Exhibition Game 2: Wayne State at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 79, Wayne State 60-4
Dustin Johnston

Michigan 79, Wayne State 60. Photo Gallery | Beilein Quotes | Player Interviews | Box Score

Michigan wasn’t crisp but handled Wayne State comfortably, 79-60, in its final preseason exhibition tune-up. The Wolverines faced a somewhat tougher opponent, although the Warriors were missing three players, but failed to live up to the extraordinarily high standards they set in their 117-point exhibition opening performance.

Individually there were plenty of positives to draw from the routine win. Freshman point guard Derrick Walton earned his first start and played well while Zak Irvin had a breakout game, knocking down three straight triples en route to 13 points. Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas both picked up where they left off against Concordia and continued to showcase their offseason improvements.

But as a unit, it was obvious that the Wolverines haven’t figured everything out just yet. John Beilein is still tinkering with his lineups and experimenting with players in new roles and then there’s Mitch McGary. It’s nearly impossible to judge the 2013-14  Wolverines until their preseason All-American returns from his back injury.


Michigan scored 1.24 points per possession on the game, a solid total but unspectacular against an admittedly well organized Division II opponent. Wayne State did a great job of slowing Michigan’s transition game which took some of the punch away from the Wolverine offense. In the first half, that was no concern as Michigan’s shooters were in a groove. The Wolverines made 7-of-11 first half threes and scored an impressive 46 points on 31 possessions (1.48 PPP). In the second half, things were dicey. Michigan’s shooters went cold (2-of-9 from three point range) and the bulk of the scoring came from the free throw line. The Wolverines failed to make any impact on the offensive glass throughout, rebounding just 22% of their misses and scoring just one second chance bucket.

Defensively, Michigan’s performance left a bit to be desired. Wayne State’s Bryan Coleman went on a scoring outburst in the first half, tallying 17 points on 13 shots. Some were well guarded, others were wide open but eventually the Wolverines were able to slow Coleman in the second half (8 points on 11 shots). That was encouraging but the defensive rebounding wasn’t. Wayne State rebounded 44% of its misses for 9 second chance points in the second half alone.

The new NCAA-mandated emphasis on fouling was clearly in effect (having Ed Hightower officiate an exhibition game gives a superb preview of whats to come) and the results clearly benefited the Wolverines. Michigan attempted 28 free throws to just 46 field goal attempts (61% FT Rate). Wayne State attempted just 10 free throws to 63 field goal attempts and was outscored 22-7 at the stripe.  John Beilein’s teams have always done a great job of avoiding fouls but have struggled to rack up free throw attempts. Tighter officiating would seem to help Michgian as much as anyone and that will be a stat to watch in early season play – and then again once Big Ten play begins.

Team Bullets

  • LeVert, Stauskas serving as ‘point guard’: The ‘point guard’ in modern college basketball should be defined as the player that creates offense for other players, not necessarily who brings the ball up the court (see: Manny Harris in 2009). For this team right now, that role is being filled by Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas. Those two were by far the most comfortable getting into the lane and attacking the basket, combining for 7 2-point field goal makes, 7 assists and 12 FTA.
  • Two bigs isn’t working. The two big look doesn’t work with Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. The offense is stagnant and while the rebounding is a bit better, there’s not a large enough defensive or rebounding impact to make it a net-positive. Add McGary into the equation and things will change. He’s the whole reason this two big approach is feasible and it makes some sense for everyone else to be practicing in the positions they would play with McGary on the floor at the four.
  • The changing halfcourt offense. The ball screen is still present but without Trey Burke it has been reduced. The majority of the successful offense that Michigan ran was based on spreading the floor with shooters and then driving and kicking (16 assists by six players on 24 made field goals). Eventually there were a couple nice backcuts that have always defined Beilein’s offense. U-M has the shooters in Stauskas, Irvin, Albrecht, Robinson and LeVert to make this approach work which could make for a balanced attack.
  • Transition. Wayne State did a great job of taking away Michigan’s transition offense but the Wolverines also looked a bit sloppy when they did run out. Derrick Walton is a great transition point guard but he’s still figuring out the proper spots to get his teammates the ball. That was obvious when he tried to throw a lead pass to Glenn Robinson III that sailed past the photographers.

