ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- John Beilein wasn’t pleased with the way Michigan started in Saturday’s win over Hillsdale and neither were his players.
Although it can be difficult to find many areas of great concern in a 92-68 blowout win, the Wolverines, full of youth and inexperience, utilized the season opener as a teaching moment.
Hosting Bucknell (1-1) at Crisler Center Monday night, Michigan made a fast start a point of emphasis in the first round of the Legends Classic, winning going away 77-53.
“Just last game losing the first four minute war, we wanted to come out and make the first punch, not really play from behind,” Michigan sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. said.
“Before the game we huddled up and just talked amongst ourselves and made it personal just to win the first four minute war.”
Consider the first battle won for Michigan as the Wolverines came out against Bucknell with a renewed defensive intensity, forcing early turnovers.
Mid-range jumpers out of Zak Irvin and Kameron Chatman followed by an Irvin lay in and a three ball off the bench out of senior center Max Bielfeldt and Michigan held a 10-2 advantage at the first media timeout, 4:07 into the game.
“We talked about it and we got great shots the other day; we missed all three and they made a couple really tough shots,” Michigan coach John Beilein said afterward. “So it wasn’t like, I don’t think we came out of there without energy.
“At the same time, I talked about that and I said championship teams -- we’re in a championship right now, we’re trying to win the Legends Classic -- and to do that you need to win all four. Let’s get this first win but champions don’t come out slow, champions come out from the get go and we did.”
Still in the process of finding a balance between riding the veterans and getting the excitable group of freshmen valuable time on the floor, Beilein chose to go in a bit of a different direction for stretches throughout.
The Wolverines would go to the same lineup for stretches in the second half as well, with no freshmen on the floor.
“I think there was two or three (possessions) where we didn’t get good shots and we didn’t execute, that’s why we put them out there and said show them that we don’t have to get cute to score baskets,” Beilein said.
“Just run the offense and read and react what they give you and we got basket, basket, three, however Hass went three, three, three and we didn’t cut the deficit.
“That’s when we cleared things up but we just wanted to get them out there cause they do know it and it does take some time. There’s some definite tape delay going on and it’s going to be all year long as people play us differently.”