Dusty May vows to make Michigan basketball enjoyable to watch

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Things in Ann Arbor weren’t ever quite the same after the 2020-21 season.

It was Juwan Howard’s third year with the Wolverines and it appeared to be his best. The maize and blue won the Big Ten and appeared to have an inside track to the Final Four as a 1-seed, but were upended in the Elite Eight by UCLA. From there, it all went downhill.

In 2021-22, the Wolverines were a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team and though they had an NCAA Tournament run into the Sweet 16, it was less than expected considering the previous year. The next year, Michigan was relegated to the NIT instead of the big dance, and this year, the maize and blue made neither — and Howard was fired after a program-worst 8-24 season.

Now Michigan has a new head coach in Dusty May, who led Florida Atlantic to the Final Four last year. Knowing what fans in Ann Arbor crave the most, especially considering how much Howard’s teams had second-half collapses, the one thing he vows is that fans will appreciate what the maize and blue are doing on the court.

“As far as style of play, our goal is to be enjoyable to watch,” May said. “We want to win championships, but we also want to put fans in the seats and be easy on the eyes. When you watch us play, you should see teamwork, you should see efficiency on both sides of the basketball. But our identity will be teamwork, passion, and togetherness. The details work themselves out. We’ll figure that out later but watching Michigan basketball will be enjoyable.”

That would be a good first step, not only from a competitive standpoint but also in making the Crisler Center a place to be feared. Unlike Michigan football, the basketball program doesn’t quite fill out its arena if the team struggles, and home attendance has suffered as a result. The hardwood Wolverines will certainly get something of a bump this year strictly by virtue of it being a new era with a coaching change. But if May can make good on his promise, then fans will come for another, more important reason: to see a winning team.

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