The Wolverines have lost three of their last four, but it is way too soon to panic. There is a lot to learn from those losses and for a team with a first-year head coach and three new starters, Michigan has exceeded expectations to this point.
It can be easy to forget the various responsibilities of these college athletes. Between practice, lifts, classes, social lives and other necessary matters, there is little free time. With the semester over though, and a week of rest for the team, the Wolverines are in an optimal position to bounce back Saturday over Presbyterian.
At 2-9, the Blue Hose haven’t quite found their footing yet this season. Their head coach from last year, Dustin Kerns, is now the head coach at Appalachian State, a team that gave the Wolverines a scare in their season opener last month. Their leading scorer from last season transferred to Baylor and the second and third options graduated, leaving coach Ferrell with many missing pieces to the puzzle.
Quinton Ferrell is now at the head of the helm for Presbyterian, and he has a lot of work to do, needless to say.
What to Watch:
Sustainable Play: We’ve seen the potential of guys like sophomore Brandon Johns Jr. and freshman Franz Wagner. Both came to Michigan as raw four-star recruits with high ceilings. Johns Jr. played sparingly as a freshman off the bench, but has seen an expanded role so far this season, being the second guy off the bench and top front court option. Wagner suffered a wrist injury that held him out of the first few games of the season, but stepped right into a starting role once he was healthy.
Both players are trending in the right direction regarding their development. If they can sustain a level of play close to the output that Howard has gotten from them the last two homes performances, it makes the Wolverines a more dangerous shooting team and much more of a physical force on the glass.
Doing the Little Things: On paper, this is a game that should not be close. The Wolverines have this game, and then a matchup with Massachusetts-Lowell next weekend before they head to East Lansing to kick off the new year. It’s important the Wolverines use these games as proper tune-ups. This means the Wolverines need to dominate in nearly all areas of the game. Things they have struggled with a little so far have been rebounding, limiting turnovers, and dry shooting spells, mostly on the road.
The Wolverines need to dominate the glass in this game on both ends of the court. Johns Jr. has been the team’s best offensive rebounder this season and he should have the opportunity for some second chance points in this game. Eliminating sloppy play will be important for Michigan so they can get the open looks they need, whether it be post play from Jon Teske or three-point looks from Eli Brooks and Isaiah Livers. Once they get the open looks, knocking down the shots is going to be key.
Playing a full 40: It’s possible this game turns into a blowout by the second half. We could see guys like Austin Davis and Cole Bajema get some minutes toward the end of this game if everything goes as planned. The Wolverines struggled to execute at the end of the Oregon game last week as they fell just short. This game won’t have the same feel and likely won’t be as close as that game, but it’s still important the Wolverines finish strong, regardless of who may be on the court for them.
The Wolverines get one of their biggest wins of the season in this game. The team clicks on both ends of the floor all game. Michigan 89-52.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019
Location: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: Noon EST