More often than not, summer exhibition trips are cake walks designed to increase collective confidence, build team unity, and give players a fun, relaxed preseason experience in a super-cool foreign locale. Presumably, teams can do all of those things even if their opponents aren't vastly inferior, but losing exhibition games is never part of the plan. You want to win. Exhibition or not, everything's always better when you win.
Which brings us to the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan has played two games on its trip to Europe, and both have been losses. The Wolverines dropped their first exhibition to Belgian professional team Gent Sunday, losing 69-63 after squandering a 10-point lead in the final five minutes. On Monday, Michigan faced an even bigger challenge in Charleroi, which won the Belgian league playoffs last season, and the Wolverines were handed another loss, this one a 90-60 blowout.
There is a risk in making too big a deal out of exhibition games, and that rule applies whether the game is a win or a loss. The Michigan team you see in August will not be the same team you see in February, or even in November. Exhibitions only matter so much, and even if you're losing, you can be getting better in ways that will benefit your team when the games actually matter. This isn't the end of the world.
That said, it's never a good sign to be losing to Belgian teams by 30 points, even if those teams are the best the Belgians have to offer. Little is expected from the Wolverines in 2010-11. If their exhibition tour continues this way, those expectations might get even lower.