Exhibition: Le Moyne at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

In its first live action of the season, Michigan looked like a team that needs a lot more reps.

Caris LeVert knew how to be Caris LeVert, but the other ten players who logged double-digit minutes appeared to still be searching for roles in the Wolverines’ 22 point exhibition win. Michigan returns over 90% of its production from last season, but the guys that played together last year aren’t playing in the same rotations or roles that they served a year ago.

In the first half, Michigan’s offense looked tentative while its defense carried the load against a Le Moyne team that was undersized and undermanned. In the second half, the Wolverines found their scoring touch, but also let Le Moyne’s offense back into the game. Perhaps that was because both Beilein’s knew each other inside and out — players laughed after the game about running the same plays on both ends of the floor — or just because it was a sloppy exhibition game.

Either way, there will be a lot of valuable tape for Michigan to build upon after an underwhelming opening performance.

“I am so excited, more so than anybody in this room, to get up at about 6 a.m. and watch a whole bunch of video tomorrow so that I can be ready for our 12 o’ clock video session,” John Beilein quipped after the game. “Because we’ve got to get better.”


If Le Moyne would have shot free throws more effectively (they were 3 of 13) this could have been a much closer game. Michigan had a few stretches where things seemed to flow, but overall it was a game that lacked any bite. Both teams seemed content to slow the game down — a 58 possession game in the new 30 second shot clock era seems awfully slow — but there’s an awful lot of work to be done before the real games start.

Rotation notes

Michigan started the game with Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, Kameron Chatman and Mark Donnal. Judging by Beilein’s rotation, a two-deep would probably look something like this.

1 2 3 4 5
Walton LeVert Dawkins Chatman Donnal
Albrecht Abdur-Rahkman Robinson Wilson Doyle

Wilson and Chatman played exclusively at the four while Dawkins and Robinson split 90% of the time at the three, with Caris LeVert shifting over for a few spot minutes. We saw a two-point guard look near the end of the first half.

It was also noticeable that Beilein had a short hook for defensive mistakes. Aubrey Dawkins and Duncan Robinson both made some ugly defensive errors in the second half and immediately their counterpart was sent to the scorer’s table. Beilein said after the game that he won’t have a short hook on offense, but now the Wolverines have enough depth to punish defensive mistakes.

Michigan 74, Le Moyne 52-9

Player Bullets

  • Caris LeVert: Caris LeVert looked like Caris LeVert again. He did everything except finish an emphatic baseline dunk (the first dunk that he’s missed in a game, per himself) and ended up taking a nasty fall. LeVert was 9 of 17 from the floor and made 4 of his 9 three-point attempts. He also grabbed four boards and handed out three assists in 30 minutes of action. LeVert took 30% of Michigan’s shots on the night, but it didn’t feel like the ball was sticking when he touched it.
  • Derrick Walton: It was even more refreshing watching a healthy Walton play. Unlike LeVert, we watched Walton playing at far less than 100% for an extended period of time. He has his bounce back and was explosive in transition with some great dribble moves and passes. I’d still like to see him be more aggressive in the half court, but when he had to he made it count: he hit a nice shot clock pull-up jumper, he made his only three-point attempt and had a nice drive and dish for a three.
  • Duncan Robinson: Duncan Robinson’s shooting stroke was as advertised (3 of 6 from long range) and he finished with 15 points on the night. The beauty about Robinson’s game is that he just finds his way to the proper spots on the floor. He had a putback and a few nice cuts in an overall strong performance. Defensively, he’s going to need work in man-to-man situations. Beilein noted that he played 100% zone at Williams and he was taken off the dribble multiple times by Le Moyne guards.
  • Aubrey Dawkins: Dawkins looked more comfortable with the ball, throwing a nice one-handed assist to Mark Donnal. His off the dribble game was also a bit predictable, almost every time he attacked off the bounce he drove baseline and spun back to the middle. His three-point shot was off and he struggled on the defensive end (getting caught on screens on the first possession of his first two shifts in the second half) and then appeared to tweak his ankle again late in the half.
  • DJ Wilson: Wilson’s three-point stroke wasn’t there, but he made it count inside the arc with a couple of dunks, an alley-oop pass and a nice 14 foot jumper off the block. I still love his length and his comfort in the offense on the wing is better than I expected entering this year. His ability to grab a rebound and push the ball up the court at his size is also a nice weapon.
  • Mark Donnal: Donnal got the start at the five position as many expected and finished with 6 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. He didn’t do anything that really impressed, but didn’t have any particularly poor plays either.
  • Ricky Doyle: Doyle was the second big man off the bench and similar to Donnal, he didn’t really do anything that jumped off the page. He finished with 2 points and five rebounds with a pair of assists in 19 minutes. His lone basket was a nice post up move and turnaround on the block.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht knocked down a corner three, but clearly didn’t look 100% and finished with three points and an assist in 20 minutes.
  • Moritz Wagner: We saw all of those typical freshman mistakes that Beilein has mentioned — ticky tack fouls on moving screens and rebounds, losing his man, cheating out too far for steal attempts — but you can see why people are excited about Wagner. He hit a three late in the game and he’s a big kid that has a lot of potential. Do you redshirt him? I don’t think so. There are too many questions in the frontcourt and he could find a way to fit in.
  • Kameron Chatman: Chatman only scored a point, but he led the team with four assists — most of which came on backdoor passes and included a quick crossover drive and dish for a corner three. He could have the best passing vision on the team other than Spike Albrecht, but he still struggled to finish above the rim when he drove the lane.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: Abdur-Rahkman only had one field goal attempt in 12 minutes, but he provided a bit of energy with his pace off the bounce.

