The Wolverine

April 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 26 of 75

APRIL 2020 THE WOLVERINE 27   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL the beginning of the season — he was like our third center coming off the bench," Howard continued. "I originally had Colin Castleton as that backup center, but Austin just came in and practiced, was very sup- portive, respectful, did whatever we asked him to do without showing any resistance, so he's been patient with his role. When his name was called, he got that time to go out and compete, has always given us great production off the bench. He never wavered at any point of not play- ing him because he's proven he's de- served to play. "Overall, I've seen a lot of growth offensively. When we've been able to throw the ball into him, he's been extremely patient in the low block and also been effective when you've seen how he's competed in pick-and- roll situations, guarding a lot of ball screens. He's buying in to the details of the scouting report, spending a lot of off time coming into the gym, try- ing to work on his game … spending time in the film room with himself and the assistant coaches." He was one of Howard's top eight players after last summer 's work- outs, and he's lived up to it. His im- mediate goal before the NCAA shut- down was to help the Wolverines finish strong, and then he planned to put in even more time this sum- mer to better his game and reward Howard's faith. "It was just really out of the blue," Davis said after Michigan's 82-58 win over Nebraska March 5. "It was before practice … and it just kind of overtook me. Obviously, I wasn't expecting it right then. "… I love Michigan. This is an in- credible place, an incredible univer- sity. My teammates are incredible people. Everybody in the basketball department is just a phenomenal in- dividual. I'm just very thankful that I get to be with around them for an- other year. … I had my heart set that I love Michigan and I wanted to be here if that was possible. It felt good to have a little more of a concrete plan." In February, Davis and his family were preparing to share senior night MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Michigan's 71-63 win at Purdue Feb. 22 was its first in West Lafayette, Ind., since 2014. The Wolverines have now picked up a win in 12 of the 13 opposing Big Ten venues since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, with Ohio State being the lone exception (U-M last won there in 2014). • The 82-58 win over Nebraska March 5 marked Michigan's fourth consecutive Senior Day triumph and its sixth in the last seven years. The lone setback during that span was in 2016 when the Wolverines lost to Iowa in Ann Arbor. • The Maize and Blue's 83-70 loss at Maryland March 8 snapped a two-game winning streak in College Park, Md., with U-M picking up a dominant 85-61 win there in 2018 and a narrow 69-62 victory last season. The loss also ended a four-game winning streak against the Terrapins, with Mary- land's last triumph in the series prior to the regular-season finale occurring at Crisler Center on Jan. 7, 2017. • Senior point guard Zavier Simpson's 7.9 assists per game this season finished as the third most in the country, nar- rowly trailing the 8.0 that North Carolina A&T's Kameron Langley and UT Rio Grande Valley's Javon Levi averaged. Only three other Big Ten players tallied more than 4.7 per outing this season — Minnesota redshirt sophomore Mar- cus Carr (6.7), Nebraska redshirt sophomore Cam Mack (6.4) and Michigan State senior Cassius Winston (5.9). • Simpson's 7.9 assists per game shattered the all-time Michigan single-season mark, with Gary Grant (1984-88) having held the previous record at 6.8. The Lima, Ohio, native wrapped up his U-M tenure with 667 career dimes, which were the second most in school history behind the 731 that Grant tallied. • Simpson enjoyed eight games this season in which he handed out 10 or more assists, which were the most in a single season in program history. The 14 dimes he handed out in the win over Houston Baptist Nov. 22 were tied for the second most in a game ever at Michigan, only trailing the 16 that Derrick Walton Jr. (2013-17) racked up in a 2017 win at Nebraska. • The senior guard competed in 30 games this season to give him 146 appearances for his career, passing Muham- mad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's (2014-18) mark of 144 for the most in school history. • Simpson registered 236 assists this year, and was just 24 away from matching Trey Burke's (2011-13) single-season mark of 260 set during the 2012-13 campaign. — Austin Fox The Wolverines' 82-58 victory versus Nebraska March 5 marked the program's fourth consecutive Senior Day triumph and its sixth in the last seven years. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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