Hoops In Italy: Game 2 Impressions, Stats, And Quotes

Submitted by Ace on August 20th, 2014 at 1:03 PM

via MGoBlue

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."



August 20th, 2014 at 1:08 PM ^

if he is way behind Doyle, he is probably (1) not that good and (2) a transfer risk. Kind of surprised to hear this given the rave reviews we were getting last year. 


August 20th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

It's one fan watching one game. In the first game, Doyle didn't record a single rebound, while Donnal had five (including three offensive) and went 2/3 from the field. Plus, they're playing under FIBA rules, so there's a 24-second clock—it's hard to write off a guy based on one or two games played under different rules, especially when very few of us actually get to watch them.


August 20th, 2014 at 2:41 PM ^

Just wanted to highlight this:

1) Game 1: Doyle gets zero rebounds.

2) Between Games 1 & 2: "Coach BA really helped me take an easier approach to getting those rebounds, giving me simple steps and it worked."

3) Game 2: Doyle gets 14 rebounds.


August 20th, 2014 at 7:58 PM ^

The feedback on Donnal worried me as well. They were pretty strong comments and unexpected following the good reports we were getting out of practice. I'm hoping this is a small sample and not the whole story.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:36 PM ^

JCV16, I don't think the donnal stuff is worrisome at all. Donnal still had 6 pts and 5 rebounds  in both of his first games. As ACE said, they are playing under international rules which are different. Even if he is behind Doyle then that doesn't mean that Donnal is "not that good". Maybe that speaks more to how good Doyle is. And why would he transfer because of 2 international games that mean absolutely nothing? Even if he was behind Doyle there is still plenty of minutes to go around.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:41 PM ^

I really do not have an opinion on Donnal as of yet.  Have not seen enough of him.  However, he has had rave reviews.

On the other hand, i have relentlessly given my opinion on Doyle as i have studied him more than any other recruit the last 2 years.  For the fifth time, the kid is going to be a star.  For the third time, he is VERY similar to Kevin McHale - very skilled post player who can use his body unlike any recruit i ever remembered coming into college - he is so advanced in using his body and both hands extremely well.  I have already stated months ago it would not shock me if Doyle starts from day 1, and i expected him to start mid way through the season.

Those who have played college ball and/or study fundementals instead of how strong a kid is or how high he can jump/dunk should have been able to see Doyles skillset a mile away a long time ago.  I nailed Trey Burke, and i will nail Doyle.

WIth all this said, from the whispers coming out of the Fort the last 2 years, i do have to agree i am extremely underwhelmed, statistically at least, of what Donnal is doing against inferior competition.  This kid was getting RAVE reviews.  Don't trust everthing you hear, judge for yourrself i say.



August 20th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

can matter with the football team in recent years.  I also recall McLimans getting a lot of love after his redshirt year and then never seeing it materialize.  I think Donnal will contribute a lot more than Blake, but I was taking the Donnal hype with a grain of salt.


August 20th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

I trust you will post your "mistakes".  And even from just game film I (and most everyone else) could tell that Burke was going to be the player that Brundidge never would.

That said, the early reports on Doyle are encouraging--particularly  given his limited AAU play and low-end high school competition.  Donnal's play suggests there was a reason he was red-shirted and reason for keeping expectations in check.


August 20th, 2014 at 6:05 PM ^

as you have two things (in this case two players) one has to be compared in relation to the other. From there to black/white silliness (one is great, the other is crap) is but a small step. It's quite possible, maybe even preferable, that Doyle exceeds expectations--a possibility a lot of us watchers hoped for--and Donnal still turns out to be damned good, if more of a finesse guy. It may even be possible for them to fill the four and five between them sometimes, which would be terrific!

In the meantime, we are going to be a team that can bang down the road, and we are going to be tall. And I dare say--if not right away--we are going to improve in the rebounding department, contrary to what the OP is saying.  

EDIT: Donnal was outstanding in today's third game; case closed. 


August 20th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

will redshirt simply because they need another G off the bench along with Spike.  He's their 4th ball handler and is a slasher/creator for the team.  He draws fouls and reportely plays good defense. 


August 20th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

I would have loved an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe in college, and it really seems like Michigan is taking advantage of it. From sightseeing to getting a huge head start on playing together, traveling together, etc. hopefully it'll show dividends when the season arrives. The early season tournaments and road games should faze this team less when they've had this experience together.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:17 PM ^

MAAR and Wilson seem like the most likely redshirts, but I also wouldnt be surprised to see them in action. MAAR brings the ability to slash and get to the line, along with on-ball defense at the guard spot. I could see Wilson getting the RS, especially with the finger injury putting him behind, but if he is able to provide rebounding he may be used. I could see both following the Caris freshman plan of holding off until its apparent their skills are needed. 


