ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Microphone and all Michigan coach John Beilein was the star of the show Wednesday night as the Wolverines’ young basketball team ran through an hour of open practice in front of roughly 1,000 fans at Crisler Center.
From layups to defensive shuffles to three-point shooting drills, Michigan treated fans to a peek inside a regular practice day as the exhibition opener nears Monday, Nov. 10 at home against Wayne State.
Looking to keep fans engaged and understanding of exactly what the team was trying to accomplish in each perfectly timed group session, Beilein wasn’t holding back just because everyone in the building could hear what he had to say.
In back to back sequences, Michigan redshirt freshman center Mark Donnal missed a layup. Beilein promptly replied with “Go for a trip, Mark. We don’t miss layups.” That of course meant Donnal was heading up the stairs of the arena for a little reminder.
But there was praise as well.
Michigan junior Caris LeVert, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, took the shot for the blue team with the clock winding down at the end of practice, perfectly hitting a contested jumper at the top of the key with four seconds remaining.
The Wolverines are undoubtedly young and inexperienced but Michigan’s coaching staff has dealt with similar issues before.
Some notes and highlights of the practice below:
- Most impressive? Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin. Irvin was just doing what Irvin does, knocking down threes from all over the perimeter and at an extremely high percentage. Of the opportunities Irvin had in live settings he didn’t miss many. Early of course and just practice but if Irvin is given some more looks like he had last year he will have a chance to lead the team in scoring despite LeVert being the most complete player on the team.
- Most surprising? Michigan freshman D.J. Wilson. I love this kids potential already at a full 6-foot-10 and very athletic, Wilson brings a dimension to the center position that others can’t. Length, quickness and even strong timing blocking shots, Wilson is ahead of Max Bielfeldt and will challenge Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle for playing time. Wilson even took a defender off the dribble, finishing with his left hand at the rim.
- Ricky Doyle vs. Mark Donnal? Doyle is ahead right now based on what I’ve had a chance to see in two hours of practice over the last week, as well as a two-hour practice prior to Michigan’s trip to Italy. Doyle’s footwork in the pick and roll, both offensively and defensively, is advanced for his age and the young man really plays with a passion for the game synonymous with that of a Mitch McGary. Donnal is still very young and needs time to fully develop his game and reach the level of intensity required to compete inside at the division one-college level. Ironically enough, I think both are really helping one another and motivating one another to get better in their respective strengths.
- The pick and roll with Derrick Walton Jr. is going to be something to really watch this season. On one occasion, Walton Jr. took a screen to the right from Doyle, adding a couple dribbles as Doyle rolled to the hole, defense fully committing to stopping Walton who quickly and perfectly dropped a bounce pass to Doyle for a pretty strong two-handed dunk underneath.
- Of course Austin Hatch running through some drills and being able to experience practicing in front of a very appreciative crowd was special and something that will be thrilling to watch this season if he sees the floor.
- Also, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman can contribute. I'd expect Dawkins to backup Kameron Chatman at the four spot with Abdur-Rahkman able to fill in at the two guard. Abdur-Rahkman is strong with the ball in his hands and the ability to penetrate and kick will benefit the Wolverines.