On Friday, U-M coach John Beilein said freshman Ricky Doyle, who had been Donnal’s main competition this off-season, had been dealing with an slight ankle sprain and just starting running full-court again in practice. He said due to Doyle’s injury situation, Donnal has been getting the most reps with the starting offense.
“Normally what I will do, I will stay with what we’ve been doing until someone clearly gets in front of somebody else,” Beilein said on naming his starting power forward. “And by injury and being a little bit more veteran and having a year as a redshirt, Mark [Donnal] got the first shot.”
However, Beilein did note that Doyle will be at full strength when U-M opens up with its exhibition opener versus Wayne State tonight at 7 p.m. at the Crisler center.
Despite the injury, the competition has been fierce this summer between the two freshman, and looks to continue as Beilein is in search of his permanent starting five and rotation these first couple weeks of the season.
“Me and Mark, we like to go at each I would like to say,” Doyle said. “It’s almost like a brotherly love, I would like to say. I would go at Mark, he would go back at me. In the end result, we are both getting better. Which is what we both really need.”
Last year, U-M rotated between Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, with both big man splitting time at the power four. And while Donnal didn’t play last season, he says the competition with Morgan has compared well with his match-up this season versus Doyle.
“Last year I was competing with Horford and Morgan,” Donnal said. “I feel like it’s more of Jordan Morgan type [competition] when we are competing this year. We are working hard every day, competing, trying to make each other better.”