The Michigan basketball team has just completed their Italy trip and four game exhibition tour. The Wolverines won all four games by an average of 37.5 points. Michigan averaged 100.5 points per game which answers the question if this team can put up enough points to make up for lack of a dominant presence inside.
Coach John Beilein is known for his dominant shooting teams and this one is no different. They shot over 55% from the floor and over 40% from behind the arc. With a small roster, this team needs to keep up that shooting consistency all season. A consistent, dominant shooting attack from the Wolverines guards was expected this season especially with lack of experienced size inside.
Zak Irvin, who is one of the biggest players to watch this season had his own coming out party. A lot is expected of Irvin, but he exceeded expectations on this tour. Irvin averaged 21 points by shooting 69% from the floor and hitting two out of three from beyond the arc. Irvin also averaged over seven rebounds per game which is extremely important to this guard heavy roster who will struggle at times with rebounding efficiency.
One of the biggest questions about this edition of Wolverines basketball is how they will perform and compete without an experienced player in the post. Will they be able to overcome their front court youth and lack of a clear post presence to compete in the always tough and rugged Big 10? This trip had many surprises for the Wolverines and two of them were Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal. These two 6’9 freshmen forwards stood out and played better than many expected.
Donnal and Doyle are expected to handle the bulk of the center and power forward positions this season because of the lack of experienced big men. Donnal was given the start all four games during this tour and played extremely well. He averaged over 10 points and six rebounds a game during the tour while having exceptional shooting percentages from the field and free throw line.
Ricky Doyle had an extremely successful four games as well and showed he is ready to play forward for this team in the Big 10. Doyle averaged 11.5 points and eight rebounds a game while shooting over 74% percent from the field. With efficiency like this in the post from Donnal and Doyle, the Wolverines can have very satisfactory production coming from the post this season.
The production from the post was very surprising but exciting as well. If these two forwards can stay consistent coinciding with the stellar play from Irvin and LeVert, we could be looking at a dangerous team this season in the Big 10.
Junior guard Caris LeVert expressed his views on this tour, “It was a great experience coming out here, especially for the freshmen to get comfortable with our offense and our defense and go out there in a game setting and do what we’ve been practicing.”
Sophomore guard Derrick Walton Jr. felt similar on this tour and stated, “Mostly it built confidence. For the freshmen, being able to come out and play with us to get a couple of games under their belt gives us team chemistry.”
This Italian trip and exhibition games taught the basketball world this Wolverine team is dangerous and ready to compete this season. If the young pieces of this roster continue to be consistent and mesh well with the returning guards the Wolverines can make a deep run into March and possibly even April.