The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2019 THE WOLVERINE 45 "I probably wouldn't have done that without basketball. Traveling there with your best friends, and your brothers, and your family — they got to come. A lot of people think it's just about basketball, but the off-court stuff — chilling at the hotel, the bus rides, the plane rides, the practices, sticking with guys through thick and thin — that's what brings us closer." The returners have remained close, while welcoming other contributors. They've all raced out to a start beyond what anyone could have expected. Teske knows he plays a major role in what's to come. He's determined to do everything in his power to help the Wolverines keep it going. "I've played pretty well, but I know I can play better," he said. "I've showed glimpses of that. I know I've been a little up and down, and I need to be more consistent. "I've got to be that big presence on defense. Being that center, you've got to be able to rebound and block shots. You're that last line of defense. In ball screen, you've got to be able to stop the ball. "On offense, I've got to knock down shots, get put-backs, offensive rebounds. It's being more confident. Right now, so far, so good, but I know I can do better." He admits he and his teammates are taking it as a personal challenge to make the post-Moe Wagner team a formidable one come tournament time. "Definitely," he said. "The last couple of years, Michigan hasn't really been talked about, but they surprised people at the end of the year. You've just got to go out there and do your business, work hard. "We don't care if people are talking about us or they're not. We're just going to continue to work hard and get better. When March rolls around, we'll be ready to play." In the meantime, they have to be equally ready, he noted. Given the best start in Michigan basketball history, they're not sneaking up on anybody. "When you play for the University of Michigan, you're going to get everybody's best shot," Teske said. "You've got to be ready to play. We've got to bring that mentality. It's hard, sometimes, when you're on this winning streak, but it's a lot of fun." ❏ Jon Teske Stands Among John Beilein's Best Developing Players Former Wolverine Tim McCormick does a double-take when he sees junior center Jon Teske in action these days. He can't believe how far the third-year Wolverine has come. Others have joined that assessment. They've witnessed a big man whose on- court future they questioned turn into a significant cog in John Beilein's 2018-19 machine. Teske's teammates have been impressed as well. "His shot has improved a lot," freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis observed. "His defense has improved a lot. He's just grown as a player. He's becoming a complete player, and it's amazing to see how much improvement he's making. "He's probably the biggest key of our team. He's the back line of our defense. On offense, he makes so many plays. He does all the little things that a lot of people don't see. It doesn't come up in the stats, but it's more valuable than the stats themselves." Sophomore guard Eli Brooks knows vocal play doesn't show up in a stat line, but has witnessed Teske step forward impressively in that area as well. "Jon has stepped up big this year, just by his vocal leadership," Brooks said. "That's something he didn't do last year. With Moe [Wagner] being here, he was the predominant, vocal guy. "Now Jon has kind of filled that role. You can see that on the offensive and defensive sides, trying to play through him." Teske arguably ranks among the best development jobs in Beilein's decade-plus in Ann Arbor. Here's the current top five in that category: 1. Jordan Morgan, C, 2009-14 — Some figured Morgan would never play for the Wolverines, even when he was redshirting as a freshman. He wound up as a team leader and defensive stopper for teams making deep runs into the NCAA Tournament. 2. Jon Teske, C, 2016-19 — Teske brought the size out of Ohio, but some questioned his mobility and ability to transition to the college game. Nearly three months into his first season as a starter, he proved a significant contributor for a 17-1 squad. 3. D.J. Wilson, F, 2014-17 — Nobody questioned Wilson's athleticism, coming out of Capital Christian School in California. But he was very raw and redshirted as a freshman following a knee injury. After two more seasons — including a redshirt sophomore year when he led the Wolverines in rebounding — he was off to the NBA Draft, selected 17th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. 4. Zack Novak, G, 2008-12 — Novak liked to joke that Beilein found he and classmate Stu Douglass "at the local YMCA" in his early days at Michigan. But this tough leader from Chesterton (Ind.) High School racked up 214 career three-pointers (fourth on Michigan's all-time list) and scored 1,082 points over his career. 5. Stu Douglass, G, 2008-12 — The other half of Beilein's breakthrough guard tandem from his early tenure, Douglass helped the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade. He wound up playing in 136 straight games, a Michigan record, with 205 three-pointers (fifth on Michigan's list) and 941 career points. — John Borton Jordan Morgan redshirted his first year on campus, but eventually became one of the team's best rebounders and defenders. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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