Michigan cleaned up the turnovers compared to yesterday and shot the ball pretty well in their 73-64 win over North Carolina in the second round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Juwan Howard and Michigan are now 6-0 with a championship matchup against either Oregon or Gonzaga tomorrow afternoon.
1. Michigan can survive and thrive without top players
Yesterday Michigan played long stretches without Jon Teske. Today, they were without Zavier Simpson for much of the game. And it didn't matter. Wins over Iowa State and now North Carolina are resume builders and the Wolverines got each win without one of its key players. Guys are getting important, meaningful minutes and stepping up. Not only did the Wolverines hang in there without two of their leaders, they added to their lead in both games. In my opinion, the team is nowhere near as good as its going to be with sophomores still getting used to their increased roles and freshman Franz Wagner still figuring it all out as a starter. All of that is very promising.
2. David DeJulius can get buckets
The sophomore guard stepped up in Zavier Simpson's absence and scored 11 points in 23 minutes. He's fearless, has exceptional range, can get to the bucket almost at will and finishes at the rim very well for his size. He was an absolute killer coming out of high school and he's starting to find that zone again through six games of his sophomore season.
3. Eli Brooks is a legitimate top scoring option
For the second time this year, junior guard Eli Brooks led the Wolverines in scoring with 24 points. In year three, he's been able to show his range, ability to get to the rim and knack for making the right play, on both ends of the floor. Brooks went 4-for-6 from three-point range and 9-for-14 overall. He also led the team in minutes played with 39. The bottom line — Brooks is dependable, smart and a real weapon.
4. Zavier Simpson is pressing a bit
Simpson is a senior, a leader, a bulldog on defense and a tireless worker, but he's had a few rough outings. Today against North Carolina, Simpson only played 17 minutes due to foul trouble. He only turned the ball over once, which is a nice improvement from yesterday, but he just seemed a little off against the Heels. He did make his only three-point attempt and dished out six assists, but the fouls today and the turnovers yesterday are very uncharacteristic of him and a bit surprising given his experience and role as the unquestioned coach on the floor.
5. Franz Wagner is still knocking off the rust
Wagner started for the second game in a row and had a rough go in the first half, at least from an offensive standpoint. He ended up going 1-for-6 with just three points and turned the ball over four times, but his on-court presence wasn't bad. He was very good on defense and really changed what Michigan did because of his length, but he's definitely still putting it all together. It's going to take just a bit of time for him to get completely into the flow of everything but when he does, he's going to be invaluable.
What takeaways do you have from the game? What do you think this team's ceiling is? Floor? Comment below!!!