Nothing But ‘Net – Week #03 – 11/13/2023 – Non-Conference Non-Cupcakes

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this past week, and they won both of them.  On Tuesday (11/07/2023), they beat UNC-Asheville 99-74, then on Friday (11/10/2023), they beat Youngstown State 92-62.  Both games were in Crisler Arena.  The two wins raise Michigan’s record to 2-0.

What Happened?

Normally, most high-major teams schedule real “cupcakes” for their first few home games, to kind of “ease into” the season.  Not Michigan, not this season.  Both UNCA and YSU are good, solid opponents with impressive records last season, and strong returning lineups.  Michigan made them both look like traditional “cupcakes”, but they’re both a notch up from that.  Michigan just played very well in both games, and got the blowout wins they deserved.  It’s an important psychological advantage to win your exhibition games (ahem: Tennessee 89, MSU 88) and your first home game (ahem, again: James Madison 79, MSU 76), and Michigan took care of business.  Of course, if you shoot 1-for-20 from 3-point range, you could lose to a mid-major team in your home opener.  Just sayin’…

The UNCA game started with a UM turnover and 2 made free throws for UNCA.  That was the only time UM trailed the whole game.  Michigan made a 3-pointer to go up 3-2, and they never looked back.  They got the lead up to 9 points (15-6) with 14:54 to go in the 1st half, then 15 points (31-16) at the 9:05 mark.  They got the 1st half lead as high as 21 points (48-27) with 2:18 left in the half, but let UNCA score the last 5 points of the half, for a 16-point lead (48-32) at halftime.  Michigan put the game out of reach in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half with a 19-8 run to make it a 27-point lead (67-40) with 15:02 to go.  The rest of the game, Michigan kept the lead between 20 and 29 points, even with the Scout Team in the game for the last 3 minutes.  It was a dominating performance against a good opponent.

The YSU game was all Michigan for the whole game.  UM led 4-0, YSU got within 2 points (4-2), then Michigan pulled away for good.  They led by 8 points (18-10) with 14:13 to go in the 1st half, then 11 points (26-15) with 9:39 left.  They led by 10 points (33-23) with 3:57 to go in the half, then they went on a 13-0 run to end the half up 46-23.  Just a little basketball pro-tip: it’s not good to be doubled up at halftime.  Michigan came out in the 2nd half and kept doubling (or more) YSU’s score: 50-25, 59-28, 65-30, 74-36, 76-38, and 81-40.  Once the lead got over 40 points, Michigan emptied the bench, and YSU made the score look a little more respectable, losing by “only” 30 points.  It was another dominating performance against another good opponent.


The game stats for the UNCA game were predictably good.  Michigan shot well overall (38-for-67 = 56.7%), they shot 3-pointers well (12-for-26 = 46.2%), and they shot free throws decently (11-for-15 = 73.3%).  They won the rebounding battle (39-30) and the turnover battle (9-13).  They won this game with good shooting and rebounding.

The game stats for the YSU game were good, but not as good as the UNCA stats.  Michigan shot well overall (35-for-66 = 53.0%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (9-for-26 = 34.6%), and they shot free throws very well (13-for-16 = 81.3%).  They won the rebounding battle (41-31) and the turnover battle (11-13).  They won this game with continued good shooting and rebounding.

Who Started?

The starters for both games were Nimari Burnett, Dug McDaniel, Olivier Nkamhoua, Tarris Reed, Jr., and Terrance Williams II.

Who Looked Good?

Nkamhoua was the leading scorer in the UNCA game, with 25 points, and the second leading scorer in the YSU game, with 17 points.  He was also Michigan’s leading rebounder in both games, with 7 and 10 rebounds, which gave him a nice double-double in the YSU game.  He shot very well: 11-for-16 (1-for-4 from deep) vs. UNCA, and 7-for-7 (1-for-1 from deep) vs. YSU.  He also played very good defense.  He was the best player on the floor for both games.

McDaniel was the second leading scorer in the UNCA game, with 22 points, and the third leading scorer in the YSU game, with 16 points.  He had 8 assists vs. UNCA and 4 assists vs. YSU.  He looked very poised and confident out there.

