Game 1: Ferris State at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt


The first 30 minutes were eerily similar to Michigan’s ugly exhibition game against Wayne State. Michigan’s offense had little movement, shots weren’t falling inside or out and frustrating turnovers seemed to stop any momentum before it started. The light finally went on over the final quarter of play as the Wolverines began to resemble the team that most expected to see this season. Suddenly the offense was flowing, shots were falling and Michigan closed the game with an emphatic 21-1 run. The end result was a respectable 59-33 win.

The game was slow, just 62 possessions, and both offenses were generally unspectacular. Michigan’s offense actually neared the 1 point per possession plateau after the late run but the Wolverines shot the ball poorly on the night – 46% on twos and 32% on threes. Similar to many Beilein games in the past, Michigan attempted half of its shots from three point range, grabbed only 21% of its misses and rarely got to the free throw line.

Michigan’s defensive statistics were impressive but it’s always risky to jump to conclusions defensively against a Division II team. Ferris State scored just .55 points per possession with a 32% effective field goal percentage – two figures that our so bad they have to be attributed to more than just good defense. Michigan was more than adequate on the defensive glass, grabbing 77 percent of Ferris’s missed shots, and kept the Bulldogs off the foul line as well.

It would have been tough to stomach another 10-point win over a GLIAC team but Michigan’s run to close the game was an encouraging sign that the Wolverines are starting to figure things out. Michigan’s three games leading up to Memphis – Ferris, Towson and Western Illinois – are unlikely to pose any significant challenge but by this time next week it would be nice to see Michigan put together a complete offensive game.

Player Bullets:

  • Stu Douglass: Douglass was one of the biggest disappointments in Michigan’s exhibition game and one of the most reassuring surprises in the opener. He shot the ball well from three point range (3-7 3pt) but might have been more impressive in every other element of his game. He scored the ball in a variety of ways – even a pull-up jumpshot with a foul – and also added five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers. I’ve criticized Douglass for failing to affect the game beyond his shooting but he showed a lot today.
  • Evan Smotrycz: That’s the Evan Smotrycz that opened eyes on the summer circuit. Smotrycz hit his threes (3-4 3pt) and the rest seemed to fall into place. He made plays off the pump fake, both shooting, driving and passing, and seemed to play as aggressive defensively as I can remember. His rebounding still leaves room for improvement but he blocked two shots, grabbed two steals and took a charge – a few phrases that weren’t common in his player bullets a year ago.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.:  The confidence is there but he needs to be even more aggressive attacking the basket. His first great take to the hole wasn’t until the 16 minute mark of the second half. The three point shot is there whenever he wants but Michigan needs him to score consistently in the lane. Overall an average night with 12 points on 12 shots, three assists and two rebounds.
  • Jon Horford: Horford never looked comfortable and barely registered on the stat sheet with three rebounds, one turnover and zero points or field goal attempts. Michigan ran a play designed to get a five man an easy basket, something we saw Morgan run very well last year, and Horford failed to get position and let the ball get slapped out of his hands.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan just seems to play stronger and with more aggression than Horford at this juncture. He also started slow and missed a couple of bunnies but had a very nice stretch during Michigan’s second half run as well as a nice “and one” in the first half. Morgan finished with 7 points, six rebounds and seemed to clearly outplay Horford in game 1.
  • Zack Novak: Novak’s shot was missing in action and he had an out of character three turnovers, but he did make a couple typical Novak plays including a steal and five rebounds. His best play of the game was a pump fake, drive and dish off in the lane to Jordan Morgan.
  • Trey Burke: Burke didn’t get the start due to a small violation of team rules (showing up late to walk through), a lesson best learned in a game like this, and it seemed to prevent him from ever finding his groove offensively. His shot was never there but he’s a game changer in transition, the key to watch is how he develops in the half court offense.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich couldn’t find his three point shot but he still provided a spark of energy. He’s one of the more aggressive offensive rebounders in the Michigan rotation and had a very nice follow up bucket.
  • Eso Akunne:  Akunne got the first guard shift off the bench and looked solid. He’s not going to have a huge impact on the game but he didn’t necessarily look out of place either.
  • Carlton Brundidge: Brundidge checked into the game late and didn’t get any playing time during meaningful minutes.
  • ForeverBlue

    I’m glad to read (didn’t see the game) that Morgan showed some signs of life.  I’ve seen various speculation (not in shape, ill) about him but I wonder if he’s just missing his best friend and the chemistry they had on court.

