The Wolverine

January 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2022 J uwan Howard's third Michigan bas- ketball team struggled to a 7-4 start, including blowout losses to Arizona and North Carolina and disappointing home setbacks to Seton Hall and Minnesota. The Wolverines shot only 12 for 63 from long range in their losses (19 percent), making them much easier to defend. Michigan sophomore center Hunter Dickinson dominated the post last year with shooters on the wing freeing space for him to work. He was still averaging 15 points and nine rebounds through 11 games, but he was drawing much more attention. He got only six shots off in a Nov. 24 win over Tarleton State and five in a Dec. 1 loss at North Carolina. "That's what teams are doing — they're watching and coming up with scouting reports," associate head coach Phil Martelli said in early December. "I'm not this analytics guy, but the numbers are the numbers. It's always been that way. If you look at our numbers, you can say, 'We can space them right now be- cause the ball's not going in the basket' — and then the second part of that is that they're mimicking what they see other teams do." The Wolverines were struggling with tempo, as well. Teams often pressured point guard DeVante' Jones to the point he had to give up the ball, taking time off the shot clock. As a result, U-M wasn't getting as much time to run its offensive actions. "You have to have pace, a smooth game, and not this almost root canal without Novocaine," Martelli said. "And I'm being honest — that's the way it feels right now. There's a grind, and we want to get in a flow. "We want [Jones] to get lane touches. We want the ball to get into the paint, and not just through passing to Hunter or to [freshman forward] Moussa [Dia- bate]. We want to make sure we get lane touches, and then he can spray the ball around." Jones' 1.67-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio has been an issue. More athletic point guards have been making it tough on the Coastal Carolina transfer. While he scored eight points taking the ball to the rim early in the second half of a 75-65 loss to the Gophers Dec. 11, his ability with the ball has been hit and miss. "Right now, we're seeing a little bit more of that each practice, but that's what we're really looking for," Martelli said. "That's the key — not worrying about shots but making sure that the ball gets into the teeth of the defense and that we can create our offense off of penetra- tion and pitching the ball. "The situations that he's in in prac- tice, it's there. But it's practice. When the popcorn's popping and the lights are bright and everybody's watching, you want to make sure there's a carryover from practice. He's spending an extraor- dinary amount of time with [assistant coach] Howard Eisley. … We have com- plete confidence that DeVante' will get there, sooner rather than later." Dickinson, too, is working to make it easier for guards and wings to find him down low. "We're looking at it; we're working on it and putting in wrinkles to ad- dress that," Martelli said. "We want to make sure that Hunter is part of that … sprint the floor, get out, get down the floor. Maybe we beat the other big guy down the floor and get a position that we want. … "That keeps us up at night, getting this pace. First, there has to be an insistence,   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Wolverine Coaches Working On Improving Offensive Spacing With the Wolverines' shooters struggling on the perimeter, opponents have been able to pay more attention to sophomore center Hunter Dickinson. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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