The first 30 minutes were eerily similar to Michigan’s ugly exhibition game against Wayne State. Michigan’s offense had little movement, shots weren’t falling inside or out and frustrating turnovers seemed to stop any momentum before it started. The light finally went on over the final quarter of play as the Wolverines began to resemble the team that most expected to see this season. Suddenly the offense was flowing, shots were falling and Michigan closed the game with an emphatic 21-1 run. The end result was a respectable 59-33 win.
The game was slow, just 62 possessions, and both offenses were generally unspectacular. Michigan’s offense actually neared the 1 point per possession plateau after the late run but the Wolverines shot the ball poorly on the night – 46% on twos and 32% on threes. Similar to many Beilein games in the past, Michigan attempted half of its shots from three point range, grabbed only 21% of its misses and rarely got to the free throw line.
Michigan’s defensive statistics were impressive but it’s always risky to jump to conclusions defensively against a Division II team. Ferris State scored just .55 points per possession with a 32% effective field goal percentage – two figures that our so bad they have to be attributed to more than just good defense. Michigan was more than adequate on the defensive glass, grabbing 77 percent of Ferris’s missed shots, and kept the Bulldogs off the foul line as well.
It would have been tough to stomach another 10-point win over a GLIAC team but Michigan’s run to close the game was an encouraging sign that the Wolverines are starting to figure things out. Michigan’s three games leading up to Memphis – Ferris, Towson and Western Illinois – are unlikely to pose any significant challenge but by this time next week it would be nice to see Michigan put together a complete offensive game.
- Stu Douglass: Douglass was one of the biggest disappointments in Michigan’s exhibition game and one of the most reassuring surprises in the opener. He shot the ball well from three point range (3-7 3pt) but might have been more impressive in every other element of his game. He scored the ball in a variety of ways – even a pull-up jumpshot with a foul – and also added five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers. I’ve criticized Douglass for failing to affect the game beyond his shooting but he showed a lot today.
- Evan Smotrycz: That’s the Evan Smotrycz that opened eyes on the summer circuit. Smotrycz hit his threes (3-4 3pt) and the rest seemed to fall into place. He made plays off the pump fake, both shooting, driving and passing, and seemed to play as aggressive defensively as I can remember. His rebounding still leaves room for improvement but he blocked two shots, grabbed two steals and took a charge – a few phrases that weren’t common in his player bullets a year ago.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: The confidence is there but he needs to be even more aggressive attacking the basket. His first great take to the hole wasn’t until the 16 minute mark of the second half. The three point shot is there whenever he wants but Michigan needs him to score consistently in the lane. Overall an average night with 12 points on 12 shots, three assists and two rebounds.
- Jon Horford: Horford never looked comfortable and barely registered on the stat sheet with three rebounds, one turnover and zero points or field goal attempts. Michigan ran a play designed to get a five man an easy basket, something we saw Morgan run very well last year, and Horford failed to get position and let the ball get slapped out of his hands.
- Jordan Morgan: Morgan just seems to play stronger and with more aggression than Horford at this juncture. He also started slow and missed a couple of bunnies but had a very nice stretch during Michigan’s second half run as well as a nice “and one” in the first half. Morgan finished with 7 points, six rebounds and seemed to clearly outplay Horford in game 1.
- Zack Novak: Novak’s shot was missing in action and he had an out of character three turnovers, but he did make a couple typical Novak plays including a steal and five rebounds. His best play of the game was a pump fake, drive and dish off in the lane to Jordan Morgan.
- Trey Burke: Burke didn’t get the start due to a small violation of team rules (showing up late to walk through), a lesson best learned in a game like this, and it seemed to prevent him from ever finding his groove offensively. His shot was never there but he’s a game changer in transition, the key to watch is how he develops in the half court offense.
- Matt Vogrich: Vogrich couldn’t find his three point shot but he still provided a spark of energy. He’s one of the more aggressive offensive rebounders in the Michigan rotation and had a very nice follow up bucket.
- Eso Akunne: Akunne got the first guard shift off the bench and looked solid. He’s not going to have a huge impact on the game but he didn’t necessarily look out of place either.
- Carlton Brundidge: Brundidge checked into the game late and didn’t get any playing time during meaningful minutes.