Michigan hosts Western Illinois in its final tune up before beginning play in the 2011 Maui Invitational on Monday against Memphis. Like Michigan’s first two games of the season, Western Illinois shouldn’t pose much of a serious threat. The Leathernecks won just two games in the Summit League last season and were the only team to lose to Division 1 cellar dweller Centenary, who went 1-29 and now plays Division III basketball.
On Wednesday, John Beilein met with the media to preview Western Illinois, the Wolverines’ last test before they head to Maui. We don’t have video today, but we do have audio as well as the standard notes and quotes. Audio from MGoBlue.com.
These three early season games have been a good experience. Western Illinois, who Michigan plays tomorrow, is a “really well-coached team” and will be the final test before heading to Maui.
On Monday against Towson, the first 25 minutes were “exceptional” mainly because Michigan scored points off defense and moved the ball well (Smotrycz’s points were not pretty but were great).
Everyone is now seeing the new-and-improved Evan Smotrycz. Beilien has seen it since day one of practice this year. Loves his pursuit of rebounds and the way he’s finding ways to score.
Starting lineup will “probably” be the same as it was on Monday – Burke, Novak, Hardaway Jr., Smotrycz and Morgan.
It’s crazy that another amazing year of college basketball is upon us. I’m greatly excited to once again be calling games for Michigan Basketball, and even more enthused to be working with Dylan to bring you guys exclusive behind the scenes action. We’ve got some wonderful things planned and I hope you will enjoy them. I’m also giving away two free pairs of tickets to Thursday’s game versus Western Illinois to two random people that Like UM Hoops on Facebook and comment on the contest thread.
Let’s get right into your questions from this week’s Mailbag:
What do you think of Michigan’s bigs thus far? Where can they show improvement but also what are some positives that they are bringing to the table?
I think the Michigan bigs are going to need time. That’s the first thing I would stress. We all know how much Darius Morris meant to this team, accounting for over 50 percent of the offense last season. Especially considering our offensive system isn’t one where the bigs get touches every time down the floor, they will need time. I think the offensive production will improve as they get used to playing with a new distributor and get their feet up under them.
It was only a game against Towson, who returned just one player from its win-less CAA squad last season, but a 21-0 run is impressive no matter who you’re playing. When combined with the final eight minutes of Michigan’s season opener, the run amounted to 41-1 – easily the best basketball that Michigan has played during this young season. It started with a jumper from Hardaway off an assist from Burke. Burke followed the assist, which he said helped calm his nerves, with two 3-pointers of his own — the first of his career, to make it 8-0 Michigan. The Wolverines did their part on the defensive end, forcing Towson into seven turnovers during the stretch. Novak, Morgan, Horford and Smotrycz all took part in the scoring effort, with Burke leading the way with six early points. Novak’s easy lay-in off a pretty dish from Hardaway capped the run with 11:50 to go in the half. [click to continue…]