Five Key Plays: Nicholls State at Michigan

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan cruised past Nicholls State on Saturday afternoon, 91-62. Here are Five Key Plays from the easy victory.

1. Ricky Doyle reaches career high in first half

Ricky Doyle is making a legitimate push to be Michigan’s starting center. Doyle topped his career high in the first half alone on Saturday and finished with 15 points and six rebounds.

“He did it today and we gave him more minutes,” John Beilein said of Doyle’s improved play. “Whether it’s a starting spot, or coming off the bench. Anybody that knows me knows that I love having energy off the bench. He was plagued by injuries in September and October and that kept him from getting a rhythm. He did some of these things in Europe too so we love that big right handed jump hook. That’s something that’s a thing of a beauty to any coach.”

In this clip, we get a good sense of what Doyle does best. He was very active on the offensive glass, using his size and strength to earn Michigan second chances. He’s shown enough composure to gather himself after grabbing an offensive board before going back up and finishing. Perhaps the most encouraging clip in this video is his transition finish through contact. Doyle did a great job of running the floor and he was rewarded by Caris LeVert and he had the coordination to finish at the rim.

2. Caris LeVert makes it look easy

LeVert has been a bit up and down to start the season, but he was dominant against Nicholls State. LeVert had his perimeter jumper clicking and it didn’t matter where he was on the floor or how he was getting his shot attempts.

In this clip we see him catch-and-shoot off a nicely executed baseline out-of-bounds set, rattle off an array of crossover dribbles and fire a three, and catch and shoot in transition. When LeVert has his three-point shot working, he’s nearly unguardable at this level.

“He’s growing every day,” Beilein said in response to a question about whether there was anything LeVert couldn’t do on the floor. “Here’s what’s really special. I’ve coached a lot of fine young men and I’m talking about one of the best attitudes I’ve ever coached. Top to bottom about going to class, being on time, about work habits, love for the game — ever. We recruit good kids and he’s right up there with the ones that you just love coaching every day because you seem to be on the same page with them. He’s on the same page with his teammates because he talks to them and with his coaching staff.”

3. Turnovers for touchdowns

Michigan didn’t score a fast break point in either of its two games in Brooklyn last week, but Nicholls State’s turnover prone offense provided some great opportunities. Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert combined for six steals on the evening and the majority of them led to easy baskets just like these.

Albrecht isn’t the best one-on-one defender in Michigan’s rotation by any means, but he’s able to make up for his limited athleticism with his brain and timing. Albrecht has made a habit of jumping passing lanes and picking up these easy layups early on this season. These plays, combined with his knack for drawing charges, will win Michigan two or three extra possessions per game.

4. Hustle leads to late basket

Nothing about this play was pretty, but it was a great effort play late in a game that was already well out of hand.

This play is spearheaded by Ricky Doyle and Spike Albrecht. Doyle starts things off by helping to knock the ball loose defensively and then Spike Albrecht is off to the races. Albrecht dribbled his way into trouble and ends up throwing the ball the length of the floor. Albrecht’s pass ended up right in the hands of a Nicholls defender, but Ricky Doyle is rewarded for hustling down the floor.

“I just saw the ball on the floor and I just tried to grab it with two hands,” Doyle explained. “When I got the ball I looked up and realized how close I was to the basket and I was just one-on-one so I went straight to a hook shot.”

5. Aubrey Dawkins shows flashes

Dawkins is still very rough around the edges, but in the second half we got a taste of what he can bring to the table. Here we see Dawkins’ ‘three-and-d’ role personified in two quick clips.

In the first clip, Dawkins plays solid defense on one end of the floor. He has the length and athleticism to guard multiple wing positions and we see that here. He’s guards multiple players, stays in front of his man and shows good awareness. On the defensive rebound, Dawkins gets out and runs the wing. He drifts open for a transition three and Albrecht finds him for the easy make. Dawkins hasn’t had many chances, but he’s 2-of-3 from long range this season.

In the next clip, we see Dawkins grab a defensive rebound and run the length of the floor before finishing with a smooth euro step move. This is one of the best moves that we’ve seen from Dawkins off the dribble and he has the athleticism to finish with ease.

  • MChem83

    “Active” is definitely the word that best describes Doyle’s play in the last few games. He still has a lot of things to work on, particularly positioning for defensive rebounds, but he is coming along better than any of our other bigs. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against a bigger, tougher opponent in Syracuse, but if he continues to progress, he’ll probably be starting by January, if not before.

  • Mattski

    Doyle impressive. Playing Nicholls State, but getting him a big pile of successful touches in a game like this has to be a huge confidence-builder.

  • Dr_ZC

    Are we moving away from the PNR? I did not see any of our bigs rolling to the hoop, and they are a bit tentative screening.