Game 3: Gardner-Webb at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Videos: Beilein / Players / Jalen Rose, Jimmy King & Ray Jackson

With another easy win over a lackluster opponent, Michigan continues to do all that one could ask of such a young team. USC Upstate, Bowling Green, and Gardner-Webb are all bad teams, but Michigan has handled them all with relative ease. As so many teams know all too well, anything can happen when you step on the floor. Syracuse eeked out a win over William & Mary this afternoon, despite being a 22 point favorite, and two years ago Michigan needed a miraculous comeback to defeat a terrible Savannah State team in overtime.

The story of today’s game was the continued strong play of Darius Morris and Jordan Morgan. The duo ran the pick and roll to perfection and carried Michigan’s offense early on. Morris finished with 21 points and 10 assists (to only 1 TO) while Morgan had 20 points and 8 rebounds. The pair, who happen to be roommates, combined to shoot 17 of 21, 81%, from the field. There was simply not much to complain about in regards to their nearly perfect performance.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stu Douglass weren’t half bad themselves. Hardaway added 15 points on 6 of 9 (2-3 3pt) shooting and 4 assists in 27 minutes while Douglass took the game over for a stretch in the second half, finishing with 10 points.

The four factors show what boils down to domination and they would have been even more lopsided if Michigan had not gone deep in their bench with 4 minutes to play, prompting a 10-3 Gardner-Webb run to close the game. Michigan shot the ball extremely well with an effective field goal percentage of 59%, 61% on two pointers, but even more impressive was Michigan’s rebounding. The Wolverines dominated the glass, rebounding 50% of their misses and 79% of Gardner-Webb’s missed attempts. It was a relatively free throw free game with just 18 FTAs total split relatively evenly between both squads. Michigan continued to struggle more than year’s past in the turnover department, coughing it up on 22% of their possessions.

On the 1-3-1 zone… Still not so good. The zone worked for a couple possessions but was also responsible for the majority of Gardner-Webb’s best looks from the field. Despite the negative early returns, I think you have to continue to try to develop the zone. Running it for 10 to 15 possessions in a game has the potential to be a game changer.

Michigan will use the holiday week to prepare for Friday’s game versus Syracuse in Atlantic City. The Orange have looked beatable early on, shooting the ball poorly and almost losing to William & Mary today. That being said, they will be an extremely tough test for this young Michigan team. They are bigger, longer, and more athletic than most teams that Michigan will face this season and are a tremendous rebounding team. As Beilein mentioned in his post game, he has never beaten Jim Boeheim in his career. Player bullets after the jump.

Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: This is probably the best game of Morris’ young career. He controlled the game offensively, ran the pick and roll extremely well with Jordan Morgan, and showed off his improved jumpshot. Morris has tallied 21 assists to just 4 turnovers over the last two games, an impressive stat regardless of the competition. There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road, and Morris will struggle, but it is clear that Morris has improved. The next three weeks will give us a better of idea of just how much better he really is.
  • Jordan Morgan: It wasn’t complicated but it was certainly effective. Morgan did a great job making himself an available target for dump offs in the paint and, when his teammates got him the ball, routinely finished looks around the basket (9 of 11 shooting). Similar to Morris, it remains to be seen how he handles tougher interior defenders, but you have to like what he’s giving the team now. Despite his 20 point performance, his 6 offensive rebounds might be even more impressive.
  • Stu Douglass: With Novak struggling offensively and relegated to the bench with foul trouble, Douglass stepped up in the second half. The highlight of his game was when he followed his missed three pointer, tipped the rebound to himself, and then knocked down the shot. He pulled down 4 rebounds and again made a strong effort to get in the lane — shooting 3 of 4 from inside the arc. At this point he seems to become more comfortable with his role as the backup one/two guard by the day.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr: An efficient 15 points on 9 shots for Hardaway, who was 6 of 9 from the field (2-3 3pt). His jumper is obviously smooth, 46% from three through three games, but he also hit a number of unconventional shots in the lane. Hardaway has also shown the ability to get his teammates involved, picking up four assists today. Hardaway appears to be just scraping the surface of his potential and should only get better as his comfort level increases.
  • Zack Novak: Zack never got it going offensively, with 0 points on 0 of 4 shooting, but he has proven himself as Michigan’s best defensive rebounder thus far. Novak had 6 defensive boards in just 19 minutes today.
  • Blake McLimans: Blake hit a couple shots in the post but missed both of his three point attempts. He appears to have the green light, attempting at least one three pointer in each game, but he has yet to connect. You have to wonder how long that green light will last if he keeps missing them.
  • Evan Smotrycz: 20 minutes, 7 points on 3 of 6 (1-2 3pt) shooting with 3 rebounds, an assist, block, and two turnovers. A pretty solid game but Smotrycz is struggling when he puts the ball on the floor. He’s not going to bailed out with foul calls at this level and, once he penetrates, seems to get stuck between forcing up a bad shot or throwing a bad pass.
  • Matt Vogrich: 12 minutes and 0 for 3 from the field. Vogrich will provide this team a boost when he’s hitting shots but unless he’s hitting every shot, he’ll be stuck somewhere around 10 minutes per game backing up Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • Colton Christian: .For every bit as good as he has been on the defensive glass, Christian is a non-factor on the offensive end. He attempted a pair of 18 foot pull up jumpers today but missed both. These are the shots that he’s going to need to finish to keep defenses honest. 5 rebounds per game in an average of 15 minutes is still impressive
  • Jon Horford: More-so than earlier games, Horford really got pushed around today. He missed both of his field goal attempts and picked up 3 fouls in just 9 minutes.
  • drae

