The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team beat the Cardinals last week (Tuesday 10/29/2013), but they were the Concordia (Ann Arbor, MI) Cardinals, not the “other” Cardinals (Louisville) they played in their previous game.
Wouldn’t it have been fun if UM had beaten Louisville 117-44 in the National Championship game last April? Alas, this was just an exhibition game against an overmatched NAIA team, but it’s fun to dream…
Typically, Michigan when plays an exhibition game they almost always win, but they often look rusty or sluggish or raw, but not this time. This was a thorough thrashing. The score was actually closer than the actual game. At the last media timeout (3:52 left), the score was 116-38, and Coach Beilein emptied the bench. In the last almost 4 minutes, Michigan scored 1 point. They could have easily scored 140-150 points, but what’s the point (see what I did there?) This way, everyone got to play, and the practice squad got some game experience.
So, what can we learn about this team from a blowout win against a substandard opponent? Not much. We can see who looks comfortable out there, and we can check out the freshmen, but this wasn’t much more than a scrimmage.
The stats are almost meaningless. Michigan shot very well (41-for-63 = 65.1%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (11-for-22 = 50.0%), and they shot free-throws pretty well (24-for-33 = 72.7%). They pounded CUAA on the boards (43-26), and they crushed them in the turnover battle (6-23) and the assist battle (26-9). Yeah, 26 assists with only 6 turnovers is really nice.
Individually, 6 Michigan players hit double figures, led by Glenn Robinson III with 33 points. He was a grown man, and future NBA player, playing against a bunch of high school kids. He did whatever he wanted to out there. Outside shooting? 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Dunks? 3 of them. Overall shooting? 12-for-15. Free-throw shooting? 5-for-5. He had quite a game, all in 25 minutes. He looked great: confident, smooth, relaxed, in control.
Next up: Nik Stauskas. Nik “only” had 23 points, with great shooting: 7-for-8 overall, 2-for-3 from 3-point range, and 7-for-7 shooting free throws. As advertised, he looked bigger, stronger, more solid, and more confident.
The 3rd leading scorer was Caris LeVert, with 16 points and 10 assists, for a “double-double”. He also had a great shooting night: 7-for-8 overall, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range. I know it sounds like a broken record, but he also looked much more confident out there, and much stronger and smoother. Last season, everything we got from him seemed like “gravy”, but this season he looks like a “main rotation” player, maybe even a starter. The word from practice is that the college game has “slowed down” for him, and he can start excelling like he did in high school.
Finally, a freshman: Derrick Walton Jr. hit double figures in his first (exhibition) game, with 11 points. He didn’t start, but he came in off the bench pretty early, and he looked good out there. He didn’t have a great night shooting (4-for-7 overall, 2-for-4 from 3-point range), but he did have 4 assists against only 1 turnover. He certainly looked comfortable out therefor 24 minutes, which is all that we can ask for at this point.
The other 2 players to hit double figures were Jordan Morgan and Zak Irvin, both with 10 points. Jordan chipped in 7 rebounds, and Zak looked pretty comfortable out there for a freshman. He played 19 minutes.
The only other player to play double-digit minutes was Max Bielfeldt. Max only had 2 points in 11 minutes, and he didn’t do much else while he was out there.
The only other player to score was the 3rd of the scholarship freshmen, Mark Donnal. He played the last 5:28 of the game, and I was surprised that Coach Beilein didn’t put him in earlier. He hit a jumper and a free throw, for 3 points, but he didn’t look very comfortable out there. It won’t be decided/announced until after the 2nd exhibition game, but he sure looks like a good redshirt candidate.
Wait, what about our other All American player, Mitch McGary? Why did GR3 get to have all the fun? Mitch was held out of the game with a sore back. Apparently, he could have played if he had been needed (hah!), but they rested him as a precaution. He’ll probably miss the next exhibition game as well.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games: their 2nd (and final) exhibition game, then their first “real” game. On Monday (11/04/2013, 7:00 p.m., BTN) they play Wayne State (exhibition), then on Friday (11/08/2013, 7:00 p.m., No TV) they play UMass-Lowell. Both games are in Crisler, and both games should be blowout wins. Come on down to Crisler, and be sure to stop by and say hi to the friendly usher in sections 209/210.