The Wolverine

November 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 37 2018-19 BASKETBALL PREVIEW "I think because he played three [small forward] last year, he can play both. He gives us that flexibility," Beilein said. "But you'll notice, Iggy [Brazdeikis] played the two and the four, the third time I've ever done this. "It's a unique thing to have a left- handed player [like that] … he's got the body, got the size and got some toughness where he can really do it and help our rotation." Brazdeikis stood out in Spain because of his ability to finish. He led the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.7 points — again, without making a triple — and 7.0 rebounds per game. "He's got great instincts … we've got to find a place for him out there, try to make him so his style is one where he can wear a lot of hats," Beilein said. "Brandon Johns is also showing great growth at this time and will also have a chance to play right away." The freshmen will also need to adapt to a longer, more grueling sea- son, and players like Teske and Davis to increased minutes. "If you compare it … I love our football team right now, but if you look at their schedule they practice in August, September, October and No- vember. Four months," Beilein said. "Hopefully every year they go to a bowl game, too, but they still take a couple weeks off [in December]. "We go October, November, De- cember, January, February and March. That's six months." The expectations won't change and there will be no excuses, he contin- ued. The bar has been set for both him and his team, and they're all mo- tivated to get back to the top. Sporting News, for one, believes they've got a shot, having picked them No. 10 nationally in their pre- season publication. "I appreciate this game, and I think I appreciate health a lot more, that's for sure," Beilein said. "If you just keep doing the next right thing, all kinds of things can happen in life. "So [the lesson is] embrace sudden change, as we did last year. All of a sudden we were Big Ten champs, and now we're faced with going to Wichita and playing, down by two points with three or four seconds to go and win. All of a sudden we're beating everybody and then we're down to Villanova real soon in the second half. "We'll just continue to adapt, get better and grow." The best news is that they'll get to do it with a healthy Beilein on the bench. He's healing each day and ready to lead this team into the 2018- 19 season and beyond. "For a guy who doesn't feel — and I hope doesn't look — old, I continue to learn like crazy," he said. "It's just embracing any journey God plans for you." ❏ Returning Leaders Points: Charles Matthews, 13.0 Rebounds: Matthews, 5.5 Assists: Zavier Simpson, 3.7 Blocks: Matthews, Jon Teske, 26 Steals: Simpson, 53 Three -p ointers M ade: Jordan Poole, 40 FG Percentage: Teske, 54.1 FT Percentage: Poole, 82.7 Minutes: Matthews, 30.1 Michigan's Projected Starting Lineup PG Zavier Simpson: The junior is the leader of this team and a force on de- fense. He averaged 7.3 points per game last year and will be asked to pick up more of the scoring load. He'll need to shoot better than the 28.6 percent he posted from long range a year ago. SG Jordan Poole: Poole takes over Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's role as the go-to scorer off the dribble, and he's capable. He's also likely to be the Wol- verines' top three-point threat, so they need him on the floor … which means he needs to keep improving on defense. He averaged 6.0 points per game as a freshman, but that should increase significantly in year two. SF Charles Matthews: The 6-6 redshirt junior flirted heavily with the NBA be- fore deciding to return for one more year. He will always be a slasher first, but it would help if he could improve on his 31.8-percent clip on three-pointers from a year ago. He provides this team with a good dose of its swagger and is the team's leading returning scorer (13.0 points per game) and rebounder (5.5). PF Isaiah Livers: The 6-7, 235-pounder is an enigma — great body and athleti- cism, but too passive at times. The sophomore boasts the ability to be the perfect four man in John Beilein's offense, but he needs to be more aggressive after averaging just 3.4 points per game last year. He did start 22 times as a frosh, but will up his minutes in a big way from last season's 15.1 per game. C Jon Teske: The 7-1 junior averaged only 3.4 points per game, but his defense and basketball IQ made him an extremely valuable commodity at times last year. He'll be asked to do much more as this team's No. 1 center, including staying out of foul trouble. Sophomore guard Jordan Poole is the team's top returning three-point shooter (37.0 percent) and will be counted on to score more than last year when he averaged 6.0 points per game. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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