    Although they’ve played nobody’s you gotta love the fact that they’re beating up on these teams… Hopefully things will start to come together for Smotz and Novak… Didn’t see this game, but in the bowling green game I think it helped Smotz to take shots early… Seemed to help him get it started early… I’ve said it before and so have many others but this team is going to surprise some teams this year… I think the key is the chemistry between everyone, they seem like a tight knit group and that is huge to have an on the court and off the court relationship… Excited for Friday’s game, a win could spark this young team… GO BLUE

  • Impressed with these guys early. Friday will be fun.

  • ZRL

    UCLA also just squeaked away with a 3 point victory against Miami Oh. the game before we beat them. Just saying…

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I sheepishly remembered that as well but this is a completely different team. Overall their circumstances are more similar to the team that went to Alaska because they are so young.

  • AG2

    Not every team is handling the layups. USC got torched by Rider, Auburn is losing all their games, a Colorado team ESPN relentlessly overhypes just lost to San Francisco.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Smotz needs to just play within himself. It’s good he’s trying to make plays but maybe just trying a little too hard.

  • Mike

    Really looking forward to the Syracuse game. Does anyone know if it’s on a channel other than HDNet?

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Just HDNet as far as I know…

  • sven

    I wish all our games were on HDnet since it is a channel I actually get unlike the Big Ten Network.

  • FabFive

    Man, those maize uniforms are terrible. What happened to the old school shade of maize. This looks like west virginia gold. Just terrible.

  • JimC

    Boeheim calls his team the most overrated team he’s ever had…..
    Someone has to prove him right!

    • Beast1530

      It’s his motivational ploy to get his player’s head in the game and not to take anybody lightly.

  • kevin

    i actually like the uniforms, i like the thin piping. i think the syracuse game will be within five either way or a complete blowout. but if they keep doing their thing, it should be a fun game to watch

    • Tweeter

      w/in five or a complete blowout? thats quite a big difference. Hopefully closer to the w/in five since I do not see us blowing them out. But who knows? This team is so young and I got to say Morris looks like he has taken some great strides in the offseason. I still do not trust his shot, but his confidence off the bounce is really good to see.

  • georgeesq.

    I like the maize unis – a lot.

    Re: the game, DMo’s shooting has been the biggest surprise so far. He put in a ton of work on it in the off season. Looks like it’s paying off.

    • Champswest

      I would add that the improvement by Morgan has been equally impressive.

  • Brian W

    The balanced attack has been fun to watch. The trip overseas appears to have helped speed up the team chemistry for this season… Really looking forward to watching the game on Friday.

    The maize uniforms are okay. Defiinitely beats the “guilty plea green” of MSU.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Minnesota knocked off West Virginia tonight to win their preseason tournament in Puerto Rico. Watch out for the Gophers.

  • georgeesq.

    Getting Nolen back and adding Mbakwe makes Minny a very strong team.

