The Wolverine

November 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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46 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2021 H ead men's basketball coach Juwan Howard is entering his third season back at his alma mater, and he's done nothing but continue what former head man John Beilein started from 2007-19, while even adding his own flair. Heading into the 2021-22 season, How- ard and Co. are the favorites to win a sec- ond consecutive Big Ten championship, and are sixth nationally in the Associated Press preseason rankings. It's a stark contrast to last year, when the Maize and Blue — who were ranked 25th in the country and pegged to finish sixth in the league before the season — embraced an underdog mentality, even after winning the Big Ten regular-season title and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Asked by the emcee during his Q&A portion of the program's 'Michigan Mad- ness' season kickoff event Oct. 21 what it's going to be like going from 'the hunter' to 'the hunted,' Howard delivered an impas- sioned response that fired up the thou- sands of fans in attendance. "Well, first of all, if you're scared, buy a dog — and buy a big one, too," Howard said with a smile. "What this means is we're not scared. We're competitors. If you've heard anything about what our team identity is all about, we're for com- petitors only. "So with that, me and my staff trust our players and all the hard work they put in during the summertime to prepare them- selves to get ready for our first practice. And our first practices have been great, leading up to this day. Yes, there are a lot of areas that we need to work on, which we will continue to do as far as building our habits on the offensive and defensive end. But the beauty of this team is that they've always come in ready and eager to learn." Then, Howard added: "I love our chances." Howard and his squad put on a dance off against the women's team, and com- peted in a dunk contest (won by fresh- man guard Kobe Bufkin) and three-point shootout (won by senior guard Adrien Nunez). They enjoyed being in front of some of their most loyal fans, and look forward to playing in front of a full-capacity Crisler Center during their 16 scheduled home games. "It will mean so much," Howard said of having spectators back in attendance. "It's exciting to see the turnout, to see the amount of people. Two years ago, we had this building rocking, and then last season, as we all know, we all had to figure out what the new 'new' is. "Last season, our guys came together, and they trusted what the athletic depart- ment did and the guidelines they put in to keep us healthy and safe. They sacrificed so much last season, as far as not being in class in person, seeing all the students on campus, seeing the alumni in the build- ing, the Maize Rage in the building." Getting to play in front of fans and have a 'normal' college experience was one of the reasons why sophomore cen- ter Hunter Dickinson, a 2020-21 second- team All-American, returned to school after testing the NBA waters, he said. Fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks is utilizing the free year granted by the NCAA for similar reasons. Plus, of course, he wants to hang some more banners. "You talk about winning champion- ships ... we've got three on our mind," Brooks said. "We want to hang banners. We come in, we look up at the single [1989] NCAA championship banner ev- ery single day. "We want to hang one more up there." — Clayton Sayfie FRANKIE COLLINS DISCUSSES PHYSICAL, COMPETITIVE EARLY PRACTICES Freshman point guard Frankie Collins experienced a baptism by fire during the early stages of his first year in Ann Arbor. A physical tone was set at the outset of preseason practices, and every player is feeling it.   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Juwan Howard Not Shying Away From High Expectations: 'I Love Our Chances' Howard's squad is embracing the high expectations going into the season, and fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks has even talked about the team's goal of hanging a national champion- ship banner next to the one from 1989. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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