Sophomore forward Zak Irvin stars in Michigan’s latest blowout win on Italian basketball tour

By Rod Beard
The Detroit News

If Michigan’s first three exhibition games in Italy are any indication, sophomore Zak Irvin could have a bigger role in the offense next season than many had projected.

Irvin has sizzled in UM’s exhibition tour, with another impressive game of 22 points, leading the Wolverines to a 116-52 victory over Petrarca Padova Wednesday in Vicenza.

Irvin, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, went 9-of-16 from the field and made a pair of 3-pointers. He’s averaging 22.3 points in UM’s three lopsided wins. Junior Caris LeVert, the leading returning scorer, added 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists and redshirt freshman Mark Donnal 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Michigan had a closer margin than its first two contests, leading, 30-21, after the first quarter, but a 33-15 second quarter provided a needed cushion. UM went on a 33-8 spurt in the third period and finished the game on a 20-8 run.

“Our defense exceeded what I thought we could do today. We started slow, but as the game went on, they were very good at their dribble-drive attack,” coach John Beilein said. “We made it difficult for them to get the ball in the paint and then they had to rely on three-point shooting and we guarded that as well. The defense then became our offense.”

Donnal, who started for the third straight game, found consistency after being saddled by foul trouble in Tuesday’s win. His development, along with that of Ricky Doyle, will determine how strong the Wolverines can be in the post this season.

“We continue to show Mark and Ricky (Doyle) film so that they can get better. I really don’t care what each one does; I care what they do collectively,” Beilein said. “Tonight was 29 points and almost 20 rebounds between the two of them. It would be too much to think about getting 20 and 20 from them, but if we needed to get double-figures, that’s a heck of a big man.”

Freshman Aubrey Dawkins had his best game of the tour, with 14 points and six rebounds and Doyle added nine points and eight rebounds.

Michigan finishes its four-game exhibition schedule on Friday against Mantova Stings in Poggio Rusco.