Ann Arbor — If Michigan is going to rank in the top 15 nationally for made 3-pointers for a fourth consecutive season, it’ll need several players to step up in a major way.
Last season’s top long-range shooters — Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Moritz Wagner — are all gone, along with their 214 combined made shots from beyond the arc, which accounts for roughly 60 percent of Michigan’s 3-point output.
One possible source to help replace some of that production this season is hard to miss — 7-foot-1 center Jon Teske.
Teske stayed on campus over the summer, and one aspect of his game he focused on was his jumper and expanding his shooting range.
“I kind of always had that in my back pocket. In high school I used to do that a lot,” Teske said of shooting 3-pointers. “I just didn't do it a lot here and now that Moe's gone, it's my turn to step up. I think that with my capability of shooting the 3, I think I can really stretch the floor and help us win games.”
Teske added he attempted roughly one to three 3-pointers a game during his time at Medina (Ohio) High. But the key was he never forced anything, and he knew his spots when to shoot, whether it was trailing a play or in a pick-and-pop situation.
However, shooting the deep ball was never part of Teske’s role as a backup the past two seasons. As a defensive anchor, he attempted just two 3-pointers in 61 games and made neither. And outside from an occasional 15-foot jumper, most of his work occurred in the paint.
Still, Teske has shown he can knock it down from downtown. During Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run last season, he would splash 3-pointers during warm-ups. And during an instrasquad scrimmage that was open to the media before the team’s trip to Spain last month, he buried a 3-pointer from straightaway in rhythm.
Teske knows it’s something he must continually prove in practice before he gets the green light in games from coach John Beilein.
“Obviously, every day Coach B is watching you and he keeps track of everything — scrimmages, points, blocks, rebounds. So that's one thing that they do keep track of is makes and misses,” Teske said. “That's one thing that he's seeing me grow and I've been able to show him that I'm capable of shooting the 3.”
By all accounts, Teske appears to be trending in the right direction. Beilein noted he had an impressive spring and summer, and even labeled him “the favorite to win” the primary center job.
“Jon Teske has shot the ball really well,” Beilein said. “But having a big man that can shoot, you all see what can happen. It made everybody else better last year. Having Jon be able to do that and Colin (Castleton) be able to do that — Austin (Davis) is more of a 15-foot guy — those are big to get those big men who can shoot.”
Michigan is sharing Crisler Center space for the week with the Detroit Pistons, who opted to open their training camp in Ann Arbor.
Beilein said his players are in class during the day, but he was going to try and find time for his team to observe one of the Pistons’ practice sessions.
“They're watching how they're playing, and they can hear what (Pistons) Coach (Dwane) Casey is saying and it's very similar to what they hear in our practices or any other college or pro practice,” Beilein said. “So, it reinforces those fundamentals that are really key. Any time that they can hear it, it makes us more credible, it makes any coach more credible.”
Taking in an NBA practice also has its benefits for the coaching staff, particularly for someone who is constantly adapting and learning like Beilein.
“We had another NBA team come in and do their retreat here and let us come to all the meetings,” said Beilein, who declined to divulge which team.
“Those two games (college and NBA) are coming closer and closer together. I see the 24-second clock not too far away, so you got to continue to evolve as a coach and keep up with it. Any time that we can have discussions with an NBA team, we all learn — both ways.”
According to Beilein, Castleton, a freshman center, has recovered and been fully cleared for practice after breaking his right shooting hand. Beilein added he participated in his first scrimmage on Saturday.
Castleton suffered the injury during practice in late July and was unable to play in Michigan’s three exhibitions last month in Spain.
… The Wolverines are out of the running for 2019 five-star forward and top-25 recruit Keion Brooks Jr. Michigan was among Brooks’ 10 finalists but failed to make his top six, which consisted of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue and UCLA.