While the Wolverine football team may be taking its first week off in nine weeks, action around the intersection of Stadium and Main streets won’t be completely nonexistent this weekend. That’s because the Michigan men’s basketball team officially begins its exhibition season against Grand Valley State.

Michigan unofficially had its first preseason contest last weekend with its annual Maize and Blue scrimmage, but Saturday’s contest will be the first opportunity for it to see game action against other teams.

“We certainly have been looking forward for this for a while,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said at Media Day. “We all recognize that tough year we had last year, and (it’s good) for our kids to come back and be excited for a good preseason.”

The Wolverines have yet to lose an exhibition game during the Amaker era. But while streaks may look nice on paper, the true goal of the preseason is simple: improvement.

Michigan coach Tommy Amaker hopes to get his freshmen into game-like situations for valuable experience. Romulus native Jerrett Smith saw a significant amount of time at point guard during the Maize and Blue scrimmage last Saturday. While he struggled with a few early turnovers on self-proclaimed “lazy passes,” Smith was able to make clutch free throws down the stretch.

Jevohn Shepherd and Kendric Price are the other two scholarship members of Amaker’s fourth recruiting class who will be looking to benefit from playing time on Saturday as well.

“With an upperclassmen-laden team that we have, you’re always hopeful that you can get contributions from your younger players,” Amaker said. So you never really know. But the main area for our freshmen is to be competitive and be ready to work every day.”

The Lakers – a Division II team from the Midwest’s GLIAC conference – are coming off an up-and-down season in which they finished 18-10. They also display a lot of young talent, and it’s a returning sophomore who poses the biggest threat. Muskegon native Callistus Eziukwu led the team in scoring (13.7), rebounding (8.1), blocked shots (114) and shooting percentage (73.7)

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