ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan needed a spark inside.
And that’s it.
In the first half, things couldn’t have gone worse for Michigan in that area, both Donnal and Doyle relegated to the bench with two fouls. Fortunately for the Wolverines Syracuse only lead 31-29.
In the second, Doyle emerged. Scoring just two points with two rebounds in the first 20-minutes, Doyle pumped in 10-points and grabbed four more rebounds playing 17 minutes in the final frame.
“I think I mentioned to everybody we saw it in Europe for two games -- we didn’t see it in the other two,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “But we saw, oh my goodness this kid can play above the rim and do some really good things, and then he competes.
“Today obviously, he competed. For us to get 17 (offensive) rebounds against Syracuse, people would never believe that and he battled and I don’t know how many he got, four or five, but we got some late and just gave us extra possessions, which you need against Syracuse.”
Another flash of Doyle’s ability came in Michigan’s 70-63 win over Oregon in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn a week ago. Doyle finished with 10-points and was very active on the glass against the Ducks.
“The speed of the game is starting to slow down but the offense too,” Doyle said afterward. “Just learning the plays really slows the game down.”
Junior point guard Spike Albrecht agrees. Albrecht found Doyle on several occasions Tuesday night, finishing with 11-points and nine assists.
“He’s definitely picking things up,” Albrecht said. “He had a really good game catching the ball, finishing at the rim. You could just tell his confidence is starting to skyrocket and he really had a big game for us. He was the x-factor.”
“It’s definitely big to have a guy you can trust who will go get it and finish it at the rim,” Albrecht added. “And that’s what Ricky’s been doing lately, he’s been a monster down low.”
In one sequence midway through the second half, Albrecht carved his way in between the Syracuse zone, delivering a highlight reel behind the back pass for a Doyle two-handed slam.
“Spike set me up for success on that one,” Doyle said laughing.
Albrecht went as far as to say Doyle offered similar attributes as former Michigan big man Mitch McGary.
Naturally, Beilein was quick to pump the brakes on that front.
“I’m not going to make that comparison,” Beilein said. “But when you his body, this is different because Mitch came here at 20-years old, or might’ve been 20. Ricky Doyle just turned 18 in May so we see so much promise in him.
“But I’m telling you he competes, I wouldn’t be surprised if when I’m finished here if when I leave and go up to my office if he’s not in the gym shooting some foul shots. He’s really driven and we’ve got to harness that so he’s not wearing himself out doing that but he’s really driven to be a really good player.”