|Who: Michigan (0-0) vs. Saginaw Valley St.|
|Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI|
|When: Friday, Nov. 5th, 7pm ET (BTN Replay at 11am Sunday)|
|TV: BigTenNetwork.com ($)|
|Radio: MGoBlue, WTKA 1050 AM, 950 AM|
Michigan faces Saginaw Valley State in a Friday evening exhibition tilt at Crisler Arena. Exhibition games are little more than glorified practices and it’s important not to jump to too many conclusions about one exhibition game. However, for fans whose best information about this year’s team revolves around box scores versus Belgian professional teams and grainy practice video, there will be plenty to watch tonight.
Saginaw Valley State is a mid-level GLIAC school. They finished 16-12 last year, and 13-9 in the GLIAC. They are picked to finish third in the GLIAC North division this season and have two players on the GLIAC North preseason second team.
Those players are a pair of guards, Greg Foster and Chris Webb. Foster averaged 13 points and three assists last season while Webb averaged 10 points and shot 42% from three point range. Saginaw Valley St. head coach Frankie Smith was named GLIAC coach of the year last season, his fourth year at SVSU. (HT: KJ for already previewing SVSU). In short, SVSU is a good not great GLIAC team but the more interesting elements at play tonight will involve Michigan.
The expected starters for Michigan are Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. This is the same group that started Michigan’s first (closed) scrimmage versus Eastern Michigan. I expect Beilein to go with a deep bench, especially early on this year, so Stu Douglass, Matt Vogrich, Blake McLimans, Colton Christian, and Jon Horford should also see plenty of time tonight.
Here are five storylines that I’ll be watching with a keen eye:
- Darius Morris: Positive reports on Morris’ play are encouraging because Morris’ success, or lack of success, will have a strong correlation with Michigan’s success as a whole. Michigan needs Morris to run the offense fluidly but more important hit his fair share of shots and score the ball.
- The Freshmen Starters: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz are expected to start tonight and expectations couldn’t be much higher. Both kids can do a lot offensively but will likely have some first game jitters. Do they take good shots? Play under control? Get after it on defense?
- The Bigs: Jordan Morgan, Blake McLimans, and Jon Horford have played four minutes of game experience between them (Blake in last year’s exhibition) – tonight they will combine to play 40 minutes. Will they provide any inside scoring? Will they hold their own on the offensive or defensive glass?
- Stu Douglass: Where does Stu Douglass fit? With Morris at the one and Novak at the two, where will Douglass see most of his minutes? The fewer minutes at the point the better, from a Michigan perspective.
- Defense: Expect heavy doses of man defense tonight, as Michigan is just beginning to implement the 1-3-1. Will Michigan’s new assistants have a noticeable impact on the defense? How do the freshmen look on the defensive end?
Three gut-based predictions (or opportunities to be incorrect):
- Zack Novak leads the team in scoring and rebounding
- Jordan Morgan plays more minutes that Blake McLimans or Jon Horford
- Matt Vogrich leads the team in three point makes but doesn’t do much else offensively beyond shooting threes.
Saginaw Valley won’t be in awe of playing a division I team, with their 88-44 loss at the Breslin Center fresh in their minds, but they are a team that Michigan should be able to handle. With so much youth and inexperience in their first game action, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches are perhaps the most excited to finally see this team play a game.