It’s no secret that Michigan had some critical defensive lapses against Virginia Tech on Wednesday (see item No. 3 here). They were bad, and contributed in a big way to an important loss. The more important thing is that they happen less frequently going forward.
The team is certainly aware of the issues.
“We don’t sugarcoat stuff here,” Derrick Walton said. “Guys have been called out about areas they need to improve. Last game we had times we could have stopped the ball and we didn’t. We broke it down in film and guys were called out about it. We’ll make the adjustments as needed.”
John Beilein believes most of the issues have nothing to do with the technical aspects of defense. He said after the game he wants to see more of an “edge” and expanded on that today, saying “there has to be more grit, more determination.” Losing the lead on Wednesday flustered the Wolverines. Not all games will be like the two at Madison Square Garden — blowout victories — and Michigan has to show some fight.
“We need to find that dog again,” Walton said. “Find the chip on our shoulder we played with in New York. There was a little comfort in the room after playing well on a big stage.”
The Matthews mystery
Many readers of this site have been asking about Charles Matthews, a transfer from Kentucky who must sit out this season. The 6’6″ guard was rated the 59th-best recruit in the country last year and averaged 10 minutes a game for the Wildcats.
When asked about Matthews, Walton’s used the phrase “high-level athlete” three times and highlighted his ball handling and defense.
“He’s going to give this team a different dynamic,” Walton said. “A lot of guys who had to guard him in practice had their hands full. He does a lot of things well.”
Beilein said Matthews is very driven and “has been a pleasure to coach.” With Walton and Zak Irvin graduating after this season, Matthews will be counted on offensively.
“We need Charles ready to come in and play that Tim Hardaway, Caris LeVert role,” Beilein said. Asked if he thought Matthews would be able to do so, Beilein said, “Oh yeah, he’s going to be able to do that.”
Freshman center Jon Teske gave Michigan some good minutes, particularly on defense, against Virginia Tech. He’s picking up things quicker in practice than most freshman, and his 7′, 245-pound frame makes him tough to score against inside.
“I’ve got to keep finding minutes for him,” Beilein said.
Walton is excited about Teske’s continued development and said he can “block shots without even trying” and that taking it at him is “like hitting a brick wall.” Just don’t expect the quiet freshman to boast about it.
“We pretty much talk trash for him,” Walton said. “We yell for him.”
Teske has been leaning on the other big men for guidance; having an iPad to study film immediately is helpful, too. His redshirt decision came down to the final practices. Teske decided he could help the team this season, and it looks like he was right.