Michigan vs. Wayne State
Crisler Center; 7PM
MIchigan comes into the 2014 season with a lot of questions to answer after last season's Big Ten Title/Elite Eight run. The Wolverines lost its entire rotation at the five and two NBA players on the wings. This puts the onus on John Beilein's latest class of recruits, one that is filled top to bottom with intrigue but offers no guarantees.
Caris LeVert returns as the center of Michigan's offense, and he will be joined in that department by an older, wiser Derrick Walton. Michigan will start most of its offense with these two when the starters are on the floor. Even those it''ll be those two that start with the ball in their hand, Zak Irvin promises to be the last one to touch it on a sizeable percentage of possessions. Last year's sixth man will shift into the starting lineup at the three and Michigan will depend on him to show more balanced scoring ability while still shooting efficiently from outside. He will also need to become a factor on the boards.
Up front will be two new starting faces. Freshman Kam Chatman is a different type of player than last year's four, Glenn Robinson III, but Chatman's diverse offensive game and guard-like skills should translate to a different kind of efficient production from the position. Michigan will hope that in turn, Mark Donnal can be a different but similarly effective player at the five, and if he can't go look for Ricky Doyle or DJ Wilson to get a chance to play the five.
Off the bench Michigan once again has Spike Albrecht, but will look to freshmen Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins to take on situation roles and provide backup minutes in the back-court and on the wings.
Wayne State loses its top three scorers from a year ago, but should have an injection of offense with the addition of 6-foot-3 guard Michael Lewis, who only appeared in three games a year ago but averaged double figures in those games. He is coming off a medical redshirt and should be a big part of Wayne State's gameplan. He is also joined by returning starter Clark Bishop and rotation player Gavin Toma. Both played in most of Wayne State's games a year ago and played between 20-25 minutes per game. Both were in the top three on the team in shooting percentage from three last year, so WSU gets back some of its outside shooting to help ease the transition with so many new players.
These two played an exhibition game a year ago in which Michigan won 79-60. Both Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert scored in double digits in that game and Michigan was 7 of 11 in the first half from outside before going 2 of 10 the rest of the way.
What To Look For?
This is an exhibition game, so the big thing Michigan is going to look to do is get its young players ready for the season and used to the game atmosphere at the college level. Michigan should toy a bit with the top part of its rotation and shelf that as soon as the game seems far enough out or reach for the young kids to play. To that end, there are a few things to keep an eye out for.
- Who is the first player off the bench? Spike has experience on his side, but Aubrey Dawkins might be a more versatile replacement player.
- MAAR is another one to watch, as his unique skill set could be a valuable tool for the second team offense. He isn't much of an outside shooter, so that could ultimately hold him back from playing time.
- Inside, Michigan has a lot of figuring out to do with regards to its center position. Mark Donnal has more experience and the game of a traditional inside/out big in Beilein's offense, while Ricky Doyle is more suited for the physical part of the position. Meanwhile, DJ Wilson might just be too talented not to try him at the five. All three should get a chance to play, and while WSU doesn't present a size matchup, it will give us a chance to see which of these three players seems most comfortable and fluid on both offense and defense. That will be the big determining factor in PT early.
1. Michigan wins by 20-25 points.
2. Zak Irvin leads all scoreres
3. Caris LeVert pulls a Noah and posts two of just about every stat (blocks, steals, assists, 3PM, rebs, etc.).
4. Aubrey Dawkins does a really cool dunk that makes us all miss GRIII for a second until we realize that Dawkins might be able to approximate his production in that regard.