W. Illinois-Michigan Preview
Before Michigan can turn its attention to a much anticipated
work trip to the Hawaiian Islands, it has one more hurdle to
The No. 17 Wolverines look to open with a third consecutive
victory Thursday night when they face Western Illinois at Crisler
With four players back from last season’s squad that lost to
Duke by two points in the second round of the NCAA tournament,
Michigan (2-0) expects to play deeper into March in 2011-12.
The Wolverines should get a good idea of how they stack up early
on with some of the best teams in the country when they begin play
Monday at the Maui Invitational against No. 10 Memphis. The field
also features sixth-ranked Duke, No. 12 Kansas, UCLA and
First, Michigan needs to take care of things in its first
meeting with Western Illinois, which lost 87-58 at Dayton in its
season opener Saturday.
“This has been a good stretch for us as far as our guys playing
these three games in getting ready for our season and getting as
much experience as we can before we get into our trip over to
Hawaii,” Michigan coach John Beilein told the school’s official
website. “We have one more to get.”
Though the Wolverines beat Ferris State and Towson by a combined
43 points in its first two games, they are hoping to tighten some
things up against the Leathernecks before tougher tests await in
Hawaii next week.
“Right now we’re just focused on this game against Western
Illinois,” sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz said. “We just want to
put together a complete game.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15 points while Smotrycz and freshman
point guard Trey Burke each added 13 in a 64-47 win over Towson on
Monday. Though the Wolverines shot 46.3 percent for the game and
forced 21 turnovers, they slacked off a bit in the second half when
a lineup made up mostly of reserves was outscored 31-27 by the
“We played really well in stretches at times in both games, but
I think if we can play 40 minutes on the offensive and defensive
ends, that will really give us a confidence boost going to Maui,”
said Smotrycz, who has totaled 27 points and seven rebounds through
the first two games.
Michigan will try for a 15th consecutive home victory against an
unranked, non-conference opponent Thursday night.
Western Illinois has dropped nine consecutive games against Top
25 teams since the start of the 1996-97 season. Six of those
defeats have come against Big Ten schools.
Guided by former Minnesota head coach Jim Molinari, Western
Illinois trailed Dayton by three points at halftime before being
held to just 20 in the second half. The Leathernecks look to
improve on the defensive end after they allowed the Flyers to shoot
56.9 percent for the game.
Senior guard Tommie Tyler and freshman Obi Emegano each had 15
points for Western Illinois.