The team going into the slippery/rocky opener tomorrow ... the rotation ... and a new injury.
Beilein on the team, Slippery Rock (w/video)
Michigan coach John Beilein knows the team is expected to win this year, but isn't looking past Friday's opponent.
"We're excited about opening the season," Beilein said. "A lot of teams will be opening a lot of division-1 games on Friday night. People that don't know, probably don't realize what Slipper Rock has become as a team particularly this year. It should be an extremely, extremely talented Division II team. This is a team with some breaks that could win a Division II championship."
The Wolverines should be considered a double-digit favorite over The Rock. Slippery Rock returns four of five starters from a team that finished 17-10 last season. The experience returning on the court for the Rock, has Beilein's full attention, especially with four freshmen expected to play for the Wolverines.
"It's going to be more than a test, it's going to be the real deal," Beilein explained. "They run action that veteran teams run. You look at the Wisconsin teams, which usually have a lot of veterans out there, very few freshman. And they will run there things so effectively and efficiently that it is difficult for freshman who usually take a delay a little bit to pick up on it. But we will probably have four freshmen out there a great deal. And then we're going to have to grow up real fast."
Beilein says the starting lineup will likely be the same it was in exhibition play, with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Jordan Morgan, Matt Vogrich, and Glenn Robinson III in the starting five. He said Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Nic Stauskas, and Jon Horford should find their way into the rotation. As of right now, Stauskas is a game time decision, because of back spasms, he said.
If Stuaskas is made unavailable, Beilein said there could be a combination of Burke and Albrecht in the backcourt at the same time.
"You could see that several times, especially if we need help scoring the ball," Beilein said. "Those two guys are clever and they find ways either to get their own or find others. Trey can do both, certainly Spike proved he can score, but he is a specialist at getting other people better as well."
Redshirt freshman forward Max Bielfeldt wasn't named to the rotation. Beilein noted he has been struggling with his footwork and the high-low game the Wolverines run.
With Michigan being ranked No.5 in both preseason polls, Beilein said the team doesn't talk about the rankings. He acknowledged, however, that the notoriety is a sign of respect.
"We know truth is a friend of time and time is a friend of truth. You just keep working and you know over time you'll get respect when you deserve it. And that's what we're trying to do. Nobody deserves anything right now other than to prove what you have this year. Go out and play this year. In March we will find out who has respect. And hopefully we are one of those teams."
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