Exhibition Game 1: Northern Michigan at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Photos: AnnArbor.com

Michigan 83, Northern Michigan 47

It was just an exhibition game but it was tough to not be at least a bit excited as Michigan dominated Northern Michigan in its first live action of the 2012-13 season, without its preseason All-American point guard Trey Burke. The Wolverine freshmen showed that they were more than capable of leading the show, scoring 54 of Michigan’s 83 points in the 36 point victory.

Spike Albrecht was the surprise star of the evening, stepping in for suspended Trey Burke and tallying 16 points on 4 of 7 (3-6 3pt) shooting with six assists to just two turnovers. Albrecht showed no signs of nerves, controlling the game from the opening tip as he scored or assisted Michigan’s first 12 points of the game, spearheading a run that allowed the Wolverines to jump out to a 20-2 start. The freshman point guard had plenty of support in his first college action. Nik Stauskas led all scorers with 17 points while Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. both added 13.

Poss 63
PPP 1.31 0.74
eFG 53.2% 37.3%
OR% 46.3% 24.4%
TO% 12.7% 17.4%
FTA/FGA 41.3% 6.8%

The four factors make it clear that Michigan dominated every aspect of the game as you would expect with a top five team facing a middling Division II opponent.

Michigan grabbed 19 offensive rebounds for an offensive rebounding rate over 46%, which would have been its best offensive rebounding performance since November 2010 against Gardner Webb had it occurred in a live game. The Wolverines got to the line often but scored more effectively from the perimeter (13-31, 42% on threes) compared to inside (14-32, 44% on twos) on the night. This was also the same three point-centric offense that we’ve seen for years as the Wolverine attempted 49% of their field goals from long range. Despite John Beilein giving roughly 50% (99 of 200) of the available minutes to his five freshmen, Michigan turned the ball over on less than 13% of its offensive possessions an impressive mark this early in the season.

Is this the story of a Michigan team playing against a Northern Michigan team that was simply over matched? Or is it a Wolverine squad ready to impose its will throughout the season? Only time and further competition will tell but there’s not much to complain about as of November 1st.

We saw very few instances of two true posts on the floor at the same time. Horford’s injury almost certainly played a part but for the majority of the game John Beilein stuck with Morgan and McGary at the five with Robinson, Bielfeldt and McLimans rotating through the four spot. Morgan, McGary and Robinson all impressed and looked natural in their positions.

All five freshmen touched the floor at once for the first time late in the first half and looked more than comfortable. The only time Michigan looked especially sloppy was with a lineup of Akunne, Hardaway, Vogrich, McLimans and Morgan late in the first half.

This team has talent, that much is clear even at this early stage. There’s also still plenty to figure out after playing nine players for at least 10 minutes even without Burke in the mix. The rotation needs to be ironed out and this team needs to forge an identity and a leader while fighting through adversity. Bottom line, the season is arriving and you can’t expect a better performance from a team in its first game without its All-American point guard.

Photo: AnnArbor.com

Player Bullets:

