Towson-Michigan Preview

BY foxsports • November 14, 2011

Michigan came into this season with high expectations, though the team still has plenty of growing up to do - which freshman Trey Burke exhibited prior to the season opener.

The 17th-ranked Wolverines look to improve after a shaky performance as they host Towson on Monday night.

Burke was slated to start Friday's 59-33 win over Division II Ferris State, but the highly touted point guard was late to the team's morning walkthrough. He didn't enter the game until midway through the first half and shot 1 for 7 with three points in 18 minutes.

Coach John Beilein started three sophomores and two seniors, including Stu Douglass, who scored 14 points in Burke's place.

''He'll learn from it,'' Beilein said of Burke.

Beilein didn't state whether Burke or Douglass will start Monday, though the fifth-year coach said Douglass accepted a role coming off the bench prior to the start of the season.

''I know he doesn't mind coming off the bench and hunting shots a little bit more than running a team,'' Beilein said. ''He's a shot hunter.''

Douglass, who is one of the team's top perimeter threats, also had five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

''It's a long season - first game,'' Douglass said. ''It will definitely give me some confidence.''

The Wolverines, though, likely will need to improve if they're to live up to their billing. They led only 22-16 at halftime and shot 39.3 percent for the game, including 32.1 from 3-point range.

''Just keep on running the offense, and the shots will come,'' said Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 12 points. ''People were probably too excited.''

Michigan, though, limited Ferris State to 14-for-50 shooting (28.0 percent) and forced 17 turnovers.

''I think it's fair to say that our defense is a little ahead of our offense right now,'' Beilein said.

The Wolverines should have a good chance for another solid defensive performance against seemingly overmatched Towson (0-1) of the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Tigers will be facing their second straight ranked opponent after falling 100-54 to No. 13 Kansas on Friday, when they went 18 for 51 from the field and committed 23 turnovers.

Towson, led by former Pittsburgh assistant and first-year coach Pat Skerry, returned only two players with Division I experience in Erique Gumbs and Robert Nwankwo, who missed all of the 2010-11 season while being declared academically ineligible as the Tigers went 4-23.

The 6-foot-8 Nwankwo had team highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds in his return.

''He didn't play last year and he had a double-double tonight,'' Skerry said. ''We're expecting him to be a consistent double-double guy all year. He's gotten himself in great shape.''

Towson surprisingly outrebounded a much taller Kansas team, 35-32. Michigan matched Ferris State's 39 rebounds in its opener.

''I was happy with the backboards, obviously, which will be a staple for us and (show) that we are going to compete,'' Skerry said.

Michigan struggled with Towson in the last meeting, rallying for a 73-71 win Dec. 28, 2000. The Wolverines have won all four meetings since 1997.

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