ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – Ferris State is being tested early.
For the Division II Bulldogs, the start of this season feels an awful lot like one of those holiday tournaments the nation’s top teams are always playing in.
Ferris State lost its season opener to No. 18 Michigan 59-33 on Friday night, and there will be no time to rest or dwell on anything that went wrong. The Bulldogs must immediately turn around and play at Central Michigan on Saturday night.
“It’s no different than playing in a tournament – these kids are 20-21 years old, and they can handle it,” coach Bill Sall said. “They’ve got a chance to play two D-I teams, and they love the opportunity.”
Stu Douglass scored 14 points after making a surprise start at point guard for Michigan, and the Wolverines overcame some early shooting struggles to beat Ferris State.
The Wolverines led only 22-21 early in the second half before going on a 13-2 run to open up a more comfortable margin. They later went on a 19-0 run that made it 57-32.
“Michigan’s length really hurt us,” Sall said. “They were really able to take away every shot we wanted. We were within six with something like eight minutes left, but they picked up their defense and took us out of the game.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12 points for Michigan, and Evan Smotrycz added 14.
Daniel Sutherlin scored 11 points for the Bulldogs.
Michigan freshman Trey Burke began the game on the bench after coach John Beilein had said the day before he would start at point guard. Douglass got the start instead, and Burke scored three points.
Beilein said Burke was late for a walkthrough earlier in the day.
The Wolverines finished last season strong, making the NCAA tournament and routing Tennessee in their first game there. They lost point guard Darius Morris, who left after his sophomore season and was a second-round pick in the NBA draft, but every other key player is back.
Expectations are pretty high in Ann Arbor, but Michigan looked ordinary for most of its opener. The Wolverines went 4 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half and finished 9 of 28 for the game.
Michigan led 22-16 at halftime.
With the lead cut to one, Hardaway made a 3-pointer, and Smotrycz followed with one of his own. A driving three-point play by Douglass made it 33-23.
Ferris State was able to hang around a little longer, but with the score 38-32 Smotrycz made another 3-pointer to start Michigan’s run of 19 unanswered points that put the game out of reach.
It was Michigan’s first regular-season game at the renovated Crisler Arena, which has new seats and a new high-definition scoreboard.
Beilein left starters on the floor until the final minutes after the Wolverines struggled to put the game away. Michigan hosts Towson and Western Illinois next week before heading to Hawaii to face Memphis in the Maui Invitational.
Beilein had said Thursday that Burke would be the starter at point guard, and that he looked forward to bringing Douglass off the bench so the senior could focus more on shooting. But Douglass ended up in the starting lineup.
Burke entered the game about midway through the first half. He pulled up and made a nice floater almost immediately after coming in.
Michigan shot only 28 percent in the first half and was outrebounded 25-21 before coming out in the second half and turning the game into a rout.
“I think it’s fair to say that our defense is a little ahead of our offense right now,” Beilein said.
Michigan, 1-0, will play Towson at Crisler Arena Monday night. You can hear the game on WWJ Newsradio 950.
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