This season, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team is playing two exhibition games, instead of the normal single game. On Thursday (11/01/2012) evening, they played the first exhibition game, and crushed Northern Michigan 83-47. It was a typical exhibition game against an overmatched opponent: everyone got to play, Coach Beilein got to try a bunch of different lineup combinations, there were some highlight-reel shots and dunks, and all the UM fans went home entertained and happy.
However, it was more than your typical first game; it was time for The Big Reveal of the newly-renovated Crisler Center. It is gorgeous. Just stunning. I know you’ve heard it before from other writers, but it’s true; it looks like a brand new building, not a renovation of the old Crisler Arena. The outer concourse is much cleaner, brighter, and more spacious. The concession stands, bathrooms, and M-Den stores are beautiful. The grand entrance (NE corner) with the escalators and waterfalls is stunning. The architects and builders did a wonderful job, and now it’s up to the teams that play in Crisler Center to do their part.
As a team, Michigan did fine. They shot a decent percentage (42.9%) overall, a good percent from 3-point range (41.9%), and a mediocre percentage (61.5%) from the free-throw line. They got 50 rebounds, which is a big improvement on the last few seasons, and they only had 8 turnovers. They also had 17 assists on 27 made field goals, which is great.
Here are all the stats, if you want to see the details.
So, who looked good in the NMU game? Well, the biggest surprise was Spike Albrecht. He started in place of Trey Burke, who served a one-game suspension for “a violation of team standards”. Spike started out strong, with a 3-pointer, an assist on a 3-pointer, a 2-point basket “and one”, and an assist on another 3-pointer. This was all part of a 17-0 run to start the game. Spike ended up with 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting (3-for-6 from 3-point range).
Spike wasn’t the only freshman who looked good: Nik Stauskas was the leading scorer in the game, with 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting (4-for-6 from 3-point range). He and Mitch McGary were the first two subs off the bench, and Nik caught and fired the inbounds pass for a 3-pointer one second after he entered the game! The reports from practice say “if Nik is open, he doesn’t miss a 3-pointer”, and it looks like they weren’t exaggerating. If he can get open in the regular season games and keep hitting his 3-pointers, he’ll be a valuable weapon.
All five of the true freshmen (“The Fresh Five”) played, including all five of them on the court at the same time, and they all scored. Besides Spike and Nik, Glenn Robinson III played well. He was every bit as athletic as advertised, and he shot the ball well: 5-for-8 (2-for-3), for 13 points. He had a couple thunderous dunks, and he looked solid and confident out there. Mitch played pretty well, but didn’t have many points: 5 points on 2-for-4 shooting. He did have 9 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards. The final true freshman, Caris LeVert, played the fewest minutes of the freshman, and scored the fewest points. He had 3 points on 1-for-5 shooting (1-for-2), and he looked OK out there, but not as good as the rest of the freshmen.
UM had 4 players in double figures, and the 4th one was Tim Hardaway Jr., with 13 points on below-average shooting: 3-for-9 (2-for-5). He had a pretty good game, but definitely not mid-season form.
Jordan Morgan looked good in the NMU game, but he just missed hitting double figures, with 9 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He did have a team-high 12 rebounds (5 offensive), so he just missed a double-double.
The starting lineup was: Robinson, Morgan, Albrecht, Hardaway, and Matt Vogrich. Matt had a rough night shooting 3-pointers (0-for-4), but he shot 2-for-3 from 2-point range, for 4 points. He looked OK out there, but not great.
As I mentioned above, everyone played; well, everyone except for Trey Burke (one-game suspension) and Jon Horford (minor knee injury). The only other player to score was Eso Akunne, who scored 3 points on 1-for-2 shooting, all from 3-point range. Max Bielfeldt got in early in the 1st half, and played pretty well, but didn’t score. I want Blake McLimans to succeed, but he just didn’t play very well during his 8 minutes on the floor, shooting 0-for-3 (0-for-2). The last 2 players (Josh Bartelstein and Corey Person) played the final 3 minutes of “garbage time”, and didn’t take a shot, although Josh did get to shoot (and miss) 2 free throws.
So, overall we didn’t learn too much from the NMU game, but we seldom do in these exhibition romps against overmatched Division II teams. Michigan looked pretty sharp and pretty smooth out there, even with lots of different player combinations, but Northern didn’t present much of a challenge.
Michigan has two games this week, both at home. On Monday (11/05/2012, 7:00 p.m., No TV), Michigan plays their second and final exhibition game vs. Saginaw Valley State, then on Friday (11/09/2012, 8:30 p.m., No TV), they play their first regular season game vs. Slippery Rock. UM should win both games handily, so look at them as controlled scrimmages.
Come on down to the newly renovated Crisler Arena to check out this season’s edition of Michigan Basketball, and stop by sections 209/210 to say hi to the friendly usher.