Game 1: USC Upstate at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
Beilein audio / Hardaway video / Morris video

It wasn’t necessarily pretty but it was certainly convincing as Michigan rolled over South Carolina Upstate for their first win of the 2010-11 season. Michigan outscored the Spartans 66-35 in a 58 possession game. There were ugly stretches, including a lengthy first half drought, but the outcome of the game was never in question after Michigan jumped out to a 24-5 lead. The star of the contest was obvious: freshman wing Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting in just 25 minutes.

The four factors tell the whole story as Michigan outshot and outrebounded USC Upstate while attempting almost twice as many free throws. To put Michigan’s rebounding into context, they only posted an offensive rebounding percentage this high (39.6%) in five games last season. Turnovers were a wash, which was a bit surprising given each team’s history (or lack thereof) of taking care of the ball. Michigan looked surprisingly shaky holding onto the ball at times, but several turnovers came late in the contest when things became increasingly sloppy overall.

Darius Morris played very well again, adding 17 points on 10 shots, while Zack Novak and Stu Douglass were both solid. One major concern watching tonight’s game was that Michigan has very few options for interior scoring. It wasn’t until 11:45 in the second half that one of Michigan’s three centers put a notch in the scoring column, via a Blake McLimans free throw. Morgan, McLimans, and Horford combined for 10 points and 12 rebounds when all was said and done but were only 2 of 6 from the field.

USC Upstate is not a good team. It remains to be seen just how bad of a team they are, but at the very least it’s good to see Michigan take care of business in a game they should win.  Next up is Bowling Green, a team that dropped their season opener on the road to Howard. Player bullets after the jump.

Player Bullets:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: It’s clear that Hardaway loves the three point shot (3-8 3fg) and his release is smooth and quick. Tonight Hardaway was no one trick pony, he also got to the line (6 FTA), played well in transition (coast to coast layup), and showed off his athleticism with a nice dunk.
  • Zack Novak: 7 points, 8 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and no turnovers. That’s the kind of all around performance that Michigan needs out of Novak at the two. He rebounded extremely well, had a two handed slam, blocked a shot, had a nice drop off pass in transition. It’s tough to find many complaints with Novak’s game tonight.
  • Darius Morris: 17 points, 4 assists and most impressively 7 of 10 shooting. Morris started out very hot and took advantage when the quality of play deteriorated late. Morris has been aggressive in the offense and seems to be much more comfortable but still has the tendency to over-dribble from time to time and get himself into trouble (3 TO). I’m also a bit worried that he’ll have a harder time getting some of his shots off against bigger and more athletic competition.
  • Stu Douglass: 8 points on 3 of 5 (2-4 3pt) in 21 minutes is a solid night for Stu. He wasn’t called on to do too much but he hit half his threes while playing a bit of the one and the two.
  • Evan Smotrycz: It certainly wasn’t Evan’s best game, he looked shaky with the ball in his hands and was 1 of 6 from the field. To his credit, he did have a basket late on a nice backdoor cut. He also had a few rough possessions on the defensive end when he was late on a few close outs leading to open USC Upstate shots. It’s his first college game but there’s going to be a bit of a transition here.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich had a rough day shooting (1 of 5) and played just 13 minutes while grabbing three rebounds. He played most of his minutes backing up Hardaway at the three but, with Hardaway’s strong play, it’s tough to decipher what his role will be as the season progresses.
  • Blake McLimans: Blake has yet to find the range on his outside shot (0-2 today) but he did have a couple nice blocks. He’s really the only shot blocking presence on the roster but his tendency to go for the block hurts his defensive rebounding. He did grab a pair of offensive rebounds including a tip out on a missed free throw.
  • Jordan Morgan: It wasn’t double digit rebounds but Morgan continues to be solid on the glass. He grabbed six rebounds and added four points.
  • Colton Christian: Christian looks shaky with the ball in his hands but did grab four rebounds and looked active on the defensive end. It certainly seems like there’s a role on this team as a defensive stopper for him right now.
  • Jon Horford: It looks like Beilein is going to play Horford and I think that’s a good decision. All three centers are going to have their ups and downs and there’s no point to limit your options. Horford grabbed four rebounds (2 off.) and added four points.
  • Note: The Detroit News’ Rod Beard also reported that Carlton Brundidge plans to sign his LOI on Monday.
  • Tom_McC

    I think today’s will likely be a microcosm of what we see this season. There will be some very good play, mixed in with some decent sized droughts and the success of the season will be dependent on how quickly this team can figure out how to minimize the droughts and maximize the very good play.

    Evan is a perfect example…he was clearly in a much better rhythm vs SVSU, despite some missed shots, but he just needs to not press and keep things simple. It isn’t critical for Evan to be “the man” every game. As long as he plays within himself, his presence on the floor should be able to open things up for others. He doesn’t need to try and force the issue.

