U-M Showing Great Defensive Attitude Early

Michigan (2-0) is getting set to host Detroit (1-1) at Crisler Center Thursday evening as part of the 2014 Legends Classic. Coming off a win over Bucknell, John Beilein knows the Titans bring length and athleticism to Ann Arbor.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Ready. Set. Go. College basketball season wastes no time quickly and fully engulfing teams across the country, sending test after test in the non-conference as games pile up in a hurry.

Coming off wins Saturday against Hillsdale and Monday against Bucknell, Michigan (2-0) will be right back to it Thursday at 6 p.m. at Crisler Center with Detroit (1-1) in town for the second leg of the 2014 Legends Classic.

Picked to finish third in the Horizon League this season, the Ray McCallum Sr. led Titans will pose another interesting challenge for Michigan, especially on the defensive end.

“They’re a very experienced team, they have a lot of older players, extremely talented basketball players,” Beilein said Wednesday. “They have taken a long trip to Oregon and back.

“It should be a great challenge for us like a lot of people will see similar in some of our upcoming games. We’ll spend today getting ready for it, yesterday was pretty much a recovery day.”

Noting the importance of high effort and intensity on the defensive end, Beilein believes he saw great signs of growth against the Bison.

Already racking up 18 steals to start the year for an average of nine a game, Michigan’s veterans are taking it upon themselves to lead the way, leading to transition offense on the other end.

“The four guys with the most minutes have tried to do that everyday,” Beilein said. “You can see Spike and Derrick and Zak and Caris have upped that defense and most of those steals and most of those turnovers.

“But Kam (Chatman) is getting is hands on a lot of basketballs. There’s things that aren’t in the stats that Kam’s doing and that’s been really important to us.

“The other day in practice we were playing the scout team and it wasn’t going well and when I watched the film afterward Caris had been in on 11 of the 13 rotations. He wanted to beat the scout team so badly and I said we need you for tomorrow, not for today, make sure Muhammad (Ali Abdur-Rahkman) gets his reps in there.

“That’s their attitude right now, they know that for right now we’re creating a lot points off of defense and we’ve got to continue to do that cause those are the easiest points you get.”

For the freshmen, the process could appear to be a little overwhelming. Not only are the younger players learning the nuances of John Beilein’s offensive system, they’re all quickly learning the offensive attacks of other teams.

With just one day in between Hillsdale and Bucknell and now two days to prep for Detroit, Beilein says you just give the kids the information and thorough scouting reports, in hopes it eventually takes.

“I often think what was going through their mind as we were getting ready for the Hillsdale game, a school that most of them had probably never heard of, and we’re telling them that this team is good,” Beilein said.

“We don’t dial it down one bit, what happens is they, through assimilation, whatever they get more used to it and they don’t have to think so much through a scouting report, that they can breeze through it. It never gets easy but it gets easier and easier as the year goes on because they become accustomed to it.”

Regardless, as much as Michigan can and will prepare for the Titans Thursday, until the bullets start flying every aspect of their attack cannot be accounted for.

“We want to be versatile to be able to change our game plan, depending on; you don’t know how they’re going to be until the game starts,” Beilein said. “Being as versatile as we’ve been in the past is hard until we know the roles of versatility when people play different actions.

“They are going to be really athletic, they’ve got good length, great speed and we’re going to have to, it’s very difficult to guard your yard cause they’re an attacking team.”


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