Michigan coach talks about the milestone victory and the pregame celebration following Tuesday's 63-44 win over Norfolk State. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — It was quite the opening night at Crisler Center.
Before Michigan tipped off the regular season against Norfolk State, the Wolverines commemorated last season’s success by raising the Final Four and Big Ten tournament title banners to the rafters.
Then No. 19-ranked Michigan kept the party going by handing coach John Beilein the 800th win of his 41-year college coaching career with a 63-44 beating of Norfolk State
Beilein, 65, is the sixth active coach in Division I men’s basketball to reach that mark, joining Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (1,100 wins), Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (926), West Virginia’s Bob Huggins (845), North Carolina’s Roy Williams (842) and Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis (825).
Of Beilein’s victories, 542 have come at the Division I level, including a program-record 249 wins during his 12 seasons with Michigan.
"It's 800 wins. It'll go with those other (commemorative) basketballs, but it was nice to have a poster and so many people congratulating," Beilein said referencing the congratulatory banner the Maize Rage unfurled after the game.
"I do appreciate all the people that have been a part of this because it's not done. (Wife) Kathleen has been with me for all 800. We got married, we lost a game and then we won one and that's how it all started. We're fortunate to have good coaches, good assistants, but let's go after 900 and I'll probably say the exact same answer."
Michigan coach talks about his team's performance after Tuesday's 63-44 win over Norfolk State in the regular-season opener. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
The milestone was never in doubt for Beilein as Michigan scored the first 11 points of the game and defensively frustrated Norfolk State, which started 0-for-8 from the field and missed the rim on several shots before making its first field goal on a banked jumper at the 12:44 mark.
Sophomore forward Isaiah Livers and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis buried back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 16-3 run that helped blow the game open early, 27-5, with 6:44 left in the first half. Livers knocked down another 3 and junior center Jon Teske converted a three-point play and a jumper during the spurt.
Michigan went into halftime with a 32-13 lead as Norfolk State finished the first half with more turnovers (eight) than made field goals (six) and only eight combined points from its five starters.
Despite shooting just 37 percent for the game, Michigan maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the second half. The Wolverines used a 15-4 run that was capped with a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Eli Brooks to take their largest lead, 58-29, at the 8:29 mark before coasting the rest of the way.
"You don't know what to expect in the first game and there were some very good things and then some things that obviously we need a lot of work in," Beilein said. "The good thing is we really guarded people tonight and we got a 'W' because we're pretty good at that so far.
"It was a bit of a mess at times, but we kept gutting through and gutting through."
Teske finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks to lead Michigan, while Brazdeikis scored 12 and Charles Matthews added 10 points and seven rebounds.
While Michigan held Norfolk State to 30.5 percent shooting (18-for-59), the Wolverines had their own struggles knocking down 3-pointers (6-for-26) and free throws (13-for-29).
"We have so many guys that want to be great," said Livers, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds off the bench. "Coach tells us to be good before we're great, so I know we're going to get good first so we start knocking down open shots then be great by making one more pass. We'll be fine. We're not worried about (our) offense."
Here are some other observations from Tuesday’s opener:
► Just like the Northwood exhibition, Brazdeikis started at the four over Livers. Unlike the exhibition, though, Brooks was the first player off the bench only because sophomore guard Jordan Poole picked up an early foul at the 16:32 mark in the first half.
► Teske was disruptive force in the paint the entire night, forcing plenty of rushed and altered shots that won’t show up in the box score. He also did a solid job of contesting without fouling on numerous driving layup attempts by Norfolk State.
► Poole continued to show off playmaking skills with a pair of impressive passes on Michigan’s first two made baskets. He drove and found a cutting Matthews on the baseline with a nice feed around a defender that led to a reverse layup. Then in a pick-and-roll atop the key with Teske, Poole split two defenders with a bounce pass that resulted in an open dunk.
► Redshirt sophomore center Austin Davis made a heads-up play after he was fouled under the rim and Michigan was in the bonus in the first half. He missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and a Norfolk State player grabbed the rebound but wasn’t aware of the situation. Davis ran up, snatched the ball away and quickly scored on a layup before anyone realized what happened.
► None of Michigan’s five freshmen will be taking a redshirt this season as guards David DeJulius and Adrien Nunez, forward Brandon Johns Jr. and center Colin Castleton all checked in during the closing minutes of the game.