It’s been a month since official practices began for the Michigan men’s basketball team, and the Wolverines are starting to gel as a team. The Daily has compiled some notable storylines from the past month:
Juwan Howard is confident in his coaching style
Last year, when Juwan Howard was named to the role, questions swirled about how he’d handle being a head coach, having never done it before. Howard’s rookie season commanding the Wolverines saw him develop into a passionate — and very animated — leader.
Now, with that first season under his belt, it seems that Howard is only growing more confident. And just a year into Howard’s tenure, Michigan is already seeing results, from the commitment of five-star power forward Caleb Houstan to every day in practice.
“Coach Howard puts so much effort and so much energy into us every day that it’s really contagious,” fifth-year senior center Austin Davis said on an Oct. 20 Zoom call with reporters. “Just his attention to detail with everything from the smallest little thing with post moves to the bigger ideas of our offense, he’s just very all-encompassing, but he breaks it down into small details. That’s especially helped me tremendously.”
How much more Howard will develop as a head coach remains to be seen. But if last season is any indication, that confidence will be invaluable for this Michigan team — and maybe for many more to come.
Transfers settling into team quickly
Howard brought in two transfers at guard during the off-season: graduate transfer Mike Smith from Columbia and senior Chaundee Brown from Wake Forest. With transfers, there are always questions about adjusting to a new system and finding a place within a new team. But Smith and Brown seem to be managing the transition just fine.
“I think I’ve adjusted well,” Smith told reporters on an Oct. 20 Zoom call. “It’s a little different. You have a lot bigger players here, so it helps me, lets me cover some more ground if I were to get beat or if I needed help in the gap. So I think I adjusted well, getting acclimated with the new defensive schemes we have here.”
Brown was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility on Oct. 30 and says he’s ready to make an immediate impact.
“I can see myself helping this team by playing my game,” Brown told reporters in a Zoom call on Monday. “I’ve got to be the player I am on the defensive end, getting stops, being vocal, talking, helping the younger guys out, getting into the lane, getting fouled like I’m good at, shooting open 3s, pull-up, mid-range (and) just leading by example. … Since I got to Ann Arbor, I’ve just been enjoying all my teammates. It’s really a family here.”
Offense has high-scoring potential
Last year, streakiness on offense was one of Michigan’s biggest issues. The Wolverines could go minutes without scoring, then put up double digits in the same span. That inconsistency put Michigan in some close games — ones it often didn’t come out on top of — and put them out of competition in others.
This year, though, the offense is shaping up to have some serious offensive potential. With senior forward Isaiah Livers finally healthy, senior guard Eli Brooks confident in his shot and his leadership role and a host of potential high-scorers in junior forward Brandon Johns, Jr., freshman forward Terrance Williams II and freshman guard Zeb Jackson, Michigan has the personnel to be able to put up some numbers.
“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” Brooks told media on a Zoom call last week. “It’s just about making the right play.”
With just over a month before the first game currently on the schedule against North Carolina State on Dec. 9, there are sure to be plenty more developments as the team starts to take shape. But by all accounts, it’s looking like the pieces are there.
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