On Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines invited the IUPUI Jaguars to the Crisler Center for the on campus portion of games in the 2K Classic. What looked like it might have been a game at the start got more and more comfortable for the Wolverines as the game went on. The Wolverines got the job done and won 77-65.
Everyone on the bench played with Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr and DJ Wilson leading the way. Irvin was the Wolverines leading scorer with 15 points while Wilson dominated the boards, registering 14 rebounds.
Here’s what we learned.
What We Learned
1. DJ Wilson can be a contributor.
After missing time in his freshman and sophomore seasons due to ankle and knee injuries, redshirt sophomore forward DJ Wilson was a huge factor in Michigan’s victory. Wilson has the looks of someone who could be considered a double-double machine in the future. Wilson had a team high seven boards in what was a great half for the Wolverines on the glass. He shared the floor with sophomore Moritz Wagner and senior Mark Donnal. Being used at the four gave Wilson a lot of freedom in the offense and even allowed him to see some action on the wing.
Of the big men, Wilson and Wagner had the best game and complimented each other nicely. Wilson had a great game defensively on a day where Michigan’s one-on-one defense lacked. Offensively Wilson did not get many opportunities and wasted the ones he did get.
2. The freshman are not where the need to be yet, but that’s ok.
Only two freshman saw minutes in any pressure situation, most of which came in the first half. Both Ibi Watson and Xavier Simpson spelled players in the back court early but did not see much time down the stretch. Freshman big man Jon Teske checked in for the first time with under two minutes to play in the second half and held his own.
Simpson played mostly off the ball and shared the floor with both Derrick Walton Jr and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman. His offensive output was virtually unnoticeable and at times he looked hesitant to shoot. A freshmen not busting off a high volume of shots is nothing new, but Simpson will need to do more than just eat minutes and spell the starters if the Wolverines plan to compete moving forward.
Watson saw limited minutes on the wing and spelled Duncan Robinson and Zak Irvin. He was more involved in the offense and looked to be in noticeably better shape than he was in high school. Watson missed some open threes early and didn’t see much time in the second half after that. It was almost reminiscent of Zak Irvin’s freshman season, where Irvin came off the bench and had to shoot and score to stay on the floor.
3. There is work to be done defensively.
It didn’t take long to get the first Michigan foul out of the way in this game. What looked like it could have been an aggressive defense effort by the Wolverines quickly changed after an early foul by Wagner. Michigan struggled defending the perimeter early which allowed IUPUI into the game.
There were good defensive stretches in this game, such as the 13-0 run Michigan went on to close out the first half. Overall, the Wolverines seemed to have issues switching on screens and allowed a good number of open shots. If this sounds familiar, refer to all of the 2015-2016 season.
There isn’t a ton you can take away from playing a team like IUPUI. The Wolverines didn’t get upset, got the win and got everybody involved. This early in the season and no team is where they want to be come March. What you can take from this victory is there is work to be done, which is totally normal for mid-November. Now, we will have to see how the Wolverines perform in the rest of the 2K Classic.