Man, this team is fun to watch from the start.
Three games and three blowouts for the Michigan men’s basketball team this season. In their first road game of the season, the Wolverines throttled St. John’s 89-73.
Here are some takeaways from the dominant victory.
Michigan passes its first real test with flying colors
While Michigan’s first two wins of the season against UNC Asheville and Youngstown State were encouraging, the Wolverines did what they were supposed to do and dominated an average-sized opponent.
It was their first real test of the season; a road contest against legendary coach Rick Pitino and a St. John’s team that was picked to finish fifth in the Big East by the conference coaches. We’ve seen Michigan teams bend to tests like this in recent seasons, but they thrived in this one.
They set the tone with a fast pace and used a couple of 8-0 runs to climb to a double-digit lead. They were particularly dominant in the second half, forcing the Red Storm to miss nine of their first 12 attempts. A 22-5 run midway through the second half helped the Wolverines turn this one into a blowout.
This Michigan team is legit. These guys play fast, shoot the ball well, have size and have scorers all over the court. The Wolverines earned two votes in the latest AP poll, and after this impressive performance, it’s almost certain they’ll win more next Monday. I wouldn’t be shocked if they were ranked in the top 25 by this time next week.
Dug McDaniel is more than just a scorer
McDaniel was solid once again in this one (a career-high 26 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and really settled into the starting point guard role perfectly.
He doesn’t just score well on the field; he played like a veteran point guard in this one, thriving at a rapid pace, making good decisions, driving to the rack and getting to the free throw line, scoring eight points at the charity stripe. I also like his quickness while maintaining control, both in the half court and breaking the press. He was the best player on the court at Madison Square Garden.
McDaniel got away with just being a scorer in many games last season, but he really showed improvement in many of the traditional playmaker qualities.
Burnett was a beast
The first media timeout didn’t come until 12:25 of the first half, and Nimari Burnett was on fire during that stretch, scoring 15 points in the first seven and a half minutes of the game. He finished with a career-high 21 points, all coming in the first half.
Burnett has been relatively quiet offensively to start this season, especially compared to the rest of the starters. But he felt it in that first half, knocking down threes, shooting from mid-range and taking it to the bucket with authority.
This strong overall offensive game is why Burnett was a five-star and McDonald’s All-American in 2020. He struggled with injuries and general inconsistency throughout his college career, but he really managed to come through. get out Monday evening.
Tarris Reed Jr. wasn’t perfect, but did a lot of dirty work
With Olivier Nkamhoua struggling for most of this match, Reed spent a lot of time as the only big on the pitch, and he put in his best performance of the season so far.
Reed did a great job protecting the rim – leading the Wolverines with three blocks – staying in front of the guards on switches and timing his jumpers perfectly to contest shots. He also led the Wolverines with 11 rebounds and five points, including a nice two-handed jam in traffic after grabbing an offensive rebound.
Michigan is playing so well that it hasn’t needed Reed to contribute much offensively. He was the anchor of the defense, and even though he gave up a few offensive rebounds and missed a few rabbits inside, I thought he held his own in the paint on both ends of the court. Maybe he’s Michigan’s version of Ben Wallace.
Michigan needs to do better on the glass
Michigan didn’t have many problems offensively in this one, but the Wolverines helped the Red Storm stay in this game because they didn’t rebound well, especially in that first half.
In the first 20 minutes, Michigan had more rebounds overall (20-19), but St. John’s crashed the offensive boards well and scored 17 second-chance points in the first half, 13 more than the Wolverines. In the match, St. John’s collected almost twice as many second chance points (33-14) and finally won the battle on the stripe (47-39) despite a fairly easy defeat.
A good portion of those second-chance points came with Reed off the field and Michigan rolling with a smaller lineup with Tschetter playing center. That said, Michigan needs to do a better job boxing out and collecting boards, especially against some of the biggest teams in the Big Ten.
Michigan will travel to the Bahamas next week to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis for the first time since they won the tournament in 2019. But first, the Wolverines will host Long Beach State at the Crisler Center on Friday, November 17. to be notified at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on B1G+.