Wayne State 51
It was just one game, but it might be a sign of things to come.
All preseason, Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker said this year’s team will go only as far as the seniors lead it.
And last night, they led the Wolverines to a blowout 85-51 win over Wayne State in the first of Michigan’s two exhibitions.
With a 17-10 lead at the 10-minute mark of the first half, the seniors simply took over.
Wayne State started the game in a compact 2-3 zone to counteract Michigan’s huge height advantage. (The Warriors don’t have a player on their roster taller than 6 foot 5). With no looks inside, senior Lester Abram threw a skip pass over the defense to wide- open senior Dion Harris, who knocked down his first of three 3-pointers on the night.
The next time down the floor Abram and Harris did the exact same thing to give the Wolverines a 23-10 lead. After a defensive stop, senior Brent Petway showed off his new array of post moves, hitting a turnaround jumper to put Michigan up by 15.
Abram followed up on the next possession with a nice one-handed tip-in off a Harris miss. And Harris capped off the 12-0 run with a mid-range jumper of his own to give Michigan a 29-10 lead.
“We just started playing better team basketball,” Petway said. “All of us were being so unselfish. Dion was looking for me, I was looking for Dion and Lester was looking for both of us. It was just a matter of a great team basketball concept.”
Things didn’t start off so smoothly for the Wolverines.
Sloppy play characterized the beginning of the contest for both teams. Early on, Michigan made it a point to feed the post. Unfortunately, senior Courtney Sims botched several layups, leaving the Wolverines scoreless for more than three minutes.
But things finally started to get rolling when Abram nailed two straight 3-pointers to give Michigan a 6-2 lead.
“They were packing it in (on the interior), so it just left me open,” Abram said.
Abram and Harris led the team in scoring with 19 and 13 points, respectively.
For Abram, it was his first game back with the Wolverines after missing most of the Big Ten season last year. He didn’t seem to miss a beat and showed off a wide array of perimeter skills.
“I wasn’t out of sync or anything like that because of all the practice time with the team, and all the basketball over the summer,” Abram said. “I was just out there playing basketball, and it was good to play ball.”
The Crisler Arena crowd got a scare halfway through the second half when Abram fell to the floor in pain after committing a charge. Luckily for Abram and Michigan, it seems it was a harmless shot to the midsection.
On the other end of the floor, Petway controlled the paint with eight total rebounds and four blocks.
Last night also saw the debut of Michigan’s freshman class. All six saw extensive action. And as can be expected, they had their ups and downs.
Forward Epke Udoh showed off some post skills and finished with four rebounds, but missed an alley-oop attempt halfway through the first half. 6-foot-8 DeShawn Sims opened up his collegiate career by having his dunk blocked by 6-foot-4 Wayne State forward Wynn Sarden. But on the next possession he came down the floor and executed a smooth spin move down the baseline for an easy lay-up.
Guard Reed Baker may have left the most lasting impression of the freshmen. Despite committing some careless turnovers at point guard, he nailed all four of his 3-point attempts and finished the game with 13 points.
But the Wolverines won’t need to count on those freshmen if the seniors come to play like they did last night.
“This was our first chance to play against somebody other than ourselves, and we knew right away that (the seniors) had to step up for the young guys to show it’s supposed to be done,” Petway said. “You have to play your hardest to show them what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable.”