Game 0: Saginaw Valley St. at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

More: Player videos / Beilein post game / HighlightsBox score

The names and faces were different but the shooting numbers were eerily familiar. After hitting their first two three pointers, Michigan proceeded to make just one of their final 19 attempts. Luckily it was an exhibition game and Michigan’s woeful shooting totals will be wiped clean before their season opener on the 13th.

The Wolverines got out of the gates quickly, jumping out to a big lead behind their starters: Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan. Once Michigan had opened it up, Beilein experimented with a number of lineups and Saginaw Valley crept back into the game. Michigan’s lead ballooned as high as 20 points (twice) but Saginaw Valley also cut the Michigan lead to single digits on multiple occasions.

SVSU Michigan
Tempo 64
Off Eff 90.2 109.0
eFG% 40.6 38.0
TO % 10.7 8.0
O Reb % 25.0 31.0
FT Rate 25.0 75.9

Stats from SCACCHoops

While Michigan’s shooting was terrible – 38% eFG%, 48% 2pt, 14% 3pt, 66% FT – they did do some things very well. Most impressive was Michigan’s ability to get to the free throw line. They posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 76% and attempted a total of 41 free throws – these numbers were boosted by SVSU intentionally fouling 2 minutes remaining, giving Michigan 14 free throws in the final two minutes. To put that free throw rate into perspective, Michigan only posted a free throw rate of 40% or higher four times last season.

Michigan also controlled the defensive glass, rebounding 75% of SVSU’s missed shots. Jordan Morgan led the team in rebounding, pulling down 15 boards (10 def, 5 off) in just 20 minutes. Saginaw Valley was undersized up front, but Morgan and Smotrycz’s play on the glass was encouraging.

It’s become so routine that it’s almost expected, but Michigan only turned the ball over on 8% of their possessions. Beilein’s teams have always done a good job taking care of the ball but this is still noteworthy when six of the ten players in the rotation have never played a college game.

Saginaw Valley didn’t play particularly well offensively but that doesn’t mean that Michigan’s defense didn’t raise any concerns. No team is perfect defensively from in November and Michigan’s youthful squad is no exception. There were a few too many late rotations and missed shifts but those will undoubtedly be worked out in time. My main worry is how much trouble Michigan had with SVSU guard Greg Foster on the perimeter. Foster was quick, but there are going to be quicker guards to defend as the year goes on.

Exhibitions are exhibitions. They are a chance to get some film, a bit of experience, and move on. Jumping to conclusions based on an exhibition game is a terrible idea, but there is still room for individual evaluation. Player bullets for all 10 Wolverines that checked into the game are after the jump.


Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: Morris lived at the stripe (17 FTA) and posted a career high 18 points. He didn’t show signs of a more consistent shot (3-8, 0-1 3pt) but getting to the free throw line on a regular basis would be a big boost for Michigan. He needs to create more opportunities for his teammates (or they need to convert them) as Morris only dished out two assists.
  • Jordan Morgan: (post game video interview) Morgan handled himself well on the glass (15 rebounds in 20 minutes) and scored 9 points on a variety of drop offs and put backs from around the hoop. He didn’t show much of any back to the basket game and his one jump shot hit the side of the backboard, but he provided the rebounding that Michigan needs.
  • Evan Smotrycz: (post game video interview) Smotrycz provided a glimpse of the multi dimensional game that he brings to the table. He isn’t shy to take the three pointer (despite making just 1 of 6) but he also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor a bit, get to the line (9 FTA), and rebound the ball (9 rebs).
  • Tim Hardaway Jr: Hardaway struggled in his first start. He scored five points in his first shift – hitting a three and a pull up in transition – but the rest of his shots looked rushed and uncomfortable. He finished with 8 points (2-10 fg, 1-7 3pt), 2 rebs, an assist and a steal. It has been noted several times that Hardaway has been dealing with the flu, which could have played into his lackluster performance.
  • Zack Novak: Novak had a pretty nondescript game. He played 33 minutes, mostly at the two, but never really got into a groove offensively (2-7 shooting for 5 points). Novak appears to primarily be slotted at the two position, where he played 26 minutes, but he did play 7 minutes at the four.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich looked more comfortable offensively, scoring 7 points by hitting a pair of pull up jump shots and a three pointer coming off a screen. He’s never going to be a defensive stopper but at this point his man to man defense still needs work and improvement from last year appears marginal.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass is the primary backup at the one and two but didn’t have the most impressive game. He looked a bit tentative at the one and had two of Michigan’s five turnovers. He did have a great post entry pass to Jon Horford and had a couple strong takes to the hole but he looked like a guy trying to find his role.
  • Blake McLimans: McLimans had an up and down night in his 12 minutes of playing time. He hit a very nice hook shot early on but missed two three point attempts badly. He also picked up a pair of blocked shots (one spiked into the crowd) but bit on a pump fake badly in the post leading to an easy layup.
  • Colton Christian: Christian played 11 minutes backing up Smotrycz at the four (Novak played 7 minutes at the four) and didn’t show a whole lot offensively but pulled down two offensive boards.
  • Jon Horford: Horford showed a lot of the things that I liked about his game in high school — he’s assertive and aggressive yet methodical. That being said, Horford was clearly the #3 big man in the rotation and if Michigan only wants to use two players at the five, a redshirt may still be likely.

