The Wolverine

January 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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42 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2019 M ichigan sophomore shooting guard Jordan Poole struggled out of the gate, shooting poorly in his first three games. He has since become one of the team's top offensive options. Poole earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the week ending Dec. 2, notching 18 points in a win over North Carolina and 21 in a victory over Purdue, making 10 of 13 three-pointers in the two games. He followed that up with a 26-point effort in an 89-78 win over South Carolina in which he made eight of 12 shots, including 4 of 7 triples. "That's the Jordan we know," sopho- more Isaiah Livers said after Poole's outburst against the Gamecocks. "He can score at all three levels. You know he's going to take those crazy step- back threes. "He's got to get one of those out of his system." Poole was averaging 13.3 points per game after 10 games thanks in large part to a five-game stretch from Nov. 23 to Dec. 8 during which he domi- nated. He shot 61.1 percent (33 of 54) from the field and 60.7 percent (17 of 28) from long range, while averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 33.2 minutes per game. He was also fouled three times from behind the three-point line in that stretch, making one of them for a four- point play in the 62-60 win at North- western Dec. 4. "I just feel like I'm letting the game come to me, taking the right shots but also being aggressive," Poole said after Michigan's win over the Gamecocks. "I wasn't being aggressive early on in the season, but being able to get great passes from my teammates, all I've got to do is really knock down the shot. I think that's been a huge key to the last couple games. "I think I was just overthinking what's a good shot, what's a bad shot. I was so focused about assists to where I was passing up a lot of stuff, but now Coach [John Beilein] has told me he gave me the green light to be aggres- sive. "They feel like I'm one of the best shooters in the country. I'm just knock- ing shots down whenever I get an op- portunity." He was also finishing well near the rim as well, shooting 51.1 percent over- all and 46.9 percent from long range through 10 games. "He's a hard-shot maker," South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. "Those are guys that are hard to guard." Especially when they're doing it from all over the floor and able to get their own shots. Poole's arsenal con- tains step-back triples, stop and go moves, and much more — and it con- tinues to evolve. "I feel like I'm a really good one-on- one player," Poole said. "I was able to go up against guys like Isaiah [this summer], who is 6-8 and extremely athletic. "I've got to find ways to make dif- ficult shots. And when you go up against people who are so good on defense, it forces you to make tough shots. "I feel like the coaches and play- ers really have trust in me, giving me the ball at the shot clock because I can make a tough shot." He's rewarding their faith, and the Wolverines are benefiting from it. — Chris Balas FRESHMAN IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS IS OFF TO A STRONG START After Michigan lost Moritz Wagner, Duncan Robinson and Muhammad- Ali Abdur-Rahkman off last year 's team that made a run to the national championship game, there were ques- tions about who would replicate that high-powered scoring attack. Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis has helped to fill that void, delivering a brash scoring threat to help Michigan start the season 10-0. "He gets us buckets when we can't get one sometimes," Michigan coach John Beilein said after a 62-60 win at Northwestern Dec. 4. "He still is go- ing to hunt some bad looks, and he makes such obvious freshman mis- takes sometimes." While freshmen tend to struggle tak- ing care of the ball, Brazdeikis doesn't His turnover percentage — the per- centage of offensive possessions that end in a turnover — of 9.1 is the 105th best in the nation. After he scored only five points against George Washington Nov. 17, he averaged 19.3 points an outing in the next six games. During that stretch, he shot 53.5 percent from the field and had four games of 20 or more points. Through 10 games, he was Michi- gan's leading scorer at 17.0 points per contest while shooting 51.9 percent from the field.   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Jordan Poole Is Heating Up During a five-game stretch from Nov. 23 to Dec. 8, Poole shot 61.1 percent from the field and 60.7 percent from long range, while averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 33.2 minutes per contest. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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