ANN ARBOR, Mich.--The No. 2 Michigan men’s basketball team has one more test before it begins Big Ten play.
The Wolverines (12-0) will play host to instate opponent Central Michigan (7-5) Saturday at the Crisler Center, with a chance to become the eighth Maize and Blue team to go undefeated in nonconference play and the first since 1985-86.
But with Big Ten play just around the corner, coach John Beilein has his full attention focused on the Chippewa’s shooting ability from the perimeter. He said his team is focused on CMU’s “innovative” attack.
“(They) really stretch us,” Beilein said regarding Central Michigan's offensive scheme. “They have five shooters out on the floor. That’s something we have not seen. So we have to make adjustments. (We have to) change things we do defensively to try to counter their really innovative attack.”
Michigan’s last win --nine days ago against Eastern Michigan, 93-54 -- was primarily against the Eagles 2-3 zone defense. Beilein said he expects a lot of the same defensive looks versus CMU.
“We see a similar situation today with Central Michigan,” Beilein said. “Although they could play man (defense.) We'll be prepared for both. Every game there is prep -- you just don’t do for every other game cause of the versatility of different programs.
“So we got one more game to improve at before the Big Ten schedule starts.”
The Wolverines will begin Big Ten next week on Jan. 3 at Northwestern.
Horford Injury Report
Red shirt sophomore Jon Horford suffered a dislocated knee earlier this month versus West Virginia (81-66 win.) Beilein said the 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward is making strides in his rehabilitation.
“He’s progressing well,” Beilein said, “but he will not be playing, he’s not ready yet. I just defer to the trainers, they just go through it all -- I don't even ask them, until they start telling me when they think he's getting closer.”
Beilein said Horford has been rehabbing his knee with extensive pool exercises and cardio workouts.
"He does drills on his own, he shoots on his own -- but based on what (the training staff) thinks he can handle," Michigan's headman added.
Mitch McGary’s Progression
Freshman Mitch Mcgary is coming off his best game as a Wolverine. He finished with his first career double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) and was named Big Ten Freshman of the week for his performance versus Eastern Michigan.
“That was really good for him,” Belein said on McGary winning the award. “It’s always good for him to have that type of feedback. You look at freshman from around the country and very rare it is to have a big man that comes in as a freshman and is outstanding from beginning to end. Usually the guards are more ready to play the college game. The big men get better, maybe better at the end, but it takes them sometime cause there is so much attention.”
Beilein credits McGary's improved conditioning and growth in learning the Wolverines' system for his improved play.
“His condition has improved greatly,” Beilein said. “He’s just like all the rest of our freshman. There is a learning curve that is all different for them and he is getting better and better. And then to have a true form to play bigger, to make the right decisions, they all take time."
“And we’ve worked a lot extra with him. I just spent a film session with him, right now. Just looking at different things he can do to improve his ability to enhance his learning curve.”
Strong Freshman Play
“This is a freshman group that has really showed us great progress,” Beilein said, “probably as good as any we’ve ever had. That they’ve made great progress. Now, the Central Michigan game and Big Ten will provide more and more challenges to them. And they just got to keep adjusting.”
Beilein said he is “pleased” with the current freshman class progressions’ thus far. However, he pointed out the unpredictability in having expectations in freshman throughout his years in coaching.
“Anything a freshman does is unexpected, even if he is bad. If he starts out with a tough start or a great start, it’s unexpected. I don’t know what to expect of freshman after having 34 years of them—you just don’t know.”
-- “Every player is ready to roll,” Beilein said, regarding the teams’ academic eligibility going forward.
-- On senior guard Matt Vogrich on accepting his new role on the bench with fellow seniors, “He’s been terrific actually. He and Blake (Mclimans) have to just stay ready. Eso Akunne, Corey (Person), they just have to stay ready.”