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December 5, 2012Michigan head coach John Beilein spent the first 10 minutes of Tuesday night's 73-41 win over Western Michigan wondering if his team might be facing a dogfight. The Broncos' high-low action was working and U-M's shots weren't falling.
A few turnovers and adjustments later, the Wolverines started to pull away when sophomore point guard Trey Burke took command.
"They've got a great scheme that they're running," Beilein sad. "They ran it with such speed and precision our heads were spinning. Our guys picked up the pressure a little bit, we did a few other things and had to feed off our defense because our offense, we missed some shots. Our fast break keyed the first half."
They executed the offense really well in the second half, Beilein said, adding, "Our defense was terrific."
The effort included 18 forced turnovers for the game and two charges taken by Burke, who was nearly flawless on the offensive end. WMU head coach Steve Hawkins admitted the Broncos simply had no answer for one of college basketball's top players. Burke has now notched 18 assists to no turnovers in his last two games at Crisler Center - he added 20 points on an array of jump shots off ball screens in pacing U-M to its eighth straight win to start the year.
Hawkins admitted that when Western would make a defensive adjustment during a timeout, Burke recognized it so quickly that he'd run something else, usually with success.
"He's got an edge of toughness and a pace to him," Beilein said. "He understands when we need him to do more and when we need him to find all these good shooters around him or his pick and roll guys."
Burke found his big men for a number of easy finishes in the second half off penetration. Despite added attention, freshman sniper Nik Stauskas knocked down three of his four triples on the way to 11 points.
"They didn't give much help off him even in pick and roll situations," Beilein said. "He realized how tough it's going to be. What I do like about Nik, some shooters just sit down there, but he can get in the lane and find other people. I just know you try to get him open, and he obviously has a green light."
Michigan finished with 18 assists to 10 turnovers, numbers that were reversed for Western Michigan.
"Those turnovers were big," Beilein said. "We wont the possession battle. That's why we were up by 14 in the first half. We didn't necessarily win the rebounding battle."
They did more than enough, however, to improve to 8-0 with Arkansas coming to town Saturday.
"We got on him in film because he bailed out on one at Bradley late in that game," he said. "We got on him cause he's got to show that toughness to the rest of the team. He stood in there really well."
"He earned this [playing time]. The team was in favor of it," Beilein said. "It was exciting to see him get up there. Very rarely you see a kid make his first college shot.
"We were making fun of him for a dunk against Bradley, was stepping too slow. Trey fed Tim and Tim dunked it, so he missed his other opportunity. That was his very first shot, that three at the shot clock. That's a good sign."
"He ended up spraining his ankle with a half hour left in practice yesterday, and it's a pretty good sprain," Beilein said. "We don't know whether he'll be available Saturday or not. It's blown up pretty good. I don't think he'll playing tomorrow or the next day, but there's a chance on Saturday. We're hoping it's not more serious than a week or two."
"He's just trying to get comfortable in his space with what he's doing," Beilein said. "He's growing every day by leaps and bounds. I'm really pleased with the way he's playing.
"There is certain action we are doing to get him the ball. We're still watching and seeing what his strengths are. The same thing with Mitch [McGary]. We know Nik can shoot. We found out last week how good he can play in the ball screen."
They continue to experiment with lineups, he added.
"Mitch, Glenn, Spike [Albrecht], Caris - it's still an experiment to see where they are most comfortable in games," Beilein said. "I know it sounds crazy because it's been six weeks we've been practicing, but we're still finding out where Glenn's sweet spots are and trying to play to his strengths.
"Right now one of his strengths is he really feels the game, so we'll go behind a lot of back door and little things, cuts to the basket. There are several options for him; he's jut not comfortable in them yet. We may have to change them or just keep doing more."
They're trying to make simple plays for McGary.
"We want to keep working on his balance," he said. "He formed habits over the last couple years where his balance was off in situations where people are collapsing on him, sandwiching him. His balance was bad. He's really improving on it, and we didn't see it today. He needs a lot of individual attention here for the next month just to get ready for Big Ten play, cause he'll have some bigger bodies on him then."