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With another easy win over a lackluster opponent, Michigan continues to do all that one could ask of such a young team. USC Upstate, Bowling Green, and Gardner-Webb are all bad teams, but Michigan has handled them all with relative ease. As so many teams know all too well, anything can happen when you step on the floor. Syracuse eeked out a win over William & Mary this afternoon, despite being a 22 point favorite, and two years ago Michigan needed a miraculous comeback to defeat a terrible Savannah State team in overtime.
The story of today’s game was the continued strong play of Darius Morris and Jordan Morgan. The duo ran the pick and roll to perfection and carried Michigan’s offense early on. Morris finished with 21 points and 10 assists (to only 1 TO) while Morgan had 20 points and 8 rebounds. The pair, who happen to be roommates, combined to shoot 17 of 21, 81%, from the field. There was simply not much to complain about in regards to their nearly perfect performance.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stu Douglass weren’t half bad themselves. Hardaway added 15 points on 6 of 9 (2-3 3pt) shooting and 4 assists in 27 minutes while Douglass took the game over for a stretch in the second half, finishing with 10 points.
The four factors show what boils down to domination and they would have been even more lopsided if Michigan had not gone deep in their bench with 4 minutes to play, prompting a 10-3 Gardner-Webb run to close the game. Michigan shot the ball extremely well with an effective field goal percentage of 59%, 61% on two pointers, but even more impressive was Michigan’s rebounding. The Wolverines dominated the glass, rebounding 50% of their misses and 79% of Gardner-Webb’s missed attempts. It was a relatively free throw free game with just 18 FTAs total split relatively evenly between both squads. Michigan continued to struggle more than year’s past in the turnover department, coughing it up on 22% of their possessions.
On the 1-3-1 zone… Still not so good. The zone worked for a couple possessions but was also responsible for the majority of Gardner-Webb’s best looks from the field. Despite the negative early returns, I think you have to continue to try to develop the zone. Running it for 10 to 15 possessions in a game has the potential to be a game changer.
Michigan will use the holiday week to prepare for Friday’s game versus Syracuse in Atlantic City. The Orange have looked beatable early on, shooting the ball poorly and almost losing to William & Mary today. That being said, they will be an extremely tough test for this young Michigan team. They are bigger, longer, and more athletic than most teams that Michigan will face this season and are a tremendous rebounding team. As Beilein mentioned in his post game, he has never beaten Jim Boeheim in his career. Player bullets after the jump.
- Darius Morris: This is probably the best game of Morris’ young career. He controlled the game offensively, ran the pick and roll extremely well with Jordan Morgan, and showed off his improved jumpshot. Morris has tallied 21 assists to just 4 turnovers over the last two games, an impressive stat regardless of the competition. There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road, and Morris will struggle, but it is clear that Morris has improved. The next three weeks will give us a better of idea of just how much better he really is.
- Jordan Morgan: It wasn’t complicated but it was certainly effective. Morgan did a great job making himself an available target for dump offs in the paint and, when his teammates got him the ball, routinely finished looks around the basket (9 of 11 shooting). Similar to Morris, it remains to be seen how he handles tougher interior defenders, but you have to like what he’s giving the team now. Despite his 20 point performance, his 6 offensive rebounds might be even more impressive.
- Stu Douglass: With Novak struggling offensively and relegated to the bench with foul trouble, Douglass stepped up in the second half. The highlight of his game was when he followed his missed three pointer, tipped the rebound to himself, and then knocked down the shot. He pulled down 4 rebounds and again made a strong effort to get in the lane — shooting 3 of 4 from inside the arc. At this point he seems to become more comfortable with his role as the backup one/two guard by the day.
- Tim Hardaway Jr: An efficient 15 points on 9 shots for Hardaway, who was 6 of 9 from the field (2-3 3pt). His jumper is obviously smooth, 46% from three through three games, but he also hit a number of unconventional shots in the lane. Hardaway has also shown the ability to get his teammates involved, picking up four assists today. Hardaway appears to be just scraping the surface of his potential and should only get better as his comfort level increases.
- Zack Novak: Zack never got it going offensively, with 0 points on 0 of 4 shooting, but he has proven himself as Michigan’s best defensive rebounder thus far. Novak had 6 defensive boards in just 19 minutes today.
- Blake McLimans: Blake hit a couple shots in the post but missed both of his three point attempts. He appears to have the green light, attempting at least one three pointer in each game, but he has yet to connect. You have to wonder how long that green light will last if he keeps missing them.
- Evan Smotrycz: 20 minutes, 7 points on 3 of 6 (1-2 3pt) shooting with 3 rebounds, an assist, block, and two turnovers. A pretty solid game but Smotrycz is struggling when he puts the ball on the floor. He’s not going to bailed out with foul calls at this level and, once he penetrates, seems to get stuck between forcing up a bad shot or throwing a bad pass.
- Matt Vogrich: 12 minutes and 0 for 3 from the field. Vogrich will provide this team a boost when he’s hitting shots but unless he’s hitting every shot, he’ll be stuck somewhere around 10 minutes per game backing up Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Colton Christian: .For every bit as good as he has been on the defensive glass, Christian is a non-factor on the offensive end. He attempted a pair of 18 foot pull up jumpers today but missed both. These are the shots that he’s going to need to finish to keep defenses honest. 5 rebounds per game in an average of 15 minutes is still impressive
- Jon Horford: More-so than earlier games, Horford really got pushed around today. He missed both of his field goal attempts and picked up 3 fouls in just 9 minutes.