Box Score

box score

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  • Nick

    If Mo isn’t starting within a couple months I’ll be shocked. I know his understanding of Michigan’s concepts etc. is probably limited but screw it. He knows how to compete. I think the good will far outweigh the bad, at least in comparison to Donnal/Doyle.

    • Champswest

      I don’t know about starting, but he is going to play and help this team. He has a lot to learn about the system, speed of game, etc. but the guy is a player.

  • Something I didn’t add in the post… I really thought the 30 second shot clock made a difference. Will be very interesting to track that throughout the year.

  • AA7596

    It’s interesting: We have a lot of depth, but we also have a lot of issues, from health (Albrecht, Irvin) to inexperience (Wilson, Wagner) to physical limitations (Donnal, Robinson) to the team-wide matter of how all of these pieces are going to fit together.

    Other teams have problems too, but we may need our stars to carry us early on while all this stuff sorts itself out.

  • Wayman Britt

    This team is going to take some time to find itself. It will also take time for Beilein to find his rotation. I bet as January hits the bench will get shorter. I see Wagners minutes going up over the season.

  • Champswest

    Typical first game ragged play, nothing to worry about. Dylan, you are right on about Robinson. You can tell that he is a player. He looks comfortable with the flow of the game and knowing where to be and what to do. He can score from anywhere. He is good enough to start on this team, but that may not be his role.
    I noticed that a lot of guys looked bigger and stronger and played more aggressively and physically.
    Not a great overall shooting night, but that will come. We have the talent.

  • Allidouswin

    Remember these comments ” Wagner looks slow and weak – need to redshirt” or ” I agree Duncan Robinson looks soft , I am disappointed in his game”. Those are some of the words you guys used on this site . This one called Donnal “soft”. THE POSTER ON THIS SITE give up on players after one pratice . I trust Belien’s coaching and judge of talent as oppose to you guys . I think Duncan Ronbinson is our Nik Stakes and not a Matt Vogrich. This team is so versatile. DONNA will contribute . Pont blank period. We have some things to work on but this win was good. DUNCAN Robinson is probably use to dominating this caliber comp …..

  • Treyburkeisthebestmichiganplay

    i think wagner was slow but, he showed great potential, he is young, has never lifted weights, and tried the hardest out of all our big men.

  • John miller

    Anyone who didn’t get to see the game live or in tv, Do not judge anything by the box score. I was at the game and I have watched it again on Btn plus and it’s not accurate at all. The replay will be shown Sunday evening.

    • Colin

      What do you mean that it is not accurate at all? Or do you mean it’s not vindictive of how the players played?

      • John miller

        Both. There are many stats that are not accurate and if this team was any better at all we would have looked like the worst team in the big ten. This game was very discouraging for this upcoming season. Hopefully the emotions and the fact they run the exact offense as us played a big factor. The boys in white did not look on the same page with a lot of unforced turnovers and caris looking like he feels he had to do it all. Hopefully next Friday will be much better.

        • It wasn’t pretty but does the box score make it look pretty? Exhibition games are there for a reason. Tough to draw major conclusions either way.

