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Will Tschetter discusses his confidence following a hot start to the year

Tschetter talked about his hot shooting start, playing more minutes as a center, and defensive struggles heading into Big Ten play.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Memphis at Michigan Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

To say that Will Tschetter is off to a hot start shooting-wise this season is an understatement.

In increased minutes this season for the Michigan Wolverines (10.7 to 17.1), the redshirt sophomore has averaged 8.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. It’s a small sample size, but Tschetter’s been incredibly efficient, making 75.8 percent of his 4.1 field goal attempts per game (33 total shots) and 76.9 percent of his 1.6 three-point attempts per game (13 total shots).

When you look at his shot chart, it’s pretty much exclusively red, with as good of a start through eight games as you can realistically have. After never scoring more than seven points in a game last season, he’s already topped that mark three times this season, leading the Wolverines with 20 points in the win over Youngstown State, scoring 10 points in Michigan’s best win so far over St. John’s, and eight points in the most recent game, an overtime road loss to Oregon.

When Maize n Brew asked Tschetter about that hot shooting start at his media availability Monday morning, he said he’s been more confident shooting from deep, citing the hard work he put in before this season started.

I talked to you guys at the Media Day, that’s the big thing I said with my offseason, improvement was just confidence in my shot, game slowing down, and that’s exactly what’s happened,” Tschetter said. “Just shooting the ball, and knowing it’s going to go in, not thinking it’s going to go in. I’ve been working on that shot, shot it a thousand times, going to let it fly.”

Will Tschetter is not the only one that has more confidence in Will Tschetter. Interim head coach Phil Martelli said that his teammates trust him more. Despite struggling on offense in a starting role last season, with what they’ve seen in practice, he has the green light from the coaching staff.

“He has always been a great practice shooter. Great, not good, great practice shooter,” Martelli said. “Last year, when he got a little bit of a dose of starting, it was a big stage and to see him play calmer and see the trust the teammates have in him is a really good sign. That three he hit on the left wing to tie the game at 81, he wouldn’t have taken that shot last year or he would have rushed it. Because he’s slowing down, he’s playing better...he has the staff’s ultimate confidence to raise up.”

Tschetter has played more center this season than he did all of last season, subbing in for Tarris Reed Jr. as one of the first guys off the bench. He was on the floor late in regulation and in over time against Oregon as part of the closing group for the Wolverines.

Playing center, the same position he played in high school, the Minnesota native has had to adjust to guarding opposing bigs again, but he says he’s feeling better about his play on that end of the floor.

“For me personally, there’s been a few learning curves defensively,” Tschetter said. “Guarding a lot more ball screens, it’s been a little bit of a learning curve. I think I’m starting to get a little more confident with that, but offensively I feel great about it.”

Michigan’s defensive struggles all season long are a big reason why they are 4-4 right now. Despite having a top-20 offense on KenPom as of Monday morning, they are rated 125th in the country in adjusted defense (points allowed per 100 possessions adjusted for opponent).

When asked about those defensive struggles, Tschetter stressed the importance of communicating the whole game and not getting complacent when the Wolverines have a lead.

“There’s a lot of things, I’ll give you the one big thing, I think it’s our consistency in communication that we really need to see,” Tschetter said. “There’s times when we need big stops and we start to feel the pressure and we will talk, we will communicate. It’s when we’re up five, up six, that our communication lacks. That ends up hurting us, they go on a run.”

Michigan wants to improve on defense in a lot of ways, especially with conference play starting Tuesday, with the Wolverines hosting Indiana at the Crisler Center. Martelli emphasized that Michigan has to get better when it comes to defending three-point shooters; allowing teams to get hot from three because of poor on-ball defense has been a nagging issue for the Wolverines all season long.

“I think the defense is not great, I think everybody has to amp it up,” Martelli said. “We’re stopping short, we’re not closing out. We have foundations in this program, one of them is trust, and our close-outs are a little bit indicative that ‘I’m just not sure I can get there, I’m just not sure that someone has my back’ starts with keeping the ball in front of us and stop getting cracks in our defense.”