No. 25 Michigan takes momentum into Oakland matchup


Transfers Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown wasted no time making an impact on the Michigan basketball program.

They made splashy debuts in a Wolverines uniform on Wednesday. They’ll try to carry that momentum into their team’s home game against Oakland on Sunday.

Smith is finishing out his career with Michigan after leading the Ivy League in scoring at 22.8 points per game last season. The Columbia transfer had 16 points, eight assists and just one turnover as the Wolverines’ primary ball handler in a 96-82 season-opening victory over Bowling Green.

“Mike was big for us. Mike is going to have the ball in his hands a lot,” coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s going to have the opportunity to make plays for himself and for others. And with his high basketball IQ, I trust that he’s going to make the right play and put us in the best position to give us the opportunity to either score or someone else score.”

One of those beneficiaries was Brown. A three-year starter at Wake Forest, Brown supplied a team-high 19 points, four rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes. He shot 5-for-7 on 3-point attempts.

“When I saw that he was in the transfer portal, I jumped on it right away, because I knew he was going to help us,” Howard said. “He’s the type of guy — he’s embracing, just by being here and doing whatever it takes to help the team. [He’s the kind of guy] that’s all-in and Chaundee’s the definition of a guy that’s all in.”

Hunter Dickinson had a different kind of impressive debut. A true freshman center, Dickinson came off the bench and contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and a block in 18 minutes.

“He just looked comfortable out there,” Howard said. “He looked like, back in the NBA, we call that a ‘seasoned vet.’ A guy, being a young rookie, just looks like he belongs, he’s been here before.”

Michigan shot 54.1 percent from the field against the Falcons, who are touted as one of the Mid-American Conference’s top teams. The Wolverines will now face a struggling in-state opponent.

Oakland went 0-3 during the holiday weekend while playing three consecutive days in the Xavier Invitational tournament. The Golden Grizzlies will be playing their fourth game in five days on Sunday.

Oakland lost by an average of 31 points in the event and shot 27.5 percent from the field.

The Golden Grizzlies’ best showing in the round-robin tournament came on Friday, a 74-60 loss to Bradley. They only practiced four times prior to the tournament after a three-week stoppage due to COVID-19 issues.

“My biggest belief in our team is our ability to shoot the ball and that’s what we’re not doing,” coach Greg Kampe said. “I think it’s because of the layoff. We’re going to find out over time.”

Kampe’s club also has road games against Purdue, Oklahoma State and Michigan State in the next eight days. It could be a while before the Grizzlies notch their first victory.

“We’ve got four games coming up against the top teams in the country,” he said. “It could get ugly, but we’re going to take them as practices and we’re going to get better and better.”

–Field Level Media

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