Back and Forth: Keys to season

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the tip off of the men's basketball season tonight, beat writers Michael Rothstein and Chantel Jennings go back and forth to discuss a few key issues surrounding the 2011-12 Michigan basketball team.

Michael Rothstein: When there was excitement surrounding the team in 2009-10, Wolverines coach John Beilein tried to temper those expectations immediately -- beginning at his media day news conference. This season, he isn't doing that and this might be the most preseason attention the Wolverines will get until next year, when ESPNU No. 2 recruit Mitch McGary gets to campus. He isn't here this season, though, so I open our dialogue with this: Who is Michigan's most important player this season?

Chantel Jennings: I'm going to say that Michigan has two most important players (ha-ha, dodged it!). I don't think anyone will argue that sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. will be the most important player on the floor. However, I think senior Zack Novak's leadership is indispensable this year. In his freshman season, Michigan had a great NCAA Tournament run and in his sophomore year, well, you could say that train pretty much halted to a stop. Then, last year, he led a team back to the tourney. It's obvious how passionate he is about the team and the game and if there is a time when the game is getting crazy or out of control, I can't imagine there's a player that would be more valuable to have on the floor than Novak. What about you? And does it matter if Hardaway Jr. is the best player on the floor if there's no one there to get him the ball?