Nothing But ‘Net – Week #02 – 11/05/2018 – The (Yawn) Exhibition Game

The (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played their first and only exhibition game on Friday (11/02/2018) in Crisler Arena, and they pounded poor Northwood University 90-58. Since it was only an exhibition game, Michigan’s record is still 0-0.

I enjoyed Question & Answer Time so much last week, I’m going to do it again. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, send them to dmontag@umgoblue.com.

Q: So, what happened?

A: Michigan trounced an overmatched opponent in what was realistically a controlled scrimmage/dunk practice. I get it: an exhibition game is a good way to work out some of the kinks, give the new guys a chance to get rid of the “first game jitters”, and for Coach Beilein to try some different lineup combinations in a “can’t lose” situation, but it’s hard to get excited about an exhibition game, and it’s hard to learn anything about the team from it.

Q: How did the game go?

A: About what you’d expect from a game against a 6th place GLIAC team: Michigan overpowered them and won on sheer athletic ability, not with any finesse or style. UM raced out to a 19-10 lead at the 12:14 mark in the 1st half, and kept the lead in the 10-15 point range for the rest of the half. It was 41-26 at halftime. Early in the 2nd half, Michigan pushed the lead up over 20 points, and that was the game. The lead got as high as 35 points (86-51) before the final 32-point margin.

Q: Who were the starters?

A: The starters were: Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews, Jordan Poole, Zavier Simpson, and Jon Teske. The only surprise here was Iggy starting instead of Isaiah Livers, who started most of the games last season. Livers was the first player off the bench. We’ll see if this is the starting lineup for the real games.

Q: Who were the “mainstream” subs?

A: The subs who played in the “real” part of the game (not “garbage time”) were: Eli Brooks, Austin Davis, David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Jr., and Livers.

Q: Who played in “garbage time”?

A: With the game a runaway/blowout, Coach Beilein emptied his bench in the last 4 minutes, so everyone played: C.J. Baird, Colin Castleton, Adrien Nuñez, and Luke Wilson.

Q: Who looked good?

A: That’s a tough one. Six players scored in double figures, with Matthews as the leading scorer with 15 points, but nobody really looked “good”. Among the starters, Simpson (5-for-5), Teske (4-for-5), and Iggy (6-for-9) were the most efficient, but their made baskets were mostly dunks and layups. The other 2 starters (Matthews and Poole) didn’t shoot very well (5-for-12 each), and scored most of their points at the rim. No one made more than one 3-pointer, even though Poole hoisted up 4 of them. Teske did try, and make, a 3-pointer!

For the mainstream subs, Brooks (2-for-2), Davis (1-for-1), and Johns (1-for-1) were certainly efficient, but didn’t shoot much. Livers shot a lot, but not very efficiently (5-for-9) for 10 points. Brooks was definitely the most improved player from last season.

For the scrubs, Baird (1-for-1) hit a 3-pointer, and Castleton (1-for-2) had a nice putback offensive rebound.

Q: Who looked not-so-good?

A: That’s also a tough one. No one looked bad, but a couple players never got a chance to do anything interesting: Nuñez and Wilson.

Q: How were the team stats?

A: Deceptive. Overall, UM shot a good percentage (37-for-62 = 59.7%), but most of the made baskets were dunks or layups. The 3-point shooting (5-for-14 = 35.7%) was shaky, and the mid-range shooting was just as bad. One of the biggest weaknesses last season, free throw shooting, was a minor problem in this game: 11-for-16 = 68.8%. That’s not bad, but it’s not very good either. As expected, Michigan won the rebounding battle easily (41-28), but it was surprising that they barely won the turnover battle (15-19). 15 turnovers is not very good, but it’s understandable in a sloppy exhibition game.

Q: What are the areas of concern?

A: Outside shooting, turnovers, and defensive rebounding. Michigan missed their first nine 3-point attempts, and just about every shot from more than 5 feet out, and they allowed a much smaller Northwood team to get 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 12 second-chance points. I’m assuming that the coaches will get this cleaned up.

Q: What did we learn?

A: We learned that exhibition games can be boring, and that they don’t tell us much. We did get a rough idea of which of the freshmen are college-ready (Iggy and Johns) and which ones need more work (the other three).

Q: What’s next?

A: Michigan plays two games this week: the first regular season game is this Tuesday (11/06/2018, 8:30 p.m., BTN) vs. Norfolk State in Crisler Arena, and they play again on Saturday (11/10/2018, 7:30 p.m., BTN+) vs. Holy Cross, also in Crisler. These are games that Michigan should win easily.

Both of these games are the “Campus Round” of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The four main teams in the “Naismith Bracket” (Michigan, George Washington, Providence, and South Carolina) all play 2 “Campus Round” games against teams in the “Springfield Bracket” on their home courts, but they all advance to the “Naismith Bracket” in Uncasville, Connecticut (where?) on 11/17 and 11/18. The four smaller teams (Norfolk State, Holy Cross, Stony Brook, and Siena) also play in Uncasville in their own bracket on 11/16 – 11/18.

That’s it for this week. Come on down to Crisler on Tuesday and Saturday for the games, and drop by Sections 209/210 to say hi.

Go Blue!