Michigan 79, Wayne State 60-23
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas’ improvements appear to be legitimate. He finished with 17 points (5-of-8 shooting), six rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal in 31 minutes. He’s Michigan’s most aggressive player offensively and can make things happen often enough to live with him being a bit loose with the ball at times. His drive-and-kick game is very good and it’s clear that he hasn’t forgotten how to shoot. We’ve seen Stauskas kill average and above-average non-conference teams and he should have a big early season but more than anyone, we can’t wait to see him in some of Michigan’s marquee games.
  • Caris LeVert: There’s so much to love about Caris LeVert’s game and whether or not he starts, he’ll play significant minutes early and often this season. LeVert’s change-of-pace moves, hesitation dribbles and crossovers when slashing to the basket are a joy to watch. He also executed back-to-back perfect ball screens: the first a keeper to the rim and the next an assist to Horford for a dunk. His jumper looks better and if he’s consistent with it he will be tough to guard.
  • Zak Irvin: A couple years back, a player of Irvin’s caliber would probably be expected to be one of Michigan’s top scoring options as a freshman. He’s good enough to do alright in that role but not on this team. Michigan has so much talent on the wings that John Beilein’s primary worry is finding enough opportunities for Irvin. He knocked down three triples from the wing to open things up before demonstrating his mid-range game – which is perhaps his greatest strength – in the second half for a solid 13 point night.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton got the start and finished with 7 points (1-4 shooting), four assists, three rebounds, two turnovers and a steal in 27 minutes. His jumpshot looks miles better when he’s able to catch and shoot (he made one with a foul) but he’s still working to shake the tendency to pull up for long jumpers off the dribble. He’s also very comfortable picking someone’s pocket at midcourt like the point guard that he’s replacing.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson’s final stat line wasn’t bad (15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, three rebounds and three assists) but he looked out of sorts throughout the night. He didn’t make a field goal until a half court alley-oop near the end of the first half and that wasn’t really for lack of trying. Michigan ran a few out of bounds plays and sets to try and get him going. He got caught in the middle of a few drives, turned the ball over three times, and missed a few jumpers. He looked to pass the ball but was just off by just enough on passes to Horford on a ball screen and Irvin in transition to throw off the momentum of the play.
  • Jon Horford: Horford seems to be clearly a rung ahead of Morgan on the depth chart – he played 25 minutes to Morgan’s 14 despite being whistled for four fouls – but his performance was fairly pedestrian. Horford scored 2 points, grabbed nine rebounds (two offensive) and blocked two shots in 25 minutes. He struggled to catch the ball around the basket both on passes and rebound attempts and just plays a little too passively.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan is an adequate defender against quicker players but offensively he hasn’t found a comfort zone at the four spot. He can get in some dangerous spots but simply lacks the confidence to shoot or drive. His best drive of the game was after a slight second of hesitation and he ended up getting blocked and fouled at the rim.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht isn’t going to be the starting point guard on this team but there’s still a role for him. He’s a very capable spot up shooter (he knocked down a corner three) and ball handler. His vision can be negated by better defensive teams but he can do enough offensively to give Michigan minutes.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt’s lack of length continues to kill him, even against a team that didn’t have a player over 6-foot-8. He struggles to defend at the rim, can’t take away the pass over the top when hedging the pick-and-roll and didn’t do a great job on the defensive glass.
  • Mark Donnal: Donnal didn’t check into the game until the final two minutes and appears destined for a red-shirt.
  • Kam

    The lineup i’d like to with NO mitch this friday(he hasn’t practiced yet i cant expect him to play) would be Walton at the PG Caris at the SG, Nik at SF, Glenn PF and Jon C because he adds size to the starting line up. The two big lineup isn’t working and that is obvious. That line up gets the best players out there with Irvin Spike Morgan and Max off the bench! JB might not do it because glenn loves the SF position, but if he really improved his handle he should be able to burn 4’s off the dribble anyway and not just camp in the corner, Caris did it once today! Just until mitch gets back.

    • Adam St Patrick

      Hard to know what’s in Beilein’s head, but my guess is that if he’s going with two bigs like this now, at the expense of getting his best 5 on the floor, then he is perhaps truly dedicated to going big at the 4 spot. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. I’m all for having a 4-sized 4 and don’t think GR3 is suited for that role at all, but will not be an extremist about it. If Mitch can’t be healthy, it’s gotta be considered. Especially seeing as Donnal isn’t seen as ready.

