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November 13, 2013

Hoops: Time for U-M's first test

The meat of the schedule isn't exactly on tap for head coach John Beilein's Wolverines, but a true test finally awaits following a 93-59 drubbing of South Carolina State. Michigan travels to Iowa State Sunday coming off a ridiculous shooting performance.

Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert turned open look after open look into a combined 11-for-13 shooting showing from behind the arc, many in transition.

"They were spreading us out," Beilein said. "They did some 2-3-2, were trapping, pressing us. Most of the time in the first half we were in transition offense because we'd get a clean rebound and a fast break. We didn't run a lot of plays today, just played ball because of the nature of the fast break."

That won't be the case against most Big Ten opponents, of course, who will keep a guy back just to prevent transition opportunities. The shooters won't get the looks they got Tuesday, either, and the Wolverines will face more disciplined offensive teams.

Beilein, though, was pleased with the effort again.

"Our defense and our intensity gave us a great start today, really got us off so we could spot up a little bit," he said. "We didn't have great spacing on offense our first game. We shrunk the floor, but we really opened it today … gave us enough time to get downhill land expose some things we could in their defense

"I really loved the way we came out with energy and played together. Twenty-three points in the first half is a great effort."

So, too, was LeVert's ridiculous night. The sophomore is showing why some think he is going to be a pro, and why it's better playing with him than with two big men. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford have been solid, but minutes will be harder to come by when sophomore big many Mitch McGary rejoins the lineup (soon).

Neither Horford nor Morgan is offensively gifted, but there will be moments in which their defense and/or energy will help the Wolverines win a ball game or two.

For the most part, though, the scorers have already been defined, and it's time to see what they can do against real competition in Ames, Iowa.

"What an opportunity to go to Iowa State," Beilein said. "It seemed like a great idea two years ago. It's an incredible environment. I've never been to Iowa State, but I understand it to be a great environment."

Should they fare well there, the young Wolverines could be on their way.


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