Juwan Howard makes his debut as the head coach of Michigan basketball on Tuesday night in Ann Arbor when the Wolverines host Appalachian State at Crisler Center. Based on what we have seen and how preseason camp went for Michigan, this is how you should expect the lineup and pecking order to look to start the year.
1: Zavier Simpson (Sr.)
2: Eli Brooks (Jr.)
3: Adrien Nunez (So.)
4: Isaiah Livers (Jr.)
5: Jon Teske (Sr.)
Bench (basically in this order): Guard David DeJulius (So.), forward Colin Castleton (So.), forward Brandon Johns (So.), guard/forward Cole Bajema (Fr.), center Austin Davis (RS Jr.)
Walk-ons: Guard Rico Ozuna-Harrison (Jr.), forward CJ Baird (Jr.), guard Luke Wilson (Jr.), forward Jaron Faulds (Jr.)
Injured: Guard/forward Franz Wagner (Fr.)
Keep in mind, Howard has been tinkering with lineup combinations, especially with Wagner out for the first month of the season. They showed a lot of different looks in the exhibition game last week.
- Simpson, Brooks and DeJulius can play together in certain combinations.
- Livers can slide back to play the three should Castleton or Johns be in the game.
- Castleton and Johns also have the ability to play the five.
- Look for them to mostly play an eight-man rotation, but it could be nine if they decide to use Bajema. He was the first guy off the bench in the exhibition, but played only five minutes on the night.
- Davis might be a “break open in case of emergency” type of player this season. He was the first player inserted into the lineup when Howard began to empty the bench last Friday and his role might be a few minutes of relief if a few of the bigs get into foul trouble.
- Wagner is expected to return in either late November or early December from his wrist fracture.
Expect this to be fluid as the Wolverines work themselves into form early on this season. They will not play another game for a week after this, so the lineup combinations and pecking order are subject to change, especially with so many questions on the roster.