It's early, but Beilein likes what he sees

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
6:48
PM ET

John Beilein is too smart and has been around basketball for too long to extrapolate much meaning from a November basketball game.

But the Michigan coach can identify a good thing when he sees it, regardless of the calendar. And in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, Beilein saw some good things in his Wolverines' 73-61 victory over No. 8 Memphis.

"We want to push the ball when we can but also control the tempo," Beilein said. "And we did a pretty good job of picking our spots."

It was, in fact, Michigan's discipline -- especially in the face of Memphis' frenzy -- that made the difference. The Wolverines shot 54 percent to just 33 from the Tigers, a byproduct of equal parts smart offense and good defense.

That it was a freshman dictating those smart decisions was all the more reason for Beilein to smile.

The offseason conversation for Michigan has included some fretting and hand-wringing, with some UM faithful wondering what the team would do without Darius Morris.

Beilein gave the ball to Trey Burke and in the face of the swarming, up-tempo style of Memphis, the rookie accorded himself more than well. Burke had three turnovers to four assists, but his mistakes were erased with smart choices.

"My biggest concern was that he'd get tired," Beilein said. "He's our only true point guard. But we were able to use our timeouts well. I was interested to see how he'd handle a team like this and I thought he showed a lot of poise."

So what does it all mean? In the short term, a game on Tuesday in the winner's side of the bracket.

In the long term?

"It's a nice win for us," Beilein said. "But it's only November."

Dana O'Neil | email

College Basketball

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