The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 19 of 59

20 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 a top-20 squad, giving them the No. 19 spot, ahead of fellow Big Ten brethren Purdue (22), Ohio State (24), and Michi- gan State (25). Only Indiana (16) earned a higher ranking than Michigan in the Big Ten. The reasoning behind the placement of Howard's team goes as follows: "The Wolverines' ranking is based on a re- turning core of Hunter Dickinson and Terrance Williams being joined by an incoming class highlighted by Princ- eton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn and top- 40 prospect Jett Howard, the latter of whom was named MVP at the Iverson Classic. Juwan Howard should have the Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season." SCHEDULE SHAPING UP WITH CHALLENGE FOE NAMED The ACC/Big Ten Challenge comes to Ann Arbor this season, with Michigan hosting Virginia in the league showdown on Nov. 29 at Crisler Center. UVa and U-M faced each other once before in the 23 years of the Challenge, back in 2011. The Cavaliers hosted that one and took full advantage, pulling off a 70-58 win in Charlottesville. Zack Novak and Trey Burke scored 12 and 11 points for the Wolverines, respectively, but Michigan couldn't generate enough offense against the defense-minded Virginia squad. The Wolverines stand 2-2 against the Cavaliers all time and carry an 8-12 record in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They boast a 5-4 home record in the event and 1-0 mark at a neutral site. The ACC leads the series 13-9, but the Big Ten has dominated in recent years, including a 7-5 victory last season. Michigan's game highlights the second- day action, while North Carolina-In- diana and Michigan State-Notre Dame Joey Baker did not see extensive court time over the course of his career at Duke. The 6-6, 204-pound guard-forward did become a captain in Durham, though — a testament to his ability to lead. He also shot 40.5 percent on 3-pointers last season, 37.9 percent on his career. There's always room for strong perim- eter shooting in Juwan Howard's offense, especially after a year in which that category proved streaky at best. SB Nation's Duke Basketball Re- port indicated the latter is no small piece of the puzzle that brought Baker to Ann Arbor to finish out his college career. "Perhaps most important to Bak- er's fit is that his skill is something Michigan covets: shooting," the re- port declared. "While [junior center Hunter] Dickinson has been the star in Ann Arbor the last two seasons, arguably the biggest difference be- tween 2021, when Michigan looked poised for a Final Four run before a late-season injury to senior Isaiah Livers, and 2022, when Michigan squeaked into the NCAA Tourna- ment field before making a run, was consistent three-point shooting … "Baker gives Michigan the shoot- ing presence it needs to open the floor up for Dickinson. The Wolver- ines don't need shot creation from their wings: that will come primarily from [grad transfer guard Jaelin] Llewellyn with support from Dickinson, who is an excellent passer out of the post. They need someone with the experience to read the offensive correctly and hit the open shots he gets, which fits Baker's game perfectly." Michigan radio play-by-play man Brian Boesch agrees. "How do you not have your mouth water as a Michigan fan, thinking about what he can do from the 3-point side of things?" Boesch mused. "It wasn't a huge sample size, but when he got chances, he took advantage of them." Baker averaged 11.9 minutes per game in coach Mike Krzyzewski's final season at the helm for the Blue Devils. The grad transfer also averaged 4.5 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.4 steals per game. Overall, he shot 43.2 percent from the field, while tossing in 77.8 percent of his free throws. It's the captain label that Boesch also found eye catching. "At a place like Duke, you've got a lot of star freshmen," he noted. "What Michigan did last year with guys like Moussa Diabate and Ca- leb Houston coming in, being one- and-dones, that's what Duke has done for a while. In four years, Baker didn't play a whole lot, yet he was still named a captain." Those leadership skills and ex- perience could make Baker one of the more forceful voices on the up- coming Michigan basketball squad, Boesch suggested. "As you look at this roster, and you look at this team, last year Hunter Dickinson was the most vo- cal person, and second place was way down the list," Boesch pointed out. "This was a pretty quiet team, and it makes sense. You've got a lot of freshmen, and Eli Brooks was a lead-by-example type of guy. "Hunter is going to be the best player on this team, the vocal leader, the person who is going to go to the press confer- ences more times than not. Who's going to be that No. 2 guy? Jaelin certainly has that potential, but I think Joey Baker is probably the favorite for that. "If you are the captain at a place like Duke, where people knew he wasn't going to play a ton, that's something that stands out. You can tell he has the ability to convey what he needs to and be a great teammate. I'm excited about what he can bring." — John Borton Joey Baker Can Shoot, Lead Upon Arrival Baker shot 40.5 percent on 3-pointers last season and 37.9 percent for his career at Duke University. PHOTO BY REAGAN LUNN/DUKE ATHLETICS

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