2011-2012 Season

Preview: Michigan vs. Wayne State (Exhibition)

Who: Michigan (0-0) vs. Wayne State (0-0) – Exhibition warrior_logo1[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 7 p.m. ET, November 4th, 2011
TV: BTN.com / Subscription (Free month w/ code: BTDN3FR33)
Radio: MGoBlue
Video: Beilein Pre-Game / Novak, Hardaway & Morgan

Lost in the excitement of Mitch McGary’s commitment yesterday is the fact that Michigan fans will have their first opportunity to see the 2011-12 Wolverines in action this evening. With exactly one week until the season opener, Michigan welcomes Wayne State to the newly renovated confines of Crisler Arena. The exhibition match-up doesn’t count in the record books but it’s the first chance to see the team that we’ve discussed for the past six or seven months.

We won’t delve into a complete tempo free break down of Wayne State but the Warriors are picked to finish third in the GLIAC’s South Division after finishing in the same slot a year ago. Michigan faced Wayne State in an exhibition game two seasons ago and cruised to an easy victory thanks to a 25-point performance from Manny Harris and five three pointers from Zack Novak.

The Warriors lose two of their top three scorers from a year ago but junior guard Mike Hollingsworth was named the GLIAC pre-season player of the year and a Division II pre-season All-American. The 6-foot-1 guard is a slashing scorer that averaged 16 points per game last season. He appears to be a solid rebounder for his stature but is an average three point shooter. Big man Ike Udanoh provides a decent amount of size for a Division II team at 6-foot-8 but the Warriors’ No. 2 returner is also very skinny. He averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game last season.

Photo: Michigan Basketball

As with most exhibitions, this is a game that’s more about Michigan than Wayne State. Fans will keep their eyes glued to Michigan’s freshmen, begin to analyze rotations and start to look ahead. Here are five storylines and questions to follow during tonight’s exhibition:

Surprise Starters

Look for Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz and Jon Horford to start tonight’s game. This has been the first group from practices and scrimmages and sounds like the group that  John Beilein will use at this juncture in the season. It’s probably too early to jump to any conclusions — Burke is a disappointment! Horford is amazing! What’s wrong with Morgan — because we are discussing a game that doesn’t even count. John Beilein has never been afraid to tinker with his lineups or use certain lineups as motivation. The minute breakdown matters more than the starting lineup and a shift in the starting lineup before Maui is certainly possible.

Trey Burke

The freshman has been the most discussed player throughout the off season and this will be Mr. Ohio’s first chance to impress. Don’t take Burke’s absence from the starting line-up as a sign that he’s struggled, he’s been impressive by almost all accounts – most notably with zero turnovers in Michigan’s scrimmage versus Toledo. As a true freshman point guard, there’s plenty Burke still has to learn and not starting an exhibition game shouldn’t be a red flag.

Watch to see if Burke does the little things. Is he turning the ball over? He didn’t in the scrimmage versus Toledo. Is he getting big men the ball in the right places? Is he seeing the floor?

Bigger and Stronger

The two players that have been praised for their weight gain this summer are Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz. They should be able to impose their will against a Wayne State squad that has just two players over 6-foot-6 with a combined average weight of just 218 pounds.

Fans will want to watch if Horford reacts quicker to the game on both sides of the floor. Mental mistakes plagued his freshman season and if he’s unable to eliminate those errors his additional strength will be for naught. With respect to Smotrycz, the critical areas of improvement are rebounding and scoring inside the arc.

10 Deep

John Beilein mentioned that he wants to give 10 players consistent minutes in the exhibition game. Based on preseason reports, Douglass, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Horford, Morgan, Burke and Vogrich are most likely the top eight of the rotation. Of that group, Matt Vogrich is a name that has been consistently mentioned as dialed in this fall, despite missing some time with a sprained knee, and could impressive.

The more interesting question is who fills the final two spots in the early expanded rotation. Carlton Brundidge, Blake McLimans, Max Bielfeldt, Colton Christian and Eso Akunne are the most likely players to be in contention for those two spots. Pay attention to who gets the first chance and, more importantly, who makes the most of their opportunity. This is also the group that could include potential redshirt candidates if Michigan chooses to go in that direction.

Brundidge vs. Brundidge

Two seasons ago Michigan faced off against Wayne State and Carlton’s brother Dale just two months after Carlton verballed to Michigan. This season he’ll have the opportunity to face-off against his big brother in his first college game. This should be a nice opportunity for a family photo but you can also bet that both brothers will be looking to get the best of each other.

Carlton might be one of the most interesting players to watch early on because of his unique skill-set. He’s not a perfect fit for any one position in John Beilein’s offense but he also has some abilities that are unmatched by anyone else on the Michigan offense. Watch to see how Beilein gets Brundidge involved and also how comfortable Brundidge looks within the scheme of the offense.

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