Michigan 79, Wayne State 60

Submitted by Ace on November 4th, 2013 at 9:49 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

Since this game was televised, I'll make this relatively short and sweet—Michigan held a commanding lead for practically the entire game, though they failed to dominate Wayne State to the same extent that they eviscerated Concordia in the first exhibition. Given the amount of lineup shuffling, that's not of particular concern. Once again, here are some assorted thoughts from an exhibition blowout.

THE TWO-BIGS LINEUP SHOULD BE PUT ON HOLD

Michigan once again started both Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, though this time it was freshman Derrick Walton getting his first career start (of many) instead of Spike Albrecht. Simply put, it didn't look like the two bigs lineup is going to work against real competition pending the return of Mitch McGary. Early on, the spacing on offense was poor, and Morgan looked uncomfortable trying to defend on the perimeter. That didn't change much when they trotted out similar lineups later in the game.

If tonight's game is any indication, Michigan is going to start Glenn Robinson III at the four sooner or later, and until McGary returns it may very well be Horford, not Morgan, who starts alongside him. After playing 22 minutes to Morgan's 14 in the opener, Horford once again got the lion's share of the minutes at center—25 to 14, despite having four fouls to Morgan's one. Neither player factored in much offensively and each fared pretty well on the boards; Horford's ability to block shots (two tonight) may be what's giving him the edge.

CARIS LEVERT AT THE POINT, ON THE OTHER HAND...

When Horford picked up an early foul, Michigan put out a lineup with Caris LeVert running the point and Spike Albrecht playing off the ball. This immediately resulted in an open three for Albrecht after a drive-and-kick from LeVert, who looked very confident in both his shot and ballhanding ability tonight, finishing with 16 points (5/10 FG, 5/7 FT) and three assists against just one turnover. I really liked this look, which allowed Michigan to get Albrecht on the court and take advantage of his shooting while hiding him a bit defensively—it's tough to pick on the 5'10" guy when there are four 6'6"-or-taller defenders disrupting passing lanes.

As you can see above, LeVert even showed off a go-to move, breaking some ankles with the crossover in this one.

NO WORRIES ABOUT SCORING

Tonight wasn't a great one for hopes that Robinson (right, Fuller) is going to create a ton of offense off the dribble; he scored 15 points on 10 FGAs but had difficulty getting into the lane on his own, with one notable exception that seemed more of a defensive miscue than anything else. He does appear more confident in his three-point shot, however, even though he knocked down just one of three attempts tonight.

More importantly, it doesn't look like he has to create offense for Michigan to score. Nik Stauskas led the team with 17 points, hitting 2/4 threes and looking equally effective inside the arc; encouragingly, he laid in a tough and-one on a fast break through heavy contact, something he had difficulty doing last year. LeVert, once again, seemed able to reach any point on the floor he wanted.

Then there's Zak Irvin, who looks ready to take GRIII's place as the Guy Who Scores A Quiet [Double-Digit Point Total]. Despite playing just eight minutes in the first half, Irvin paced the team with nine points, hitting three triples; he'd finish with 13 on 5/8 shooting in 19 minutes of action. One of his second-half makes was a pretty dribble-drive to pull-up jumper; when called upon, he looks comfortable creating his own shot. While fellow freshman Walton shot just 1/4 from the field, he hit 4/5 free throws and drilled a corner three to accompany a 4:2 assist-to-turnover ratio; like LeVert, he worked his way to the inside with relative ease to create offense for others. Walton also had his second Burkeian halfcourt steal in two games. If that becomes a patented Michigan point guard move, I'm totally okay with it.

OTHER NOTES

  • The perimeter defense could still use work. Wayne State's Bryan Coleman hit 3/5 first-half threes and had 17 points at the break; while he cooled off in the second half, he still found himself with several open looks against Stauskas and Robinson, primarily.
  • On the other hand, the transition defense was great—Wayne State finished with zero fast-break points, and Michigan communicated very well while getting back on D, a very good sign for such a young team.
  • For the second straight game, Max Bielfeldt struggled to defend the glass while playing center against an undersized team, grabbing zero rebounds in nine minutes of action while also having his fair share of issues defensively. If this is what he's playing like come conference play, he may not have a spot in the rotation, since he isn't a guy who's going to add much offensively.
  • Mark Donnal is almost certainly ticketed for a redshirt, as he didn't play until garbage time once again, then immediately forgot to box out on a free throw and committed a foul—that's probably the last we see of him this season unless injuries hit in a major way.
  • Welcome back, Ann Arbor Airshow. I missed you dearly.

