Game 0: Saginaw Valley St. at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Michigan (0-0) vs. Saginaw Valley St.
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Friday, Nov. 5th, 7pm ET (BTN Replay at 11am Sunday) ($)
RadioMGoBlue, WTKA 1050 AM, 950 AM
Live TFS

Michigan faces Saginaw Valley State in a Friday evening exhibition tilt at Crisler Arena. Exhibition games are little more than glorified practices and it’s important not to jump to too many conclusions about one exhibition game. However, for fans whose best information about this year’s team revolves around box scores versus Belgian professional teams and grainy practice video, there will be plenty to watch tonight.

Saginaw Valley State is a mid-level GLIAC school. They finished 16-12 last year, and 13-9 in the GLIAC. They are picked to finish third in the GLIAC North division this season and have two players on the GLIAC North preseason second team.

Those players are a pair of guards, Greg Foster and Chris Webb. Foster averaged 13 points and three assists last season while Webb averaged 10 points and shot 42% from three point range. Saginaw Valley St. head coach Frankie Smith was named GLIAC coach of the year last season, his fourth year at SVSU. (HT: KJ for already previewing SVSU). In short, SVSU is a good not great GLIAC team but the more interesting elements at play tonight will involve Michigan.


The expected starters for Michigan are Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. This is the same group that started Michigan’s first (closed) scrimmage versus Eastern Michigan. I expect Beilein to go with a deep bench, especially early on this year, so Stu Douglass, Matt Vogrich, Blake McLimans, Colton Christian, and Jon Horford should also see plenty of time tonight.

Here are five storylines that I’ll be watching with a keen eye:

  • Darius Morris: Positive reports on Morris’ play are encouraging because Morris’ success, or lack of success, will have a strong correlation with Michigan’s success as a whole. Michigan needs Morris to run the offense fluidly but more important hit his fair share of shots and score the ball.
  • The Freshmen Starters: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz are expected to start tonight and expectations couldn’t be much higher. Both kids can do a lot offensively but will likely have some first game jitters. Do they take good shots? Play under control? Get after it on defense?
  • The Bigs: Jordan Morgan, Blake McLimans, and Jon Horford have played four minutes of game experience between them (Blake in last year’s exhibition) – tonight they will combine to play 40 minutes. Will they provide any inside scoring? Will they hold their own on the offensive or defensive glass?
  • Stu Douglass: Where does Stu Douglass fit? With Morris at the one and Novak at the two, where will Douglass see most of his minutes? The fewer minutes at the point the better, from a Michigan perspective.
  • Defense: Expect heavy doses of man defense tonight, as Michigan is just beginning to implement the 1-3-1. Will Michigan’s new assistants have a noticeable impact on the defense? How do the freshmen look on the defensive end?

Three gut-based predictions (or opportunities to be incorrect):

  • Zack Novak leads the team in scoring and rebounding
  • Jordan Morgan plays more minutes that Blake McLimans or Jon Horford
  • Matt Vogrich leads the team in three point makes but doesn’t do much else offensively beyond shooting threes.

Saginaw Valley won’t be in awe of playing a division I team, with their 88-44 loss at the Breslin Center fresh in their minds, but they are a team that Michigan should be able to handle. With so much youth and inexperience in their first game action, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches are perhaps the most excited to finally see this team play a game.

This site is supported by donations

Like what you see? Click the button below to donate and access exclusive content.

  • jihadistjohn

    thx for the preview…any idea what channel the game can be found on XM and/or sirius?

  • Evan

    i am very excited to see how this year will play out. there could be so many contributing players scoring and it will be a fun year

  • Kenny

    I predict that Hardaway leads the team in scoring. The things I am most interested to see (not necessarily in this game, but in the first couple) is how much slashing Morris does and how viable Akunne is as back up – the answers to those questions, I think, will tell us more about Douglass’ role on this team.

  • drae

    is this game streaming for free some where?

  • TheYooper

    I don’t see the game scheduled for sunday on BTN on my TV.

  • SteinerBlue

    @ TheYooper. I believe it’s being replayed at 10:00am on Sunday on BTN.

  • Look good early on. Smotrycz and Hardaway both hit a three.

    Big Ten Network “Student U” sideline reporter also dropped an F bomb after botching his segment. Nice.

  • drae

    score so far?

  • Umichmadness


  • 16-3 Michigan with 13:54 to play.

  • drae

    nice, pretty even scoring so far? anyone looking great out of the gate??

  • gpsimms

    i’m not even mad–i’m impressed. an f bomb in your big ten network debut.

  • Very even scoring. Everyone is getting involved. Smotrycz has 6, Morris 5, Hardaway 5, Novak and Morgan have 2 a piece.

    Michigan is dominating the game and SVSU doesn’t really seem to be able to do anything on the offensive end.

  • drae

    morris hit a three or did he score on a “and one”?

  • As expected, Morris, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, and Morgan started. Second unit in the game now, essentially, with Douglass, Novak, Vogrich, Colton, and McLimans.

  • Morris got fouled shooting a three and made all three free throws.

  • gpsimms

    matt vogrich is not improved enough on defense.

  • Michigan going extremely small now: Morris, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, and Horford.

  • 32-19 Michigan with 3:15 left in the half. Offense hit a few rough patches with some of the experimental line-ups but a lot of people are getting involved.

