What does that leave the Michigan Wolverines with now? With Mo Wagner off to LA with the Lakers and Duncan Robinson in Miami with the Heat, the remaining Wolverines have big shoes to fill. Coming off a win over Northwood on Friday, the team is just breaking through the possibilities of the season.
Tuesday night brought loyal fans to celebrate the 63-44 win over Norfolk State, giving Beilein his 800th win in his coaching career. Although the Norfolk State Spartans are not the “Spartans” the team is used to competing against, they showed the same amount of hustle that they normally bring against every team, big rivalry or not.
This team showed impressive defensive skills that seemed finer tuned than last year. Each player was hungry for rebounds and went after each Spartan with intense double and triple teams that resulted in 12 turnovers throughout the game. This was crucial in allowing the team to get the ball back and try their shot at increasing the score gap. The team was not afraid to attack the opposing players, which will be essential for them to keep up throughout the season.
Returning starter Isaiah Livers showed his defensive abilities last night producing eight rebounds, while Jon Teske was the game’s leading scorer with 13 points as well as 8 rebounds. A new face also came on the court last night. Freshman forward, Ignas Brazdeikis proved he earned the starting position as the second leading scorer for the Wolverines with 12 points shooting 5-7 from the line. The team flowed well together mirroring the abilities of how they looked last year at the NCAA Tournament. As the team begins their road to March, they take each game between now and then as an opportunity to improve and prove that they are still #1 in the Big Ten.
Moving forward in the season, there is hope to return to the same place the team was last year. Defeating ranked opponents, conquering the Big Ten, and making it to the NCAA Championship brought a new energy to the Michigan basketball fans. Hope filled the fans on Tuesday as they started off a new season with a new team. Excitement motivates this team to not only mirror the 2017-2018 team but one up them and bring home Michigan’s second NCAA Championship.