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August 19, 2014

Freshman Ricky Doyle leads charge in 93-53 win

Michigan improved to 2-0 in its exhibition tour of Italy, beating the Vicenza All-Stars 93-53 Tuesday on the strength of five players reaching double figures, including a 15-point, 14-rebound effort from freshman center Ricky Doyle.

Sophomore guard Zak Irvin led the team in scoring for the second straight game, chipping in 18 points on 7 of 8 shooting (4 for 5 on threes) and has now made 17 of 21 field goal attempts (81 percent) in two contests.

Freshman Kam Chatman (17 points), junior Caris LeVert (14 points) and freshman Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (13 points) also scored in the double digits

The Wolverines did not shoot as lights out as they had on Sunday in a 99-60 win over the Perugia Select Team, seeing their three-point percentage dip considerably from 52.4 percent to 26.8 against Vicenza, but the Maize and Blue held today's foe to 29.7 percent shooting, and had 14 assists to Vicenza's five.

"It was just good to see them play together because we did make some steps in the last game and we also discovered some things we have to work on a lot," head coach John Beilein said.

"There are so many opportunities for us to get better, including turnovers and missed foul shots. What I'm proud of is that fourth quarter, we held them to eight points."

Though it's far too early to jump to conclusions, the emergence of Doyle so early in his career is a welcome sign to a program that saw its top-three contributors down low - Mitch McGary (NBA early entry), Jordan Morgan (graduation) and Jon Horford (transfer) - all exit, leaving behind inexperience in the form of redshirt freshman Mark Donnal and Doyle.

Donnal started for the second straight game and is expected to be further along than Doyle because of his experience in the system and high offensive IQ, but in two games he has contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds on 5 of 9 shooting.

Those are good numbers and about on par with what is expected of Donnal, but Doyle has seized the spotlight thus far, scoring 12 in Game 1 and 15 today while connecting on 12 of 15 (80.0 percent) overall. His work on the glass, however, is what impressed Beilein.

"There were two things that Ricky really did well - rebound in traffic and finish in traffic," Beilein said. "Those are big things for us. He's only 6-9, but he plays even bigger than that on some occasions and today was one of them."

Doyle did not have a rebound on Sunday, and for a 6-9, 245-pounder expected to play a big role defensively, that's not good enough.

"I watched a lot of film, and watched what I could do to get those 50/50 rebounds that I should have gotten," Doyle said. "Coach [Bacari Alexander] really helped me take an easier approach to getting those rebounds, giving me simple steps and it worked.

"Being more aggressive and timing my jumps are some of the things I paid attention to and tried to bring it back out on the court."

Michigan's six-man true freshman class, which has averaged 46.5 points per game in the two contests, represents 42.9 percent of the team's roster spots (and 50 percent of its scholarship players) and will undoubtedly have to play a significant role this season, with Chatman, Abdur-Rahkman and Doyle showing already that they might be up for the challenge.

That was largely expected of Chatman, a four-star ranked the No. 25 player in the 2014 class, but not for Abdur-Rhakman and Doyle (both three-stars). Doyle, especially, could be critical for the Wolverines because of their frontcourt losses and the desire to get tougher on the glass.

It's premature to say Michigan fans should expect double-doubles from the rookie, but certainly these two games from Doyle have given the Maize and Blue reason to be encouraged.

U-M returns to the court tomorrow when it takes on the Oderzo All-Stars.









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