Michigan beats Mantova Stings to finish Italian tour undefeated

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan faced a better team on Friday, but still pulled away with another exhibition victory. The Wolverines knocked off the Mantova Stings, 96-76, and will leave Italy with a perfect record.

Mantova was able to hang around throughout much of the first half and the Wolverines led just 48-43 at the half. The Stings even managed to take the lead, 49-48, early in the third quarter.

“Every game has helped us in different ways,” John Beilein said after the game. “These games are not about the score, but experiencing playing basketball with a team like we have right now. As we went through the games, we saw new things that we have to learn. Today we played a very experienced team; they had a plan. They haven’t been practicing a lot, but the things that they ran are a part of European basketball everywhere. They picked us apart at times, however we scored some points, too.”

The Wolverines had outscored their first three Italian opponents by an average of 43 points per game, but the Stings, recently promoted to the second division of Italian basketball, were the best team that Michigan faced in Italy. The Wolverines outlasted Mantova down the stretch with a 32-12 run and outscored their Italian opposition 23-10 in the final quarter of the game.

“They were up in the second half, so we had to turn up the defensive intensity,” Caris LeVert said. “We knocked down some shots in the third and fourth quarters, so that was big for us. Off the bench, Muhammad really played well when I was in foul trouble, so that was huge for us.”

Michigan had seven players reach double figures and was led by Zak Irvin with 16 points.

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Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert were Michigan’s only two players to reach double-figures in all four of Michigan’s overseas games. Irvin finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while LeVert finished with 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Freshman big man Ricky Doyle secured his second double-double in Italy, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Doyle’s frontcourt mate, Mark Donnal, finished with nine points and five rebounds.

Two other freshmen, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins, also reached double figures. Rahkman had 10 points and two steals while Dawkins had 10 points and two boards.

This was the final game in Michigan’s exhibition tour and the Wolverines are set to return home on Sunday. Players will have some time to return home to their families before the semester begins in Ann Arbor.

“Mostly it built confidence,” Derrick Walton said. “For the freshmen, being able to come out and play with us to get a couple of games under their belt gives us team chemistry.”

John Beilein was also pleased with the tour.

“Without question,” Beilein responded when asked if the tour was a success. “The number one thing is that we got extra days of practice and we also got to play these four games. Close to that in importance is the relationship-building we were able to do on this trip. From player-to-player, player-to-coach and coach-to-player, that was really tremendous. Now let’s all get home safely, and this will have been a tremendous trip.”

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  • Mattski

    Seeing quite a lot of positives from this. All of the recruits, excepting the injured Wilson, showing serious promise.

  • David

    Wow – could the big takeaway from this trip be that Zak is going to be the heavy lifter on offense this year instead of Caris like most of us expected? Obviously a 4 game sample size against lesser competition may not be indicative of individual success and higher-level play may reward Caris’ style more and Zak’s less, but still, looks like he came to play, not to mention being big on the boards. Always had that big lift on his jumpshot, hopefully he can continue having success on the boards throughout the season.

    Either way, looks like we have a scary-underrated back-court

    • acs236

      Hopefully a nice 1-2 punch. Caris is also coming off an injury, so that might account for something.

    • jblair52

      I think Caris will still be the main guy on offense but Irvin looks like he’ll fill Stauskas’ shoes nicely as the missing scorer.

      Walton, Chatman, and Doyle/Donnal with MAAR sounds like our offense will have many options to put the ball in the hoop.

    • kam

      Zak played amazing but yes comp level might be part of it.. Also caris just came off an injury. I think both will most likely share the offensive load. Also its not likely Zak shoots THAT well all year. He will need to be able to get to the rim

      • David

        Duh – forgot about his foot and the lack of practice time. Definitely Caris has a big ability to breakdown defenses where Zak takes what he gets. Hopefully the hot shooting will continue, anyway. I, personally, like to think Zak will average 65% behind the arc this season :)

        • Chezaroo


          • David

            I was only joking with a ridiculously high #

  • Chris

    Looks like Chatman struggled with shooting quite a bit in this game.

  • Tyrell

    Did MAAR really play 30 minutes?

    • kam


  • Frank Chuck

    I expect our backcourt to lead this team. Our starters are Walton, LeVert, and Irvin. I’m expecting 45-50 ppg and 10-12 apg from the 3 of them.

    And we have a junior Spike Albrecht, a freshman MAAR, and a freshman Dawkins to back them up.

    I also noticed that Kameron Chatman played PG in the 3 previous games. That’s a good sign. Love having a point forward on the team.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Curious to see how DJ Wilson & Max Beifieldt work themselves into the rotation…guess Donnal & Doyle may be our go-to-guys on the post…
    I think our perimeter game will be just fine with the athletes & talent we have