    Overall…I liked the effort. I think Beilein is probably still gonna tweek the lineups some and figure out his best rotations. Hopefully once that is settled, that will help this team maintain a better rhythm over the course of a game.

    I liked Stu’s effort as well as Christians. Also, if Darius can mimic the performances of his first 2 games the rest of the season, it should really bode well for this season and will get us really excited for whats to come in the future.

  • Kdp

    1st game of the season to get the jitters clear but I think will all care more about a win….when the team isnt playing against a Prison!!! Seriously I think if your asking people they are playing SC upstate you wouldve thought why would michigan play against a prison?

  • Kdp

    This was stated in Hardaway’s bullet

    “The word after Michigan’s exhibition game was that it was the worst most around the program had seen him play and tonight’s game lends credence to that theory.”

    Ummmm What?

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Guess that made no sense… Was trying to point out that Hardaway clearly wasn’t himself in the first exhibition game and the difference was very evident today.

  • tyler

    We will win 4 big ten games, why? Because I only see 3 Big Ten caliber players on the team. THJ,DMo, Jordan Morgan. I’m tired of everyone backing up Stu and Novak, when are they gonna start draining shots like they did their freshman year? They got too hyped up now can’t live up to it. Such a bust…

  • AG2

    tyler, Stu and Zack hit combined for 3 of 7 from 3pt range, that’s 43% and its half the teams’ 3s. If you’re disappointed they only scored 66 points keep in mind it was a 58 possession game, and they only allowed 35 points and won by 31.

  • drae

    this team will be the perfect example of the phrase “work in progress” they’ll continue to do things you love and things you hate… Once the freshman catch their stride and live up to half of their potential it will be real fun to watch… Hang in there “True Blue” fans, Coach Beilein and staff have the program headed in the right direction…

  • Bill

    I don’t think a game like this tells much of anything about this team. By the end of the month we should know more about who is who on the team. Smotrycz looks like he needs to hit some shots he didn’t play with much confidence. He took the ball to the basket a couple of time and probably needs to do it more. Morgan, McLimans both look like they can help most by focusing on rebounding an defense. Morris was good but he needs to do more to get other guy’s involved. He passed up passing to open guys and scored himself but better teams will pick up on that and shut him down. If we get any inside scoring they need to work on entry passing and finding the right angles to get it there. The wings were playing to high to get it in to the big guys. It ain’t rocket science. All in all I think there has been a talent upgrade in numbers the only question will be how many of these new guys will contribute in scoring.

  • georgeesq.

    Bill, DMo scored because he had a mismatch with USCU’s guards. Beilein did pull him aside during the game, and, based on his gestures, seemed to be telling him to kick it out when he penetrates. OTOH, I read a lot of comments on various sites about us needing players, especially a PG, who can penetrate and score. Can’t win sometimes, I guess.

  • Paul F.

    Was at the game up in the nosebleed section. I like this team. Think different players will step up in different games. Glad to hear Brundidge will sign on Monday. Their young and going to take some time to get on the same page.

  • fan vs fan

    Good game by the good guys . On thing that ticks me off is nomatter how well we play some people are always gonna complain and be negative . Can’t win . I like the way Morgan plays . Smot will be fine , trust me .

    We are going to be scrappy and tough . D Morris needs to keep penetrating and getting 4 asisst . Some people are going to cry no matter what . Stu and Zach keeps playing well , not to mention playing good defense .

    We will just fine and even if you predict just 4 BT wins … so be it . Yep I said it .

  • Mith

    You said what? I’m confused.

  • Bill

    Sorry if anyone was offended but I’m trying to look farther down the road.
    My point with Morris is as a point guard he needs to get these young guys involved. He will have trouble scoring against better teams he will need to then. Playing a team like this yes he can score but maybe giving a freshman an open look might be worth more in the long run. Trust me Morris is my favorite player on the team that’s why I want him to be a leader and focus on making the other guys better. That’s what the best players do. Last year we had a team with 2 guys scoring and the rest watching. It didn’t work very well did it.

  • Kool Breeze

    I like the positive start, but let’s also keep in perspective that Update is horrible, so a thirty point win against a good high school team doesn’t tell us a whole lot. I agree with Bill that we need to hold judgment until we see them against a few quality D1 schools. Confidence and momentum will be huge for this team this year, similar to what it did for us two years ago.

  • fan vs fan

    @ Bill

    It’s all good man . I just feel like my head is going to explode when all I see is negative crap , no matter what . It’s ticks me off to see so called fans counting losses already and we wonder why no recruits. Want to come here . Half of the bloggers don’t even go to the games . According to some we have no chance to beat anyone period . SMH!

    I feel sorry for Trey Burkes and CB because they will have deal with lack of respect for our student athletes . I’m always Optimistic about a program I LOVE! I didn’t even attend UM . I went to RUTGERS . I am emotionally attached to my home town team . Yeh , I was a fab five and even some people don’t apprecite them I do . I know for a FACt that recruits read these social site and see the lack of respect guys have for thesatudent athletes and always cry about RECRUITING . I realizesome people are gonnabe negative no matter what but geezs.

