- Todd Needle/Daily
By Luke Pasch, Daily Sports Editor
Published November 4, 2011
For much of Friday night’s exhibition basketball game, the prettiest thing on the floor was the brand new block ’M’ at half-court.
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To christen the newly refurbished Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, No. 18 Michigan tipped off against Wayne State, and it was coach John Beilein’s first look at how his team would handle the departure of former Wolverine point guard Darius Morris to the NBA.
And it didn’t look too great. The Wolverines won the contest, 47-39, but play on the offensive end was very sloppy. In the first half, the Wolverines committed seven turnovers, and the Warriors committed 11. Neither team shot the ball well either, as Michigan finished the half just 3-for-16 from 3-point range, and Wayne State finished 2-for-11.
“We came out really excited, I think,” Beilein said after the game. “Almost too excited to make simple plays — base hits.”
To open the contest, Beilein started senior guard Stu Douglass at point guard over freshman stud Trey Burke, as expected.
But when Burke took the floor, he wasted little time getting involved. On a fast break early in the game, he showcased his speed, outrunning his opponents up the floor. When he got into the lane, he dished to center Jordan Morgan under the basket, who slammed it home. But as the crowd erupted, Burke committed his first rookie mistake, taking his momentum into the Wayne State defender and picking up the offensive foul.
The points were erased, but the crowd still had its first taste of the exciting style of play Burke brings to Ann Arbor.
"I was going full speed," Burke said after the game. "I was just kind of excited, really. All my coaches have been telling me, 'It's college now, they're going to be taking charges.' There it was."
The excitement didn’t stop there, though. Six minutes into the second half, Burke led another fast break charge up the floor and tossed an alley-oop dunk to a streaking Tim Hardaway Jr. to awaken an ice-cold Michigan offense.
"Usually in practice, we usually don't get chances like that," Burke said. "But he looked at me, I looked at him, and I knew he was going to catch it. That kind of gave us a spark."
In 28 minutes of play, Burke finished the game with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, and he had four assists. Hardaway Jr. finished with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
Along with the new look in the backcourt, Beilein decided to switch things up in the paint as well, starting sophomore Jon Horford at center over last year’s everyday starter, redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan. But both big men got their fair share of minutes, and both cleaned up the boards nicely, finishing with 10 rebounds between the two of them.
Of the two, their teammates don't really know who's going to start in next week's season opener against Ferris State.
"Jon (Horford) has been working really hard," Douglass said. "He deserved to start tonight. Who knows what's going to happen — I don't really know what goes on in (Beilein's) head."
All in all, the Wolverines played a solid game on defense and on the boards, and the game would have ended in a much larger margin of victory if they could just get their shots to fall. The team finished just 33 percent from the field, and until Hardaway Jr. starting knocking down shots at the end of the game, the Warriors had an upset bid in the works.