  • told you so

    • georgeesq.

      Me? I never dissed your team. In any event, not wise to say that 3 games into the season. You just jinxed your boys.

      • Mith

        Yeah, I wouldn’t start celebrating already.

  • Deacon Blues

    The Beilein-Boeheim thing is interesting. Conversely, there’s Beilein’s history with Ben Howland, which is very positive.

    Howland hates using zone defenses. At one point last season, he said he felt bad that Wooden had to watch them play zone. Boeheim, of course, lives by the 2-3.

    It’s a small sample, but it certainly suggests that the zone is the way to defend the Beilein attack.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      It’s an interesting thing to look at. Beilein’s offense can be very successful against over aggressive defenses, like Howland’s at UCLA. This also helps explain why Beilein has had so much success versus Tubby Smith at Minnesota.

      I’m trying to think of times when Michigan has faced primarily a zone defense while here in Ann Arbor. I also want to go back and check out some of the box scores from his past games versus Syracuse.

      • georgeesq.

        Beilein has 5 days to get his team prepared for the 2-3. Past experience tells me that, the more prep time, the better Beilein’s teams do. OTOH, I don’t think he beat ‘Cuse at WVU. The one plus for us is that we so many guys who can shoot threes. If a couple get hot, we could be OK.

      • ZRL

        I also vaguely remember hearing that William and Mary’s coach learned his offense from Beilein. Looking at the box score from today this could be seen as a positive or a negative. They were able to shred the zone for 10-22 3pt shooting, but on the other hand the zone forced 19 turnovers.

    • Matt

      It’s too small a sample. For example, Pitino runs a 2-3 zone. In the 2005 tournament, WVU went up something absurd like 50-26 at halftime against Lousville. I think Pitino said after the game it was the only time in his coaching career that he had to scrap his entire game plan at half. So, yes, there are examples of Beilein teams being good against zones.

  • Bishopeight

    Love the uni’s. Anyone know if the G-W game will be re-broadcast on the B10 Network this week?

    • Kenny

      set your DVR at 2:30 pm Monday

  • J-Turn14

    Is it overly optimistic to expect a win on Saturday when we play GT or UTEP? Neither of those teams have been nearly as impressive as UM so far.

    • Mith

      I wouldn’t “expect” anything from this team except that this year will be an adventure. I think on paper they have a good shot at winning that second game, though.

  • Paul

    I wish we red shirted Horford

    • Matt

      We’re still able to.

      • georgeesq.

        Can RS Horford only if he’s injured in the next week or two and doesn’t play the rest of the season.

    • Champswest


  • AG2

    He’s kindof a better rebounder than McLimans.

  • Paul F.

    Hey, A win is a win. Morris and Douglass do look more confident. Novak hustles on defense and cleans up on the boards. He’ll have his day. Can’t say enough about Jordan Morgan. Battling for boards working off pick and rolls. After the injuries, just amazed the way he’s playing so far. Like Joe tweeted during the game God keep Jordan healthy.

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  • JimC

    I’m too lazy to go check the RPI, plus I’m at work…
    So how good (or bad) is William & Mary?

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      The RPI is a terrible metric right now.
      This is the formula:
      RPI = (Winning Percentage * 0.25) + (Opp. WP * 0.50) + (Opp’s Opp WP * 0.25)

      When everyone has played three games… Sample size really renders it useless.

      Pomeroy’s rankings, which are still influenced by his preseason rankings, have William & Mary around 240ish.

      • JimC


        Man I am so glad BBall season has started, it’s just so much more positive & upbeat right now, vs the gloom that is the football team.

        Can’t wait til Friday night!

  • Section13Row15

    Horford appears to be better than McLimans at this point. He plays with more energy, gets down the court faster, and plays more aggressively. We’re going to need him this year as we get into the big ten season. Was definitely wrong about Minnesota so far this season. Sorry Fromthebarn!

  • bskurtz

    Comcast doesnt carry HDnet in my area,can I get HDnet on my computer and watch the game,that would be awesome,I was really looking forward to watching the game against Syracuse.Can anybody help me with this.

  • Don

    If William and Mary can hang with and almost beat Syracuse, then Michigan should beat Syracuse. After all, it’s not easy to play 2 on 5, especially when one of your two is a girl.