      • geoffclarke

        There will be time when we’ll want Morgan guarding a Payne or a Behanan-type, so I think it’s good to practice that lineup when we can early in the season, so hopefully they can dust it off when they need to, but more often than not, we’ll play with 4 perimeter players. Of course ideally we’d have a player who can play perimeter on offense and defend some bigger guys, like Looney, and perhaps McGary, and maybe even Donnal, but it’s hard to find those and if you do, you’re probably recruiting against Kentucky for them.

  • Chezaroo

    Hard to envision where this team is right now WO Mitch. The most refreshing thing s me ( as identified by you Dylan ) is the reduction of the reliance on the high ball screen. I’ve stated many times in previous comments that this will be a much more free flowing offense that will encompass many different options when it comes to initiating it. For those realists amongst us, there were countless times last year when Trey would dribble out 30 seconds of the SC and we would be relegated to a very poor forced shot attempt. It’s enjoyable to watch the slashing of LaVert, and the aggressiveness of Nick, as JB continues to utilize their skills. Hard to grade half court production as of yet, but it will come. Real tests will be down the road. Go Blue!

    • Adam St Patrick

      Agreed, though I think some of the stagnation was the result of everyone save for Timmy deferring to Trey. While it was true that in any given possession last year the best shot was one Trey created, the team developed an unhealthy dependence on him IMO. I’m looking forward to this year’s ensemble cast approach too.

      • mikey_mac

        I think it’s odd to consider an approach that heavily relied on the Player of the Year and led to a Championship game, unhealthy.

      • Chezaroo

        Very well said. As a result of our tourney success, ( where we were fortunate enough to have teams try to run with us ) people easily forget that we were 6-6 in our last 12 league games. The dependency on Trey and the HB screen was not translating into on court success. This years offense should be much more reflective of JBs Xs and Os. I am salivating at the options.

    • MGoTweeter

      I am not so sure the reduction in high ball screens is going to be a good thing. While I agree that there were times when Burke dribbled the air out of the ball, Michigan also had the most efficient offense in the country last season. Michigan ran so many high ball screens because it was incredibly hard to stop.

      At this point, Michigan does not have anyone who is as good as Burke in a ball screen. So while you identify the lack of reliance on the ball screen as a good thing since the offense will be more free, I can almost guarantee that there will be plenty of times this season that people get frustrated by the half court offense.

      • mikey_mac

        Agreed. Initiating via ball screen just simply tends to translate into a decent scoring opportunity in a possession. Obviously, the design itself is meant to gain leverage on the defense. But also, everyone knows where to be and where everyone else will be, since you only need to have four or so sets. You can just repeat the action, without disarray or panic, until success.

        Having Burke run it is what made it world-beating, but it could still be very efficient with LeVert, Stauskas, Walton, etc.

        • Chezaroo

          To much wasted dribbling, to much dependency on one player, to much standing around by teammates. Can’t count how many times we had to “chuck” up a last second heave to beat the shot clock. People forget how absolutely stymied Burke was when OSU ran two players at him, and effectively took away our offense. This years team has a much better chance of being much more difficult to guard sans the use of differing players and alignments to initiate the offense. Trey was always looking to shoot first, and we had no consistent motion from others. The HB screen will always be part of our offense, it just won’t dominate it this year. Our tourney run was predicated on getting away from conference foes, and playing teams that tried to run with us, allowing us to avoid half court execution. It’s imperative that we have another option this year IMO.

      • Chezaroo

        Couldn’t agree more about the inevitable frustration to come regarding half court offense. The physicality of the conference ensures this. But with the new rules on D, the dribble drive and kick will become even more in vogue than it already is. The increased options that we are going to have in utilizing this will make us a tough foe. The game is evolving into a much more emphasis on slashing and quickness. Look at Louisville.

  • Wayman Britt

    It does seem Beilein is playing Horford more than Morgan and he is a rung ahead, but I don’t see that lasting. I think once we get into December, Morgan will be playing more than Horford. Horford has shown little if no improvement in his game over the last 3 years.

