Under Spain's summer sun, Michigan basketball freshmen get a chance to shine
BARCELONA -- Michigan had lost, but there was plenty still to be gained. The Wolverines dropped their 40-minute game to KK Mega Bemax, a Serbian pro team, but the sides had previously agreed to an additional 10-minute period. Michigan deployed a lineup that included three freshmen who had seen limited action during the Spain trip, along with junior Jon Teske and sophomore Eli Brooks.
"Eli," assistant coach Luke Yaklich called to the cerebral guard. "Talk the young guys through it. See the whole floor and help the young guys though it."
The opening minutes of the extra period were shaky, but Michigan outscored Mega Bemax 18-16. Adrien Nunez scored his first basket of the trip. David DeJulius got to run the offense. Brandon Johns Jr. showed off his athleticism and hit a 3-pointer. They're all freshmen, and these were valuable minutes.
M ichigan is 1-1 on its Spain tour with one game to play against perhaps its best competition yet. The offense has not been particularly sharp: too many turnovers and missed foul shots; not enough 3-pointers.
But this is August. Most years, the mistakes the Wolverines are making at this time happen inside Crisler Center with nobody watching except the coaches. Freshmen learn the offense. Returners adapt to new roles. Everyone works on everything and, come November...
Well, John Beilein's teams often don't look like world-beaters by then either. But he has a track record of overseeing teams that improve as the season progresses.
These Wolverines get a head start on that process.
On Thursday against Mega Bemax, freshman Ignas Brazdeikis showed he is a bonafide bucket-getter. While a capable outside shooter, Brazdeikis has attempted the majority of his shots in the paint. He's got a quick first step and, with plenty of overseas experienc e, the confidence to contribute immediately, scoring 15 points Thursday.
Johns is very athletic and knows how to use it, blocking a shot and recording a steal in the extra session. The 6-foot-8 forward grabbed three rebounds before that.
Guards DeJulius and Nunez are both considered above-average shooters. DeJulius showed drew contact on a fast break Thursday and sunk a pair of free throws. Nunez is 1-of-6 from 3-point range so far in Spain but it is clear from the reaction of his teammates they expect every shot he takes to fall.
The other freshman, Colin Castleton, broke his hand before the trip and isn't dressing but is healthy enough to hoist jumpers. Strength coach Jon Sanderson called the injury a "blessing in disguise" because Castleton, at 6-foot-11 and 210 pounds, will benefit from the extra training.
Michigan had 10 extra practices before the trip and, after Saturday's game against top Spanish league team Joventut Badalona (7 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET), will have three games of live competition. "That's big, not just for the returners but probably more so for the freshmen," interm head coach Saddi Washington said. "They'll feel what it's like to be in live action, make mistakes, have success, get through it, and watch it."Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain