Friday, December 2, 2011
Opponent brings in some familiar faces
By Michael Rothstein WolverineNation
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Usually when non-conference opponents show up in Crisler Arena, they take on the look of the unfamiliar.
Many have never played in the building. Save for a rare connection between players or coaches, they likely don't know each other too well, either.
Chris Allen (center) transferred from Michigan State to Iowa State, where he plays with two other Big Ten transfers.
Saturday will be different. Saturday might be, save for Duke the past few seasons, the most familiar non-conference opponent Michigan will face even though the Wolverines haven't played the Cyclones since 1992.
Three Big Ten transfers -- including two who actually played against Michigan -- will likely start for the Cyclones. Two other Iowa State players, who will likely play large roles in the future, are still sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.
Michigan coach John Beilein has never quite seen a team like this one, which has eight transfers on its roster, including four starters and six players in a regular rotation.
"Not that I recall," Beilein said. "The thing is that some of the transfers they've had in the past have been extremely successful. Their backs are to the wall. They can't transfer again.
"It usually ends up being pretty positive and this is a talented team."
The transfer Michigan needs to be most concerned about is forward Royce White. The 6-foot-8 forward started his career at Minnesota, never played a game, and then ended up at Iowa State, where he has averaged 14.1 points and 10.4 rebounds this season.
Beilein said Michigan has "to be very careful" how it guards White. If the Wolverines overplay him, he'll be able to find Penn State transfer Chris Babb or Michigan State transfer Chris Allen on the wing for 3-pointers. If Michigan underplays him, White will have a monster day.
"You have to be versatile with him," Beilein said. "He may have four turnovers a game, but he has four assists a game, too. Really good passer."
A redshirt update
Earlier this week, Beilein hinted that freshman forward Max Bielfeldt is likely heading for a redshirt -- one of the reasons the 6-foot-9 freshman forward has not played yet this season.
He might not be alone.
Freshman preferred walk-on Sai Tummala has been bothered by concussions earlier in the season, and while he has recovered, he still might not play.
"In practice he really has shown some great flashes," Beilein said. "He might be our most athletic player. He may be our quickest, besides Trey Burke, one of our quickest players and has shown us some very good signs.
"He's 200 pounds now. When he came to visit us, he might have been 175. We have high hopes for him but I don't see him getting in the lineup just yet and a redshirt is a definite possibility."
That Beilein is contemplating redshirting the 6-foot-6 forward is perhaps a sign he might end up being more than just an end-of-the-bench walk-on down the road. Even in the preseason, senior guard Zack Novak said Tummala was a player who was surprising some veterans with how he played.
For those coming to Saturday's game, traffic may be an issue. East Stadium Boulevard and South State Street are closed, so alternate routes are encouraged. ... Beilein said the usage of guard Eso Akunne and forwards Blake McLimans and Colton Christian is part due to foul trouble in games and also to give looks to see if they could play their way into the regular rotation.
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.