Relentless depth pushes No. 3 Michigan to its best start in 24 years, but John Beilein's not impressed -- yet
ANN ARBOR -- There have been plenty of "that hasn't happened in a while" moments for the Michigan basketball team early this season.
The Wolverines have their highest national ranking (No. 3) in 18 years, and are 9-0 for the first time since the 1988-89 season, a year that concluded with Michigan's only men's basketball national championship.
And Saturday -- for the first time in forever -- Michigan was punished for dunking the ball too hard, as Trey Burke was whistled for a rim-hanging technical late in the team's 80-67 win over Arkansas.
The Fab Five can surely sympathize with Burke, whose team is 9-0 with very winnable games in front of them for the rest of the calendar year.
What's it all mean, though? Not a whole lot, according to John Beilein.
Not yet, anyway.
"It doesn't mean anything," Beilein said. "It's a good start.
"We've got 22 miles left to run in this marathon."
The ninth mile of that marathon came Saturday, and served as a prime example why the Wolverines' have been turning on the way-back machine this season, back to the days of the Fab Five, Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson and others.
Michigan has a ton of depth, a ton of athletes and a ton of players who can score the basketball.
All five Michigan starters scored in double figures Saturday, giving the Wolverines a win that might very well have turned into a loss with less able bodies a season ago.
"Maybe," said Burke, who finished with 16 points and 7 assists. "Last year, we may have lost that game.
"But this year, we have more depth, we have more size down low, and we got a lot of extra possession on offense."
Burke's probably right. A year ago, the Wolverines likely would have lost Saturday's game. Arkansas came out firing in the second half, going 4 of 5 from the 3-point line and getting open look after open look near the hoop.
The Razorbacks erased a double-digit lead and cut Michigan's edge all the way down to one in the second half.
Last season, Michigan might not have had enough bullets in the chamber to hold Arkansas back.
But this isn't last season. And the Wolverines had more than enough ammo.
Spike Albrecht hit a 3-pointer. Nik Stauskas hit another. Glenn Robinson III hit a pair of layups inside, and then completed a 3-point play with less than two minutes to go.
And once Arkansas was down to its last gasp, Michigan's All-American sealed the deal, as Burke netted four points in the final 30 seconds to turn a tight win into a lopsided romp.
"Last year (against Arkansas), we didn't know what to expect and it was very tough to win there," said Michigan junior Tim Hardaway Jr. "Playing hard wasn't enough, we had to have the mentality coming into this game to not let up.
"We have guys that can handle the ball, guys that can come off the bench, and that's huge."
Michigan's 9-0, and outside of a few moments here and there, the Wolverines really haven't been tested yet.
They're deep, they're talented, they're athletic and they're off to a hot start.
But does it matter?
Ask Beilein in March, then you'll have your answer.
"I don't know," Beilein said. "We're taking it one game at a time, and that's coach speak.
"But (right now), it doesn't mean anything."