Comments

Mgotri

November 5th, 2013 at 7:41 AM ^

It seems as though my priorities were a bit out of whack when I thought he was refering to the Ann Arbor Air show with planes. I do miss it though.

AlwaysBlue

November 5th, 2013 at 8:26 AM ^

a box score but it seems Caris logged a lot of minutes. Beilein seems smitten given his post game comments. And I can't argue...his defense, athleticism and aggressiveness are impressive. He and Mitch could lead the team a long way.

mpbear14

November 5th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

It looks like it's a challenge for Horford to walk in a straight line, let alone run and play basketball.  I'd rather see Morgan in there more.

JB could very well be giving Horford more minutes to get him ready as he doesn't have nearly as much experience as Morgan does over his career.  

Either way, McGary will completely change this team when he's back. 

taistreetsmyhero

November 5th, 2013 at 9:35 AM ^

I bet we beat a couple Big Ten teams by way more than we did against the Warriors. 

That said, an obvious troll is obvious point is that we really need McGary back and healthy. Morgan and Horford look like the same players they've been their entire careers. Morgan has stone hands, and Horford gets great position but then makes silly little mistakes on defense. Max looked small and ineffective on D in the few minutes he logged. 

On offense, Levert looks like a new person out there. He no longer looks like a fledgling bird on drives, and he flashed some good court vision on a couple dimes. Walton looks like he'll be a solid distributor, but he didn't necessarily show signs that he'll create much for himself. The offense did seem a little too iso-dependent, but I think we may finally see a team Beilein has dreamed where you drive and kick and any person who catches is it can shoot.

In summary, I like the pieces on our team, we just gotta go through the typical gelling process and I think we'll be golden.

Hail-Storm

November 5th, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

cannot be undersold.  As you said, he is a major upgrade.  His ability to get boards and transition from D to O through both ball handling and crazy outlet passing, creates a lot of the fast break scoring for this team.  

I also like having Lavert on the point, especially on defense.  It will be fun to see if his length causes issues for PGs trying to pass around him. I think this also means full court press is not an issue, as Spike, Walton, Lavert, Stauskas, and even McGary can all handle the ball.  

taistreetsmyhero

November 5th, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

I was super high on Irvin going into the season, and after seeing him out there yesterday, I'm still sold on his defensive presence. He looks like a manchild out there, and he's simply huge. I believe he will find more minutes than a lot of people expect simply because he will be our best option to lock down teams' premier wing players.

With Stauskas, I dunno, he still seems a little slow on defense. He looks a lot sturdier, and he is playing quicker on offense, but his defense still seems a little hesitant. He definitely has the physical tools to be a solid defender, but if he remains a bit of a liability this year, I wouldn't be surprised.

GR3, it seems like he should be an all star defender. He has athleticism for days and looks bulkier out there. At the same time, I'm not sure how much he practices defending bigs/wings, so that may limit his development. Again, can't really base anything off of 1 performance against a random D2 player who decided to go all-world out there. I just hope GR3 can crash the boards a little harder than he did last year, but I expect a couple very frustrating games this year where we run him at the 4 and get abused on the boards.

The bigs minus McGary, it doesn't look like they've added much to their game. Morgan will give you sound defensive positioning, etc., but he's not big enough to be a game-changing presence. Horford will give you some big plays, but he's not very consistent and will also make some bone-headed mistakes.

Finally, LeVert. He seems to always be in position on D, but he also seems to get eye busted more than any player on the team. I agree in theory that he will pose a problem for guards, but I don't think he has that lock-down defender capability. This analgoy is pretty messy, but to me, LeVert is going to be the Dennis Norfleet of the defense. He'll seem like he's always going to make a big play/develop into a star defender, but in the end, he'll just be a half-step too late.

robmorren2

November 5th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

I'm interested to see if Caris can play point effectively against better competition. It seems like he dribbles the ball a little high/loose. Jalen pulled it off though, so who knows.

SanDiegoWolverine

November 5th, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

McGary is the only true center we have recruited in the last 3 years and if he leaves at the end of the year we will have Horford and air backing him up. I will be happy to see 5 year player with defensive chops starting next year but equally worried any time he goes out for a rest or with foul trouble. I know Ricky Doyle is a big body but he is not known for his defense yet and are we really counting on him to back up Horford next year or start in case of an injury?

Any chance we go after a defense first big man for the 2014 class? Or do we just hope the our current guys make some major improvements?