  • Michigan 32, SVSU 24. SVSU is starting to score points and Michigan’s offense seems to have hit a rut. Michigan is shooting just 20% from three.

  • GregGoBlue

    Horford looking impressive so far.

  • drae

    Score update??

  • 38-28 with 15:45 to play. Morris heading to the free throw line.

    Michigan hit their first couple threes but has been extremely cold since from distance.

  • sullycu

    Michigan 41 SVSU 32

  • Michigan shooting 13$ from three… leads 41-32 with 11:54 to play. Smotrycz has 10 points and 9 boards but has also missed a lot of threes.

  • sullycu

    lol @ 13% from 3

  • Michigan up 52-32 after a 13-0 run with 8:47 to play. Morris doing a lot of scoring at the free throw line. Vogrich also broke Michigan’s three point drought.

  • GoBlue

    Why can this program not even shoot a decent % from deep, when the whole system is predicated on it???? Its bizarre really, this team has been horrible shooting.

  • peterklima

    Maybe it’s harder to hit threes when everyone knows it is your “go to” shot.

  • Go Blue

    Are you kidding me! 13%…Its time to acknowlede that something is wrong when college basketball players, recruited as shooters, continue year after year shooting atrociously. This is not even poor shooting, its pathetic.

  • 68-59, final. Post game interviews, videos, and recap will be coming soon.

  • Tom Too

    They didn’t lose….

  • Champswest

    Why are some of you so upset with the poor 3 point shooting? It is the FIRST game. They aren’t going to light it up every night.

    I was most impressed with Morris (penetrating) and Morgan (rebounding and post moves).

    Concerned with defense (allowing penetration and open 3s).

  • Mith

    They got outscored 27-16 over the last 8:47…I sure hope they were tinkering around with things and emptying the bench.

  • mitch

    Its amazing to me how poorly we shoot the 3. It really is a mystery, or maybe they’re just bad shooters.

  • AG2

    That problematic 3pt shooting is going to lead to a LOT of scoring droughts. If we struggle to score a lot during the season people are going to question Beilein’s ability to teach shooting.

  • J-Turn14

    Beilein shouldn’t have to be teaching guys like Douglass, Novak, and Vogrich, Smot, etc. to shoot. By all accounts, those guys know how to shoot. If a guy comes in with poor form ala Morris then yes, but it’s not like shooting is a complicated excercise.

  • Polisci

    I watched the game and the last 10 minutes or so (after they got up by 20) the team seemed to coast. So I wouldn’t read too much into the 27-16 over the last 8:47.

    There is an awful lot of anger on this board after a first game scrimmage which we won easily.

  • AG2

    Well, they’re a D2 team. Ideally, Michigan should be able to expand its lead while coasting.

  • Champswest

    I agree with Polisci. We have 2 Juniors and no Seniors! This is a young team that is going to rely on Freshmen a lot. This was a first game. If people are this upset and unhappy with an easy win in the first game, they are in for a long and unhappy season watching this team. You might want to dial back the expectations a tad.

  • TheYooper

    I don’t think that we should be basing the season of a preseason game with a whole bunch of freshmen. However, if they don’t click soon we’re going to be in for a long season.

  • Tom_McC

    I know given what we saw last year the shooting should concern us…but what in terms of what I was hoping to see, I was pretty pleased with today’s performance.

    I thought the D in the 1st half was pretty good when you consider it’s Nov 5th and 3 frosh were starting. Sure, there were some hiccups but I liked what I saw in terms of length, aggressiveness and overall defensive intelligence.

    I also liked to see the team not settle for 3’s early…they attacked the basket, the mid-range and got to the foul line. That was encouraging.

    Sure, the overall perimeter shooting was awful…but I think that will come. I mean, really, if the team shot 30% the game is 20-25 point blowout. And the 3’s they missed were WIDE OPEN. Tim and Evan will knock those down at a higher rate then 2-13 combined.

    At least I hope. :)

  • kainkitizen

    Hello Michigan Basketball fans. I Drove across the state from Grand Rapids to check out the team. I got there with 13:54 in the first half due to Road Construction around Lansing and a fender bender just past Lansing that backed up traffic for about 4 miles. I wish I left a little sooner over here to get to Ann Arbor.

    I was ok with the number of people in the attendence. I’d say around 3500. Saw Amir Williams sitting down by the tunnel with his blue knit stocking hat raised up like it’s about ready to fall off his head. I was disappointed that no chant from the student section happened for welcoming Amir, unless I missed it at the beginning of the game.

    The guys did alright. They did look sloopy at times and they looked like they were unstoppable at times also. Coach did play all the scholarship players. From what I saw, I was impressed with the rebounding. Too bad Jordan Morgan wasn’t able to play last season to help Deshawn Sims in the paint. He would have taken some pressure off of Peedi with playing down low defensively and rebounding. Vogrich still needs to improve with his lateral movement playing defense on quicker guards and small forwards. His jump shot is definitely his special talent. Darius did do a lot better with being the point guard. He has improved and grown into being a better point guard. He has better control of himself. Lastly, They just have to make there shots, 2’s and 3’s. The score could have been a mercy with a running clock. It will get better as the season goes on.

    It was fun to attend and watch Coach B’s recruits and not a mixture. There is going to be growing pains this year. Next year will be really exciting.