The Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team officially begins its practices on Oct. 14 in Ann Arbor after a strange offseason in a year that has not been normal for anyone. However, getting back on the court is normal as the team prepares for its season to start somewhere around Nov. 25.
What will not be normal for Michigan is suiting up without a pair of long-time contributors in Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske, who both graduated at the end of last year. But with an infusion of young talent mixed with some talented pieces already on the roster, optimism is still high in Ann Arbor heading into the second year of the Juwan Howard era.
Senior forward Isaiah Livers spoke to the media on Tuesday ahead of the new year and voiced his thoughts on the type of team that he feels they will have in 2020-21.
“It could be pretty similar to (last year’s team), other than Zavier’s voice and Teske’s experience, that’s probably the only thing that we’re gonna miss.” Livers said. “I feel like we have the players and talent to pick up on that. They’ve definitely seen what we have to do to get to that championship level and I feel like right now, we’re in the perfect spot where we want to be. The way (the young players) just inherited our values is just, it’s great. I’m excited to go to practice every day, honestly.
“(Simpson) was more of a playmaking guy,” Livers said. “He was the guy who brought the ball up and started the break. Now we have a lot more guys who can start the break, get a rebound and go. (Teske’s) presence down low of altering shots, making people pass the ball out is something we’re gonna miss. Like you guys all know we got a 7-footer (true freshman Hunter Dickinson) who just came in, we’re trying to teach him the ways of the Jon Teske.”
With no Simpson and Teske and a handful of new faces on the roster, Livers was asked to name who he thinks might make up the starting lineup if the season were to start Tuesday evening. He said that he thinks it would see Eli Brooks and grad transfer Mike Smith at the guard spots — though no indication as to who would handle the point — with Franz Wagner and himself at forward and fifth-year senior Austin Davis at center.
The news burst of a Brooks-Smith-Wagner-Livers-Davis starting five was met with mixed reviews when it was shared to social media, but this was also a best guess given the criteria that was laid out. Davis is still working his way back from offseason surgery, but has taken on a mentorship role to Dickinson. Regardless of who starts, the young big man seems primed to play a lot.
We will see what happens, but the work is finally about to begin and we will see where things stand when the dust clears ahead of the season opener.