The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game this week, and they won it handily. On Wednesday (12/23/2015), they beat Bryant 96-60, in Crisler Arena. The win raises Michigan’s record to 10-3.
This was the last game of the non-conference schedule, and the last of four “cupcakes” in a row (Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State, and Bryant). Michigan won all four of these games convincingly, and led wire-to-wire in the first three. In the Bryant game, UM won the opening tip, made a 2-point basket, and dropped back to play defense. Bryant’s main scorer popped in a 3-pointer, and Michigan trailed for the first time in 2 weeks, 3-2. Michigan hit a 3-pointer of their own, and never trailed again, although the score was tied 8-8 and 10-10. Bryant played very well, especially in the 1st half, but UM played even better, especially shooting 3-pointers (12-for-20 = 60.0% in the 1st half). UM cooled off a bit in the 2nd half (5-for-15 = 33.3% in the 2nd half), but still played well enough to increase the halftime lead (57-35 = 22 points) to 36 at the end.
So, what did we learn about this season’s UM team this week? Nothing new. We already knew that they can beat the cupcakes convincingly, and that the offense can be deadly when it gets going.
The stats for the game are pretty impressive. Michigan shot the ball very well overall (37-for-63 = 58.7%), they shot 3-pointers very well (17-for-35 = 48.6%), and they shot free throws pretty well (5-for-7 = 71.4%). They won the rebounding battle (33-22) and the turnover battle (8-13). It was a dominating performance. By the way, the 17 made 3-pointers is a new school record.
Individually, 4 of the 5 starters hit double figures. Caris LeVert was the high scorer for Michigan with 19 points, Zak Irvin finally broke out of his shooting slump, with 16 points (including 2-for-4 shooting from 3-point range), Duncan Robinson hit four 3-pointers (on 8 attempts) for 12 points, and Derrick Walton Jr. had 11 points. The only starter who didn’t hit double figures was Ricky Doyle, with 6 points.
The bench contributed a lot of points this week. The only bench player to hit double figures was Aubrey Dawkins, with 10 points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got close, with 8 points, including two 3-pointers. Mark Donnal followed up his strong performances last week with 7 points in this game. Kameron Chatman had 4 points, including the record-setting 17th 3-pointer at the buzzer, and DJ Wilson hit his only shot, a 3-pointer. Moritz Wagner and Andrew Dakich both played, but failed to score.
Now that the non-conference schedule is complete, it’s time for mid-term grades.
Brent Hibbitts: Inc.
Brent hasn’t played in any games, and is probably being redshirted.
Moritz Wagner: B-
Moe has played in all 13 games so far, and scored 48 points, but most of his effective production was in the last 2 games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving break. Since then, he hasn’t done much. There’s still plenty of time for him to become a productive member of the team.
DJ Wilson: B-
DJ missed a couple games (Delaware State and Northern Kentucky) but he’s played in the other 11 games. He’s scored 47 points, and hit 7 of 13 attempts from 3-point range. For a tall, lanky player he gets surprisingly few rebounds: 9 total in 11 games.
MAAR has played in all 13 games so far, and even started 3 games when Walton was out with an injury. He’s scored 59 points, and hit 8 for 22 from 3-point range. He’s had a couple good games (SMU and Delaware State), but even more forgettable ones (Elon, Xavier, Texas, Northern Kentucky, and Youngstown State), where he scored a total of 2 points.
Kameron Chatman: C+
Poor Kam. He just can’t seem to get his game going. He shows flashes of brilliance, then he disappears for long stretches. On a team with a long bench, he needs to make the most of his minutes to get more, and he hasn’t so far.
Coach Beilein is trying to shape Aubrey into “the best 6th man in the Big Ten”. So far, it’s looking promising. Aubrey started the first 9 games of the season, then got replaced in the starting lineup by Robinson. Since then, he’s had a couple forgettable games (Delaware State and Northern Kentucky) and a couple encouraging ones (Youngstown State and Bryant).
