The Wolverine

November 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2022 2022-23 BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY CHRIS BALAS I n some years, the Big Ten basket- ball favorites are easy to peg. Pro- grams return three or four out- standing talents, combine them with a great recruiting class or a portal transfer or two, and the media has its an- swer. This year's Big Ten favorite, though, appears to be a crapshoot. In the pre- season media poll of beat writers around the conference conducted by the Colum- bus Dispatch and The Athletic, Indiana — yep, the Hoosiers — received 19 first- place votes and 377 total points to finish first. Illinois was second and Michigan (one first-place vote) third despite re- turning only one starter. That "one," though, is a really good one. Junior Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 cen- ter who has shined since arriving in Ann Arbor, is a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. He returns after leading the Wolver- ines with 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year and — in what could be his last season with the program before departing for a pro career — is ready to have his best year. He's also ready to shine in his role as captain. "My role has definitely changed a lot over my three years," the Michigan cen- ter said. "I came in as a freshman who just wanted to be a sponge and try to soak up all the information from my older teammates, because we were a really experienced team. We had a lot of great leaders —Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, Mike Smith, Chaundee Brown, Austin Davis. I felt like the whole team was seniors. "Now I'm a junior and that leader for the team and somebody that the other younger guys look to for advice. Thank- fully, I've got [junior forward] Jace [How- ard] and [junior forward] T-Will [Terrance Williams II], guys that have been here for three years that also know the system." Head coach Juwan Howard is thrilled to still have him around. During the re- cruiting process, Dickinson told Howard the coach was going to be the one to help him get to the NBA. The junior has im- proved each year, and the coach wouldn't mind seeing him back next season, too. "He can stay as long as he wants un- til his eligibility runs out. He's not in a rush to leave," Howard said. "Obviously, it shows. He's taking his timetable a lit- tle bit differently than some others have done it. "Hunter knows what's best for him and his future. I enjoy coaching Hunter because of his passion and love for the university. It really reminds me of some- one I know very well [himself]. He really has worn that Maize and Blue proudly." As for the third-place projection — none of the Wolverines at Oct. 12 Big Ten Media Day in Minneapolis seemed fazed. Dickinson, grad student point guard Jae- lin Llewellyn, and Jace Howard all ex- pressed confidence after spending the summer — and a trip to Europe — with their teammates. The head coach has never puffed his chest about his team, but he, too, is ex- cited to see what this group can do. "Everyone has their predictions; ev- eryone has their opinions," Howard said. "We're going to keep forging ahead, keep growing, keep trying to get better game by game, practice by practice. "Hopefully, we have some good health. Health plays a huge role, but I'm really looking forward to our chances." High Turnover, High Turnover, Higher Expectations Higher Expectations Juwan Howard's Fourth Michigan Team Blends Talented Veterans And Newcomers Junior center Hunter Dickinson was a unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten selection after aver- aging 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last year. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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