          • John miller

            That’s true. One major problem with going off box scores is that it shows we out rebounded them by 10+ I believe. Our boxing out has to drastically improve. This team was much smaller than we are and got a ton of offensive rebounds. Like you said, overreacting to exhibition games isn’t smart to do either way but from what I saw, I am very discouraged. Doyle and donnal didn’t look like they improved from last year at all and that is worrisome.

          • Colin

            I understand the discouragement. I was disappointed with the lack of offense and the individual defense by some guys (dawkins, robinson, and chatman). But there are a lot of pieces coming together for the first time, and Irvin should give us another solid 2 way player and some needed vocal leadership.

          • John miller

            Hopefully Irvin will return to form. The lack of rebounding I hope is not an issue through the year. You could tell Dawkins was more comfortable in the floor but only used his improved dribbling successfully on one play. I was expecting more and maybe that was a shame on me. On a bright note, Robinson can stroke it and Wagner looked like he is a few more games away from really contributing to the game. Dj has lots of confidence out there and that’s great, just needs to cut out the dumb mistakes.

        • jemblue

          Didn’t we struggle to beat Wayne State the year we won the Big Ten outright? It was just the first exhibition.

          • John miller

            The score was 86-43. That was well under control.

          • jemblue

            Maybe I have the year wrong. But I definitely remember us playing a very ugly exhibition where we scored like 50 points against a D-II opponent p, and we still went on to have an excellent season.

          • It was 2011-12 against Wayne State. 47-39 final score. :-) Then followed that up with a 59-33 win over Ferris State.

  • Chezaroo

    Ragged game. Some of my impressions going forward off this effort would be much of the initial preseason concerns. Defensive rebounding, lack of physicality in the post, and the overall indifference towards team defensive toughness. Lot to work on going forward.

  • bobohle

    According to the stats: A positive 2 to 1 assist/turnover ratio for the game with only 8 turnovers. We need to up the free throw percentage and have better defense against the three pt shot. LeMoyne had no inside game at all. We need to get out on that outside shot better.

  • Chris

    So you have a two deep without Irvin? Hmmm…

    • Based on the minutes from yesterday obviously. Irvin sat out.

    • John miller

      If the starting lineup isn’t Walton, Levert, Dawkins, Irvin and Doyle, that would be a huge surprise. Chapman just doesn’t have what it takes to start and will be a nice facilitator off the bench. I could also see Wilson starting at the 4 and moving Irvin to the 3. Wilson will have to prove he can knock down open shots first.

      • Kam and DJ have their chance now to prove that they should be in the rotation at the four while Irvin is out. Otherwise I would think you would see U-M revert to the Irvin/Dawkins wing pairing to start.

        • John miller

          If Irvin returns to form, there’s no way you can keep Irvin, Walton and Levert off the floor. Those 3 match up to any 3 in the country, when healthy obviously. So offensively they’re fine so I would think going with the best defensive bigs would be preferred. Dj and Doyle most likely. To think a second unit could be spike, MAAR, Dawkins, Robinson and chapman/Wagner would be an elite second unit. Doyle and donnal looked so shitty I just know we have to use one of them and Doyle has the higher upside I’d say.

          • Who is talking about keeping any of those three off the floor? They are the three guaranteed starters.

            The million dollar question is who is the other starting wing… there’s a much bigger opportunity to battle for that spot with Irvin out.

            I’m not really concerned who starts at the five… thought Doyle and Donnal both had pretty uninspiring games overall and we haven’t seen any of DJ at the five.

          • John miller

            No one said keep them off the floor, I was stating the 1,2 and 3 spots are taken. I think a lot will be determined by Walton as well. If he continues to not be aggressive in the half court, you’ll need another ball handler like a Dawkins or chapman. If he is aggressive, playing a dj or Wagner can work with Levert and Irvin spotting up. Having only 2 guys that will drive and create for others makes this offense too easy to be slowed. Levert can create and Irvin showed last year that he is just as good as creating as him. If levert is going to be doing all the ball handling, why not start MAAR? I think by big ten season the best 5 we can out out there will be Walton, Irvin, levert, Dawkins and Doyle. Unless something happens or someone really stand out, that’s the best lineup we can run out there.

  • gobluemd16

    Have some info: expect Zak to play on Friday. Likely in a limited-minute capacity, but hearing he is on track to play.