Five Key Plays: Coppin State at Michigan

Alejandro Zúñiga

The Michigan basketball team began Monday’s game on a 21-3 run and cruised to a 72-56 win over Coppin State. Check out Five Key Plays from the Wolverines’ final non-conference game.

1) Wolverines jump to 7-0 game-starting run

Against a vastly inferior Eagles squad, Michigan almost needed a quick start to ease the frustrations of a four-game losing streak. Fortunately, it had no trouble doing so.

After winning the opening tip, Derrick Walton and Ricky Doyle connected for an early bucket. Handing the ball to the point guard just inside the three-point line, Doyle sprinted to the paint, and Lawrence Fejokwu abandoned him and stepped toward Walton, expecting to contest a jumper. Instead, Walton found Doyle for the easy layup.

The next time down the court was just as simple. Coppin State fumbled a routine pass, and Caris LeVert had no trouble attacking the basket for a layup of his own. This, again, ran through Doyle: He set a strong screen at the top of the key, then rolled to the basket, leaving LeVert an open lane to the hoop.

On the Wolverines’ next possession, Zak Irvin hit a deep three off a handoff from LeVert, and Coppin State was forced to call timeout just 62 seconds in.

2) Doyle, Donnal dominate inside

Coppin State ranks 342nd in average height, and Michigan had a field day inside, outscoring the Eagles 30-12 in the paint. Doyle and Mark Donnal combined for 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

The ease with which the Wolverines attacked inside was demonstrated best by a sequence toward the end of the first half. It began with good ball movement through a zone, getting the ball to the free throw line and then out to Spike Albrecht. As Taariq Cephas left Doyle to cover Albrecht, Anrold Fripp didn’t rotate to the center fast enough, and Albrecht found him for a layup.

Then, after grabbing a defensive rebound, Doyle beat Fripp down the court and was fouled upon receiving the ball in the post. After Doyle made both free throws, Donnal checked in, and Coppin State simply left him alone near the baseline to collapse around Kameron Chatman at the free throw line — and he didn’t even have the ball. The sequence ended with Walton feeding Doyle on the pick-and-roll, and the center drew a foul despite bobbling the pass.

The bigs did struggle at the line, going a combined 5-for-10, but it was reassuring to see them get more looks.

3) Kameron Chatman has solid night

Chatman has really struggled this season, scoring in double-digits twice and shooting 28.6% from the field, so it was reassuring to see him incorporated into Michigan’s offense.

After Coppin State’s timeout at the 62-second mark, Chatman scored the Wolverines’ next points. Upon receiving the ball outside the three-point line, he made a pass to Doyle, who dished to Irvin. Meanwhile, freed by a LeVert screen on Fripp, Chatman cut across the paint, received a return feed from Irvin, and finished with a left-handed layup.

This is classic Michigan motion that Glenn Robinson III seemed to score off of for an easy basket or two every game. For Chatman, finishing at the basket has been a struggle so it was nice to see him convert an easy look.

Late in the first half, he hit a three-pointer — and not from the left corner, which has been his only sweet spot this year. But after halftime, he did settle into that hot spot, sinking a trey created by quick ball movement and a laser pass from Walton.

“In practice, you give him an inch, he makes it every single time,” Walton said of Chatman. “My main thing, and the older guys’ main thing, is to just let him know, ‘We’ve seen you make that shot. So never hesitate to shoot when you’re open. Play the same way that got you here.’ ”

4) Irvin alley-oop highlights all-around performance

Irvin knew things were set up for a highlight-reel play when Sterling Smith sagged off him and left the forward alone in the left corner. As Michigan moved the ball around the perimeter, Irvin faked a couple cuts inside, then popped back out for a potential three. But when Smith bodied Donnal, the forward went for a higher-percentage shot, sneaking down the baseline and slamming a thunderous alley-oop off a LeVert lob.

Though it was his flashiest play of the night — earning No. 3 honors on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the night — it was far from his only meaningful contribution. Irvin had seven rebounds, his highest total of the season; he had three assists, the most this year; and he recorded two steals, second-most this winter. Add that to a 5-for-11 night shooting with a trio of three-pointers and it was what Beilein considered one of Irvin’s best all-around games this year.

“His assists are low; he had three tonight. His rebounds have been low; he got seven tonight. His steals have been low; he got two tonight,” Beilein said. “He’s trying to see what a complete player looks like, and he’s trying to evolve into that. Be more than just a shooter.”

5) Austin Hatch records first official collegiate point

As Beilein said after the game, the exhibition game was one thing. Monday night, in a regular-season game, Austin Hatch made it into the official scorebook with the Michigan Wolverines.

Checking in to an ovation with 1:22 left, Hatch received a feed from Muhammad-Ali Abur-Rahkman at the top of the key, bobbled it, and then was fouled shooting a three-pointer that almost fell. Instead, with a big grin, the freshman settled for sinking the second free throw.

“I’m glad they called that foul on us,” said Coppin State coach Michael Grant. “I was hoping he could make all three. That was really, really touching, and I was glad he was able to score.”

With half a minute to play, Hatch had an open look at a corner three — and just look at the excitement from Michigan’s bench — but saw it rattle out before Beilein called timeout and subbed him out to a roar from the Crisler Center crowd.

“I told Austin earlier, ‘Just shoot it. The Lord will take care of it. Just shoot it,’ ” Beilein said. “And it almost went in.”

  • Mattski

    I thought I had pretty much exhausted all the emotion I had about Austin Hatch, but–gulp.

  • Wayman Britt

    Sure hope the capacity crowd and Harbaugh in the house, fires up the Bball team to pull out a win over Illinois.