    • Chezaroo

      Hard to accurately assess Horfords true progress with all the injury setbacks of recent years. If healthy, he definately has a role to play on this team. Have to trust the coaches as to who will be a contributor.

    • adam st patrick

      Horford seems to take a while to get his mojo back after injury. He was a very good reserve big last year, went out for a few weeks, and was really timid after that for a while.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    didn’t watch the game…but glad to hear Nik, Caris, Zak, GR3 are playing well…I think besides Mitch downlow – I expect 1 or 2 of those guys to carry the load each game…

    • Fab 5 Legends

      Morgan at the 4 raises some concern…his played the 5 his entire career, hopefully he can transition over to the 4 during the season…but it might be a struggle, considering his game has always been around the basket

      • mikey_mac

        I wouldn’t expect Morgan to get much, if any, time at the 4 on offense during the season. He may guard against 4s, but he would be on the court with McGary, who is much better suited to taking that 4 spot on the offensive side of the court.

    • mattD

      GR3 has been pretty underwhelming on defense to be honest, just doesn’t seem to play with the requisite intensity regardless of whether it’s in the post or on the perimeter.

      • jkuofm27

        Agreed. Last night, even on offense, he seemed really passive and indecisive. He looked much more like last year than he did in the first game. Coleman seemed to be able to shut him down at least at points. Hopefully he was just giving an exhibition half hearted effort. I still don’t know that he has the type of game that will allow the offense to work through him. It seems Walton/LeVert/Stauskus will be the usage guys and everyone else will play off them (pick/roll, pick/pop, drive/kick, etc.).

  • jakelam2116

    Didn’t watch the game, so haven’t seen the team in action yet. Did Biefeldt not add any muscle during the offseason? Is it pretty clear he’ll be out of the rotation in big games?

    • mattD

      Strength may have something to do with it, but realistically, he doesn’t have the skill and or size to be a 5 at a high major level. He is a 5 playing in the body of a 3, something that generally doesn’t bode well. Quite frankly, I view Bielfeldt as a wasted scholarship.

      • Crazy to call Bielfeldt a wasted scholarship when we have 11 guys on scholarship right now.

        • Fab 5 Legends

          I really like Bielfeldt energy last year for couple games, he is undersized but he is a red-shirt sophomore, I think he mad develop a mid-range game by junior-senior year

          • Drew Raymond

            I don’t think strength is what is plaguing Bielfeldt. I remember Stu Douglass tweeted once about how much he hated fighting through Max’s screens in practice (when Max was a freshman). The bottom line, IMHO, is that at 6’7, he has no perimeter game, and especially short arms.

        • mattD

          You are looking at it from a numbers standpoint, which makes sense to a certain extent – but I ask this question – what good is the depth if it can’t be utlized to the team’s benefit? In other words, yes, I acknowledge Bielfeldt is a body that can provide 5 fouls, but does he help the team on either end of the court when he is inserted into the lineup? I think we all know the answer to that question

  • Chezaroo

    Physically, does Caris LaVert remind anybody of Jamal Crawford?

    • DingoBlue

      I’m sorry, it’s LeVert, not LaVert. But yes, a bit. Really getting excited about his potential. I don’t think he will approach his physical ceiling until his senior year if he stays that long.

    • Doug

      I am starting to wonder if he has the makings of Victor Oladipo. Similar style recruits coming out of high school and Caris seems to be on the trajectory.

  • CDeSana

    Maybe I was watching a different game but thought that the offense did not flow as well with Walton in the game. His time will come but would start Spike or Caris at the point early the season. Especially if we are going to go with only one big in the line up because Caris would give us more rebounding on both ends of the court and better over all defense.

    • Champswest

      Agree that Walton is not up to speed yet, but he is only going to get there with more playing time. These are exhibition games, time to experiment with positions and get guys some playing time. Same thing goes for the 2 big lineup. Dylan got it right. It will look better when Mitch gets back, but the other guys need to be practicing it now.
      Also, I would expect to see Morgan playing mostly at the 5 (hopefully as Horford’s backup) once Mitch gets back.

