The Wolverine


The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 8 of 59

MAY 2020 THE WOLVERINE 9   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Michigan basketball assistant coach Saddi Washington had an opportunity to take the head coaching job at West- ern Michigan, his alma mater, in the offseason. He chose to stay on as Ju- wan Howard's assistant coach instead. Washington talked about that and more in this Q&A: The Wolverine: How was the transition for you, working for Juwan Howard after he chose to keep you on staff? Saddi Washington: "With Juwan, what you see is what you get, and that's one thing I really appreciate about Coach, just his consis- tency and his personal- ity, who he is as a per- son. It was great to be able to stay on and work for him this season, really watch him up close, kind of go through this thing together." The Wolverine: These have been tough times for everyone, obviously, dealing with coronavirus and quaran- tine. How have you adapted? Saddi Washington: "We're doing what we do in the offices this time of year, we're just doing it mobile. Obviously, first and foremost, we're checking in with our guys pretty frequently, because academically there are still requirements they need to meet from that standpoint. So that's priority one — making sure guys have found a flow from that perspective. " Then, we're doing as much as we can re- cruiting-wise over the phone. That's pretty much what we're lim- ited to at this point." T h e W o l v e r i n e : How have the play- ers adapted to their "new normal" of online classes and social dis- tancing? Washington: "It's a new space for them. We're just mak- ing sure they cross the finish line from an academic standpoint. Most of them have gone home, but a handful have stayed in their Ann Arbor apartments. [Freshman] Franz [Wagner] is with his brother [former Wolverine Moritz Wag- ner] in Washington, D.C. "They're used to moving around at their own pace. Coming and going at their parents' house isn't the same as coming and going in their apartment, but that lends to them being stir crazy, as well, probably, not really knowing what to do with their time." The Wolverine: What advice are you giving junior Isaiah Livers on his NBA Draft hopes, and how does this situation affect his chances of being selected? Washington: "For everybody, I think this process again is the great unknown, because the priority for the NBA right now is to get games back started. I think the tone for them is obviously every- thing gets pushed back, but to how long? And then what does that do for all the kids who aspire to either go through the process or make the jump? What does that do for them at school? "This is space nobody has ever been through. We're all going to find out to- gether how it's going to work this year." The Wolverine: What did it take for you to turn down the head coaching job at your alma mater, Western Michigan, to stay in Ann Arbor? Washington: "I've been pretty consis- tent in how I approach it, not really talk- ing about the 'why' — but it's Michigan." — Chris Balas Washington turned down a chance to become the head coach at his alma mater, Western Michigan, this offseason to stay at Michigan. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN Wide Receivers Are Head And Shoulders Above The Rest By Chris Balas Michigan has depth at a number of positions, including run- ning back and linebacker, but only one position has top-end talent and outstanding depth — and that's the wide receivers. Senior Nico Collins provided a shot in the arm when he chose to return, a big wide receiver who averaged an impres- sive 19.7 yards per reception last year. He notched multiple catches in every game but one, a one-reception game in a soaker against Notre Dame, and was the most sure-handed of the bunch. Having junior Ronnie Bell on the other side of him — quar- terback Shea Patterson's favorite target a year ago — gives U-M a duo that should be much more productive than a year ago. Five-star Donovan Peoples-Jones never lived up to the hype, while Bell has exceeded most expectations. He had his share of drops but still led the corps with 48 receptions and 758 yards to earn Offensive Skill Player of the Year honors. Add sophomore slot weapons Giles Jackson and Mike Sain- ristil, and big target Cornelius Johnson to the mix, and you get one of the Big Ten's best receiving corps. Depth, Past Production Make Running Backs The Strongest By Austin Fox The primary reason running back will be Michigan's stron- gest position unit in 2020 is because it not only returns two quality co-starters in sophomore Zach Charbonnet and red- shirt sophomore Hassan Haskins, but also proven depth in the form of fifth-year senior Chris Evans. Charbonnet ran for 726 yards and a U-M freshman-record 11 touchdowns last season, while Haskins provided an unex- pected boost by transitioning from linebacker and chipping in 622 yards and four rushing scores of his own. The duo will be expected to be the primary ball carriers once again, though the shiftiness and past production Evans possesses (he ran for 1,722 yards during his first three years at Michigan before being suspended for the 2019 campaign) will land him a role in the backfield as well. Blazing speed and a head start on the playbook as an early enrollee should be two factors that allow Blake Corum to see the field as a freshman, rounding out a backfield that will be the deepest and most talented head coach Jim Harbaugh has had yet at Michigan. POINT ❙ COUNTERPOINT WHAT IS THE STRONGEST POSITION GROUP ON MICHIGAN'S ROSTER HEADING INTO 2020? Sitting Down With Assistant Basketball Coach Saddi Washington

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - May2020-issue