ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- One audition down and now its go time for John Beilein and the Michigan basketball team.
Coming off Monday’s 86-43 exhibition win at home over Wayne State, the Wolverines open up the regular season Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center with a 2 p.m. tip-off with division two Hillsdale.
“We’ve had a good couple days of practice,” Beilein said Friday. “I thought the film, the Wayne State game was incredibly helpful to us but now the real bullets are flying and let’s see what we can do.”
And what did Michigan learn in their first experience under the lights against the Warriors?
All four had flashes against Wayne State with LeVert and Irvin leading the charge with 16-points and 15-points, respectively.
Beyond that, Michigan got some of the nerves out of the way with air balls from Kameron Chatman and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, both also showing unique skillsets with Chatman appearing more than ready and capable of starting for the Wolverines.
Offensively, Michigan turned the ball over just eight times, not bad for a team that John Beilein noted basically has eight players learning the culture and consistency it takes in practice to perform on the floor during games.
Of course, the challenge will be picking up concepts and assignments defensively, something Michigan will have a chance to work on against Hillsdale Saturday.
The Chargers are coming off an 18-9 finish in 2013-14 including a 14-9 mark in the GLIAC.
Replacing four of five starters from a season ago, Hillsdale does return 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior forward Kyle Cooper. Cooper started 23 of the 24 games he played in and was second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game while averaging 6.2 rebounds and shooting 56-percent from the field.
While Hillsdale will head to Ann Arbor as a real wild card with a lot of unknown pieces, John Beilein knows one constant is the offense employed by the Chargers.
“They run a thing called the swing offense,” Beilein said. “If you don’t know what the swing offense is you’re probably in the wrong place right now. I think that also they’ll play a really high IQ basketball game, much like Bucknell will play coming in here.”
Despite a pregame ceremony that will include the raising of a Big Ten regular season championship banner, Beilein and Michigan will do their best not to overlook Hillsdale.
“Everyone will look at this game and think Hillsdale,” Beilein said. “(But) they have probably one of the most consistent division two programs, not only in Michigan, but in the country.
“John Tharp does a wonderful job. We thought it was very similar to some of the teams we’ll play this year and the fact is two years ago we played Slippery Rock -- we won 16 games to start the season -- one of our closest games was Slippery Rock. They scored the most points I think in the whole first semester.
“Basketball is basketball and we’re practicing our tail off for one thing, to try and beat this team, beat Hillsdale, the Chargers, to beat them tomorrow afternoon.”