    I’m not trying to get banned so let me shut up . Go blue !!!!! No matter what !!!!

    Like I said , we will surprise some and shut a few non believers up !!! Just see and all them losses that you counted in advance , because of a name ona jersey will make you feel even sillier when we will some .

    • Jsham

      @fan vs fan we can tell you didn’t go to UofM by your terrible grammar skills. I would hope that not all Rutger alums spell like you. Anyways I do think this years team will be better than most so called experts think and just watch the season unfold and quit trying to be so negative about 18 to 22 year old kids. GO BLUE! Oh yeah Amir just come and sign with Michigan, Columbus is the city with the most bed bugs in the United States.

  • Bill

    I don’t in any way shape or form think anything I said was negative. If wanting to see our student athletes improve is negative then I must be living in Bizarro World,

  • umfan1976

    Jordan Morgan should get all the minutes at the 5, backed up reluctantly with a Horford shot through on whey powder, cause he has enough muscle to bang in the post with the more talented bigs on the schedule (Lauderdale, the Hunchback of Illinois, Marcus Morris, etc.) whereas Ginger Beanpole cannot even though he seems like an enthusiastic kid. Great to see Tim Hardaway living up to his dad Penny’s legacy. The sad thing is that while youth is indeed ONE problem for this team, nobody really expects that MAC-ademic All-Americans like McLimans and Vogrich on Senior Day many years from now will put up the numbers Jared Sullinger did last night at the ripe old age of 18. I think there’s probably a filter on this website which automatically deletes all mentions of a certain “Fabulous Five” but if we can’t get them anymore (kids these days prefer sunny Florida, even with climate change), can’t get at least get one recruit from the Detroit Public Schools the way we once did? I mean, not knocking Traverse City and Alpena, but there was a reason we were good in the 80s and early 90s and it didn’t have to do with the natural splendours of Sleeping Bear Dunes or the Grayling Cherry Festival. Just one man’s opinion. But hey, it’s pretty exciting that our coach sits on the NCAA ethics committee!

  • Grandchamp

    I guess they aren’t replaying the game anymore, ughhh.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      It just started.

  • Grandchamp

    Good, was disappointed at first.

  • Drew

    Are these students calling the game? Don’t mean to be rude but…wow, it’s bad

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Yeah they are, and it was definitely tough to listen to.

      • GregGoBlue

        The one kid has comments on part with the “boom goes the dynamite” guy. So many gaffes.

  • Drew

    With the guys we currently have + CB, Trey and GRIIi coming, this team is going to be very very good in 3 or 4 years. I’m excited!!

  • AG2

    Dylan, I’d listen to these students all season long if I never had to listen to Len Elmore ever again. I literally could not watch the Duke game on ESPNU because of his insufferable voice.

  • Bill

    The students are ok I’m just glad Lavin got I coaching job. On the internet broadcast there was an interesting conversation about who somone was dating at half time:)

  • Champswest

    I enjoyed the recap, but I would difffer on a couple of points. I wouldn’t say that Hardaway was clearly the star as I believe that D. Morris was at least equally as impressive. His improvement from last year is remarkable. He is penetrating and has a very good mid-range game. Secondly, I thought that the 5 position was fine. My expectation for the 5 is to average 10 points a game, if we get that we should be fine. My disappointment was more with the 4 spot, where I thought that we would average at least 10 points a game. Maybe we will once guys get a little more used to each other and playing at this level. I am excited about this team and the direction of the program. I guess that we need to remember that we are starting 3 freshmen and a sophmore. It is what it is.

    • Mith

      I’m not ready to say DMo has a “very good mid-range game” yet. Most of the reports I’ve read here this year have been about his lack of shooting progress. One good game doesn’t fix all that.

      • GregGoBlue

        Especially early on, I think Darius was trying to do too much with the ball. Granted, he’s the best ballhandler on the team, but (as mentioned earlier in the comments) he needs to try to get other guys involved more.

        I think Darius needs to also improve his shot selection. Those two fadeaways in the first half were both ill-advised and not a high percentage shot. He’s on his way to becoming a superior basketball player, but certainly not there yet.

  • Kevin

    The one thing I noticed about Smotrycz was that while he struggled on the court, which is to be expected on occasion by freshmen, his body language was what seemed to the worst. Throughout almost the entire second half he looked frustrated and upset.

  • Jeff

    Kevin, I noticed the same thing with Smotrycz, he kept hanging his head after every bad play and looked visibly upset at times. It’s his first college game though, hopefully the coaches will work with him on that.

  • BigBlueMaize

    I wonder if Smot is ill, he didn’t look healthy. You can definitely see signs of life with this team, just hope they grow quickly. Can’t wait to see Amir, Trey, and Carl with these guys next year! GO BLUE!!

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    The torrent for the game is up at