Through nine games, the Michigan men’s basketball team has had its share of ups and downs. The program’s worst start since 2010, a pair of blowout losses and a lack of identity, have left the Wolverines with more questions than answers.
The Daily summarizes a few key reasons as to why the recent resurgence has happened:
When freshman big man Moussa Diabate went out of the game last Saturday with an illness, the Wolverines’ frontcourt was thrust into the deep end. Senior forward Brandon Johns Jr., whom Diabate had recently supplanted in the starting lineup prior to contracting an illness, and sophomore forward Terrance Williams II would receive the majority of the minutes at power forward: two players whose play was inconsistent early.
At least through the second half of the San Diego State game and at Nebraska, Williams and Johns have been playing some of their best basketball donning the block ‘M.’ Twenty points for Johns and 22 for Williams gave the Wolverines the boost they needed in a blowout victory over the Cornhuskers.
“I know Moussa brings a lot to the team,” Williams said after the Nebraska game on Tuesday. “So we just wanted to try and replace some of it.”
If Williams and Johns can keep up their recent form, the Wolverines will be in a good position to deal with the absence of Diabate, however long that may be.
Early in the season, point guard play was especially inconsistent for Michigan. Graduate transfer guard DeVante’ Jones was struggling to adjust to tougher competition, dealing with foul troubles and turnover issues. But he has had arguably his best game of the season against Nebraska. Jones totalled eight assists and zero turnovers in the win. He moved the ball well and limited his mental errors.
Collins has been a revelation off of the bench for Michigan. His play, whenever he has came in, has mirrored that of someone beyond his years. Collins has run the offense with confidence and pace and has turned into a strong addition to the Wolverines’ backcourt rotation.
Sophomore guard Zeb Jackson has also found his way onto the court as of late and appears to be recovered from his early season battles with an illness. His time on the court has been a bit up and down, but he’s found some success since he made his season debut against North Carolina.
3-point resurgence and Hunter Dickinson’s recent form
It’s no secret that Michigan needs the returning All-American, sophomore center Hunter Dickinson, to play like a superstar if it wants to find success this season. And after dealing with a total lack of spacing and immediate double teams whenever he touched the ball down in the paint, Dickinson has strung together a strong two game stretch.
“He’s huge for us,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s a willing passer … and he’s also a smart passer. He has a high IQ and that’s something that hasn’t been said enough.
“He sees plays before they happen.”
Dickinson has been a focal point of the Michigan offense of late. He’s getting ample post touches, finishing over double teams and making the pass to the open man.
Part of the reason for the Wolverines’ offensive resurgence of late, is their ability to hit shots from deep. Because of this, space inside the arc has opened up for drives, and Dickinson has more room to operate in the post.
“It really just helps us continue to keep playing as a team,” Jackson said of the 3-point shooting. “We get real comfortable, we start moving the ball a lot better, we really just start playing as a team a lot better.”
Offense is really that simple when shots are falling, especially from beyond the arc.
If Michigan can continue making shots, getting valuable minutes from the ‘4’ spot and backcourt as well as strong play from Dickinson, it will be in a good position to continue its recent run of form.