  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht has plenty of tools as a backup point guard. His handle is solid and he can knock down open threes but most importantly he has tremendous vision. Albrecht showed great passing ability in the full court and half court. He finished a couple of drives and had slick dishes off of the screen and roll as well as a no look dish in transition. Add in a charge in transition for good measure and you couldn’t draw up a better (exhibition) debut. He’ll be a spot player in Big Ten play, but he seems to be a more than competent change of pace to spell Burke in the heat of battle.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway at the two seemed to be mostly a success after he finished with 13 points on 3-of-9 (2-5 3pt) shooting, eight rebounds and five assists to zero turnovers. It was a very complete game for the Michigan junior and while he might have forced a few shots, he was extremely active on the defensive glass, seemed to let the game come to him and found the open man repeatedly. Little plays stand out for Hardaway on the night including a pair of nice passes in transition to McGary and Albrecht along with a strong hesitation cross over drive and finish through contact in the second half.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan is one of the veterans of this team and really played like it. He was a physical presence inside and was very strong on the glass. He put a very solid 9 points and 12 rebounds (5 off.) on 4-of-8 shooting with a block and a steal in just 21 minutes. It was aggressive, confident play from Morgan who even looked a bit quicker when switched out to the perimeter. He still didn’t display the most versatile offensive game but he gives Beilein a trusted and reliable option down low.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary started a bit tentative but his confidence grew exponentially as he made a few plays. His entire demeanor changed after he rebounded a missed Wolverine free throw and put it back in with a foul. His jubilant scream propelled his game to new heights. McGary finished with five points and nine rebounds (6 offensive) but was just 1-of-5 at the charity stripe. He was a beast on the offensive glass and made plenty of good plays from a strong dribble through and kick to Stauskas for an open three to a big slam in transition off of a no look from Albrecht. He also had the numbers to back up his oft-praised hustle: six offensive rebounds, two steals, two blocks and a drawn charge.
  • Glenn Robinson III: We questioned Robinson’s shooting in his player preview but he knocked down 2 of 3 three point attempts en route to 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Robinson was extremely efficient and had a pair of big dunks early in the second half. He’s clearly working on his back to the basket game but that seems to be a work in progress at this point. Playing almost predominantly at the four, Robinson only grabbed one rebound which could be something to keep an eye on. The 6-foot-6 forward is just so efficient but he’s so talented that he’s going to need to seek his offense more aggressively.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas has the offensive skill to overtake Vogirch in the starting lineup right now but defensive consistency will determine that choice. The 6-foot-6 freshman spent his time predominantly on the wing at the three position and displayed his entire offensive arsenal finishing with 17 points on 5-of-8 (4-6 3pt) shooting with two rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. He, like the other freshmen, made a couple of mistakes but his offensive game was as advertised in his debut. Not only did he hit threes, he also had a beautiful no-look dish off of a slipped screen to Morgan.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich’s two buckets came while running the floor, first off of a turnover that he forced and second off of a secondary break blown assignment. He was 2-of-7 on the night and seemed to rush on his three point attempts (0-4) as he couldn’t get quite as open as he seemed to need. Obviously he needs to hit shots but his experience will be helpful on the perimeter defense.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert was the No. 2 point guard on the night and looked fairly comfortable in that role but he’s clearly a scorer before a distributor. His lack of strength is as advertised but so are his length and crafty handle. He can get in the paint with a devastating crossover but there’s going to be an adjustment period as he figures out how to convert his floater against tougher competition. He finished 1-of-5 (1-2 3pt) on the night for three points and has some proving to do in Michigan’s second exhibition.
  • Blake McLimans: McLimans played predominantly at the four and had a nice tap out to keep an offensive rebound alive early. However, he struggled to finish either open threes or around the basket (0-3 on the day). Finding minutes will be tough when Horford returns to the mix.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt was the first sub and the four and seemed to be fairly solid. He didn’t stand out in many negative ways, grabbing three rebounds and a block, but didn’t stand out offensively either. His frame is strong and he moves fairly well, he could serve as something of a minute eater if Michigan struggles with foul trouble against more physical teams.
  • Eso Akunne: Akunne knocked down a three in garbage time but appears to be behind Burke, Albrecht and LeVert on the point guard minutes tree given tonight’s results.
  • Highlights from the BTN http://t.co/03iyDdXw

  • MGoTweeter

    good first game. Great to have basketball back! Several things stood out to me starting first with Spike. It was not so much his offense, as you could see he had talent at that end in high school, but his defense. He moved his feet much better than I expected. He is certainly not a guy that is ready to take on top guards in the B1G on a consistent basis, but I don’t think he will be as big a liability at that end as I suspected he would be. He is basically Dave Sobliewski (sp?) minus a few pounds.

    Stauskas and Robinson were as expected and I hope the team continues to explore using Robinson in the post on offense. His athletic ability makes him a challenge to defend down there if he can find some consistency with his turn around.

    It’s nice to see the ball movement and unselfishness, but I hope TH Jr. gets a little more selfish when better opponents roll around. I know the team did not need him tonight, but I almost would rather see him be assertive especially when Burke comes back. That is not to say he played a bad game because he didn’t, just that this team probably needs his individual play making ability against better competition.

    Caris looks like he needs a redshirt. I have no doubt he has the skill to play right now, but it was obvious he struggled to make plays through contact. With the plethora of options that Michigan has at the guard/wing positions, a year of building his body is probably better for him and the team in the long run than using him in limited minutes.

    The one thing that still bothered me was that the team did not throw the ball into the post as much as they should/could. Michigan’s post players are not great back to the basket players, but good things happen when you throw it in there even if the ball is just thrown back out immediately. Those guys don’t have to score down there, but just getting the ball inside does wonders for creating problems with defensive rotations.

    All in all, a good first showing and a nice way to build excitement for the next game.

    • Good to have you back around here. Love to Sobolewski comparison for Spike.

