Michigan freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. has a big first half, Zack Novak unwittingly gets posterized and other notes
MINNEAPOLIS — First he made one. Then another.
Four minutes later, Michigan freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. added two more 3-pointers — part of the Wolverines making their first six 3-point attempts during their 70-63 win over Minnesota on Saturday.
Michigan dissected the Minnesota zone, moving the ball around with precision and making, almost literally, everything they shot.
“I just felt that they were giving me wide open shots,” Hardaway said. “Me, my teammates, Stu (Douglass), (Matt) Vogrich, they were just giving us open shots in the zone.
“So we’re doing a great job of penetrating and dishing and kicking.”
No one was more efficient than Hardaway, who one Minnesota fan sitting behind press row called “a machine” in the first half.
Hardaway finished with 22 points — 12 of them coming in the first 5:05 of the game.
“That was right up there with the way he’s really feeling it right now,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “But he’s worked at this. He works at it. He works at it.
“He’s in the gym early, he stays late. He works at it all over the place.”
An emerging rebounder? Before Michigan’s season started, freshman forward Evan Smotrycz said defense and rebounding were the two areas he needed to improve on the most as he started to settle into the rotation.
Yet all season long, Smotrycz didn’t rebound very well — in part because he was on the wing a lot and in part because he was going against players bigger and stronger than him.
Against one of the biggest teams in the country with 6-foot-8 Trevor Mbakwe, 6-foot-10 Colton Iverson and 6-foot-11 Ralph Sampson III on the Minnesota front line, Smotrycz had one of his best rebounding games.
The freshman grabbed five rebounds, more than he has had in any game since Jan. 12 when he had six against Ohio State.
“Rebounding is just all effort. If you set your mind to it and really focus on crashing the boards, I think, in some ways, you kind of get lucky,” Smotrycz said. “The chances that ball is going to come into your hands are higher.
“I think that’s what happened tonight.”
The dunk he didn’t see Mbakwe stood underneath the basket and elevated up and over Michigan's Zack Novak to throw down a thunderous one-handed dunk, one somewhat reminiscent in power and ‘Wow factor’ to the one former Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin had on Novak during the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Thing is, Novak didn’t see it happen.
“I didn’t even really see it. I was turned around a little bit,” Novak said. “So I was under the basket and I saw him dunk it. I didn’t know it was that bad.
“But (my teammates) told me it was pretty bad. He’s just, he’s a great player.”
Quote of the night
“Morris was really going one-on-one with Blake (Hoffarber). Taking it inside. He took Rodney (Williams) inside. They were picking on guys that are supposed to be a lot better defensively."
This and that Michigan won four road games in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2002-03 season, when the Wolverines were 4-4 in the league. Minnesota has now lost seven of eight games. ... Michigan guard Josh Bartelstein did not make the trip. He is still not cleared to play while recovering from a concussion.