ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan shook some cob webs out Monday night in an 86-43 exhibition win over Wayne State at Crisler Center.
For the veterans, new positions and new teammates surely created an adjustment period. Caris LeVert still managed to lead the team in scoring with 16-points and assists with six. Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. were both in double figures as well, Irvin putting up 13 with five rebounds, Walton Jr. with 11 and four rebounds.
For the seven players stepping onto a college basketball floor and into a game for the very first time in an unofficial capacity, some nerves worked their way through the veins as well.
“I think both teams were young today and showed that many, many times,” Beilein said afterward. “I appreciate Wayne State coming over here. They’re always so sound defensively.
“I know we did put a good number on them but I don’t think we had as many easy ones as you’d think. It’s a good trial for us going forward into this season.
“We threw a lot of guys out there, we tried to get the guys that you all know and love and have seen many times play and then try to mix in, not necessarily combinations, but just get guys minutes so hopefully they won’t throw some of those air balls they threw the first time when they got into the game. Just get it out of them.”
While there were a few breakdowns defensively, most notably Wayne State reeling in 10 offensive rebounds, the Wolverines did play solid team defense overall.
The Warriors turned the ball over 18 times while shooting just 25-percent (14-of-54) on field goal attempts.
“We had lapses at times but overall they do have a high care level for defense,” Beilein said. “And that’s so key because it’s going to have to, while we sort out the great defenses we see, the little things you have to do fundamentally against different defenses, defensively we’re going to have to be good and it’s going to be hard.
“But I think this team can talk, they do have great length, I think all those ball screens today against a quick team, we had one foul. We have a capacity to grow in that area but we have a lot of growth to do.”
Offensively, Michigan was cold from three-point range throughout, connecting on just 7-of-22 attempts (31-percent).
Despite those numbers, Michigan did shoot 50-percent from the field for the game, turning the ball over just eight times with 17 assists. The Wolverines also made 23-of-29 (79-percent) attempts at the free throw line.
“They really packed things in on us and we’re a much better shooting team than that but at the same time, once we really got our defense going we could rebound and get out in transition and get away from them a little bit,” Beilein said.
“Offensively there’s still several things, even with the veterans, that Zak being on a different side and Caris being in the back court, we’re still a little bit off in some areas but we still got 86 somehow.”
Michigan’s next test will count as the regular season officially opens Saturday with a non-conference tilt at Crisler Center against Hillsdale.
With four full days to prepare and correct some things before then, John Beilein expects the Wolverines to learn something new from every experience moving forward.
“Looking at our schedule right now where there’s five games in a really short window, we’re really going to have to learn very quickly,” Beilein said. “But, I don’t think you can group all the freshmen together, they’re just going to have to learn at their own rate.
“Give us as much time, we’ve got to work at it as much as we can to get them to enhance their development but they’re all going to be different. And we saw what you may not see today, we’ve been working on a certain defensive rotation that you would not pick up but we picked up today and it was good.
“But we’d also say guys still aren’t strong at the basket and that’s still, with most freshmen, that’s what it’s like.”
Walton Jr. Okay
The scariest moment Monday for Michigan came early in the second half. Streaking up the right sideline in transition, sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. attacked the basket hard, finishing a layup as he crashed down to the floor underneath the rim.
Immediately grimacing in pain, Walton Jr. was slow to get up before hopping on his right leg over to the Michigan bench, not putting any pressure on his left side.
After walking slowly to the locker room, but putting pressure on the left leg as he did so, Walton Jr. would eventually return and reenter the game, showing no effects of a serious injury.
“I think it was a cramp,” Beilein said after the game. “He had a lot of cramps coming in the door and I can’t remember a cramp that he’s had in the past so he just, no it was a cramp.
“He said he felt it when he went to the basket but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”