Michigan held its second practice open to the media before the trip to Europe on Sunday and I made it over there to check it out. We were able to see a good amount of 5-0n-5 scrimmaging and some sprints. Crisler was an oven — these guys are working hard. I got a chance to interview Stu and Zack, as well as coach Beilein. Full video of those will be up over the next day or so. For now, here are some impressions I had from watching practice.
- The team worked a lot with the 25-second clock in anticipation for Europe, and it’s going to be a challenge running the offense and finding shots in that amount of time. There were lots of shots at the end of the shot clock, but there were also some really good fast-break baskets.
- The teams looked to be divided into two groups: In maize, those who looked to be in the regular rotation. In blue, those who aren’t there yet. The maize side consisted of: Tim Hardaway Jr., Blake McLimans, Jordan Morgan, Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz, and Matt Vogrich. The non-rotation guys: Jon Horford, Corey Person, Eso Akunne, Jordan Dumars, Josh Bartelstein.
- Colton Christian pulled his hamstring and spent practice on the exercise bike. Beilein said he may be day-to-day going to Europe, but will make the trip.
- One of the guys who was really effective on the break was Darius Morris. He was in attack mode the whole time, being a pest on defense and taking the ball to the rack and finishing. Darius looked like he’s becoming the slasher and the force off the dribble fans expect him to be coming into his second year. Part of that could be because he was going against Josh Bartelstein and Jordan Dumars most of the time, but he played physical and was fearless going to the basket.
- Stu Douglass is in great shape. He won every sprint and looked great in the scrimmage. He was attacking the basket more and just seemed more confident with the ball in his hands. One thing both he and Zack talked about was how they and Darius are being called upon at the end of the shot clock to create shots for themselves, something that usually fell to Manny or Peedi last year.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. looks like the freshman who is the most advanced at this point. It’s tough to compare because so many of them have been injured, but he has picked things up quickly and looks completely at ease on the court with the older guys. His size, length and quickness is going to make him a tough matchup.
- At one point, Blake McLimans was struggling after a sprint (breathing hard, hands on his knees, etc.) and a bunch of his teammates rallied around him and helped him out and encouraged him. He wasn’t the only one struggling, but it was nice to see his teammates make such an effort to make sure he finished out the workout.
- Eso Akunne looked like he’d been working on his shot — he hit a few with a hand in his face. He was playing with the blues (scout team) but played well.
- Jon Horford looked a little overwhelmed early on, but once he got his legs under him he played pretty well. He still has a lot of work to do physically, but he was going after some offensive rebounds. He’s not at the point yet where he’s comfortable asserting himself in the post, but he’ll get there.
One last side note: Laval Lucas-Perry, who was dismissed from the team in June, will transfer to Oakland. He’ll have one year of eligibility remaining after sitting out for a year.