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November 11, 2013
News and Views: Beilein looking for improvement
Michigan hosts South Carolina State Tuesday night in game No. 2 on the schedule, and head coach John Beilein is anxious to see where his team is after two exhibitions and a tougher than expected home game with UMass-Lowell.
"You always see, hopefully, tremendous improvement early in the year when you actually get to play other teams," Beilein said. "It's been a productive two days to look at some things we had to do with a very stagnant offense in the first half. There were some spacing issues, there was some shot selection, some execution, and that really has helped us to be able to see that.
"It's been a really productive couple of days. We'll have one more today."
South Carolina State has everyone back from a team that struggled last year, but has some athletes. That will be a test for freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr.
"They'll come after us trying to create turnovers," Beilein said. "They have tremendous quickness, length and a really excellent 6-11 center. We're going to have to play really well."
Being tied 23-23 at the half against UMass-Lowell was a good taste of adversity, he added.
News: Walton Jr. continues to improve. He turned it over only once in the win over UMass-Lowell.
Beilein: "He picks up things very quickly. His quickness in small spaces right now is really excellent, the way he's picked the ball away from a couple people. He has the ability to be one of our best guys with steals. With more minutes, we'll get him to understand deferent defenses, how they're attacking. Every night will be a different scheme against us. It just takes time."
Views: Walton Jr. has been good, but you can see he has another gear and more offense in him. He's not yet a good shooter off the bounce, but he's good catching and shooting and, as advertised, a great passer. He still needs to learn when to be more aggressive to the rim.
"The downhill thing is something we're going to try to work very hard on with him," Beilein said. "He has excellent passing ability, but his strength can not be his weakness. He can't be a passer when he should be a shooter or scorer. We saw one where he went down the right lane and scored. He has tremendous speed, and we want him to use that."
News Sophomore Caris LeVert has been Michigan's most aggressive offensive player off the bounce in the early going.
Beilein: "He's gotten stronger, No. 1, but north and south he's a quick son of a gun. When he gets going downhill he's hard to stop. We try to put him in those situations and try to encourage him.
"He may be, right now, our best speed guy on the fast break with the ball, just going with it and playing with his feet on the floor. It's been a great addition to his game. Then he'll turn around and seems to have the capacity to be one of our best defenders, as well."
Views And when he's on the floor with Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, there's an option to switch on defense without giving up length.
"Against Lowell we had to do that," Beilein said. "They spread us out, would dribble the shot clock down. We needed to be solid. It's helpful to have that type of versatility between several of players. That will continue, people will counter it and we will, too. It is good to have three or four who have the same traits. That gives you great flexibility."
LeVert's the best of the three, though, even though Robinson III has gotten better and better at calling out defenses, Beilein said.
Mark it down - LeVert is a future pro if he continues to improve. He's got that much potential.
News: Beilein will start to shorten the bench heading toward Sunday's game with Iowa State.
Beilein: "We did so much mixing and matching in our preseason and exhibition games, I think we're trying to get an eight or nine man rotation down, have people feel comfortable with their role on the team."
Views: It won't include big man Mitch McGary - yet. Word has it he'll be back soon.
" For the first time now he's done some workouts," Beilein said. "He's had more reps in practice over the last 10 days. He's had reps where he looks very good and we're going to continue increasing his reps. He'll be back when we feel he's as close to being in shape to be able to get in there and really play."
McGary is doing individual work with no contact, but he's in decent shape. Coaches continue to work with him one on one while Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford shoulder the load at the five. They need McGary, though.
"They have done alright," Beilein said. "In spots they've done great things. Jordan has always been a good defender. Jon has been able to defend without fouling at a higher clip than he's ever been. Around the basket, they're right there. Jon's two plays to start the second half, a few more of those will open a few more doors for him."
There were also some fumbles and misses, though, that can't happen against better opponents.