Mark Donnal: B-
Mark voluntarily redshirted his first season, so he still has sophomore eligibility, even though he’s listed as a junior on the official roster. He’s played in 11 of the 13 games so far, with a couple games where he just couldn’t get in. He started the first 3 games, then lost his place in the starting lineup to Doyle. He’s had a few good games (Charlotte, Northern Kentucky, and Bryant), and a bunch of forgettable ones. He needs to be more aggressive when he’s in there. He’s still too much of a finesse player.
Ricky Doyle: B
Ricky has played in all 13 games, and scored 70 points. He came off the bench in the first 3 games, and has been a started since then. He’s had a few good games (Elon, Delaware State, Northern Kentucky, and Youngstown State), and a few forgettable ones (Northern Michigan, Texas, and Houston Baptist). He plays hard, but he’s just a little bit slower, less agile, and less powerful than the big men he’s been matched up against in Michigan’s 3 losses.
Duncan Robinson: A-
Finally! An “A”! Duncan is a transfer from (Division III) Williams College. He sat out last season, and he has sophomore eligibility this season. He was a great scorer at Williams. The big question was: Could he get his shot off against Division I competition? The answer so far: Yes! He’s played in all 13 games, and been a starter for the last 4 games, and he’s averaging 12.5 points/game. Even more impressively, he’s averaging just under 60% (47-for-79 = 59.5%) shooting from 3-point range. He’s managed to grab 37 rebounds and hand out 22 assists, but he’s still mostly “Just A Shooter”.
Andrew Dakich: Inc.
Sigh. Things just don’t work out well for Andrew. Last season he was trying to redshirt, and voluntarily “burned his redshirt” late in the season when the team needed him. He was trying to redshirt again this season, when Walton injured his ankle, and once again Andrew voluntarily burned another redshirt. Since then, he’s played in 4 games, and scored 4 points, all in his first game of the season against Delaware State. Hopefully, he’ll get to play and contribute enough to make this season worth his redshirt.
Zak Irvin: B-
Zak missed the opener (Northern Michigan), and came off the bench in the 2nd game (Elon), but has been a starter since then. He is averaging 8.6 points/game. He is still trying to get his 3-point stroke back (9-for-45 = 20.0%). The rest of his game has been pretty good.
Sean Lonergan: Inc.
Sean is trying to redshirt this season. He hasn’t played in any games this season.
Yay! Another “A”. Derrick missed 3 games (Houston Baptist, SMU, Delaware State) with an ankle injury he suffered in the NC State game. He wasn’t needed in the HBU and DSU games, but he was definitely missed in the SMU game. When he’s been healthy, he’s played well, with only 2 sub-par games (Northern Michigan and Xavier). He wasn’t needed in the NMU game, but his off night vs. Xavier definitely contributed to the loss.
Sure, Spike played in parts of 8 games, but usually only 8-10 minutes. He had double hip surgery in the off-season, and he never looked comfortable out there. He finally “retired” on 12/11/2015, ending this season, and possibly his career. A medical redshirt season is still possible, so he might be back next season, but there’s a problem – UM is out of scholarships for next season. So, maybe Spike will play a “grad transfer” year somewhere else. I hope he’s back at UM, healthy and ready to play.
Caris LeVert: A
I saved the best for last. Caris is leading the team in just about every statistical category: minutes, field goals made/attempted, free throws made/attempted, rebounds, and points. He has scored in double figures in every game but one (SMU), which is probably why UM got trounced in that game. He’s showing great leadership, and is fun to watch.
This week, Michigan begins Big Ten play with two games. On Wednesday (12/30/2015, 3:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2), they play at Illinois, then on Saturday (01/02/2016, noon, BTN), they play Penn State in Crisler Arena.
Illinois will be a good test, especially on the road. They are 8-5, with one good win (Missouri) and a couple bad losses (North Florida and Chattanooga). They have 3 players who are 6’10” or taller, and they will certainly try to exploit UM’s weak interior defense. This is a toss-up game.
PSU has a pretty good record (9-4), but they haven’t really played anybody good. Their best win was on the road at Boston College, but they’ve lost to George Washington and Radford. UM should win this one.
Tune by on Wednesday, and come by Crisler on Saturday for the game, then check back next week to see what happened, and why.