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How the Michigan Wolverines went from Final Four to flop

How the Michigan Wolverines went from Final Four to flop

The Michigan Wolverines entered the 2023-2024 season with high expectations, coming off a Final Four appearance two years ago. They had a talented roster, led by sophomore guard Dug McDaniel, who averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 assists per game, and sophomore forward Olivier Nkamhoua, who posted 15.9 points and seven rebounds per game. They also added some promising freshmen, such as George Washington III, a five-star recruit who was ranked as the No. 24 shooting guard in the nation, and Will Tschetter, a former four-star recruit who is a versatile big man.

However, things have not gone as planned for the Wolverines, who have struggled to find consistency and chemistry throughout the season. The Wolverines currently sit with a dismal 7-15 record, 14th in the Big Ten Conference. They have also suffered embarrassing losses, such as falling to Long Beach State at home, losing to McNeese State by 11 points, and getting blown out by Purdue by 32 points.

So, what went wrong for the Wolverines? Here are some of the factors that contributed to their abysmal downfall:

  • Injuries: The Wolverines were plagued by injuries to some key players, affecting their depth and rotation. McDaniel missed four games with a sprained ankle, Nkamhoua missed three games with a concussion, and Burnett missed two games with a knee injury. These absences forced coach Juwan Howard to rely on inexperienced players, such as sophomore center Tarris Reed Jr. and sophomore forward Youssef Khayat, who needed more time to be ready for the big stage.
  • Defense: The Wolverines are one of the worst defensive teams in the nation, ranking 317th in points allowed per game (79.8), 324th in field goal percentage defense (46.9%), and 333rd in three-point percentage defense (39.2%). They have had trouble containing dribble penetration, closing out on shooters, and protecting the paint. They have also given up way too many offensive rebounds, second-chance points, and fast-break points to their opponents.
  • Leadership: The Wolverines have lacked a vocal leader who could rally the team and hold them accountable. McDaniel is their best player, but he was not a natural leader and often showed frustration and body language when things went wrong. Nkamhoua is probably the Wolverines’ most consistent player, but he was not a vocal presence and preferred to lead by example. Nimari Burnett is the most athletically talented player, but he is way too inconsistent at the three-point line, where, in previous seasons, he has thrived. And don’t even get me started on Juwan Howard, the sixth-year coach of the Wolverines.
  • Confidence: The Wolverines have completely lost their confidence and swagger as the season has gone on. They have started to doubt themselves and their abilities. Often, they have played tentatively, passively, and nervously, especially in close games and clutch situations. They also failed to handle adversity and pressure and let small mistakes snowball into bigger ones. They have not had the mental toughness and resilience that they had in the previous seasons, such as in 2021, when they overcame several obstacles and challenges to reach the Final Four.

All in all, the Michigan Wolverines have their work cut out for them. The tasks at hand include making hard decisions, finding a stride, and building leadership skills that will lead to better team chemistry. However, for the time being, Michigan will play 11th-ranked Wisconsin at the Kole Center on Feb. 7.

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About the Contributor
Jackson is a junior entering his second year on the FHC Sports Report staff. He loves to watch any type of sport, especially football and baseball. He makes sure to attend any school events and sports that he can. He also loves to write about a variety of different subjects especially sports. He would love to one day be in immersed in the world of sports journalism. Favorite food: Tacos Hobby: He loves to golf whenever he can Favorite sport: Baseball Dream vacation: Greece

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