By Alejandro Zúñiga | 2014-15 Season | Posted on November 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm
The Michigan basketball team ran away from Hillsdale on Saturday for a 92-68 win. Here are Five Key Plays from the Wolverines’ season opener.
1) Stedman Lowry paces Hillsdale to 15-6 lead
Derrick Walton said Hillsdale “hit us in the mouth” early in Saturday’s regular-season opener. The Chargers jumped out to a 15-6 lead courtesy of Stedman Lowry’s 11 points in the first five minutes.
Lowry missed on Hillsdale’s first possession, but then, he got hot. The redshirt freshman made four straight shots to stun the Crisler Center crowd.
After hitting a jumper, he got separation from Kameron Chatman — who got caught on a screen — on an inbounds play to sink an open three-pointer. Then, he hit a contested look over Walton in transition, cut behind Mark Donnal for an easy layup. But his most impressive shot came with 15:22 left in the half, when he elevated over Caris LeVert from well beyond the arc to for a deep three-pointer.
The nine-point lead was Hillsdale’s largest of the night, but Lowry scored just four points in the last 35 minutes of the game.
“We had no scouting report on (him) because he redshirted last year,” John Beilein said after the game. “We changed his gap from sort of a regular gap to overplay him a little bit.”
By Alejandro Zúñiga | 2014-15 Season | Posted on November 16, 2014 at 10:40 am
Twelve different players saw the court in Michigan’s season-opening win over Hillsdale on Saturday, but the Wolverines’ production came almost entirely from a three-man core: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert.
The trio scored a combined 63 points, pacing Michigan to a 92-68 win. The team’s next-highest scorer, Mark Donnal, tallied just nine.
And while the Wolverines pulled away with ease, the Chargers provided an early scare in the first half. Though Michigan had no difficulties picking apart Hillsdale’s defense, it became apparent that the team isn’t relying on its freshmen — at least, not yet.
“That is the puzzle of, don’t lose sight of the really good players as we develop the young kids,” said John Beilein. “You have to continue to feed Caris and Zak and Spike and Derrick. So much reinforcement and individual development while you’re also trying to get the other guys just to land on two feet sometimes when you go strong into the lane.”
Kameron Chatman, who started and saw the most minutes of the freshmen with 30, didn’t do himself any favors, finishing just 1-for-7 from the field. Meanwhile, no other newcomer had more than two field-goal attempts.
“It’s kind of a game-time thing,” LeVert said. “We got some looks out there, and I got some easy shots. Got out in transition a lot, too.”
Opening the season with a ring ceremony is more than a celebration, it’s a reminder of the end goal.
Ask any of Michigan’s freshmen and they’ll say that watching their older teammates receive their rings is the ultimate motivation to get one of their own. Ask one of those returning players and they’ll tell you how badly they want another one.
The Wolverines have kicked off the last three seasons with a banner celebration and winning a ring is becoming an expectation rather than a dream. John Beilein has preached the importance of building a winning culture since he arrived in Ann Arbor and his foundation is firmly in place.
While the culture is a reality, Saturday’s season opener against Hillsdale was a reminder that this is a new, different team.
The Wolverines handled their Division II opponent with relative ease, but showed some growing pains along the way. Don’t pencil Michigan into the Elite Eight just yet, this is a team that’s still trying to figure itself out. Players need to find their roles, defensive rotations need to be drilled and it’s painfully obvious that roughly half of the roster is learning on the job.
The Michigan team on the floor Saturday afternoon didn’t look ready to compete for a championship yet, but it looked like a group that believes it will by season’s end.
By Alejandro Zúñiga | 2014-15 Season | Posted on November 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm
Michigan overcame a slow start to blow out Hillsdale in Saturday’s regular-season opener at the Crisler Center. John Beilein said he wasn’t concerned with the Wolverines’ defense effort, and he applauded Caris LeVert’s for nearly reaching a triple-double without any turnovers. Watch Beilein’s postgame press conference with select quotes after the jump.
All three scored more than 20 points each as Michigan overcame a slow start to cruise to an easy victory. LeVert finished just shy of a triple-double, recording 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Watch them discuss the result in the embedded media players below.