ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The knock on Michigans basketball team -- that it relies too much on finesse and lacks toughness -- only resonates when the Wolverines arent contending for conference titles.From 2012-14, Michigan won two Big Ten championships and reached the national title game in 2013. Then the Wolverines missed the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and barely made it last season, and suddenly, the critics were out in force.Somehow, weve won championships. Weve went to the Final Four, weve went to the final two, right? And people still think we play like wimps, coach John Beilein said. If we can win two championships in the Big Ten every five years, Ill take it, and they can call us as wimpy as we want.The challenge for the Wolverines is returning to those heights where they can be one of the leagues top contenders. There are areas to improve. Defense is an obvious one, and if Michigan does take a step forward at that end of the court, the Wolverines have enough skillful offensive players returning that they could quickly climb back toward the top of the conference.Caris LeVert is gone after his senior season was shortened by injury, and Spike Albrecht is playing his final season of eligibility at Purdue. But neither of those players was able to make a full contribution anyway in 2015-16, and the Wolverines return several who did, including Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson.Michigans hope is that new assistant Billy Donlon, who came to the Wolverines after six seasons as Wright States head coach, can give the defense some much-needed tweaks, if not a complete overhaul.Michigan reached the NCAA Tournament last season and beat Tulsa in the First Four before falling to Notre Dame 70-63 . The Wolverines led the Irish by 13 in the first half and were up double digits at halftime before being outscored 41-22 the rest of the way.Beilein called it an awful second-half performance and said it would not be acceptable.Here are a few more things to watch for Michigan:IMPROVED HEALTH?Injuries have devastated Michigan over the past couple seasons, with Walton, Irvin, LeVert and Albrecht all limited to some degree. Beilein is hopeful that run of poor luck has ended.Were as healthy as we have been in a long, long, long time, he said. We deserve one of those years right now.LEADERSHIPThe Wolverines had success relying on younger stars like Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas when they won Big Ten titles in 2012 and 2014. LeVert and Albrecht looked like they could be long-awaited senior standouts last season, but injury issues prevented that. Now its Walton and Irvin who are seniors.YOUTH MOVEMENTMichigans freshman class is highlighted by guard Xavier Simpson, who was ranked as the nations No. 57 prospect by Scout.com. Of the four freshmen on the roster, three are from Ohio, including Simpson.INSIDE GAMEWalton, a guard, led the Wolverines at 5.4 rebounds a game. Mark Donnal started 25 games last season, averaging 7.8 points but only 3.7 rebounds. Donnal had a couple breakout games offensively, including a 25-point showing at Maryland, but Michigan could use more consistency from the 6-foot-9 forward.STAFF CHANGESDonlon and Saddi Washington are new assistants on Beileins staff. Washington was on the staff at Oakland University over the past decade. Michigan was in the market for new assistants after Bacari Alexander (Detroit) and LaVall Jordan (Milwaukee) received head coaching jobs.---Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister Cheap Air Max Sale . The mixed zone is not a place to make friends. 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SAN DIEGO -- Looking for a replacement for injured running back Danny Woodhead, the San Diego Chargers?have found their man.The Chargers announced on Tuesday they have signed former Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster.McCluster makes sense for the Chargers because of his familiarity with the teams offensive scheme from his time with the Titans when San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt served as that teams head coach.And like Woodhead, McCluster is a change-of-pace back who can be used in passing situations and in the return game.The Chargers lost Woodhead for the season, placing the 31-year-old veteran on the injured reserve after he suffered an ACL injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.McCluster will join a San Diego running backs group that includes Melvin Gordon, Kenneth Farrow, Andre Williams and fullback Derek Wattt.dddddddddddd.The Titans released McCluster, 28, before the season in the cut-down to the 53-man roster limit.He signed a three-year contract with the Titans in 2014 following the best season of his career in 2013, when he was a Pro Bowl selection as a member of the Chiefs.In 2013, McCluster led the NFL in punt return touchdowns (2), punt returns (58) and punt-return yardage (686).In two seasons with the Titans he scored one rushing touchdown, gaining 378 yards on 95 carries. 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