Seniority rules worked last night. Will it work again next Friday?
After practice Wednesday, Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein wouldn’t release last night’s starting lineup, but told people not to put much stock into it. He said, when in doubt, he tends to go with experience.
Senior Ron Coleman, junior Jerret Smith, redshirt sophomore Zack Gibson, sophomore DeShawn Sims and redshirt freshman K’Len Morris started for Michigan. Coleman said the Wolverines didn’t know the lineup until they showed up for the game.
The unit began the game in a fury, opening up a 15-2 lead against Ferris State.
Although the Wolverines struggled to a 14-to-19 assist-to-turnover ratio, the first unit had just one passing mistake and assists on 3-of-5 field goals (one of the non-assisted ones was a Gibson putback), while playing together for the first 5:45 of the game.
“I think already we have a great bond, a great team chemistry,” Coleman said.
Beilein said he’d like to get a set starting lineup, but isn’t yet sure what he’ll change before Michigan opens the regular season against Radford next Friday. He said he has to make sure five players who are struggling to pick up his new schemes never end up on the court at the same time.
All the starters left the game with 14:15 left in the half to make way for junior Jevohn Shepherd, sophomore Ekpe Udoh, redshirt freshman Anthony Wright and freshmen Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady.
“I probably had never done that in my life,” Beilein said of the five-for-five switch. “There was a lot of coaching today that was about an exhibition game. Get guys in, get them out. So there was no plan there.”
New defense: Michigan held the Bulldogs to just 40 points. In the second half, the Wolverines even mixed in the 1-3-1 zone, which they only learned just eight days ago.
The zone forced a few turnovers. And the Wolverines disrupted Ferris State’s passing lanes.
Beilein said the zone finally clicked with about seven or eight minutes to go in the game, just before Michigan switched back to man-to-man.
“We talked,” Coleman said. “We communicated. We made sure we helped each other out there. Coach made a call, we made sure everybody knew by echoing.”
Grady, in particular, was a nuisance to the Bulldog offense, living up to his high school reputation by swarming passing lanes and registering two steals.
Sims and Gibson had two steals each. Ekpe Udoh had four blocks.
Lights out: For all the talk about those new $800,000 lights, Crisler Arena was darker than pre-renovation for a bit last night.
The lights flashed off briefly at 6:50 p.m. And with 12 minutes left to tip-off, the lights turned off again. The cheerleaders and dance team ran out and surrounded the floor. Spotlights waved around the arena as a cheerleader waved an ‘M’ flag on the court under another spotlight.
The lights turned back on and more cheerleaders carrying flags that spelled out M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N led the Wolverines out, and Michigan went into its typical pregame layup line.
After the national anthem, the lights went back out, and a video played on the scoreboard showing old Michigan games, from early grainy footage to the team’s 1989 National Title run.
The lights went back off for player introductions. The spotlight followed Michigan players, but the Bulldogs came out in the dark.
“That was crazy,” Coleman said. “I never expected that.”