Juwan Howard's first game and victory as head Michigan Basketball did not come as easy as it should have.
The Wolverines jumped out to a big lead early against Appalachian State, as senior Jon Teske scored the first eleven points for Michigan as it appeared this game would be out of hand by the first media timeout. Even in the second half, Michigan was up 67-37 and then Appalachian State went on a 30-5 run.
Michigan would eventually hold on to win 79-71 and secure Howard's first victory as a head coach. Here are some takeaways from Crisler Tuesday as the transition from Beilein to Howard officially begins.
Eli Brooks had a career night scoring 24 points leading the Wolverines on 5-11 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Brooks credited Zavier Simpson on creating those open looks which led to his career night. If Brooks can average north of fifteen points a game, he would be a huge boost to this Wolverines team and replacing or maybe even upgrading on the production made by Jordan Poole last season. Michigan will need his 3 ball to fall all season and Tuesday night was a promising start.
The Mountaineers had no answer for Jon Teske in the first half as 15 of his 17 came in mostly in the first ten minutes but were able to take him out of the game in the second half. When the offense is running through the "big sleep" good things happen and he should be the focal point of the offense this year especially with freshman Franz Wagner hurt for the first three weeks of the season or so. Michigan has the shooters to knock down shots when teams decide to double Teske, that concept needs to be the basis of the offense moving forward.
Howard Feeling Things Out
Coach Howard was definitely trying out all sorts of lineup combinations and one that looked to cause problems and was on the floor when Appalachian States big run started was the three guard lineup. Simpson, Brooks and David DeJulius on the floor all at once offer a smaller than you would like look especially trying to close out a game that was in hand. Howard gets a pass for this, simply because it was his first game as a head coach ever and of course you need to feel out your options this early in the season.
Isaiah Livers and Zavier Simpson combined for 11 turnovers which obviously is not a good thing but again new coach, new system, first game, it gets a pass for now. Simpson scored 6 and was 2-8 from the field but Livers was more efficient 6-11 for 14 points. That kind of production will be much needed if this Wolverine team expects to compete in the Big Ten this season. Simpson will have to try and get himself going early, we didn't see to much pick and roll with him and Teske, I would expect that to change.
Look Out for the Bigs
One lineup I liked a lot was having Castleton and Teske on the floor at the same time. Kind of had a feel of what Purdue had with Hawes and Haarms a few years back. Castleton looks more seasoned and all the rebounds and second chance points are to be had having those two towers on the floor at the same time.
Michigan's next contest will come on Tuesday vs. Creighton at the Crisler Center for a 6:30 P.M. tip.
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Jake Woods (@WoodsonAir)