The Michigan Wolverines Men’s Team Has Something to Prove

As much as some people think of Michigan as just a football school (especially now), only nine schools across the country have more Final Four appearances than the Wolverines. Basketball is in its blood. The question this season is, Can the Big Blue return its basketball program to what we all know it to be?  

Led once again by former Fab Five member Juwan Howard, UMich is equipped with a new-look squad. The program lost two players to the NBA (Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin), three to the transfer portal and two to graduation, but Howard and his coaching staff haven’t let that slow them down; they were busy in the portal, too. And let’s not forget about the players who stuck around in Ann Arbor. The combination of those two things makes this an intriguing group. 

There’s a new “Duggie McBuckets” in college basketball. We all remember Doug McDermott and the prolific shooting touch he brought to the Creighton Bluejays. In 2023, the Wolverines’ Dug McDaniel owns that title. The sophomore guard from the nation’s capital is as tenacious as they come on the defensive end. Only Bufkin averaged more steals than No. 0 for Michigan last season. He isn’t the only player on the team that is a force defensively, either. Tarris Reed Jr knows how to send shots in the other direction, too. 

As for McDaniel’s skills with the ball, Bill Raftery put it perfectly on a broadcast earlier this season: “He’s a magician.” Someone else called him “The Blur.” We are here to endorse both. Break an entire Rick Pitino press? Done. Right-hand dribble drive, step back into a tough jumper? He does that in his sleep.

The man is a highlight waiting to happen. His touch in the lane is what separates him. To be able to stop on a dime in front of a shot blocker and float it in with either hand is something special. With Nimari Burnett now in the frontcourt, Big Blue has another perimeter scorer to pair with McDaniel. Don’t sleep on Terrance Williams II and Tray Jackson, though. The two upperclassmen know how to fill it up from anywhere. 

Bringing in transfers was a big part of UMich’s offseason, and none were bigger than Olivier Nkamhoua. You’re probably like, Wait, that name sounds familiar. When you were on your couch watching March Madness just nine months ago, Nkamhoua was out there balling against everybody who came across his path, including a blue blood. He was knocking down fadeaways over Kyle Filipowski and throwing down game-clinching one-hand slams. That was when he donned orange and white. Now the Finnish forward reps the maize and blue. Different school. Same results. 

Having lost the program’s top three scorers from last season, Howard needed some firepower. Nkamhoua is that. He’s a jolt of energy on both ends of the floor. Listed at 6-9, there is so much that the ex-Volunteer brings to the floor. Ferocious rebounding. An increasingly more consistent three-point shot. To top it all off, he’s got some bunnies. His talent for cutting allows him to use those hops more than most. Against UNC Asheville earlier this season, Nkamhoua piled up five dunks. 

Off the bench, Will Tschetter adds even more offensive production. The sophomore forward can stretch the floor while doing all the little things that help accentuate the talents of others around him. 

Adding up all the pieces—new and old—has this Wolverines squad set up to make Ann Arbor proud. How far can they go?

We can’t wait to see. 

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