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  • Go Blue

    Seriously, how is it possible to shoot 1 for your last 19 from deep?????? Are these guys shooting too much in practice, pre-game, and are too tired to shoot?

  • Umichmadness

    guddd question….some parts sound pretty encouraging, but i hope this was really a “feel out” game

  • Tweeter

    Tough to read anything into one exhibition game, but I did think the team looked a little lethargic after the first five minutes. I’m guessing that Beilein has been working them hard knowing that once the season gets going there is very little time to get work done in practice. I bet that had a lot to do with the poor shooting tonight because most of the shots were wide open looks.

    Couple other notes. The defense looked terrible. They played off SVSU all night yet the helpside defense was almost nonexitent. There were also several cases of miscommunication that led to open looks for SVSU. UM only played one possession of 1-3-1, which resulted in an open three that was made. I thought the defense was by far the most disturbing thing to come out of this game.

    Offensively, as I said before I’ll chalk it up to first game plus tired legs. It’s hard to complain about the quality of shots that they got, they just have to make em.

    Individually, Jordan Morgan looks good. He showed no signs of past injuries and looked pretty quick on his feet. He finishes well around the basket and seems to know his role. Hardaway and Smotrycz are the best offensive players in terms of creating shots, both for themselves and others. Although Morris made several nice drives, I think he needs to do a lot less dribbling and just be more decisive when he wants to attack. He looks like he has bulked up a little bit as well. Christian looked lost on both ends. I’m not sure he is ready to contribute this year. McLimans seemed to struggle a bit defensively and rebounding, but offensively he made one very nice post move (and one very poor one) as well as showing the ability to pop out and shoot the ball (thought he missed when he did it). I love Horford’s game if he can add some weight, he is going to be good.

    The big thing that I saw was a team that is going to be very good in two years, maybe even next year. As for this year, they have a long ways to go.

  • Mith

    The shooting sure is a mystery. You’d think a collection of guys like you and me throwing up desperation threes would still make more than 13%. So its hard to comprehend quality D1 players struggling so badly. I was hoping that last year’s woes were behind us with the fresh blood coming in this year. Hopefully this is just first game jitters.

  • Kool Breeze

    Mith, I agree. I can not figure out why Coach Beehive can’t get these cats to should better. I don’t think this is a first game jitters issue, as there seems to be a distinct pattern. Maybe he needs to reevaluate his shooting fundamentals, as these good shooters are getting worse when they come to Michigan?

  • tyler

    I saw Amir Williams there i’m sure he was impressed with this team and how they managed to shoot so great, also the crowd was a big factor in the game i’m sure that helps his recruiting….oh wait.

  • If Michigan sold the game out, won by 72, and made 50 of 51 shots, they would still have an extremely tough time landing Amir. It’s nice that they got one of Amir’s five officials, but it would be a pretty big shock if he committed to Michigan and didn’t head out of state.

