The names and faces were different but the shooting numbers were eerily familiar. After hitting their first two three pointers, Michigan proceeded to make just one of their final 19 attempts. Luckily it was an exhibition game and Michigan’s woeful shooting totals will be wiped clean before their season opener on the 13th.
The Wolverines got out of the gates quickly, jumping out to a big lead behind their starters: Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. Once Michigan had opened it up, Beilein experimented with a number of lineups and Saginaw Valley crept back into the game. Michigan’s lead ballooned as high as 20 points (twice) but Saginaw Valley also cut the Michigan lead to single digits on multiple occasions.
|O Reb %||25.0||31.0|
While Michigan’s shooting was terrible – 38% eFG%, 48% 2pt, 14% 3pt, 66% FT – they did do some things very well. Most impressive was Michigan’s ability to get to the free throw line. They posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 76% and attempted a total of 41 free throws – these numbers were boosted by SVSU intentionally fouling 2 minutes remaining, giving Michigan 14 free throws in the final two minutes. To put that free throw rate into perspective, Michigan only posted a free throw rate of 40% or higher four times last season.
Michigan also controlled the defensive glass, rebounding 75% of SVSU’s missed shots. Jordan Morgan led the team in rebounding, pulling down 15 boards (10 def, 5 off) in just 20 minutes. Saginaw Valley was undersized up front, but Morgan and Smotrycz’s play on the glass was encouraging.
It’s become so routine that it’s almost expected, but Michigan only turned the ball over on 8% of their possessions. Beilein’s teams have always done a good job taking care of the ball but this is still noteworthy when six of the ten players in the rotation have never played a college game.
Saginaw Valley didn’t play particularly well offensively but that doesn’t mean that Michigan’s defense didn’t raise any concerns. No team is perfect defensively from in November and Michigan’s youthful squad is no exception. There were a few too many late rotations and missed shifts but those will undoubtedly be worked out in time. My main worry is how much trouble Michigan had with SVSU guard Greg Foster on the perimeter. Foster was quick, but there are going to be quicker guards to defend as the year goes on.
Exhibitions are exhibitions. They are a chance to get some film, a bit of experience, and move on. Jumping to conclusions based on an exhibition game is a terrible idea, but there is still room for individual evaluation. Player bullets for all 10 Wolverines that checked into the game are after the jump.
- Darius Morris: Morris lived at the stripe (17 FTA) and posted a career high 18 points. He didn’t show signs of a more consistent shot (3-8, 0-1 3pt) but getting to the free throw line on a regular basis would be a big boost for Michigan. He needs to create more opportunities for his teammates (or they need to convert them) as Morris only dished out two assists.
- Jordan Morgan: (post game video interview) Morgan handled himself well on the glass (15 rebounds in 20 minutes) and scored 9 points on a variety of drop offs and put backs from around the hoop. He didn’t show much of any back to the basket game and his one jump shot hit the side of the backboard, but he provided the rebounding that Michigan needs.
- Evan Smotrycz: (post game video interview) Smotrycz provided a glimpse of the multi dimensional game that he brings to the table. He isn’t shy to take the three pointer (despite making just 1 of 6) but he also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor a bit, get to the line (9 FTA), and rebound the ball (9 rebs).
- Tim Hardaway Jr: Hardaway struggled in his first start. He scored five points in his first shift – hitting a three and a pull up in transition – but the rest of his shots looked rushed and uncomfortable. He finished with 8 points (2-10 fg, 1-7 3pt), 2 rebs, an assist and a steal. It has been noted several times that Hardaway has been dealing with the flu, which could have played into his lackluster performance.
- Zack Novak: Novak had a pretty nondescript game. He played 33 minutes, mostly at the two, but never really got into a groove offensively (2-7 shooting for 5 points). Novak appears to primarily be slotted at the two position, where he played 26 minutes, but he did play 7 minutes at the four.
- Matt Vogrich: Vogrich looked more comfortable offensively, scoring 7 points by hitting a pair of pull up jump shots and a three pointer coming off a screen. He’s never going to be a defensive stopper but at this point his man to man defense still needs work and improvement from last year appears marginal.
- Stu Douglass: Douglass is the primary backup at the one and two but didn’t have the most impressive game. He looked a bit tentative at the one and had two of Michigan’s five turnovers. He did have a great post entry pass to Jon Horford and had a couple strong takes to the hole but he looked like a guy trying to find his role.
- Blake McLimans: McLimans had an up and down night in his 12 minutes of playing time. He hit a very nice hook shot early on but missed two three point attempts badly. He also picked up a pair of blocked shots (one spiked into the crowd) but bit on a pump fake badly in the post leading to an easy layup.
- Colton Christian: Christian played 11 minutes backing up Smotrycz at the four (Novak played 7 minutes at the four) and didn’t show a whole lot offensively but pulled down two offensive boards.
- Jon Horford: Horford showed a lot of the things that I liked about his game in high school — he’s assertive and aggressive yet methodical. That being said, Horford was clearly the #3 big man in the rotation and if Michigan only wants to use two players at the five, a redshirt may still be likely.