Dommanic Ingerson”s teammates looked away in disbelief but couldn”t help but crack smiles.
The freshman shooting guard just drained another three from nearly six feet behind the arc, his sixth 3-pointer of the night, to give Michigan an insurmountable 34-point lead midway through the second half.
“I was just in a rhythm,” Ingerson said with a grin. “Sometimes I feel that the defender isn”t even there. I do take some deep shots, but that”s because I don”t always know where I”m at (on the floor).”
Ingerson came off the bench to light a fire under an already sharp-shooting Michigan (2-0) team, leading a convincing 88-59 drubbing of Fairfield (0-2). The small college in Connecticut had no chance in this one, as both of Michigan”s desired signatures in coach Tommy Amaker”s first season aggressive team defense and 3-point shooting were in rare form. And Ingerson just added the nail in the coffin by knocking down shots from another time zone. Ingerson”s long range capability is nothing new, according to his old high school coach.
“It”s amazing how he does it sometimes,” Santa Barbara High School coach Jeff Lavender said two weeks ago. “If he got in a zone, two opponents would run out at him and he”d still pull up from over six feet behind the line and nail over 60-percent of them.”
While Amaker was impressed with nearly every element of Ingerson”s performance, saying, “except for the last one he took from half court, I was pleased with his play.”
Ingerson was not the only Wolverine in the zone, as junior Gavin Groninger once again found his touch, adding 15 points including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. Groninger led Michigan in scoring on opening night against Oakland with 19 points.
As a team, Michigan shot a scorching 57-percent from behind the arc, and a 58-percent clip from the field for the second straight game.
But once again, Michigan”s offense was created by its swarming defense. Sophomore Bernard Robinson, who started in favor of the injured Leon Jones, scored six of the Wolverines” first eight points and proved he could do it at the other end as well. Robinson”s aggressive defense and lengthy wingspan helped Michigan force 13-first half turnovers by the visiting Stags.
“Our defense was unbelievable from the opening tip to the final buzzer,” said senior tri-captain Chris Young, whose Wolverines held the Stags to 33-percent shooting and 21 turnovers.
Jones, who got hurt in practice on Sunday, is expected to miss the next three weeks with a torn capsule in his left thumb. While the Wolverines donned their maize jerseys for the first time this season, their starting lineup was nearly the same except for Jones. Scrappy, fifth-year senior Mike Gotfredson made sound decisions in splitting time with Avery Queen at point guard. Young and junior LaVell Blanchard anchored the front line but didn”t have spectacular nights combining for 22 points and seven boards.
But they didn”t have to, as the Michigan bench proved again to be a strength. After contributing 30 points on opening night against Oakland, the Michigan reserves combined for 44 points nearly half of Michigan”s total.
“There wasn”t any fall-off at all,” said Young, who shook his head in amazement.
With the win, Amaker became the first Michigan coach since Bill Frieder in 1980-81 to start his reign with a 2-0 start.