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.
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.
- 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.