Jon Teske is a busy man these days. 

As the starting center for the Michigan men’s basketball team, Teske has done it all so far this season. Through three games, the 7-foot-1, 265-pounder has played 93 minutes and averaged 16.7 points, nine rebounds, 2.7 blocks and shot 55.9 percent from the field. 

Teske has developed from only playing 61 minutes as a sophomore into one of the Wolverines’ most reliable players and one of the best bigs in the conference. 

Even during his time as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, now-Michigan coach Juwan Howard admired Teske’s game from afar. Now, under Howard’s tutelage, the hope is Teske takes another leap as a senior. 

“With Jon, his game has improved year by year,” Howard said after the Wolverines’ 70-50 win over Elon on Friday night. “He played a lot away from the basket so when I got the job here, I was like, ‘I want to utilize his post presence.’ He embraced it. We worked on it this summer. We’re gonna use him in that post, as well as from the outside.” 

So far, it’s gone according to plan. It’s still early and Michigan has yet to enter the meat of its schedule, but Teske has asserted himself both offensively and defensively. No one has been able to challenge Teske in the paint and while his perimeter shooting isn’t on par with last year’s percentages, opposing teams are still forced to respect his range. 

In addition to focusing more on Teske’s post game, Howard’s emphasis on up-tempo, transition offense has also benefited Teske’s statline. He was already a capable rim-runner for his size, but the Wolverines’ quick pace highlights that aspect of Teske’s game and has made for an entertaining brand of basketball. 

“Everyone can run the floor,” said sophomore guard David DeJulius. “Even (Teske), he’s 7-foot-1, is running and beating guys up the floor. It feels real good, once I get the rebound, I push it out to (Zavier Simpson). Zavier takes two dribbles and then throws the lob to Jon. Just the atmosphere, it’s very fun basketball. Not just for us, but also for the spectators.” 

With that said, Howard’s offensive philosophy does have a downside: It wears on his team. Teske specifically has looked visibly winded after spurts of transition offense. 

With little frontcourt depth though, Michigan can’t really afford to have him not on the floor. Sophomore forwards Colin Castleton and Brandon Johns Jr. provide some length off the bench but are too inconsistent to rely on for long periods of time. Redshirt junior center Austin Davis has some experience, having played in some important games under John Beilein, but doesn’t appear to be a go-to option for Howard. 

Against Creighton, the best team the Wolverines have faced and another fast-paced offense, Howard had to replace Teske seven minutes into the game due to fatigue.  

“Big fella was working hard,” Howard said after the Bluejays game on Nov. 12. “Big Jon at times got a little tired. You’re playing against a team who plays with pace. They loved to get up and down in transition. They also shoot threes in transition and want to put our ‘5s’ in a lot of ball-screens, to make them guard. It’s a lot of movement.”

Going forward, Michigan will have to grapple with the fact that a play style that accentuates some of Teske’s best qualities may also pose problems for him later in games. As of now, the lack of reliable length behind Teske — and his stellar performances — means the more he plays, the better.

In up-tempo games though, that’ll surely be a balancing act. 

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