Saturday, November 15th
Crisler Center; 2pm
ESPN3 (Online stream)
Michigan took the floor once already this season, beating Wayne State in an exhibition game earlier this week by a double-em-up score of 86-43. In that game, Michigan got big contributions from Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin to pace the team.
The bigger news was how Michigan's freshmen played. Kam Chatman, Aubrey Dawkins, and DJ Wilson scored 9, 8, and 9 respectively and combined for ten rebounds (six for Chatman), seven assists, and just one turnover. This type of play from these three will be a big part of Michigan's season as Michigan looks to replace a lot of production up front. Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal played a combined 27 minutes and each scored four points. Donnal had five rebounds in his 15 minutes while Doyle had three in 12.
The game against Hillsdale won't be a big challenge, but once again will give Michigan's coaches the chance to get the freshmen comfortable on the floor and work out the kinks on defense.
Hillsdale was 18-9 a year ago, but will be replacing the top end of its rotation as four of the five starters from a year ago are gone, including the leader in just about every statistical category — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks — Tim Dezelski. It will be up to lose returning starter Kyle Cooper to fill those shoes. In the backcourt, Zach Miller, Cody Smith, and Garrett Jones are back from last year's rotation. Smith started nine games but struggled to shoot inside the arc. None of these three is taller than 6-foot, so Michigan should have a very favorable matchup there.
Inside the Chargers will look to Jason Pretzer to have a bigger role. The seven footer was a minor contributor last year. Outside of him, Hillsdale has no one taller than 6-foot-8. Michigan should have a good opportunity to control the paint with its three new options at the five.
What To Watch For
- How does Michigan look inside? Hillsdale lacks a size advantage over just about everyone but Spike. Can Michigan control the glass and play smart interior defense against a lesser opponent? With Jordan Morgan around that wasn't a question, but there is still a lot to prove for Michigan's new interior players.
- Can Zak Irvin be a complete scorer? Against WSU he scored 11 points on 11 shots and had two turnovers. It wasn't the kind of highly efficient shooting night Irvin tantalized with overseas this summer, but his rebounding numbers and two free throws are indications of a little more than "just a shooter". Michigan needs him to continue to blossom.
- How does the defense look. Michigan has the potential to be a very good perimeter defense. Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin are both impressive athletes that bring a lanky, imposing defensive style. A summer in the weight room should help them both bring more strength and power to that, which will make it easier to hold up against more talented competition. This isn't that. Also, does Michigan go to the 1-3-1 at all? Is that going to be used less or more than it was a year ago with the changes inside.