Today’s open practice began with lots of skill work including stations with 3-4 man groups simulating game situations. After that, there was some full court fast break drills and some controlled scrimmage. Finally, they went into a full scrimmage for about 35 minutes with a running clock. The season is almost here with the first exhibition game only two weeks away.
Here are some quick thoughts on a player-by-player basis, although I’d be hesitant to take too much from one practice.
- The “starting lineups” in the scrimmage were: Darius Morris, Matt Vogrich, Zack Novak, DeShawn Sims, and Ben Cronin versus Laval Lucas-Perry, Stu Douglass, Eso Akunne, Anthony Wright, and Zack Gibson. The offensive play was a bit sloppy but they have only been practicing for a week now and are working plenty of freshmen into the system.
- Manny Harris was nursing a hamstring injury and didn’t participate in the full court scrimmage. I think this is just a case of being as careful as possible with your star player. He worked on his jump-shot off to the side and it looked as smooth as ever.
- Stu Douglass probably has a better grasp on the offense than Laval Lucas-Perry and Darius Morris but the problem is that he is significantly better playing shooting guard. I think you get the most of Stu Douglass by allowing him to play in his more natural point guard spot off the ball.
- Zack Novak is just fun to watch and he didn’t disappoint. Novak does everything on the floor and is also one of the more vocal players on the team. During the scrimmage, Novak scored a variety of backdoor cuts and three pointers while also being quick to jump on the ground for loose balls. Novak played a ton of minutes last year for a reason, I have a hard time envisioning a situation where his playing time decreases dramatically.
- Darius Morris looked comfortable playing the point guard but he’s going to have to realize that this isn’t high school anymore. He has to be judicious when driving into the lane and also make smarter passes at times. On the other hand, he probably has the best handle on the team and will be able to help this team. Judging by the way Beilein was quoted, it looks like Darius might be very close to locking up the point guard spot: “It’s going to be interesting. Darius Morris has made an impression already. He’s got great quickness. He’s learning. He wants to play defense, which is really important as we know at that position. And Stu (Douglass) and Laval (Lucas-Perry) — it’s which one would be the point guard if Darius wasn’t the point guard.”
- Ben Cronin is big but he’s going to have to get faster, both mentally and physically. His size will probably get him onto the court but his presence forces Michigan to change their approach a bit.
- DeShawn Sims seemed content to settle for jumpers, mainly from three point range. This was probably a product of playing alongside Cronin at times but I think we need to see healthy doses of DeShawn Sims on the block this year.
- Zack Gibson has some skills but the question is what he can bring to the table consistently. He has always shown flashes, most recently with some strong play in the NCAA tournament, but he also tends to disappear for weeks. Today, his jumpshot wasn’t falling at all.
- Anthony Wright another streak shooter but he was feeling it. Wright hit several triples in the scrimmage that helped get his team back in the game.
- Blake McLimans has a nice stroke and good size for the four position but he has a long ways to go on defense. His length gives him the potential to be a good defender but he looked pretty lost off the ball. McLimans also didn’t show much during the scrimmage. He has the proper size and skillset to be a contributor at the four but he’s not there yet.
- Matt Vogrich‘s shot is pure and he’ll definitely play this year.
- Laval Lucas-Perry was solid but didn’t really stand out but he still looks significantly leaner and quicker than a year ago.
- Eso Akunne will bring a unique skill-set but I wouldn’t bet on him being a contributor at this point. His shot needs a lot of work before I think he can be a consistent contributor.
- Jordan Morgan spent most of the day shooting jumpers off to the side but it appears that he progressing.
- Trey Zeigler and Evan Smotrycz were in attendance at the practice for a while.