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What to watch for in Michigan’s exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State

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The Juwan Howard era begins (sorta) for Michigan Basketball.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan basketball hits the floor for an exhibition contest on Friday night against Saginaw Valley State at Crisler Center. This one does not count against anyone’s record and is simply a tuneup before the season opener on Tuesday.

This should be fairly vanilla in terms of what Michigan shows and an extended look at a lot of the depth guys, though Juwan Howard stated on Thursday he is still planning on getting “quality” minutes for his starters (more on them shortly).

We will have full game previews ahead of the Appalachian State game, but here are a few things to watch Friday night, as well as how to follow along.

The starting lineup (without Franz)

As we stated above, Michigan probably will use this game to find out some more about its depth. They will be without Franz Wagner for a month, meaning that other guys will get extended looks to see who can fill that void.

As far as what it seems the starting lineup may look like on Friday:

PG: Zavier Simpson

SG: Eli Brooks

SF: Adrien Nunez

PF: Isaiah Livers

C: Jon Teske

Guard David DeJulius may be pushing Brooks for a spot in the lineup and looks like he could be the first guy off the bench. The same can be said for forward/center Colin Castleton. Brandon Johns could also crack the starting lineup at the four with Livers playing the three, which may be the preferred look, but they are expected to take it a bit easy with Johns on Friday night as he works his way back from an ankle injury. Cole Bajema should also get a decent amount of playing time as he works to crack the lineup as a true freshman.

Who’s the lead dog?

With so much gone from the wing after the NBA departures, nobody is quite sure who is going to be the straw that stirs the drink on the Michigan offense. They have a pretty solid big three in Simpson, Livers and Teske, who will set the tone for the team. It seems as if Livers is being primed for this role and has transformed his body and now looks like a guy who’s going to be able to do a lot more damage on the wing. Given Howard’s experience with developing bigs, Teske could also be someone that is looked to do more on the post, which a lot of times were foreign waters for Beilein centers. Simpson might be the leader, but it remains to be seen if he has taken a step forward offensively or not.

Given the hype around DeJulius, Castleton and Johns, it’s possible someone comes out of nowhere to be a tone-setter offensively, but it feels like this team will go as its big three does.

The approach

This is Howard’s Michigan now and changes are coming on both ends of the floor. Offensively, they were a perimeter-based attack under John Beilein, but this staff seems as if it will get a more going in the post and wants to run. Defensively, transition defense has been a huge emphasis during fall practices and zone is something they were spotted running during the secret scrimmage against Detroit and open practice earlier this week.

Howard has just about knocked every single challenge out of the park since he arrived, but now he gets to begin answering the questions on how he can coach during game situations and how he will go about managing his timeouts and what happens when his team gets into foul trouble. Those questions do not exactly get answered in this exhibition, but it at least is something we can sort of get an idea on.

(Exhibition) Game Info

Teams: Saginaw Valley State at Michigan Wolverines

Date: Nov. 1, 2019

Location: Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Time: 7 p.m. ET

Broadcast/Streaming: BTN+ (subscription service)

Follow: @MaizenBrew for updates throughout the game