The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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42 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2019 BY JOHN BORTON T he sky is the limit for many 7-1, 260-pound basketball players. That doesn't mean they don't have to work at it, or that there aren't obstacles. Michigan junior forward Jon Teske understands well those caveats. He's taken massive strides toward becoming a key component in the 2018-19 juggernaut John Beilein has assembled. Teske received a reminder as a prep standout in Medina, Ohio, that height isn't everything. Of course, as a high school junior, he was "only" 6-10 or 6-11. He found his path to the sky — 420 feet up, to be precise — blocked by a Cedar Point employee. "I'm not a big roller coaster guy, but I'll go on if all my friends are," Teske recalled. "We tried to go on the Top-Thrill Dragster. "The height limit was 6-6. I told the people I was 6-8, and they still wouldn't let me on. It was fine." Michigan's top-thrill start to this season has been beyond fine, but there are still those who would hold Teske and the Wolverines back. He's working hard to make sure that doesn't happen this time around. Teske settled into the center spot Moe Wagner vacated following Michigan's run to the national title game last year. While the junior isn't going to break anybody's ankles with behind-the-back dribbles to the basket, he can break opponents' spirits by altering countless shots in the paint and cleaning up the glass. Starting every game thus far, Teske averaged 8.7 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds per game through the opening 18 contests. Beilein wants more from him. Then again, Beilein wants more from everyone, and Teske stands more than willing to rise to the challenge. "More is going to be asked of him," Beilein stressed. "We've got to throw the ball in to him more to score. He's got another gear. We all know that, and we've got to get it out of him. He can really impact a game when he's at full-go. "But it's the same thing with [sophomore guard] Jordan Poole, going from a complementary guy to a main guy in some situations. Everybody wanted that, now you've got to accept that responsibility and go after that, and go after it with a high IQ." Teske is plenty smart enough to listen closely and take advantage of his opportunity. "He wants all his players to get to the next level," Teske said of his coach. "He wants you to go from 211 degrees to 212. He helps everyone get there, and that's what he's talking about. "He just wants me to have the confidence to go out there and play, knock down the open shots. It's being more than who I am out there, being more than just that 7-1 guy." He became way more in Michigan's 80-60 win over Northwestern to lift U-M to a record 17-0 to start the season. Teske scored 17 points, all in the first half, on 3-of-5 three-point shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. He also anchored the defense, making three steals and blocking two shots. "Teske, quietly, does a lot of things for them," Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said. "He anchors their defense. When you play pick-and- roll defense, his ability to guard the post allows those guards and wings to really be aggressive." Teske is a whole lot more than MAJOR GROWTH Jon Teske Moves Into A Large Role For Michigan Through Michigan's 17-1 beginning, Teske has started every game and averaged 8.7 points while leading the squad in both rebounding (6.7) and blocked shots (2.3). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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