DJ Wilson had a breakout game. So did his shorts. [Isaiah Hole/247]
Michigan coasted to a 77-49 win over D-II Armstrong State in their exhibition tune-up at Crisler tonight. A traditional recap is quite unnecessary, so it's time for the bullets.
DJ Wilson looked like a different player. Wilson nearly tallied a double-double, scoring ten (3/8 2-pt, 1/2 3-pt) and adding nine boards (four offensive), an assist, and two blocks. That doesn't cover his full impact, either. Wilson's length caused serious problems for ASU shooters—at least one Wilson-induced airball didn't count as a block—and he came very close to converting a couple more tip-ins. In stark contrast to previous years, Wilson knew where he was supposed to be and played with confidence. Opponent cavats abound, but tonight he looked like he'll be an integral part of the rotation; Wilson was first off the bench and played 24 minutes, all at the four.
The pecking order at center is clear. If Wilson's play wasn't the headliner, it was that of Moe Wagner, who scored a very efficient 15 points (6/8 2-pt, 1/1 3-pt) and more importantly played a clean game. Wagner had one early turnover and otherwise took good care of the ball, and he had only one foul, which he picked up well into the second half.
Mark Donnal was next in off the bench and looked much like he did last year, struggling some on defense and missing one of his two layups. It wasn't all bad for Donnal, who had a couple offensive rebounds, a block, and a steal in only seven minutes, but he certainly didn't look like he'd undergone a transformation.
Jon Teske got in late in both halves. He hit a face-up jumper during his first-half stint and threw down a tip-slam in the second. Otherwise, he didn't have a chance to show much. He's clearly ahead of Austin Davis, who looks destined for a redshirt—Davis didn't enter the game until the very late stages, and was on the floor with walk-ons Brent Hibbits and Fred Wright-Jones.
Watson (left) and Wagner with strong finishes. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Ibi Watson was up-and-down but mostly up. Watson had a couple turnover when he tried to do too much, especially on a fast-break opportunity when he tried a no-look pass that ASU cut off. He helped make up for that with active defense, hounding his man for three steals while only committing one foul. While he only went 1/4 from beyond the arc, his shot looked smooth. Watson was the second player off the bench and looks to have a real role as the backup 2/3.
Xavier Simpson had a quiet debut. The freshman was held scoreless on only two attempts and had a pair of turnovers to go with his two assists. His physical ability was apparent; he jetted past the entire ASU defense before dropping off a pass to Davis that almost caught the big man off guard for his second assist. Simpson took a page out of Derrick Walton's book, pulling down five defensive rebounds; he doesn't have Walton's height or hops, but he showed a good feel for where to be. He also disrupted a couple ASU possession with his quick feet and quick hands. Quiet isn't necessarily concerning, even if Simpson looks like he'll take some time to get fully comfortable—that was always going to be the case as a freshman running the point in Beilein's system.
The seniors did their thing. Walton had a quiet 12-6-7 while splitting his time between the point and the two—he mostly played off the ball when he shared the court with Simpson. Irvin tied Wagner with a team-high 15 points and added four assists and two steals. Both had a couple hiccups—Irvin blew a fast-break dunk for no discernable reason—but they mostly let the new rotation players get comfortable, then took over in late-clock situations if the team needed to get a shot up.
MAAR sat out with an ankle injury. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman watched this one in street clothes after he reportedly rolled his ankle in practice yesterday. Sean Lonergan took his place in the starting lineup; it's very safe to assume Beilein inserted Lonergan instead of one of the freshmen so he could keep his planned rotation intact. Lonergan, for what it's worth, went 2/2 from the field, but he didn't look good on defense—I'd be surprised if he gets run when the team is healthy.
The new defense was disruptive. This should be music to your ears: the hard hedge is gone. Michigan's defenders mostly stayed inside the arc, with the guards—not centers running out to midcourt—putting the pressure on ballhandlers. ASU was sloppy—several of their 19 turnovers were unforced—but Michigan came away with eight steals and five blocks. The team is noticably longer this year, especially with Wilson in the lineup. There were a couple noticable blown switches, and a couple guys got missed boxouts late, but this was an encouraging first game with Billy Donlon as Beilein's right-hand man.