What: Michigan vs. Perugia Select Team
When: Sunday, Aug. 17 at noon EST
Where: Rome, Italy (Stella Azzura)
Scoring by quarter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Michigan 39 25 25 10 99
Perugia Select 13 15 13 19 60
In the first of a four game tour in Italy the Michigan basketball team got off to a strong start overseas quickly and emphatically downing Perugia Select 99-60 Sunday afternoon.
“Offensively, that first quarter was not what I was expecting,” John Beilein said afterward. “With us playing so well offensively that led to us playing so well defensively.
“You don’t know what to expect in games like these. The first quarter was probably a little above what I thought we would do. The last three quarters were a little more predictable for a team on a trip like we are on.”
Six Wolverines hit double figures in the scoring column led by now sophomore wing Zak Irvin with 27 points to go with 11 rebounds and 4 assists.
Derrick Walton Jr. pumped in 10 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Caris LeVert, still getting back into game shape after missing four months following surgery to his foot, had 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
At the center position, redshirt freshman Mark Donnal got the start scoring 6 points, pulling in 5 rebounds. Off the bench, freshman Ricky Doyle scored 12 points.
Kameron Chatman was the only true freshman to start for Michigan as he scored 12 points in his debut. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 11 points and also grabbed 7 boards. Aubrey Dawkins made 2-of-4 attempts from the field to finish with 7 points.
Despite the strong start to the trip, Michigan coach John Beilein says a lot of teaching will go on in the coming days.
“We will have 48 hours before our next game,” he said. “This film will be invaluable. There will be plenty of it that will coach the coaches on what we have to teach better.
“The second part is we will have a chance to sit down with players on the train tomorrow when we go to Verona. It will be just a great teaching tool.”
For Irvin, who shot 10-of-13 from the field, it was a good team win.
“I really shot the ball well today; however, I have to give my teammates credit because they were looking for me and getting me the ball,” Irvin said. “The big thing for me was getting to the hole and I was able to do that. I was able to score inside and outside. It was a great start for us, a great game and hopefully we can keep this going.”
“We came out shooting the ball really well. That just speaks volumes for our team. We are all looking for each other and playing unselfish basketball.”
Although the final score was a laugher for Michigan, Irvin says this team still has a lot of work to do.
“We are a growing team,” he said. “There were a lot of things that went well today, but there is plenty we still have to work on.
“We can do better communicating and on the defensive end. We came out to Italy and had a great game, but we also just have to enjoy and really take in everything on this trip.”
Freshman Ricky Doyle, who actually arrived to campus a month earlier than all of the other freshmen, added it was good to finally take the floor in a more official capacity.
“It was a lot of fun,” Doyle said. “Finally getting out there with all these guys was a great experience. There is a lot more to come. It’s going to be a great year.”
Austin Hatch takes the floor
While some could look at the final score of this one believing a near 40-point victory to kickoff the trip is the story, the true headline is the insertion of freshman Austin Hatch.
Entering the game in the final minutes to a standing ovation, much to the delight of his coaches and teammates who know how much he’s been through, the contest couldn’t have ended in a more dramatic fashion.
“As you can imagine it has been a heck of a journey to get here,” Hatch said. “Playing basketball at the University of Michigan has been my goal since I was a little kid.
“It was unreal to be here and to have actually played a game. I really feel like I have that game under my belt now and I really feel like a Michigan basketball player.”
John Beilein adding, “It was a special moment. Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over. It’s something he has worked very hard for. It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands.”
Irvin, a fellow Indiana native, says witnessing Hatch take the floor for the first time in his Michigan jersey was extremely gratifying.
“It was great to see that, especially after everything that Austin has been through,” Irvin said. “To see him step out onto that floor just meant so much.
“I have known Austin since the eighth grade so to see him out there playing was just incredible. I hope he is able to do that a lot more during this trip and beyond.”
Nearly with an opportunity to score his first basket as a Wolverine, Hatch, in true unselfish fashion, wasn’t going to force anything.
“I am not going to take a shot if it is not the right point in the game. For example if I have an open three and I have a teammate who is open under the basket, you better believe I am going to be passing it to him.
“Yeah, it would be cool if I made a three. It would be a good story, but I am about my team and my teammates.”
Hatch will have three more opportunities to pump in his first points in Italy. Regardless, the post game celebration was a dream come true.
“It was unreal,” Hatch said. “To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits.
“I always thought to myself, I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that. Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that.”