August 20th, 2014 at 1:17 PM ^

because they have a lot of freshmen and need to find someone who will take the rein on offense.  We know that it'd be LeVert being the 1st option with Walton/Irvin getting the 2nd/3rd option respectively.  The learning curve will be less steeper by the time the season starts because they already practiced and had 2 games of experience under their belt.  That is an huge asset for the development.

I expect Michigan to come out with more of a smoother start than last year where they struggled to find their offensive identity before Nik took over as the #1 option.

The offense will be completely different than what you seen from last year because of the personnel and that may be a good thing because it gives opposing team more to think about on scouting Michigan.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:22 PM ^

It's great that they're playing so well and that Hatch has gotten into the game. That's unbelievable considering how happy we were that he could even walk again. Truly a miracle the recovery he has made so far.

I am a little worried about level of competition though these are preseason games and it's lucky the team is able to get this experience especially this year. I have to imagine that if hypothetically ranked in the RPI they'd at least be top 200 which, again for preseason, is valuable experience.

Glad to see these recaps. Thank you Ace.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

It's interesting that Kyle thinks MAAR is more likely to redshirt then Dawkins. Statistically MAAR has had much better games each of the two games. Also MAAR can and probably will play some time at point and which will make him more valuable. 


August 20th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

...on their skill-sets, the relative lack of redshirting in college hoops, and the general makeup of the roster, I'd be pretty surprised if either MAAR or Dawkins redshirted. MAAR is reportedly doing well handling the ball, he's getting to the line a ton, and he's got a good reputation on the defensive end. Dawkins is supposedly the best athlete on the team. They may not get a ton of time, but I think Beilein will find a role for both.


August 20th, 2014 at 2:10 PM ^

while Donnal maybe the most disappointing so I guess it is a push at the 5 spot.  Everyone else seems to be playing as well as reasonably expected but the competiton seems pretty crappy.  Hopefully they get some stiffer tests the rest of the trip.

Everyone Murders

August 20th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

First, thanks to Kyle for writing this up.  It's an interesting read and I think the readership really appreciates this.   The observations are insightful and interesting.  But you say

There is not an argument as to who will start the season opener. It is Doyle.

That's a strong opinion, but here's the acid test, Kyle:  Will you publicly eat a lemon if you're wrong?


August 20th, 2014 at 2:26 PM ^

For anyone who has seen highlights, Italy and/or practices, what is the talent differential between Mark Donnal and MSUs Matt Costello? I am not saying their games are the same or even similar but the HS rankings are a bit and Costello has proven to be serviceable while not great in Important games. I don't know an extreme amount on either and am just curious to see how the two big men stack up in comparison. Start!

EZ Bud

August 20th, 2014 at 3:10 PM ^

Are these Italian teams comparable to an RPI 250 team? From the looks of our two and a half games so far, we seem to be rolling with ease. Did we expect to be tested by any of the overseas games? 


August 20th, 2014 at 3:22 PM ^

I like MAAR's ablility to attack the basket. That will help in the long run in terms of getting teams in foul trouble. He also seems to finish in traffic pretty well, according to @umichbball.  If he can develop anything close to a consistent jumpshot, he'll be ok.

Aside from that though, KAAAAM!!!!


August 20th, 2014 at 4:25 PM ^

I hope these next 2 games are against legit teams.  This competition is not something worth traveling halfway across the world to do - they could have went to a local gym and found a semi pro team to scrimmage.


August 20th, 2014 at 5:21 PM ^

I really appreciate this write up, but further evidence of taking some of it with a grain of salt....Kyle says that Doyle played the majority of the game after subbing in early, but the box score claims Donnal played 19 and Doyle 18. He also says Spike didn't play much, but he also played 19. As a fan, there's what we see and then there's what the box score tells us. It's possible that Spike and Donnal were out there half the time indeed and just weren't spectacular.
Personally I kind of hope none of them get a redshirt, except maybe Hatch. With as far as he has come, I don't want to rule out the chance of him contributing and having every opportunity to do that. It would just be too awesome. Otherwise, the roster turns over so frequently that I think every chance to get guys game experience in case other guys blow up and leave early is good. You just won't see too many 5th year seniors in hoops anymore. For a team as young as they are, and will continue to be, experience is huge.


August 20th, 2014 at 7:16 PM ^

more of a stretch 4 than a 5. In fact, I could see next year as being Irvin at 2, Chatman at 3, Donnal at the 4 and Doyle at the 5. That would be an awesome line-up. However, I don't know who would back up the 5. Maybe Wilson.

I think Hatch will be the only red shirt. We will need all of the other guys, not in every game, but we will need them all.