  • Bigfoot

    ughhh…not a fan of the maize trim around the nameplates and numbers…tacky

  • wayman britt

    Dylan – thanks for the nice recap. It’s very helpful for those who could not get to the game. Well it sounds like we are going to struggle to score in every game this year.

    I hope Stu just had a off night. With him being a junior we need production out of him almost every game.

  • Worst part: the new jerseys. I’m with Bigfoot, not a fan at all.

  • Tom_McC

    I thought the defense was solid to good overall…save a few errors in communication.

    The numbers bear that out…sure their were lapses but that is going to happen in Nov. Additionally, SVSU had like 32 points with 12 mins to go in the game…not horrible.

    To think the D was the most disturbing thing you saw suggests that you expect this team to play at a level that isn’t realistic.

  • Brian W

    The starting five seemed to have good chemistry and did some good thngs. Hardaway and Smotrycz cooled off after a good start, but I liked what I saw from them for the most part. Evan seems like a cool customer and sometimes made things look effortless, like his free-throw shooting.

    There are plenty of things for the coaches to use as teaching points, like picking up the correct guy on
    defense. Besides Evan, some other guys struggled at the line. It would have been a 20 point win if they made more free throws. There will be growing pains no doubt, but for their first game at Crisler, the freshmen did okay. The effort was there, just need to improve on the execution.

  • Tom_McC

    Agree Brian…I’d be really surprised if Tim and Evan shot a combined 2-13 very often going forward.

    What I wanted to see was good understanding of how to play D a this level, overall team toughness and the ability to effectively get good looks within JB’s offense.

    While the execution wasn’t always perfect, I saw a lot of positives and the exhibition did satisfy me in the sense that I liked how the team played, save a few dry spells.

  • Mason

    Agree about the jerseys. Not a fan. Actual exchange between my seat-mate and i:

    Me: Ya know something? The text on the back of the jerseys is different this year.

    Seatmate: God you’re a dork…

    Yeah well…Really liked Morgan’s game last night. Kinda reminds me of Graham Brown. About the same size. Scrappy. Fights for rebounds. Will score all of his points from inside about five feet. We needed a guy like that last year.

  • Jimmy

    Hmm, I sort of like the jerseys. I always felt that last years jerseys were too baggy. I hope we never get to Nike Elite Status (tight fitting tops, parachute shorts) but I think the jerseys are an upgrade. They’ll look better if we play better though.

    I agree about Jordan Morgan. He and Vogrich impressed me the most. Not that Vogrich looked amazing, but I definitely think he’s made strides and will be able to contribute as a shooter.

    Hardaway and Morris did well too. Neither shot the ball well but I am comfortable with both of them moving forward. I sort of expected Stu and Novak to be the go-to-guys but it seems like both are trying to find their niche on this team. Although they are the upperclassmen and the undisputed leaders, I think they’ll be role players on this time.

  • Bill

    Good to hear :

    Yeah well…Really liked Morgan’s game last night. Kinda reminds me of Graham Brown. About the same size. Scrappy. Fights for rebounds. Will score all of his points from inside about five feet. We needed a guy like that last year.

    I didn’t get to see the game so I can’t comment.

  • Tweeter

    re: Tom_Mc and disturbing defense: The reason I said that had little to do with the opponent or the result. Sure I would take the point total SVSU put up for all of our opponents the rest of the year and be very very happy. But SVSU is not a good offensive team compared to a D-1 level. They had only one real threat to drive (#55 i think and he was in foul trouble all game). In fact he picked up his 4th right when SVSU made a run in the second half to cut it to 7 i think and SVSU fell apart after that. They also seemed pretty content to just settle for threes all day.

    What I saw was a team that just wasnt very good offensively, not a UM team that was forcing a team to be bad offensively. For example, MSU turned them over 10 more times then we did. I just thought we looked pretty weak defensively which is to be expected somewhat, but is also concerning for both the immediate future and rest of season.

  • MGoYooper

    Think Amir Williams stayed around for the football game today? Can’t imagine that hurt our chances at all if he was in attendance.

  • AG2

    Now if only our basketball team could beat Illinois 67-65.

  • JBlair52

    AG2…maybe if Shoelace was running the fast break!

