SEASON PREVIEW
Hillsdale plays in the GLIAC, a D-II conference that also includes Michigan's exhibition opponent, Wayne State. The Chargers return two starters from a squad that finished 18-9 last season, and they have a huge hole to fill with the graduation of record-setting forward Tim Dezelski, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in 2013-14.
Now the go-to guy is 6'7" junior forward Kyle Cooper, who averaged 14 and 6; his statistical profile suggests he's more dangerous inside the arc than outside, but he can stretch the floor a bit. 5'8" point guard Zach Miller is the other returning starter, and shooting guard Darius Ware returns to action this season after missing all of 2013-14 with an injury—he started 25 games the season prior and is described on the team's site as an athletic player with a decent mid-range game.
Michigan's young bigs could get tested by seven-foot center Jason Pretzer, though Pretzer hasn't produced much during his first three years in the program. For a more complete preview of Hillsdale, check out their official site. For our purposes, this is D-II cannon fodder.
Not yet, stat-heads. Due to Hillsdale's D-II status, KenPom doesn't even have them in his database, and he gives Michigan a full 100% chance to win this game. I'm not one to argue with him.
Secondary rebounding. Michigan's centers might have their hands full with a true seven-footer, and even if they're able to overcome that disadvantage with their decided edge in pure talent, the Wolverines will need the non-bigs to step it up on the boards in order to replace the excellent rebounding production of last year's now-departed bigs. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton have already displayed both willingness and ability to get involved on the boards; this year, it's Zak Irvin's turn to step it up in that regard, and he did so in the exhibition against Wayne State. It'd be nice to see that continue against a slightly (slightly) better opponent.
Who are the shooters? John Beilein is going to start the season playing all the freshmen, but he's unlikely to keep it that way as the season wears on, and a major determining factor for which guys stay in the rotation will be their ability to force opponents to respect their shot. Spreading the floor and knocking down shots will be huge for determining if Mark Donnal and Aubrey Dawkins are worth playing over other options; same goes for MAAR, whose jumper has looked a bit iffy in the early going, but it's possible he can make up for that with his ballhandling and knack for getting to the line.
Get penetration. The Wolverines were productive in their exhibition against Wayne State, but outside of LeVert there wasn't much in the way of creating baskets off the dribble, at least in the halfcourt. Walton has a juicy matchup against a much smaller point guard that I'd like to see him exploit, and it'd be great to see Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson look to create when they get the right matchup themselves. If Zak Irvin starts blowing by defenders, you're allowed to get pretty excited, as well, competition be damned.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by lots. (Seriously, there's no line on KemPom, so this is the best I can do.)
UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. For the love of all things sacred and holy read Brendan F. Quinn's masterful feature on John Beilein already:
"I remember John just being the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet," says Bob Narrish, a teammate. "Charismatic. Everybody liked him. The girls liked him. He had that long flowing blond hair. A good looking guy."
Perched like two old crows on a set of three-row bleachers in the same gym some 40-odd years later, Betchel turns to Narrish and, looking around, says, "When you were on the end of that bench with ol' John, while Baker was running around all crazy, would you have thought (Beilein) would end up being one of the best coaches in the game of basketball?"
"Nah, probably not," Narrish says. "Probably a teacher."
The Daily's preseason coverage is up to its usual lofty standard. Daniel Feldman's look back at Stu Douglass's program-altering game-winner against MSU in 2011 is well worth a read:
“What sticks out the most from that game was the silence from the crowd after the shot,” Douglass said. “The energy of the building was immediately gone. That possession was so charged up and loud, and once the shot went in, it was immediately flat. You could feel the disappointment of their fans.
“Not many things beat hearing the silence of an opposing crowd that hates you.”
Stu's troll game remains on point. Meanwhile, DJ Wilson's taste in film is impeccable, and somebody please feed Ricky Doyle.
Tim Miles remains a wonderfully charismatic lunatic.