Nov. 27, 2013
By Jenny Herstein, U-M Public and Media Relations
This past weekend (Nov. 21-24), Michigan competed in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, finishing in second place.
The Wolverines sailed past Long Beach State in the opening round of the tournament (85-61) behind sophomore Nik Stauskas' career-high 24 points and sophomore Caris LeVert's 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Michigan shot 31-of-58 (53.4 percent) on the night, including 14-of-30 (47 percent) from behind the arc.
The game also was just the second game of the season for sophomore Mitch McGary, who had previously been sidelined with a back injury. McGary scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes.
"What we're trying to do right now is just get him (McGary) back into the type of shape he was in last March," said head coach John Beilein. "He hasn't even lifted weights. His leg strength is going to lead to poor endurance. We've got to build that all up. It'll all take some time."
The Wolverines' victory over LBSU granted them a place in the tournament semifinal, where they met with Florida State. The Seminoles held an eight-point lead with just three minutes left in regulation, but the Wolverines battled back to tie the game on a layup from Stauskas. The sophomore then scored seven of the team's 13 points in overtime en route to Michigan's 82-80 victory.
In the tournament final against Charlotte, Michigan struggled to find its shot, going just 8-of-34 (23.5 percent) in the first half.
"There are some shots we've got to turn down and look for a better shot -- not look for the first one, look for the best one," Beilein said. "Our shooting percentage is down because of it. Less shots means more points sometimes."
The Wolverines once again mounted a comeback, shooting 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) in the second half, but the 49ers' Terrence Williams hit the game-winning layup with less than a second left on the clock to clinch the tournament title for Charlotte, 63-61.
"We didn't get any stops down the stretch," said Beilein. "That really was a big factor in the game. We just needed one stop during that time. I do like that we didn't stop trying, but I think maybe fatigue got us."
The Wolverines return from their travels and will get a brief rest before they face Coppin State on Friday afternoon (Nov. 29).
Coppin State looks to improve from a season ago, when its young and inexperienced team went 8-24 (5-11 MEAC), marking only the fourth time the Eagles have failed to record at least 10 wins over the course of head coach Fang Mitchell's 27 year tenure.
In hopes of providing the team with a more experienced roster, Mitchell added four junior transfers this season, all of whom previously competed at junior colleges. Newcomers Arnold Fripp, Dallas Gary and Jahvari Josiah all played together last season at Monroe College, which went 32-4. Also joining the Eagles this year is Daquen Brickhouse, who averaged 13.4 points per game last season with ASA College to become that program's all-time leading scorer after just two years.
"(Mitchell is a) tremendous coach," said Beilein. "This seems like the Coppin State teams of old that upset people in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is the best team that I've seen Coppin State have. This could be a MEAC championship team. They are all playing at a high level."
The Eagles enter Friday's matchup at 2-2, having notched wins against Oregon State (78-73) and Division II Ohio Valley (96-79) while falling to California (83-64) and Wagner (102-87).
Sophomore returnee Sterling Smith has led the team in scoring in its first four games this season, averaging 17.5 points per game while shooting 50 percent (11-for-22) from behind the arc. He has also recorded nine steals.
Also serving as a leader for the Eagles is junior point guard Taariq Cephas, who has averaged 13 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Senior Andre Armstrong and Brickhouse round out Coppin State's leading scorers so far this season, with each averaging 10.8 points per game.
Preseason All-MEAC selection Michael Murray has yet to see time for the Eagles this season after breaking his right hand during a practice in October. Last season, the 6-5 senior forward averaged 12.4 points per game and led the league in rebounds per game (8.9).
"They're going to give us a really good game," Beilein said. "It will be great for us. But it is going to be a tough one. If you want to see a great school play with a great basketball tradition -- Fang Mitchell, there's not a better coach."
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