    And I’d bet Taylor Lewan could block someone out – if not, he’d make good use of his 5 fouls!

  • We’ll know a lot more after we play SC Upstate (?), Bowling Green, and Gardner-Webb. On the face of it, that’s about as soft a cushion as you could provide for a very young team. Then we’ll get a top-ten team in Syracuse.

  • Bluebufoon

    Two years ago Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky. Annually, they are a very good basketball team. Proceed cautiously.

    Did anyone see Sheron Dorsey-Walker this weekend ? He was scheduled to visit U-M this weekend.

  • DMoney

    I only saw Amir and Brundidge at the game with Coach Alexander.

  • Ryan

    Rush the Court ranks michigan 133rd in the nation… saying “Hard to believe a John Beilein team could be in this position, but UM is facing a problem of not having enough talent to compete.”
    Shock the world blue!
    This year will be fun, but next year and the year after should be a blast.

  • Champswest

    I saw a lot of good things with this team. I think that we have things going in the right direction. Like the young and inexperienced football team, they will need time to learn and grow. I am sure that they will shoot better than what we saw in this game once they get more comfortable with the system and each other.
    I didn’t see anything wrong with the uniforms (if that is the biggest concern, we should have a fun season).

  • Bluebufoon

    Coach Alexander’s last two tweets ?

    # Home is where the Heart is!

    # It’s always exciting to pick up the pieces of something and turn it into a masterpiece. Go Blue or Go Home!

    What do you say Amir ??

    Go Blue and make U-M your Home !!!

  • CraigP

    Anyone know who that short, bald guy (#40) was? A new walk-on? He is still not listed on the official roster.

  • drae

    who is leading in the recruitment of Amir Williams? Could CB convience him to true blue… if they were some how get Williams this recruiting class woould be by far the best Coach B has ever had…

  • GrandChamp

    Immediate playing time on a young talented team at Michigan with a beautiful brand new practice facility. The sky is the limit, please come to Michigan Mr. Williams.

    According to ESPN drae.

    “Coming down the homestretch, Purdue, Ohio State and Florida are looking strong,” said’s Dave Telep.

  • drae

    I think anyone can pull that young man to michigan coach alexandar can… Seems to be able to connect with the kids on all aspects of th recruiting realm… Like I said he would be a good get for the U of M coaching staff…

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Maybe Amir got excited about having a green light from deep?
    Just teasing, guys!

  • drae

    Or he’s starting to see a program on the rise… Coach B has a lot of tools for the future… With CB and Burk due in and some nice pieces already in place…

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Really curious to see how CB does. I refuse to discount anyone based on height. Like Kearney at MSU, he has something to prove. I’m curious to see if either (both? neither?) fanbase ends up wishing they could swap. I’ll always link those two in my mind.

  • Section13Row15

    Well, I was definitely wrong about the starting five. It seems everyone is playing their true position this year, which is great. We have more depth this year but fewer proven scorers that can take control and create for themselves when shots aren’t going in. That’s the biggest problem right now. Smotryctz definitely looked comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’ll be good some day. I thought the jerseys looked better than last year. Jordan Morgan looked surprisingly good, but the team needs to get the ball down low to him more. I have to admit, I felt kind of embarrassed seeing Amir Williams there with 1/4 of the seats filled, and all those shots missing. Can’t the Maize Rage stay better up to date with the recruits visiting??? A “we want Amir” chant would’ve been nice.

  • Paul F.

    Sorry bout the late comments. My internet was down. Was impressed by Jordan Morgan. Liked his rebounding against SVSU. The team looked kind of mixed up sometimes on offense. I seen once or twice the Michigan teammate push another one out of the way. Good to see Jon Horford got some playing time. I thought a couple times Stu Douglass took the ball to the hoop and hit a layup or got fouled. Shooting from three point land was bad. One time Timmy Jr. took a three and got a look on his face like “Oh thats bad.” Had a smile on his face coming off the court for a timeout.
    It is what it is though. I hope they can get on the same page.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Speaking of CB, Evan Daniels just listed him today as the “Best Scorer” in the 2011 Big Ten class on Scout.