If you missed Michigan’s exhibition win over Grand Valley State, or didn’t want to shell out $9.99 to stream it, here are Five Key Plays from the exhibition opener.
1. Charles Matthews hits his first three
After spending almost two years debating whether or not Charles Matthews could shoot, he made the first three-pointer of the game. He missed his other two three-point attempts of the night, but seeing that first shot go down paved the way to a big performance.
“I loved when he hit his first three,” said Beilein. “We see it in practice, we watch it. But the fact that he wasn’t afraid to take it — and he went and made it.”
“So many (butterflies),” Matthews said. “I was so nervous out there.I’m still waiting to get comfortable and get that natural game flow.”
Matthews probably won’t be a 40 percent three-point shooter like some of Michigan’s wings of the past, but he demonstrated that he’s capable of playing comfortably in the Michigan offense. We saw him score off of pin downs, dribble hand offs and side ball screens and he looked the part.
2. Jon Teske can pass
Jon Teske didn’t just look like Michigan’s second-best big man, he also looked quite comfortable catching the ball in the post and finding teammates. After the game, Beilein admitted that this isn’t something that his teams have really been known for in the past, but Teske looked pretty smooth.
“That wasn’t the forte of some of the centers we’ve had,” Beilein said after the win. “I like the way we’re throwing it to the big guys and cutting — I think we got a couple passes.”
The question is how effective he can be in similar spots against tougher competition, but compared to last year’s brief rotations Teske looked more coordinated and confident when the ball was in his hands.
3. The elbow jumper
By this point, everyone knows the mid-range shot is the least efficient shot in basketball. Despite that fact, it is almost impossible for a college offense not to have to take some mid-range jumpers. Michigan did a great job of getting to the elbow and knocking down shots, something that
“Being able to go to right against today’s defense and just put it in. We call it a Jerry West jump shot,” said Beilein. “You just go to your right and there’s a guy on your hip and you just shoot it in.”
The key here is that defenses are going to give you that shot. Here we see Ibi Watson knock in the shot that Beilein is talking about, but we also see Charles Matthews and Eli Brooks hit open jumpers from the elbow against the Grand Valley State zone.
“People do not blow that up, they’re saying take that tough two,” Beilein said. “You shouldn’t take tough twos, but everybody is trying to make you take tough twos and that’s a tough two we need to make.”
4. Jaaron Simmons makes his mark
Simmons came off the bench for his first game in a Michigan uniform, but he immediately made a few plays.
Here we see the graduate transfer find Duncan Robinson for an open three in the corner out of the pick and roll. Then we see him get involved in transition as he finds Charles Matthews for a dunk. From there, we see Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman find Simmons for a catch and shoot triples to put Michigan up by 13.
Simmons was a poor catch and shoot player last year at Ohio (42.7 eFG%), but it can’t hurt to make the first attempt of the season.
5. Simpson’s defense leads to easy offense
While Jaaron Simmons provided an offensive spark, this play is a good example of what Simpson brings on the defensive end. Simpson is active all over the defensive end of the floor and has the knack for picking up deflections. Simpson is the best defender of Michigan’s point guard crop and the offense seemed to hum efficiently when he was on the floor.
Simpson is solid on both ends of the floor, Simmons brings more playmaking and Brooks is the best shooter of the bunch. Together, Michigan got 16 points, 8 assists, 1 turnover and two steals out of the point guard position but was production cobbled together by all three. Time will tell if the Wolverines can rely on one player in that mix to carry the load, or if Beilein will have to keep juggling his options.