Before the season began, Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker said he wanted to push the ball up the court and run an up-tempo offense. But turnovers have plagued the Wolverines in their first two exhibition games as a result of that fast-paced style of play.
In its first exhibition game, Michigan committed an astonishing 24 turnovers against Wayne State. A duly frustrated Amaker put a great emphasis on ball security and decision making in practice the week before the team’s game against the Nike Elite.
“We definitely worked on it,” junior swingman Bernard Robinson said. “(Amaker) stressed it. He made us run if we did something like that in practice.”
The all the running and practice paid off when the Wolverines took the floor last Friday. Against the Nike Elite, Michigan committed 16 turnovers, significantly better than its performance against Wayne State.
With Amaker’s commitment to running the floor and pushing the ball whenever possible, the team will undoubtedly make a few errors on offense, but it is the type, not the number, that Amaker is most concerned about.
“We’re going to have turnovers because we’re trying to play a certain style, that comes with the territory,” Amaker said. “We have to live with that part of it. To be lackadaisical and have silly turnovers, you want to eliminate those types of turnovers.”
Not only did the Wolverines make fewer mistakes in their second exhibition game, they cut down their number of “silly” mistakes as well. With the decrease in sloppy mistakes comes the promises of a bright future for Amaker’s transition offense.
“I don’t remember an abundance of silly turnovers in the second game,” Amaker said. “In the first game, that’s all I can remember. If we can eliminate that category, we’ll be pleased. We’ll be young and aggressive, and with that comes the opportunity to make mistakes.”
One of the keys to the improved fast-break offense was the play of freshman Daniel Horton. The McDonald’s All-American has begun to regain his point guard skills after playing mostly shooting guard in high school. Horton is the only Michigan player who had more assists than turnovers during the exhibition season, and he committed just three turnovers to go with his six assists against the Nike Elite, when he made his first start. Horton’s ability to shoot and distribute the ball opens up possibilities for the fast-break offense.
“I feel we can be a fairly good team in transition,” Amaker said. “We have capability for guys to finish and score – Lester (Abram) and Bernard (Robinson). Then Horton adds the threat of the long distance ball, and yet he’s still a point guard.”