The defense - well, it will come. The Michigan offense, though, seems to be ahead of schedule, John Beilein's team scoring in bunches both in the halfcourt and in transition.
It was on display again Monday night in a 91-54 victory over IUPUI that went from dogfight to blowout thanks to some more deadly three-point shooting and better second half defense. The Jaguars shot 46.4 percent in the first half but only 26 percent in the second, the Wolverines turning many of the misses into fast break points.
"The efficiency today was more about our defense in the second half," Beilein said of his team's 60 percent shooting (including 13-21, 61.9 percent behind the arc). We were in fast break mode the whole time. We're not giving up offensive rebounds because we do have some pretty large guys who can go in and get it, they outlet well, then you have Trey Burke and Timmy Hardaway handling the ball. That's pretty good.
"That's where most of our offense was coming from. We didn't have great offense when we weren't stopping them early. Once we started stopping them, it got a lot better."
But it wasn't bad from the outset. The teams traded buckets for the first 12 minutes before freshman Glenn Robinson III (21 points, six rebounds) knocked down two of his three triples and redshirt junior Jordan Morgan worked inside for four points. The lead grew to 10 on a Nik Stauskas triple at 2:40, and the Wolverines were never threatened again.
"In the first half there were some moments I thought we were going to be in for a long battle," Beilein said. "They were shooting the ball well, really running their stuff well and guarding us - putting pressure on us we hadn't seen yet. Once we got accustomed to it we were fine. Early we had some adjustments we had to make about getting ready for that type of pressure.
"[Offensively], they really spread us out with multiple ball screeners from the four and the five, giving us action that was really unusual, the angles. Jordan Morgan was fine when he was in it. He's always got a freshman in there with him though if it's Mitch McGary, Glenn. Then there's another freshman trying to figure it out."
They did, though, and will look to advance to the NIT's next round in New York with a win over Cleveland State (a winner over Bowling Green) Tuesday night at Crisler Center.
"It's going to be hard for both teams," Beilein said. "We've been practicing hard, but the carrot of New York City waiting for the winner, hopefully we'll get enough people through it. We have to be very careful tomorrow about how long people play. Two games back to back, nobody is used to it now. You don't have it all year long until the Big Ten Tournament."
Burke led all scorers with 22 points and added nine assists. He jokingly chided McGary (two points, five rebounds in 11 minutes) for blowing a lay-up that would have given him a double double.
Hardaway finished with 10 points and a game high seven rebounds in an outstanding all-around game.
"Look at his game right now. He goes five for five the other night and doesn't take a three tonight, sharing the ball," Beilein said. "The unity on this team is good.
"He got a couple rebounds now where he was way above the rim, just like the alley drive he had with the dunk. What Jon Sanderson has done for him in our weight room is incredible - with all our guys. You see it right there. He wasn't getting rebounds like that too often in his freshman and sophomore year."
Burke continues to get his teammates involved while scoring at an impressive clip.
"He understands all the things that are happening much better," Beilein said. "He's always looked for people, never been selfish, but I think he understands what could be open once he reads how he's playing them."
Redshirt sophomore big man Jon Horford played only five minutes, notching three points on an emphatic and-one slam and one rebound.
"We wanted to use him more in the first half," Beilein. "Jordan was really playing well. He was turning those ball screens around on them they were setting and giving us time to recover. He's our best in that area.
"Jon's doing fine now; he just needs more reps. I'm glad he got the nice slam. We want him to shoot that little 15-footer too, keep moving the ball, but he gets rebounds sometimes that he may be the best on our team, at times."
The Wolverines have attempted almost as many alley-oops in four games than they had in Beilein's tenure heading into the season.
"For the first time, we actually practice them now," Beilein said. "We realize it's a really good play against help defense that you have, if you have athletes. They are more spontaneous that they happen, but we've thrown so many away that we've started to practice them more and get more confident.
"They are an important part of today's basketball because of the great scouting people have. It has to be a quick pass, has to be right there, because otherwise there will be coverage there."
Robinson continues to impress on both ends of the floor.
"He's learning what he can do and what he can't do," Beilein said. …"He's a very efficient player, as you can see. His team loves him and they find him.
"What's more impressive has been his defense. He is really busy into playing defense, just a pleasure to coach, has instincts both offensively and defensively you just don't coach. He just does it."