    I agree on Burke and his ability to run Michigan’s half court offense.  I’ve thought that Stu, while missing the speed and ball handling skills of Burke, would have a clear advantage in running their half court sets.  I was a little surprised when Burke was named the starter for this game only because it seems like it would be easier for him to get a flavor for the game from the bench rather than trying to sort out the dictates of a game as a starter.  I guess we will see where he’s at over the next couple of games.

  • A2JD

    I liked how both Colton and McLimans played in garbage time.

    • GregGoBlue

       Colton was by far the best player on the floor during the “garbage time” minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into the regular rotation as the season progresses. McLimans looked like he belonged in that last group.

    • gpsimms

       McClimans touched the ball once, and promptly turned it over…right?  Or did the guard cut the wrong way or something?

      Anyway, TOTALLY agree about Colton.  That jumper looked much, much improved.  I love the way that kid can move…I think he should be getting some minutes in non-garbage time, given the way our bigs are playing.  Like maybe when Smot slides up to the 5, I could see Christian being useful in that lineup to make up for Smot’s weak rebounding.

      • GregGoBlue

        Colton I believe was 1 for 1. Beilein said that he and Akunne have been impressing in practice recently, though he said he could only play so many players. Akunne in transition really worries me, but otherwise I thought he played solidly. Even grabbed 4 rebounds, all defensive.

        There was so much position switching during the game my head was spinning: Stu going from the 1 to the 2, Novak at the 2 and 4, Smot at the 4 and 5… Beilein was switching em up like crazy for these early games!

      • Billiam

        Colton has barely played.  He played mostly garbage time.  For me at least, small sample size = No guarantees.  Plus, there’s a reason why there’s only a SMALL sample size: he’s not a rotation player yet.

        • Kenny

          Colton has played meaningful minutes last season and so will this season. 

  • Kool Breeze

    Boy, I sure hope that Morgan isn’t playing due to some other issues other then they think Horford is better, because it is becoming painfully clear that he isn’t.  Though Horford plays hard, he gives them nothing offensively and isn’t an upgrade at on the defensive end.  Can’t quite figure that one out.

    • Jaisdaddy1

      I know it’s still early but why isn’t Carlton geting PT? Hopefully he’ll be able to adjust to the offense and become one the first or second off the bench for the guard positions… He’s a gamer and probably one of 3 players who can create his own shot…

    • ColinNer

      I agree with your assessment that Morgan is better than Horford. Horford looks a little lost out there while Morgan has a ton of game experience from last year. There was a lot of buzz this off-season about the improvement (strength and conditioning) of Horford and Smotrycz, so I think the coaches were hoping that it would transfer immediately to on court performance. I think Horford will make an impact down the stretch but he needs to get more game experience first by coming off the bench.

      • Anonymous

        “I sure hope that Morgan isn’t playing due to some other issues ”
        This is accurate.

  • umnyc

    Until Burke gets comfortable with this offense this team will live and die by the 3 – much like we did at the beginning of last season until the Morris/Morgan connection really started to click. Those transition buckets are huge and as much as I love Stu, he does not have the skill or quickness to make it happen. I think we can get there, just not sure we can do it in time for Maui.

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    I was at the game yesterday, and it’s pretty clear that the starting five should be (1) Burke (2) Novak (3) THJ (4) Smot (5) Morgan.

    A couple observations:

    -Douglass should not run the point. He just can’t break down a defense with the ball. The offense is extremely stagnant without a guard who can put the ball on the floor and force another defender to leave his man and help.

