Michigan cruised past Wayne State on Friday night 73-54 in an exhibition game. The Wolverines played in front of the largest contingent of Maize Rage members that I have ever seen at a basketball game. The atmosphere at Crisler Arena was outstanding considering that this was an exhibition game.
After the game, Coach John Beilein said, “I really liked the competition that we got today you can’t simulate that in practice. That type of quickness and game speed, especially the start of the game they hit us with a screen here and screen there and our kids are thinking and trying to sort everything out –that’s why these exhibition games are terrific for us.”
Michigan started the game with Darius Morris, Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Novak, Manny Harris, and DeShawn Sims. It didn’t take long to see that Morris is the real deal at point guard and that he is Michigan’s best option at that position. Morris said he felt very comfortable, “As soon as the ball tipped up I was good, I was in my comfort zone and everything was fine.”
Morris didn’t attempt a shot in the first half and in the second half he did take 5 shots. I asked him about the difference between the two halves. His answer was exactly what you would want a point guard to say. Morris said, “His [Belein’s] philosophy is if you’re open shoot it. I’m only going to shoot if I’m confident I’m going to make the shot, we’ve got great scorers, you see Manny had 16 in the first half when he’s knocking down it’s my job to get him the ball.” Morris continued, “In the second half I was more aggressive because they were pressuring up more I just have to use my quickness to get to the hole.”
Beilein was very pleased with what he saw from Morris. “I thought he did a good job. He’s learning the offense and now, hopefully he can give us, as we get into this thing, finding the spot to just drive it, he’s a really high IQ player, so hopefully he’ll figure out that sweet spot between driving and running another play.”
The best player on the floor was Manny Harris. He had been nursing a hamstring injury the last few weeks but showed no signs of that slowing him down. Harris scored 25 points, hauled down 5 boards, dished out 4 assists, and notched 3 steals while only turning the ball over once. He also demonstrated great leadership and impressed his head coach. “Manny’s demeanor the whole game was really positive great leadership skills he showed today,” said Beilein.
Zack Novak played very well. By my count, he dove on the floor 3 times, saved two balls from going out of bounds, and drew one charge. Novak also scored 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc. He took a couple of deep threes and I asked him after the game if the coaches ever frowned upon shooting from well beyond the line.”If you’re open shoot it, he [Beilein] has confidence in us, you’re allowed to shoot.” Novak said he wasn’t even aware that a couple of those shots were that deep. I believe it because there was zero hesitation in any of the shots he took.
This game will provide the coaches with some great teaching points as Michigan prepares for the season opener (Saturday, Nov. 14).
Stats: Michigan shot 11 for 29 on three-pointers and had 5 different players drain a three. The Wolverines had 15 assists on 25 field goals good for a 60% ratio. After the game Coach Beilein said, “If we can do that every game be in the 60-70% [range], that’s pretty darn good.
Notes: One of the plays of the game came in the waning moments when Corey Person had a spectacular block. Ben Cronin played just 3 minutes in the game but he did make his presence known. Cronin scored 3 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and swatted 2 shots in the limited minutes. DeShawn Sims battled foul trouble, scoring 9 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in just 23 minutes.