A new era of basketball in Michigan began Tuesday night.
And it turned out to be the least interesting experience for the Werewolves and new coach Juan Howard.
Michigan almost took the 30-point lead with the Appalachian State coming close to five points.  The Werewolves did enough to hold on for a 79-71 victory over a stormy, then nervous crowd at the Chrysler Center.
Thanks to center John Teske, who scored 17 points and guard Eli Brooks, who scored a team of 24 and struck out five 3 seconds, Michigan jumped out to an early double-digit lead in the first Half time.
And then things turned.
The climbers went on a 30-5 run, reducing the lead to five with 38 seconds remaining. Michigan, however, reduced Brooks to free throws and the Werewolves came out victorious. 19659008] This was an almost unpleasant start to Howard's tenure as head coach.
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Michigan looked great in the first 29 minutes of the game.
Then things went sideways.
After opening a 67-37 lead with 12:59 left, the Werewolves looked as if they did not belong to the same court as Appalachian State. Michigan could not buy a basket and continued to throw the ball – it finished with 17 turnovers, 11 of which were done by guard Zaire Simpson and forward Isaiah Lavers.
Meanwhile, the Appalachian State turned those turnovers into points and started scoring more on the rim led by guard Justin Forrest, who scored a game-high 27 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
Michigan essentially plays two different halves. The first saw the Werewolves work effectively at both ends of the court; they took advantage of the size down mismatches and fired well from the outside until the defense gave up a lot of easy buckets.
The second was terrible. The werewolves went scoreless for eight minutes before finally scoring nine points in the final 1:31 to end the game.
And another sign that this team is facing a learning curve with a new coach.
The Big Dream dominates down low
Michigan went to Teske early and often. Like Friday's show against Saginaw Valley State, he posted his first possession and scored easily. He hit the subsequent three possessions, striking a jumper from the block, marking a rebound and knocking down 3.
Teske was unstoppable early; finished the first half with a double-double, recording 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 11 tackles (three offensives).
Howard, a former big man who played 19 seasons in the NBA, seems to have put more emphasis on post game play. Former coach John Baillen Teske rarely gave up, mostly acting as a screen manager, rim manager, and occasionally a threat to pickup and pop. Even when Teske had the advantage of being low due to switched screens, he rarely published. Based on Tuesday's game – along with Friday's show – there seems to be a concerted effort to play through the post.
Brooks more confident
So far, the coaching change has paid off for Brooks.
After starting briefly as a freshman, Brooks spent much of the season and a half glued to the bench. Although he was Michigan's primary backup guard, he still played moderately and most of the time didn't do much when on the court.
This seems about to change.
Brooks, the starting security Tuesday, has an impact on both offense and defense. He hit a pair of 3s in the first 6:16 – as much as in the 19 games between December 30 and March 9 last season. Then he continued to shoot – and to do.
Essentially last season, Brooks seemed hesitant to shoot. That was not the case Tuesday, as he led Michigan with 15 shots, 11 outside. He is obviously authorized by the new staff to take more pictures. Against the climbers, he also fired the ball better than ever. If both changes stick, that will be a big deal for Michigan, which should replace the three leading scorers last season.
And Brooks remains a solid defender. But without his estimation, the werewolves would have lost.
Contact Orion Sang at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang . Read more about Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines Newsletter.