    • gobluemd16

      Really good analysis, I agree with all of what you are saying. I especially agree with your point about throwing the ball into the post. All that talk about possibly running a two-post offense, and there were hardly any plays where the ball even got to the block. As you said, even if Morgan/McGary/Horford don’t try to score when they get the ball, the defense will sag and more opportunities will open up on the perimeter.

  • gpsimms

    Man, so, I didn’t like Timmy at the two, even though his stat line was pretty nice. I felt like he forced the ball into the lane, and would have turned it over against a real team. I felt like a couple times this happened he got bailed out with foul calls that wouldn’t be there against a real team (which incidentally, is how he got almost half his points). I think his handle has not improved. I was pleasantly surprised by his rebounding, and I also liked how he looked to pass a bit more. I still think he’s just much better at the 3, where he catches on the wing and only dribbles once or twice.

    I was glad to see after the game that Beilein said Nik knows the 2, because I really think he looks better with the ball in his hands then Timmy.

    All the minutes for so many of the players just felt like auditioning, and Blake and Max came up short for me. I felt like the offense really bogged down when those two played.

    I love Caris’ handle/athleticism, I think he might not redshirt. It depends on how well Stauskas takes to the 2, I think.

    • Kenny

      Agree with your first three paragraphs, but am not sure what Stauskas has not proved to you.

      • gpsimms

        Oh, I didn’t mean that I wasn’t impressed with Stauskas. I’ve been pumped about that kid forever. He just only played the wing last night. If the plan is Nik/Vogrich at 3, and THJr/Caris at 2, then Caris won’t redshirt.

        But if Nik is going to play a lot of time at the 2, (which I think is by far the best option), then Levert will probably redshirt.

        • I guess I’m just not ready to declare Stauskas a better two when he hasn’t played the spot. I thought that was one of the more complete games Hardaway has played in his career (although he had a couple big rebounding games earlier last year) and he showed something. Will be something to watch going forward.

          • gpsimms

            Right, I guess that’s what I meant in the first thing. He hasn’t even played the two yet. I should have said “I think Nik at the two is theoretically the best option.”

            I think the wing is the best spot for Tim, so theoretically, if Nik can be as dangerous offensively at the 2 as he was at the 3, and not turn the ball over, then that would be the ideal situation.

          • Champswest

            I agree. Nik at the 2 and Tim at the 3 seems to make the most sense to me. I think we are going to need Nik’s 3 point threat on the floor as much as possible, so I expect to see him get major minutes sooner than later.

          • bftn

            If you think that this was Tim’s most complete game of his career, then you must not like him very much. He played ok, but hardly what I would call a “complete” game. As someone mentioned earlier, he got half of his points when he lost control of the ball driving and got bailed out on foul calls. The one bright spot for him last night was rebounding. I think Tim is capable of a much better game. Last night’s performance was far from “complete”.

          • Complete is the wrong word… Obviously he’s capable of scoring a lot more efficiently but in terms of passing, rebounding and getting to the line, those are all positive signs.

    • A2JD

      Are you talking about Tim’s handle or his passing? His passing on the 4 assists shown in the highlights all were on the money.

      • gpsimms

        His handle. I thought his passing and rebounding were encouraging. He looked the same on defense though. Thought I saw him lose focus a few times on that end.

        • A2JD

          Thanks guys. I plan on going to the Slippery Rock game to see first hand. BTW- does anyone know how the rows go at Crisler Center? I am trying to find out what the row number is at the start of the upper bowl. I think it might be row 31 but I’m not sure. There doesn’t seem to be any info on the internet.

      • Mattski

        His passing was inspired, far more than I remembered. And when he put it on the floor in that second-half drive I thought he demonstrated new control. Also pulled down several strong rebounds. Clearly improved, contributing in more areas of the game.

    • bftn

      Everyone played great. Can’t wait for Horford to come back and provide even more power down low. All the freshmen did not dissapoint. I agree with everything you’ve said about Tim. He was 3-9 which to me shows that he hasn’t improved his shooting at all since last year. Stauskas has been a 2 guard for the last several years and was recruited as a SG. So, not sure why they have him at the 3.

    • maxwell’s demon

      Aside from a less than stellar shooting night, I thought Tim looked really good. You’re right that with some B10 defense his handles may not look much better but his passing ability was extremely encouraging. His role on this team can be a lot different this year with a lot less pressure to score. If he can play with that overall offensive efficiency, we’ll be in good shape.

      Stauskas also looked great to me and if I had to guess, Levert will take a RS. For some of the hype he was getting, he wasn’t very impressive aside from the crossover that he followed up with a garbage shot.

