The Wolverine

January 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2022 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan basketball fans shuffled out of Crisler Arena Dec. 11 in stunned silence. The Wolverines, preseason favorites to win the Big Ten title, had just dropped a 75-65 decision to Minnesota — a team picked to finish near the bottom of the league — and looked bad doing it. U-M fell to 6-4, 1-1 in conference play, heading into games with Southern Utah and Purdue-Fort Wayne. They re- sponded with an impressive 87-50 vic- tory over SUU, but it didn't do much to atone for the league loss. The Wolver- ines will have to pull off a road upset or two to get the one back they lost, a tough task given how difficult it is to win on the road in the Big Ten. "This was a good wake-up call for us to realize how good the Big Ten is and how hard it is to get a win," sophomore center Hunter Dickinson said after the game, his matter-of-fact tone notable. "There are no off-nights and so you have to bring it each and every night or anybody in the Big Ten can beat you. "I think right now we're just trying to get better, each and every day. We know there are no championships be- ing won in December. That being said — there's some type of haste to try to get better and not go through another 4-4 record in a stretch. Obviously, we think we're better than what we're showing out there." B u t t h ey h ave n 't p l aye d l i ke i t , and they're struggling to find their identity. Michigan still ranked 18th in's advanced analytics rankings as of Dec. 20, 20th in ad- justed offensive efficiency and 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency. The offensive numbers were solid despite two big issues — poor shooting and turnovers. Head coach Juwan Howard wasn't overly concerned about the shooting. U-M was at 34.1 percent from long range through 11 games (though much lower against the better competition on the schedule — they were 4 of 29 in losses to Arizona and North Carolina, and 3 of 18 against Minnesota). "Keep letting it fly," he said when asked what advice he'd give to his team, noting they were better shooters than they'd shown. But he did have some issues with the turnovers. His team had been somewhat careless with the ball, and he expects better. "We have averaged 13.5 turnovers a game. That's an area that we can truly improve on and that we must get better with," he said before the win over South- ern Utah. "Every possession matters. "If you look at our defensive numbers, we rank up there with the best team in the country. That's Baylor I'm speaking SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS Juwan Howard Is Looking For The Right Combinations On His Third Michigan Basketball Team Among other things, Howard has emphasized that his team needed to cut down on turnovers after averaging 13.3 per game during its 7-4 start. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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