On the eve of Michigan’s first exhibition game, Joe and I compared notes to aggregate as many notes as possible from Michigan’s practices over the last couple weeks. Michigan held an open practice for student ticket holders this evening and we received several reports from students that attended the event. Beilein also shared a number of tidbits when he stopped by WTKA on Wednesday. Here is a run-down of that information as well as tidbits from other various reports that we’ve received:
- The starting line-up in Michigan’s scrimmage versus Eastern Michigan was Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. We have no reason to believe that group won’t start on Friday night.
- Darius Morris has been performing extremely well in practice. It remains to be seen what happens when the lights go on, but he’s opened some eyes the past several weeks. He was the best player at the Maize Rage open practice and his shot looked much improved.
- Jordan Morgan has also been playing well — reportedly pulling down around 10 rebounds and taking a charge in Michigan’s scrimmage versus EMU. He played well in the open practice, especially on the offensive glass, and showed off some post moves to boot.
- The buzz coming out of summer practice surrounded Tim Hardaway Jr. and he’s established himself as one of Michigan’s top options — leading the team in scoring versus EMU. He was slowed down by illness at tonight’s practice but his ability was evident.
- Evan Smotrycz is a scorer. He loves to shoot and during the open practice, he was one of the team’s top scorers (along with Novak). Smotrycz has also been one of the more consistent outside shooters on the squad but Beilein is telling anyone that will listen (pressers, radio, etc) that Smotrycz still has a ways to go distinguishing between good and bad shots.
- Speaking of consistent shooters, Matt Vogrich has shot the ball well this fall. His problem is that he continues to drift a little too much on the offensive end preventing him from being more assertive.
- Zack Novak is starting at the two guard but Stu Douglass saw most of his minutes at the two rather than backing up Morris at the point. This is a good sign because the more minutes Morris can play at the point, the better the team will be. Sophomore guard Eso Akunne ran the point guard position for the second team in the open practice.
- Inside scoring is a huge question mark for this team — where will it come from? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
- Jon Horford has probably the best rebounding instincts of any of Michigan’s bigs but, despite looking noticeably bigger than he did this spring, is still going to have problems with his strength down low against Big Ten bigs.
- As expected, Blake McLimans’ offensive game is focused on the perimeter. He reportedly shot the ball well in the open practice but didn’t do a whole lot in the post. Every report from practice mentions that his shot is smooth and looks good but he needs to continue to become more consistent.
- Colton Christian played on the perimeter quite a bit in the open practice, as expected from a Beilein four man, and he has the makings of a mid-range jump shot but is still continuing to develop his perimeter offensive skills.
Everyone will finally have the chance to see the team in action on Friday evening and begin to make their own judgments. Considering that Michigan fans have only seen four scholarship players on this year’s roster play in a game before, there is a surprising amount of intrigue for just an exhibition game.