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November 28, 2013

News and Views: Beilein looks for improvement

Michigan returns from Puerto Rico 4-2 after losing the championship game of the Classic to Charlotte. Head coach John Beilein still sees several positives in his young team.

News: Michigan falls to Charlotte, 63-61, when Glenn Robinson III misses most of the game with a back injury and Nik Stauskas hobbles through a sprained ankle.

Beilein: "It was a great experience for us, not as positive as we'd like it to be, but we can shape it any way we want to coming out and that's the course we'll take. It was a growing experience in so many ways. There were good teams that went 1-2 and could have been 0-3. We would have liked to win that championship, but we weren't good enough. They were better than us, and that's something we'll work on."

Views: Had Robinson played more and Stauskas not gotten hobbled, U-M would have come back 5-1 and ranked near the top 10. Rankings mean nothing at this point in the year, though, and this is not going to be a team that struggles to make the NCAA Tournament.

Mitch McGary is still getting into game shape and freshman point guard Derrick Walton, Jr. is still getting used to the pace. This will be a very good team.

News: Robinson III and Stauskas are questionable for Friday's game with Coppin State.

Beilein: "We'll know more today. Both of them had some pretty good injuries. I'll know more probably after tomorrow's practice about their availability for this week's game. Glenn has a bone bruise in his back and Nik has an ankle sprain. I don't think it's significant, but there is some swelling. We won't know until he gets out there. Right now we'll be cautious, and both will do very little today."

Views: It wouldn't surprise if both played or if neither played. Michigan has big games coming up with Duke and Arizona and should be able to beat a solid Coppin State team without them.

The good news - these shouldn't be long or lingering injuries.

News: Michigan is shooting with about 10 percent less efficiency from the floor this year through six games.

Beilein: "We're not far off. I look at comparative stats, though, and we're shooting quicker with some pretty good players. It's not whole scale "stop shooting," but some we've got to turn down to look for a better shot - not the first one, but the best one.

"They'll learn from all these comparative stats. Less shots means more points sometimes."

Views: Freshman Zak Irvin is one who will have to learn. Stauskas, though, has shown the ability to get his own shot when Michigan needs it, perhaps as well as anyone on the team.

"It's okay sometimes to look for a better shot," Beileins said. "He's got a lot of confidence, needs to maybe slow down in some areas. But we haven't seen many bad shots from him. Everybody is different, what's a good shot."

Translation: Stauskas will continue to get the green light.

News: Michigan struggled to guard the perimeter in the loss to Charlotte.

Beilein: "It was bad perimeter defense, both individually and as a team. It's something we'll learn. We're trying to put it all together. That was not a shooting point guard for Charlotte, but four or five times we decided he was going to shoot from half court and they went right by us. Not just Derrick, everybody.

"We'll learn how to guard different people at different levels. We don't learn unless we go through it."

Views: Walton didn't have the legs in the third game, and it was obvious.

"I just think he wore down," Beilein said. "He did not have that same bounce in his step last game, so we chose to stay with Spike [Albrecht]. Gradually, his endurance will go up - that's a lot for an 18-year-old kid a lot. He'll bounce right back."

There were communication issues, too, in dealing with screens, etc. That too will improve as the team jells.

News: Mitch McGary continues to work himself back into game shape. He was on the floor as a two-big package for much of the game against Charlotte.

Beilein: "Mitch is literally playing his way into shape. One thing I liked was our grittiness. Fatigue may have been a factor.

"We're trying to get him back into they type of shape he was in last March and February, more leg strength and endurance. You could see had it all Friday, didn't have it all Sunday. It will take some time. He had one offensive rebound, which is very low for him, and he's still developing when playing different positions."

Views: He'll be back in the starting lineup, too. McGary played plenty at the four Sunday without really knowing what he was doing on offense.

"We're not there yet," Beilein said. "We're still developing that. We had to use two bigs because of how big they were, and when Glenn gets hurt we had to use it even more. It was great for us to see that. We saw some good things, but there are areas that are still not the best way for us to go in some situations."

McGary will be more versatile on offense, too, but he'll be the biggest Wolverine on the floor in Michigan's best lineup.

News: Michigan employed the 1-3-1 defense with some success in Puerto Rico.

Beilein: "We need some more practice time to work at it. We will have it at different points. We have a whole month where we can spend more and more time on it. I'm sure you're going to see it again."

Views: It's been effective at times already with the length, Caris LeVert having been outstanding at the top of it. They brought it out against Duke a few years ago in the tournament with great success, and this year's team is even better at it. Michigan has been a man team for the last few years, but we could (should) see more zone this season.


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