Will Tschetter was the star of the YSU game, with 20 points off the bench.  He was the leading scorer, and he did it with style: 8-for-8 shooting, including 4-for-4 from deep.  He had a very interesting stat line: 20 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists.  All he did was shoot, and shoot well.  20 points is a new career high for him, breaking his old career high of 8 points that he set in the UNCA game.  He also shot well in that game: 3-for-5 overall, 2-for-2 from deep.  Just for reference, he only scored 63 points in 27 games last season.

Williams had two very good games, which is very encouraging.  He scored 15 points vs. UNCA and 13 points vs. YSU.  He shot well in both games: 5-for-8 overall (3-for-5 from deep) vs. UNCA, and 4-for-8 (2-for-4 from deep) vs. YSU.  He even chipped in 6 and 8 rebounds.

Burnett had one good game (13 points vs. UNCA) and one lousy game (0 points vs. YSU).  As the starting shooting guard, Michigan needs consistent scoring from him.

Reed was very consistent, with 9 points in each game.  He still hasn’t played much (20 minutes vs. UNCA, 19 minutes vs. YSU); I don’t know if he’s recovering from illness or injury.

Who Looked Not-So-Good?

Tray Jackson played in both games, and scored 3 and 6 points.  He showed flashes of solid play, then he just drifted around the rest of the time.

Youssef Khayat played in both games, scoring 2 and 4 points.  He also got another technical foul, in the YSU game.  He’s a little bit of a “loose cannon” out there.

George Washington III finally scored his first career points in the YSU game (5 points, on 2-for-4 shooting, 1-for-2 from deep) after going scoreless in his debut against UNCA.  Once again, he’s a freshman, he’ll get better.

Who Else Played?

Ian Burns played for 2 minutes vs. UNCA and 7 minutes vs. YSU.  He scored his first career points in the YSU game, hitting both of his free throw attempts.

Harrison Hochberg played for 2 minutes vs. UNCA and 3 minutes vs. YSU.  He didn’t shoot in the UNCA game, and missed his only free throw attempt in the YSU game.

Jackson Selvala played for 2 minutes vs. UNCA and 7 minutes vs. YSU.  He missed his only shot attempt vs. UNCA, and didn’t shoot vs. YSU.

Cooper Smith played for 3 minutes in each game, and scored 2 points vs. UNCA.  He was 1-for-1 vs. UNCA, and 0-for-1 vs. YSU.

Who Didn’t Play?

Everyone who wasn’t injured played at least 2 minutes in each game.  The injured players are: Jace Howard and Jaelin Llewellyn.

What Does It Mean?

Could Michigan be better than the “experts” predicted?  It’s a little early to say, but based on how they played against two quality opponents, maybe?  We’ll know more after their next game.  See below.

What’s Next?

This week, Michigan plays two games.  On Monday (11/13/2023, 6:30 p.m., FS1) they play St. John’s in Madison Square Garden in New York City, then on Friday (11/17/2023, 7:00 p.m., BTN+) they play Long Beach State in Crisler Arena.  The St. John’s game is part of the Gavitt Tip-Off Games, which is the annual Big East/Big Ten challenge.  This is the last season for the Gavitt Games.

St. John’s was 18-15 last season, 7-13 in the Big East.  They beat (#6) UConn and (#20) Providence, lost in the 2nd round of the Big East tournament, and didn’t play in a post-season tournament.  They don’t have any noteworthy players, and they don’t have much height: just one 6’11” player.  They do have a noteworthy coach: Rick Pitino.  That alone makes them dangerous.  This will be an important test for Michigan.  They’ve looked good at home against mid-major teams, but now they’ll be playing on the road against a team from a big conference.  Sure, it’s technically a “neutral site” game, but it’s a lot like a home game for St. John’s.

Long Beach State was 17-16 last season, 11-9 in the Big West.  They didn’t beat anyone notable, lost in the 1st round of the Big West tournament, and didn’t play in a post-season tournament.  They don’t have any noteworthy players, but they do have a little height: two 6’10” players, and a 6’11” player.  This is a game that Michigan should win, as long as they don’t do anything crazy.

Check back next week to find out what happened and why.

Go Blue!