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December 12, 2012
Hoops: Wolverines continue to roll
Michigan wasn't going to lose to Binghamton Tuesday night, even with a slow start. Exam week was one factor that prevented the Wolverines from playing their best game of the year, but they took care of business in a 67-39 win.
U-M turned up the heat after falling behind 10-8, getting more outstanding play from point guard Trey Burke in pulling away. Burke was all business despite the opponent.
"We had exactly the same prep for the game with Arkansas, the time we spent, the whole deal," head coach John Beilein said. "Trey has and elite mind that he wants to embrace every day, be the best he can be every day. That transcends to his teammates.
"If they look at the work habits of the coaches, we're never going to give them anything but our best. Then they'll do the same for you. I thought we were really well prepared for this game. Now we'll get some rest and have a heck of a game on Saturday."
U-M next plays West Virginia, a 60-56 loser to Duquesne Tuesday, in Brooklyn.
Binghamton slowed the pace, often waiting until late in the shot clock to run the offense, and didn't send anyone to the offensive glass, choosing instead to counter Michigan's fast break offense. That shortened the game, but the U-M defense was up to the task.
While the shooters didn't bring their 'A' games - Tim Hardaway made only three of 13 shots, two of nine from long range - they had a number of opportunities.
"He had some wide open looks you've got to take that traditionally he has a great percentage on," Beilein said. "Last year when he went through a little bit of a funk, I could tell when it left his hand it wasn't going in. Every one of those today I thought was going in. He's what I call on top of the rim - it just didn't go in.
"Practice was like that a little yesterday. It comes in this little wave, but I'm not concerned at all."
Beilein laughed, meanwhile, when he asked about Nik Stauskas' "off" shooting night. The freshman still made four of eight triples, but he was so open on the misses he felt he should have made six or seven.
"I felt bad for Trey and the guys - I should have gotten them more assists," he said.
He'll get them their share, Beilein added.
"You know what, I'm disappointed too. Dang it, the kid is supposed to shoot five for eight every night," Beilein said with a laugh. "When he misses a couple we're all surprised, aren't we?
"He was four of 11, but we'll take the threes. He's not going to be the first guy that shoots 60 percent from three, but we want him to shoot when open, pass when not and have enough drive in his game that he can get to foul line, as well."
Michigan improved to 10-0 for only the third time in school history. Beilein expressed only one regret in the postgame - not experimenting with his two-big lineup a bit more.
"One span I was trying to get a sub in there, and I should have called timeout in retrospect," he said. "I wanted to get a big man lineup in there, but it seemed like two or three minutes went by and the game was going up and down.
"We are trying to get more and more of it, but we're still experimenting who is better on the perimeter, Jordan Morgan or Mitch McGary."
No matter which way they decided to go, they'll have options - enough, certainly, to compete for a run at a second straight Big Ten title.
"He had a test today at 2:00, got out at 3:00 and came to pregame meal. I know it's been a tough couple days for him because he has really been preparing," Beilein said. "Then he still gets 10 rebounds without as much as he's going to give us later on. There are things he can do with his body he can do to get more rebounds. We're working on that daily."
"What I loved about him, when they went zone standing there at the top of the key, he just knocked one down. That's really hard to do when you haven't played since early in the first half," Beilein said. "Once again, that's been a key for us - maybe not the wins right now, but probably the score in those wins. We can get away from people a little big because Trey gets a rest from a real quality backup."
"I don't know what we're still going to get from him. Just two weeks ago we weren't even thinking about doing this just yet, not seriously until the N.C. State game," Beilein said. "He's doing everything right now we want him to do, gradually - now we've just got to continue to let him just learn, continue to get better. He's very bright, picks up on things very quickly - just really exceptional. He's got a great attitude. If a ball's bouncing in the gym, he's probably out there a lot of times all by himself. He's the first one in, last one out.
"[Assistant] Vall Jordan said nobody wants to close out on Caris LeVert. He can shoot it in and can go by you so quickly with that first step. Then he sees really well with this lineup. He's earned these minutes now to be in there, and he's taking advantage of them."