Rebounding has never been something John Beilein teams are known for — if anything it has always been something of a worry for fans of his teams. This season those problems loom even larger as Michigan is breaking in an entirely new rotation at the four and five positions. The lumps were going to come eventually. Those lumps almost sent Michigan to its first loss of the season. Almost.
Oregon rebounded a whopping 45% of its misses, pulling in 18 offensive boards to Michigan's 22 defensive. On a night when Michigan's offense wasn't firing on all cylinders, that was nearly enough. Joseph Young was as advertised, a quick, always attacking guard that beats you in all sorts of ways. He finished with 20 points on 16 shots, hit all 8 of his free throw attempts and had two each of steals and offensive rebounds to go with three assists. Dillon Brooks added five offensive boards and 14 points. Six ducks finished with an offensive board.
Meanwhile, Michigan's offense showed signs of strain early on. Michigan wasn't able to set up its offense as effectively as it normally does, which turned a lot of the threes and layups that are normally there into long jump shots and contested floaters. Caris LeVert scored 11 of his 18 points from the line, but that underscored his inability to hit shots from the floor, where he was just 3 of 13 on the night. Zak Irvin, once again flashed an ability to get into the lane and scored efficiently to lead Michigan with 19 points on 11 shots. Derrick Walton had a quiet night due in part to a couple ill-timed fouls that saw him eat bench for long stretches.
Michigan maintained a lead through most of the game, but it was tenuous for long stretches in the second half. Oregon seemed to wear Michigan down only to see the Wolverines push the lead back out to a couple baskets. While LeVert and Irvin deserve a lot of the credit, Michigan finally got big minutes out of freshman Ricky Doyle, and he did not disappoint. He finished with 10 points, three offensive rebounds, and a block. He did this by generally being in the right place at the right time — not always an easy task for a freshman adjusting to a complex offense and a faster paced college game.
It is clear that Michigan's youth problem isn't going to solve itself overnight, but the flashes of talent are there. As the season goes along there will be more nights like this when one or more of Michigan's big three struggle or the offense bogs down. Michigan's ability to weather these storms will be directly dependent on the play of its freshmen.
Tonight Michigan took its lumps, but Ricky Doyle gave a few back. Put another one in the win column.