Preview: Michigan vs. Wayne State (Exhibition)

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Michigan (0-0) vs. Wayne State (0-0) – Exhibition warrior_logo1[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 7 p.m. ET, November 4th, 2011
TV: / Subscription (Free month w/ code: BTDN3FR33)
Radio: MGoBlue
Video: Beilein Pre-Game / Novak, Hardaway & Morgan

Lost in the excitement of Mitch McGary’s commitment yesterday is the fact that Michigan fans will have their first opportunity to see the 2011-12 Wolverines in action this evening. With exactly one week until the season opener, Michigan welcomes Wayne State to the newly renovated confines of Crisler Arena. The exhibition match-up doesn’t count in the record books but it’s the first chance to see the team that we’ve discussed for the past six or seven months.

We won’t delve into a complete tempo free break down of Wayne State but the Warriors are picked to finish third in the GLIAC’s South Division after finishing in the same slot a year ago. Michigan faced Wayne State in an exhibition game two seasons ago and cruised to an easy victory thanks to a 25-point performance from Manny Harris and five three pointers from Zack Novak.

The Warriors lose two of their top three scorers from a year ago but junior guard Mike Hollingsworth was named the GLIAC pre-season player of the year and a Division II pre-season All-American. The 6-foot-1 guard is a slashing scorer that averaged 16 points per game last season. He appears to be a solid rebounder for his stature but is an average three point shooter. Big man Ike Udanoh provides a decent amount of size for a Division II team at 6-foot-8 but the Warriors’ No. 2 returner is also very skinny. He averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game last season.

Photo: Michigan Basketball

As with most exhibitions, this is a game that’s more about Michigan than Wayne State. Fans will keep their eyes glued to Michigan’s freshmen, begin to analyze rotations and start to look ahead. Here are five storylines and questions to follow during tonight’s exhibition:

Surprise Starters

Look for Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz and Jon Horford to start tonight’s game. This has been the first group from practices and scrimmages and sounds like the group that  John Beilein will use at this juncture in the season. It’s probably too early to jump to any conclusions — Burke is a disappointment! Horford is amazing! What’s wrong with Morgan — because we are discussing a game that doesn’t even count. John Beilein has never been afraid to tinker with his lineups or use certain lineups as motivation. The minute breakdown matters more than the starting lineup and a shift in the starting lineup before Maui is certainly possible.

Trey Burke

The freshman has been the most discussed player throughout the off season and this will be Mr. Ohio’s first chance to impress. Don’t take Burke’s absence from the starting line-up as a sign that he’s struggled, he’s been impressive by almost all accounts – most notably with zero turnovers in Michigan’s scrimmage versus Toledo. As a true freshman point guard, there’s plenty Burke still has to learn and not starting an exhibition game shouldn’t be a red flag.

Watch to see if Burke does the little things. Is he turning the ball over? He didn’t in the scrimmage versus Toledo. Is he getting big men the ball in the right places? Is he seeing the floor?

Bigger and Stronger

The two players that have been praised for their weight gain this summer are Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz. They should be able to impose their will against a Wayne State squad that has just two players over 6-foot-6 with a combined average weight of just 218 pounds.

Fans will want to watch if Horford reacts quicker to the game on both sides of the floor. Mental mistakes plagued his freshman season and if he’s unable to eliminate those errors his additional strength will be for naught. With respect to Smotrycz, the critical areas of improvement are rebounding and scoring inside the arc.

10 Deep

John Beilein mentioned that he wants to give 10 players consistent minutes in the exhibition game. Based on preseason reports, Douglass, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Horford, Morgan, Burke and Vogrich are most likely the top eight of the rotation. Of that group, Matt Vogrich is a name that has been consistently mentioned as dialed in this fall, despite missing some time with a sprained knee, and could impressive.

The more interesting question is who fills the final two spots in the early expanded rotation. Carlton Brundidge, Blake McLimans, Max Bielfeldt, Colton Christian and Eso Akunne are the most likely players to be in contention for those two spots. Pay attention to who gets the first chance and, more importantly, who makes the most of their opportunity. This is also the group that could include potential redshirt candidates if Michigan chooses to go in that direction.

Brundidge vs. Brundidge

Two seasons ago Michigan faced off against Wayne State and Carlton’s brother Dale just two months after Carlton verballed to Michigan. This season he’ll have the opportunity to face-off against his big brother in his first college game. This should be a nice opportunity for a family photo but you can also bet that both brothers will be looking to get the best of each other.

