Clerical error costs Abdur-Rahkman a start
Ann Arbor — Michigan junior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman went through his typical pregame routine before Saturday’s 98-49 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore at Crisler Center.
After warm-ups wrapped up and the national anthem was performed, Abdur-Rahkman took his usual spot on the bench for player introductions.
However, there was a slight problem. Abdur-Rahkman wasn’t announced in the starting lineup; redshirt junior forward Duncan Robinson was.
“They actually messed up,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “It was supposed to be me, that’s why I was sitting down there. I guess they mixed it up and put in Duncan.”
It was the first time this year Abdur-Rahkman started the game on the bench, while it was Robinson’s first start since the second game of the season.
Despite the gaffe, Abdur-Rahkman found humor in the situation and was quickly inserted for Robinson less than a minute into the contest after Eastern Shore’s first possession.
“Coach (John Beilein) told me that I was going to go in after the first dead ball,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “I don’t know who messed it up. I thought it was funny, though.”
According to Beilein, it was a mistake by assistant coach Jeff Meyer.
“The scout coach puts in the book and there’s never been an issue with that and somehow (Meyer) checked the wrong box,” Beilein said with a laugh. “We were surprised as everybody else but (Robinson) does have to start.
“I don’t think there was anything Freudian. There was nothing going on there. (Meyer) doesn’t like wearing glasses and maybe he’s got to wear glasses every time now.”
The mishap had no effect on either player’s performance as Robinson scored 17 on 5-for-9 shooting in 21 minutes and Abdur-Rahkman finished with seven points and a career-high 10 assists in 29 minutes. His previous high was nine assists in an 86-82 loss at Maryland last season.
“Muhammad has another level of play that we’ve been trying to get out of him,” Beilein said. “You can see these baby steps every day of seeing the floor, just becoming a better basketball player. I think we took, maybe, a major step today would be the hope.”
Freshman center Jon Teske received some early playing time after starter Moritz Wagner and backup Mark Donnal each picked up two quick fouls in the first half.
It was valuable playing time for Teske as he continues to develop heading into Big Ten play. He finished with an offensive rebound and two blocks in a season-high eight minutes.
“He’s hard to shoot over when guys penetrate and get in the lane,” redshirt sophomore forward D.J. Wilson said. “He did a great job.”
After Teske’s stint, Wilson slid over and played at the five with a smaller lineup of Abdur-Rahkman, Robinson, Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin for the final 8:41 of the half.
“Jon hasn’t had the type of reps at practice that I didn’t think he would withstand it,” Beilein said. “I wanted to look at this thing to see when people are spreading us out late in the game, put (Robinson or Donnal) in and just move D.J. over to the five man if we need to.
“Now you can do a lot of things with that, so you may see it again. I think Moe and Mark are too valuable and it might tire D.J. out if he’s got to play that and not his natural position, but it was the best way we could go in that.”
Aside from scoring a season-high 98 points, Wilson provided the most memorable moments with a pair of impressive and-1 dunks.
The first came in transition when Wilson received a bounce pass from Walton near the wing, took flight and posterized an Eastern Shore defender with a leaning, one-handed jam with 15:36 left in the first half.
Then in the second half, Wilson received a pass from Abdur-Rahkman under the rim and threw down a two-handed slam over another Eastern Shore defender with 17:46 remaining.
“It felt good. The first one I didn’t think it went in when I fell and hit the ground until I heard everybody and Derrick came in my face hollering,” Wilson said. “That’s when I really realized that I made it.”