2019-20 CBB PREVIEW: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

The Juwan Howard Era has finally arrived in Ann Arbor after a tremendously stressful offseason. While expectations are relatively low for this season, the future looks bright with a shift in recruiting style from the new administration. Here is a preview of Year 1 of Juwan Howard era.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Zavier Simpson

Zavier returns for his senior year with lofty expectations on his back. His leadership will be tremendous this season, his work ethic and determination to win must be matched by every player on the team. However, Wolverine fans know that if Zavier wants to take his game, and this team, to the next level, he must force defenses to respect his shot beyond the arc. Reports say he worked all summer long in the gym, but only time will tell if that was effective. In order for Zav to be in the same conversation as guys like Cassius Winston, he needs to show an immense improvement as a scorer from this past season. I am not sure that I see this happening, but his defense and hook shot will continue to anchor Michigan’s gritty mentality

SG: Eli Brooks

Due to Michigan’s recent years of consistently successful guard play, Brooks has not seen much playing time. However, with Jordan Poole in Oakland, there is now nothing standing in Eli’s way of establishing himself as a viable scoring option in Ann Arbor. He played really well against Appalachian State, going 6-11 from the arc. Brook’s scoring is essential to the team’s success this coming season, as he is one of very few guards on the roster that can create their own shot, as well as pull up from beyond the arc with confidence. In other words, it’s time for Brooks to take the role he has always wanted to attain.

SF: Adrain Nunez

Nunez is a little know guard from Brooklyn. He hasn’t gotten much playing time in the past, but the lack of scoring guards this season has allowed him to step up. Now, he will get starting minutes at the 3. I am excited to see Nunez in action this season, as he has been mostly a question mark on the Wolverine bench. However, his ability to get a bucket has brought him into a starting role, but can he do enough to keep this role once Franz Wagner is in the mix? Either way, he will have ample opportunity to prove his offensive worth this season.

PF: Isaiah Livers

Livers is a 6-8, 205 lbs forward that can play inside or out. Livers will be a huge part of the scoring in Ann Arbor this year, as his 3pt percentage is the highest on the team. He will most likely play the 4 for most of the season, but may move to the 3 for minutes, as Michigan lacks a true small forward with Franz Wagner hurt. This is a huge year for Livers, as his body type and skill set makes him attractive to NBA teams, and he finally has the spotlight he needs to shine.

C: Jon Teske

Teske is a 7-1, 265 lbs senior center from Medina, OH. He led the B10 in blocks last season, anchoring one of the best defenses in the country. Not only did his defense shine, but Teske showed his ability to hit the occasional three last season too. Another possible NBA prospect, Teske will look to improve his shooting percentage from inside and out, and continue to work on his defensive dominance in the paint. Juwan should help this immensely, I can not wait to see how well Teske can learn from a former All Star forward like Juwan.

Key Contributors off of Bench

Guard: David Dejulius

A high school phenom coming out of Detroit a year ago, Dejulius will get playing time this season for the same reason that Brooks and Nunez are starting. The lack of scoring aptitude from the Wolverine’s guards is worrisome, and a large reason why they are unranked. David will have his opportunity to play, score, and start, it just depends on if he is good enough to do so. He must show Juwan that his ball control has improved, as well as his jumpshot. If he does this, he will be able to earn his position in the guard rotation of the Wolverines in 2019.

Guard: Franz Wagner

The brother of Michigan legend and current Wizards forward Mo Wagner, Franz brings a lot of scoring excitement to a team that truthfully needs it. While he will have to adjust from playing on the international level to the U.S style of ball, his ability to score can not be ignored. Overseas, he averaged 9.6 points per 36 mins on 35% from 3pt line. Once his wrist is healed, Juwan will look to integrate Franz as quickly as possible, and maybe even insert him into the starting lineup at the 3.

Center: Colin Castleton

A 6-11 center who needed to gain a lot of weight this season in order to become a more effective presence inside, and he did just that. Now, combine his size improvement with Juwan’s coaching influence, and I can envision a huge year of contribution for Castleton when Teske comes off the floor.

Realistic Expectations

Michigan has been a stall worth in the NCAA tournament since Belien came to Ann Arbor. Now, with Juwan in the fold, no one is exactly sure what to expect. However, Juwan’s burning desire to restore Michigan’s program to the Fab Five days provides reason to be excited.

This team looks like a .500 team in conference play, but with such a strong B10 this season, this still might be good enough to attain a 9-10 seed in the tournament come March. With the loss of Poole and Matthews, I am not confident that this team can beat good teams because their lack of scoring from the guards is too apparent. However, if Zavier Simpson can transform his offensive game like everyone hopes, and if Michigan can keep the defensive grit that they had with Beilein/Yaklich, a brief tournament appearance is realistic.

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