Carlton might be one of the most interesting players to watch early on because of his unique skill-set. He’s not a perfect fit for any one position in John Beilein’s offense but he also has some abilities that are unmatched by anyone else on the Michigan offense. Watch to see how Beilein gets Brundidge involved and also how comfortable Brundidge looks within the scheme of the offense.

  • Michman

    Thanks for the code.  I did the subscription with Big Ten Digital Network Monthly and got the first month free.  I plan on canceling after the first month.  I just hope Digital Network Monthly  works with watching the game and the stream feed is decent.

    • Last year it was passable quality wise — the announcing (students) is a bit rough.

    • Erob

      The stream quality isn’t the best (I used the code last week to watch the Wisconsin scrimmage and the MSU exhibition), but it’s better than not being able to watch.

      • Erob

        Also, you can watch the replay on BTDN if you can’t watch the game live.

    • IPFW_Wolverines

      I signed up for this as well. However, when I log in it shows the game as only able to listen to, not on television. 

      • Michman

        On the all access page under the live event guide i see a premium Michigan vs. Wayne State feed which is currently unclickable.  Im assuming that is what you will click to watch the game.  On the Michigan(mgoblue) all access page they have two options either to listen for free or two watch with premium.

        • IPFW_Wolverines

          Ya I see where you are saying. I hope that is to watch. I was looking on the Live Event guide and it only shows an option to listen. 

          • Mattski

            I’m assuming that the currently unclickable M/W State feed shows in full color as game time approaches, and that I can click it. . . 

  • mikey_mac

    I think Brundidge really has the opportunity to become a bench spark this season. This isn’t a team with a lot of dependable scoring options, so using him as a change-of-pace sounds like a perfect role for him right now.

    • The microwave/change of pace role seems good for CB but isn’t that Vogrich’s role as well? Even if it’s scoring in a completely different fashion. They both can’t play the point guard and could probably cameo at the two or three depending on who else is on the floor. Is there room for both of them? 

      • mikey_mac

        Yeah, that’s a good point about Vogrich, but he is still pretty limited offensively. If there is a real scoring drought, I could see Vogrich at 3 and Brundidge at 2, for an interesting inside/outside threat.

      • GregGoBlue

        Haha, last season wasn’t Stu our microwave as well?! The more weapons from the bench, the more options we have to go to. Plus Brundidge and Vogrich can hurt you in different ways. The more microwaves, the better? 

        Should be a fun storyline to watch this season; two 6th men with the possibility of 3?! 

  • Kenny

    Anyone know if the game will be replayed on the BTN?

    • Monday, Nov 7, 12:30 
      PMStudent U: Men’s Basketball: Wayne State at Michigan

      • Toblav

        Thanks, I needed that.

  • Tom_McC

    I expect an typical Exhibition type game.  They are usually sloppy and often frustrating to watch.  We’ll probably see glimpses of good play but overall, the most important thing from a game like this is the guys start to get their feet wet and at some point start to show the kind of team they will be.

    Wayne State isn’t awful…worse teams have put a scare/beaten Top 25 type teams in exhibition games. I’m not going to read too much into any result unless the team simply looks completely lost and void of leadership(which I don’t expect to see).

    It will be great to see this team play finally, regardless.  I can’t wait!

  • dustindbo

    Is starting Horford over Morgan supposed to be some sort of message to Morgan to pick his effort and game up? Because I was at the open practice, and Horford is not even close to being on the same level skillwise as J-mo. At times, J-mo could be the most explosive player on the court for Michigan.

    • Tom_McC

      Let’s not get too caught up in who starts.  Especially now, starters aren’t necessarily the best 5 players…there could be a ton of things at play here.  Maybe they want to see how Jon handles starting and how Morgan deals with coming off the bench. 

      I think the obvious positive is they have liked enough of what they have seen of Jon to put him in a position to start. If Jon is able to perform well, it only adds to the depth of this team and gives JB a tremendous amount of flexibility going forward.

      • GregGoBlue

        I for one am looking forward to seeing how Horford handles the starting role; one I can’t recall him having at Michigan, though I may be mistaken. Does he come out of the gate hot? WE’LL HAVE TO FIND OUT!! 

  • gpsimms

    this is probably stupid, but…

    i’m pretty sure that jordan morgan won less than 3 tipoffs the ENTIRE season last year.  is it possible they will start horford just to have a shot at getting possession first?

    • Mattski

      Good point. 

  • A2JD

    I’m in town and looking forward to being there- GO BLUE!!!

  • Daddyoj30

    Is there any other way to watch this game

  • gsot21

    How much are tickets gonna be?

  • gsot21

    nvm just found them for like 5 bucks