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.
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.
- 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.