Michigan was not overly sharp against Iowa State in the first round of the Battle For Atlantis tournament but Juwan Howard's squad still picked up a win and is now 5-0. What stood out from this game? Take a look...
1. Way too rushed, way too sloppy
Michigan is certainly playing a different brand of basketball than they did under John Beilein and it's resulting in a lot more turnovers than U-M fans are accustomed to. Beilein's system was slow and methodical but it was also very effective. Under Howard, the team is playing at a faster pace, which allows Michigan to play to its athletic potential, but it also resulting in a lot more turnovers.
Senior point guard Zavier Simpson, who had just 74 turnovers all of last year (two per game), already has 23 giveaways, which is more than four per contest. Doubling up on the turnover clip as a senior point guard is not ideal, but Simpson is still making things go on the offensive end of the floor.
Michigan turned the ball over a whopping 22 times against Iowa State and still managed to win by seven. Michigan looks really good in some areas but taking care of the ball is not one of them yet. If they can get the turnover issue straightened out, they'll be in very good shape.
2. Zavier Simpson freewheeling too much
Last year, the senior guard was known for taking care of the ball. This year, it's been quite the opposite. Simpson gave the ball to Iowa State eight times in the first round of the tournament and simply tried to do too much. He's still directing the offense, getting into the lane and making things happen and crafting open shots for his teammates, but he's forcing it a bit much and seems to be a little too carefree with the ball. I imagine he'll get it under control but he's turning the ball over more than he ever has in the maize and blue.
3. Juwan Howard utilizing a deep rotation
With freshman Franz Wagner in action for the first time this year, Howard played 10 guys in the win against Iowa State. Howard's hand was forced a bit with senior Jon Teske in foul trouble for much of the game, but the fact that he's comfortable playing guys like Adrian Nunez and Austin Davis seven minutes in a pinch is a good sign. Throw in key minutes for the sophomore trio of Brandon Johns Jr., Colin Castleton and David DeJulius, who all played more than 10 minutes, and you've got a pretty solid core that you can lean on in any situation.
4. Franz Wagner is legit
The freshman started and got into a bit of foul trouble, but he did enough to make you realize that he's going to be really, really good. He's a legitimate 6-9 with great length, has NBA three-point range and exhibited a few really heady, high IQ plays.
Wagner is going to have to get better at moving his feet but he's played a lot of high level ball in Germany and should get up to speed quickly in that regard. One thing that will help if he's a little slow with his feet is his length. He's all arms and legs and actually does move pretty well. On one play in particular, after getting beat off the dribble by another long and very skilled player in Tyrese Haliburton, Wagner was able to recover and affect Haliburton's shot. Haliburton scored the bucket and drew a foul, but Wagner's length was notable.
He started off his Michigan career with a three ball and hit another later on to finish with six points in 23 minutes. He went 2-for-5 from the floor overall, but has a really nice feel for the game and should be able to get buckets with regularity as he gets back into shape and more comfortable on the floor with his teammates.
Finally, he's got a feel for the game that you normally don't see in freshmen. He had a couple of very smart taps where he knew he wouldn't be able to corral a rebound but instead, tipped it toward a teammate. He also had a couple of nice deflections and seems to really understand how to find open areas on offense. It's going to be fun watching him grow this year.
5. Surviving without Jon Teske
I think this is the biggest development of the game. Teske picked up two fouls very early and then picked up No. 3 and 4 with about 14 minutes left in the second half. He ended up playing just 16 minutes but he was efficient scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. Still, he was off the floor much more than he was on it and U-M didn't miss a beat. In fact, in the first half with Teske on the bench, Michigan actually extended its lead with seldom used Austin Davis manning the five spot. That is a great sign for the future and makes you think that if Teske is on the floor for 25-30 minutes, the Wolverines are going to be extremely tough on both ends of the floor.
What takeaways do you have from the game? What do you think this team's ceiling is? Floor? Comment below!!!