The Michigan men’s basketball team will find out Monday if it can learn from its mistakes.
The Wolverines (3-0) head to New York to face Oregon in the 2014 Progressive Legends Classic hoping to find some consistency in their shooting.
But if Michigan’s showing against Detroit — which plays an upbeat style similar to Oregon — is any indication, the Ducks could be a tough test for a Wolverines team still trying to orient its freshmen.
Like Michigan, the Ducks (3-0) lost a pair of key contributors from last year’s squad in Mike Moser and Jason Calliste, who averaged 13.2 and 12.7 points per game, respectively. Moser also was the team’s leading rebounder, grabbing more than seven boards per contest.
But senior guard Joseph Young, who was the team’s key scorer a season ago, returns this year to lead the Oregon offense. The second-team All-Pac-12 selection from 2013-14 is averaging 26 points per game through the Ducks’ first three games.
And if Michigan stuck around the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee after its NCAA Tournament victory over Texas last season, it saw Young go off for 29 points against Wisconsin.
The Wolverines will try to counter Young with strong guard play of their own. Junior Caris LeVert is coming off a 21-point showing Thursday against the Titans, in which he scored 17 points in the second half alone. Sophomore Derrick Walton Jr. has taken a larger share of the offensive load as well, averaging 17.7 points and six boards per game.
But freshman forward Kam Chatman, a highly touted recruit, hasn’t found the same type of success. Chatman is shooting 3-for-16 from the floor in his first three college games, somewhat concerning considering the competition will only strengthen from here on out.
Michigan coach John Beilein, though, said he’s sticking with Chatman despite the freshman’s early struggles.
“(We will) continue to give him more opportunities to grow at that position,” Beilein said in a teleconference Saturday. “Usually it’s more defense than offense for freshmen. But he’s really played well in practices. He has a great attitude. Just, in games, the shot hasn’t fallen.”
The shots especially weren’t falling in the first half of Thursday’s game against Detroit, when the Wolverines went 3-of-12 from 3-point range in the opening frame. And in an offense largely dependent on shooting beyond the arc, 25 percent won’t cut it.
Sophomore forward Zak Irvin said the Titans’ defense presented a problem for the Wolverines, forcing them to shoot early in the shot clock.
“We got sped up a little bit with the way they were playing defensively,” he said.
Oregon plays a similar tempo to Detroit, which could mean more of the same offensive options for Michigan. College basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy has the Ducks’ competition-adjusted tempo rating listed at 70.3, nearly identical to Titans’ 69.9. Michigan, meanwhile, plays at a 64.8 tempo.
Pomeroy’s ratings are based on how many possessions a team would have in a game against an average Division I team, and the disparity between the Wolverines and the Ducks aligns with Irvin’s assessment of the Detroit game.
Still, Beilein insisted the looks Michigan got weren’t the problem so much as fluky streaks of rim-outs and bad bounces.
“We’ve gotta take what people are gonna give us,” Beilein said Thursday. “Just trying to do it with getting a good shot, whether it’s at the 30-second mark or the five-second mark, get a good shot. We shoot to score, not to shoot. But we had some really good looks too that didn’t go down. We missed a lot of layups, too. Credit them, but I think we lost focus or something.”
Against Oregon, which is even more athletic than Detroit, the Wolverines won’t be able to afford similar lapses.