    -Burke, on the other hand, looked very good. He looks like Talor Battle. Extremely fast and seems like he has the ball on a rope. He was clearly pressing a bit throughout the game, but I wouldn’t worry about it. He was probably trying to make up for screwing up earlier in the week and being benched to start the game. He took a few not-so-great (but open) shots right at the beginning of a few UM possessions, the kind of shots that are almost always gonna be available. After one, I saw Beilein talking to him and I’m sure he was telling him as much i.e. take the shot if the clock is low but try to work it around if there’s time.

    -THJ needs to be more selfish. He was a little too content to hang out on the perimeter, waiting for an open look at 3. I’d like it if he put the ball on the floor more and tried to create more often.

    -Morgan was stronger, smarter, and more decisive than Horford. When Horford gets the ball on the block, he rarely does anything with it (i.e. drop-step, face-up, spin move, one/two dribble back down, etc). Morgan asserts himself offensively much better, and is a much bigger threat.

    -They really, really, really miss Morris. I’m hoping our incoming recruits can penetrate, because our lack of players with dribble-drive capability is the main source of our offensive stagnancy.

    • maxwell’s demon

      Burke is clearly the #1 option at PG but whether you like it or not, Stu is really the only option as his back up. And while I agree the offense looks stagnant with Stu at PG, I thought the Stu + Burke backcourt looked really good. I think we still end up seeing quite a bit of minutes from Novak at 4 so that Stu can play 2. This might mean more Smot at 5, which I was kind of hoping wouldn’t happen this year, but I still think that allows us to put our best players on the court.

  • Billiam

    Counter-Point, RE: Burke

    Dude’s the quickest guy on the team, no doubt.  He’s also the only pure PG.  So, his natural position is (DUR) PG.  That doesn’t mean he’s a good PG right now.  Quickness/shooting are not the only things that go into being a good PG.  He needs to learn the offense, the techniques which players in CBB need, the rapport with the players (on O and D), and he needs to learn what he can and cannot do at this level (he doesn’t know how quick the other players are yet).  This will take time.  In the meantime, while Stu’s not as quick, he’s got all the other things that a PG needs.

    I personally expect TB to start for lots of games, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Stu at point around 15-20 mins a game, especially in Maui and early B1G play.  Of course, I may just be crazy.

    • Tay from the Bay

      I think Coach B wont have stu play at PG much at all if any… Hes a senior and wants him to go H.A.M. out on the court. I think Carlton B. needs some minutes as the backup eventually. ijs. Stu needs to create for hiimself

      • Mattski

        I’m not as unsettled by the prospect of Stu at guard as some people, and expect–kind of a cross between your two opinions–that we could see plenty of Stu early with Burke emerging, Carlton spelling both increasingly. At least that’s what I’d LIKE to see. 

    • Kenny

      As coach B already put, Stu should not try to play like a pure PG even when he is playing the one position. I guess that a lot of offense will go through THJr when Burke is not on the floor. So I agree with you that Stu will play the 1 position for good minutes but he should not play like Morris or Burke. 

  • Rkwboo

    I see duke sqeaks out a win at cameron against belmont 77-76. UM not the only one with early struggles.

    • UMQuasi

      To be fair, Belmont won 30 games last year

      • Yup. Belmont is a pretty damn good team, that’s a solid win for Duke especially early on.

        • SamGoBlue

          Belmont is a very good mid-major team, but that doesn’t mean Duke should struggle to a one-point win over them. 

    • Jeff

      They won 59-33, almost doubling up Ferris. That’s not too bad for struggling.

  • rlcBlue

    With the garbage time substitutions, every scholarship player got into the game – except Bielfeldt. I have a feeling Max is going to redshirt, then play very sparingly during the McGary Era, and hopefully be a contributor during his last 2 or 3 years of eligibility.

  • section13row15

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Carlton’s drive at the end of the game. He was called for an offensive foul but it was a bad call and you could get a glimpse of how fearless he can be driving to the basket.

    • Mzorstar

      Carlton Brundidge = Laval Lucas Perry?   Yikes