      • Bobby Dennishaks

        While Levert could RS, I don’t think he will, he is the team’s de facto third point guard. Levert is noticeably quicker than anybody else on the team with the ball in his hands, excepting Burke and Spike.

  • C_weezy618

    Is it on YouTube ? Is there any way we can watch the replay

    • bballkdp@sbcglobal.net

      Believe that game will be on BTN Monday during the day sometime. I think i heard its 4pm local time.

    • ScottGoBlue
      • Bluturns2gray

        BTN entire game no commercials thank you very much

  • Quick Darshan

    I’m guessing it’ll be a nine-man rotation:

    Burke, Hardaway, GR3, McGary, Morgan, Stauskas, Horford, Albrecht and Vogrich.

  • Alex

    Just really exciting. Great effort.

    Cannot wait to get back to AA for this team.

    Nice contrast also with last year’s exhibition. It ended up being a great year but, at least so far, this team’s ceiling looks much better.

    Schedule should be great, challenging, but allowing the team to gel before the gauntlet that will be the B1G this year.

    Just stay together, play hard, and as Beilein always says get better every single day and by the end of the season good things could happen.

    Queme los barcos.

  • Kenny

    1. My $9.95 was well spent, the stream was very smooth throughout the entire game.

    2. Spike is now on the record to be my favorite player on this team. Not the best player on the floor, but he plays with a lot of pose and like a veteran in his debut and is clearly more competent than Stu as PG. Smart and hard working, dishes out beautiful passes and throw his body out for loose balls. If big ten foes think that they can take a break when Burke takes a break, they will be burned by Spike. If McGary is a 6’10 version of Novak, Spike is the 5’11 version. We will not have PG controversy this season but will likely have one next season.

    3. My prediction of rotation of 9 includes Burke, Spike, Vogrich, Stauskas, THJr, GRIII, McGary, Morgan and Horford. Caris is very likely to redshirt, not that he cannot contribute, but it would be tough for him to make the rotation.

    4. Few expected GRIII to start his college career by knocking down two three pointers during his team’s the first two possessions, this basically erased all the concerns regarding him not being a parameter threat. On the other hand, he still need time to blend into the flow of the college game and be more aggressive attacking the basket.

    5. i don’t think I can be more happier with what I saw today. The future is bright. Go blue!

    • James

      In regards to #4, I thought NMU really, really packed the lane and tried to take away any penetration. Considering that, I thought Michigan (including GRIII) did a pretty good job attacking the basket, and obviously took advantage of NMU’s defensive posture by burying them from outside.

      They will get better opportunities to attack the basket when a team defends them more aggressively.

  • philbalger

    After all the individual highlight tapes i have watched of the freshman class, the waiting and bragging to my friends out in E.L….I.AM.THRILLED.
    It was especially exciting to me in a strange way that Burke had to sit, seemed almost like a rouse to me, like a lesson for everyone. Spike and Nik JUST WOW. I needed to see how they’d function with out our All American and boy did they ever. Glenn and Mitch played very well as one would hope and expect with the rankings coming in. Caris is gonna be some kind of player once he add’s about 15lbs more but he’s electric already. To see all five check in at once, well..chills for me along with a certain sense of satisfaction. It’s been a long road as a fan since 1992. Knowing all that success was fools gold covered with a layer of slime. Here in 2012, it’s just as exciting to me looking at this class. The difference may be knowing the talent is close to as good but it’s accompanied by a warm, guilt free feeling just knowing they’re under the wing of JB’s staff and not Fisher’s filth.
    Forgive the blabbering on, i am just so happy and want to share it.

    UMHOOPS rules!!!
    B L U E

  • UM Hoops Fan

    I consider Bielfeldt and McLimans “big 4s.” They may not be “true posts,” but they’re bigs as opposed to wings. It looks like we spent just under half the time with bigs at the 4 and half the time with GRIII there. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was what we averaged, depending on the game, with Horford taking up more of those minutes. Going to 1/2big and 1/2 GRIII from Novak is a big step up in height/athleticism, though of course Zack brought a lot else.

  • Champswest

    Last night was a great experience. The arena looks great and there was a lot of pride and excitement coming from the security, ticket takers and concession staff. Our facilities are second to none.
    And the team didn’t disappoint either.

  • Dav

    What….no 5 key plays yet???? Come on Dylan, get going :-)

  • Steve2081

    Just got my tickets to the game in Champaign. Should be about 4 rows off the floor and somewhere between the 3 point line and half court.

    Now I just need to snag some tickets to the game in Peoria.