Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman wasn't the headliner in Michigan's six-man, 2014 recruiting class, and some wondered if he might redshirt after seeing him in early practices this year. The three-star shooting guard has done enough in two exhibition games to show he might be able to contribute valuable minutes.
Two-guard isn't a position of great depth for the 2014 Wolverines. Sophomore Caris LeVert will likely play 35 minutes and should lead U-M in scoring, but they'll need others behind him to spell him. Abdur-Rahkman stepped up for the second straight game in a 93-53 win over Vicenza.
Italy seems to have brought out the best in the freshman in a scoring role. He notched 11 points in the opening win over Perugia Select and followed up with 13 in a win over Vicenza. The common denominator - he got to the line eight times in the opener (making six) and 11 in the second (capitalizing on seven). He was aggressive taking it to the hole with an array of spin and stop and go moves.
"Muhammad has really gone out there and used his speed where he has been able to get to the foul line again," head coach John Beilein said. "That's two games in a row. Right now I think what we are valuing is his ability to see the floor when he's going his quickest."
The negative - the Wolverines were only 13-for-24 from the line as a team, including Abdur-Rahkman's four misses. That didn't overshadow what was the second straight game in which the Wolverines shared the ball.
"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," 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."
Rahkman has been solid on the other end of the floor, too.
"It's been a great experience," he said. "Not many people get the chance to play as a freshman before the season starts. It gives you a good chance to get in a rhythm with the team and work on good chemistry.
"I think I've played decent. The team is playing better, so it doesn't really matter how I'm playing as long as the team is winning and I can contribute."
Sophomore Zak Irvin continued his ridiculous shooting. He made seven of eight shots and his first four triples before missing his fifth, two nights after making all five of his three-pointers.
"I'm really in a great rhythm right now," he said. "The ball has been falling in warmups, but I have to give credit to my teammates who keep finding me when I'm open. They're the ones helping me knock down these shots."
Vicenza was a better opponent than Perugia, but the Wolverines led 22-11 after the first quarter and were never challenged.
"I think watching film earlier today helped out a lot," Irvin said. "We have a growing team, so we know we have freshmen that are still learning the game and the way we play. Also, the team we played against today played like they knew more about the game, being an older team. They were physical, but we came out with a win."
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