ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -
Michigan's first exhibition game was already 16 minutes old when it happened.
Coming out of the final TV time-out of Thursday's Michigan-Northern Michigan game at the renovated Crisler Center, the Wolverines' five freshmen broke the huddle together with 3:40 left before the half.
Each of the five - Glenn Robinson III, Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert - had played with a different combination earlier. But this was what fans were waiting for.
The sparse crowd noticed and the freshmen responded. Over the next nearly three minutes together, they brought energy, with five trips to the free-throw line and a pair of one-and-ones, highlighted by McGary's pile-driving fist pump on his.
It was only a flicker in the 40-minute game - one the Wolverines opened 17-0 and cruised to a 83-47 win over Division II Northern - but it was the reminder that this is not like any Michigan basketball team seen in the last 15 years.
When the final numbers were added up, all of the freshmen five were in the scorebook, totaling 54 points of the 80 U-M scored before clearing the bench in the final minutes.
These were guys with natural energy, from Albrecht starting the game in place of suspended Trey Burke and hitting the season's first shot, a three-pointer, then driving for his own and-one.
Stauskas, arriving with the gunslinger rep, entered out of a time-out and stood alone in the corner. As expected he was fed the ball and dropped the three, eventually leading all scorers with 17.
By halftime, the freshmen had 29 of U-M's 38 points and their impact for the No. 5 Wolverines was undeniable.
While they may be the future, on Thursday they were the present as well.
Though U-M coach John Beilein said on Wednesday, "I expect them to be freshmen," he probably didn't mean so much impact so quickly.
Playing without Burke, the preseason All-American suspended for violating team standards, it wasn't an accurate reflection of what this team will look like whole. But it was more than enough to tease that it'll be unlike anything seen recently around Crisler.