  • David

    Last night was more like watching a skilled pick-up game. Seemed like there was a huge sense of urgency from both sides the entire time. I think this will change with more games under their belts and when they are more comfortable probing a defense instead of forcing the issue. It was good to see us attack and get to the freethrow line a ton. Wayne St’s Oreb #s were a little inflated due to one position where I think they missed like 5 layups and got 5 Oreb in a row!

    The one thing I really like about Walton though is his defense, man his legs are strong and I saw him in bad position a couple times after screens and he closed in on guys lightning quick. Also, arms&hands always active. I think the knack for defense is huge and the pick&roll / distributor game will come with time and confidence.

    • Dr_ZC

      How about those Burke patented steals? Royalty fees are in order.

      What surprised me, is that Irvin had no boards. I would like to see him more aggressive in driving, and fight for boards, rather than wait for the pass to take the three. I like what I see on Lavert and Stauskas in that department, while I would expect GR3 to be a bit more aggressive.

      • David

        That’s two back-side spin-move steals for Walton so far (one last night and one against Con.) which is awesome. I like the quick hands.

        As for Irvin for sure with his size and athleticism he has the ability to pull him down. I guess I would attribute a lot of this to 1) he plays outside mostly so he only really has a good chance at long rebounds which aren’t as common and 2) he didn’t play all that many minutes, did he? I think they will come as he gets inside more.

        Lavert and Stauskas are taking it to the hole with crossovers and hesitations which is AWESOME to see. Even better is they are finishing some tough looks and mid-air adjustments. A good sign. Also, they drew a lot of fouls this way. I think Glen’s apparent lack of aggression comes from his smooth game where he sorta takes what is there instead of forcing the issue, but yes, this quality is double-edged. Remember, he did drive baseline later in the game and throw it down HARD. Also, he had a pretty nice attach early in the game where he did a step through at the top of the key, but missed the shot. I prefer players who don’t force it though.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    its still early…when we get to DUKE will see where we are as a team…GO BLUE!

  • DingoBlue

    I would really like to see the “big” lineup test out some zone there. The defensive possibilities of LeVert, Stauskas, GRIII, Irvin, and Morgan in a 1-3-1 would be fun to watch.

    • CDeSana

      I like this idea once in a while, could be tried with Horford in the game as well as he is a pretty good shot blocker in the middle.

    • arsenal926

      I definitely think they’ll run it at some point but I can’t see any advantage of putting it on tape against competition like Wayne State. I much rather see them bring the 1-3-1 out if they were struggling against a Duke or Iowa State type team.

      • DingoBlue

        Agree no point in “spoiling it” in an exhibition, but my point is I would like to see it at some point as I feel it could be very effective in spot usage.

  • Mark Worthley

    The offense ran better last night when Albrecht was the point guard.

    • geoffclarke

      True, but defense wasn’t as good. Data:

      Albrecht – OffPPP 1.667, DefPPP 1.6, Tempo 54.2 (poss/40min)
      Walton – OffPPP 1.19, DefPPP 0.738, Tempo 65.7 (poss/40min)

      I did not include data from the 2 min they played together. There was 1:21 where neither were on the court.

      • How many possessions did you count for each? Interesting data.

        • geoffclarke

          I counted 42 possessions for Walton and 15 for Albrecht based on the play-by-play on mgoblue.com. I was thinking about trying to count or calculate usage, but I’m not comfortable with that stat…but I think it’s obvious neither are Burke in that category.

          • Mark Worthley

            Albrecht is a much better shooter and doesn’t turn the ball over, but he’s also more comfortable with the system. I think Walton will become more comfortable eventually. Walton is a better defender, but i’d like to see how the defensive numbers look once the sample size increases.

  • Champswest

    Glenn has an improved handle and shooting touch, but would like to see him be more aggressive. He could be passive last year with Trey and Tim, but we need him more this year to attack the defense and help drive the offense. He needs more of a scorers mentality (like Nik and Zak).

    • geoffclarke

      Nik and Caris seem to be able to get all the way to the rim easier than Glenn and Zak, but Glenn and Zak may be better at pulling up midrange.

  • johnnyumfan

    I agree that until McGary comes back, hopefully soon, a proper debate about the pick and roll offense’s effectiveness cannot be made. IMO Mitch will help Walton’s game significantly in the pick and roll as Holford and Morgan do not have McGary’s skill set as a face the basket big.