The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 26 of 67

MAY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 27   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL not include any seniors or fifth-year seniors from this past year. "This is a tough read," Borzello be- gan. "The Wolverines had five seniors in their top seven, while Franz Wagner is a potential lottery pick and is also ex- pected to leave. Could any of those se- niors return to Ann Arbor for another year? Isaiah Livers was injured toward the end of the campaign and missed the NCAA Tournament, so he's in a similar position as [Villanova guard] Collin Gillespie — but Livers has higher NBA Draft stock and already tested the waters once last season. "Juwan Howard will have to build around Hunter Dickinson next sea- son, which isn't a bad place to start, but there's precious little returning besides the big man." Borzello also had three Big Ten teams ahead of Michigan in No. 3 Purdue, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 6 Maryland. Time will tell how Michigan's off- season plays out, but after a stellar season in which they exceeded ex- pectations mightily, the Wolverines are viewed in a much better light than they were at this time last year. — Clayton Sayfie SEVERAL SENIORS MOVING ON; U-M WAITING ON FRANZ WAGNER, ELI BROOKS DECISIONS Michigan head coach Juwan How- ard accepted the Associated Press Na- tional Coach of the Year honor shortly after U-M was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with an Elite Eight loss to UCLA. Rather than talk much about himself, he focused on his team and what it had accomplished. He also made it clear all of his se- niors had a spot on the roster the fol- lowing season if they wanted it. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligi- bility to all due to COVID-19, and he hoped some would take advantage. "Our senior class was amazing," Howard said during an April 1 Zoom call. "We're truly going to miss them. I hope they remember that it was a free year, so if they choose and they want to come back, the invitation is open." Howard then let loose with a 'can't blame me for trying' type laugh. "It was fun to coach them, man," he added. Two of them, senior transfers Chaundee Brown Jr. and Mike Smith, announced their intentions to move on via social media. Brown said the decision was a tough one, but after sit- ting down with his family he thought it best to start his next chapter. The wing played 20.6 minutes per game this year, averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. He also shot a career-high 41.9 percent from three- point range and came up big for the Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament with 21 points off the bench to lead a win over LSU in the round of 32. Smith, U-M's 5-10 point guard trans- fer from Columbia, went from volume scorer to floor general for the Wolver- ines and helped lead Michigan to its first regular-season Big Ten title since 2013-14. He started all 28 games for a 23-5 squad and averaged 9.0 points and 5.3 assists per game, shooting 41.8 percent from three-point range. Michigan graduating senior for- ward Isaiah Livers isn't planning to return to U-M for a fifth year either. He is ready to move on with his pro- fessional career after signing with agent Mark Bartelstein's Priority Sports and Entertainment Group. Unfortunately, it will be a while before he steps foot on a basketball court. Livers underwent successful surgery on his right foot April 2, after suffering a stress injury during the tail end of the 2020-21 campaign. The 6-7 senior appeared in 118 games over his four years, missing time for injuries in each season. He scored 987 points and shot 41.2 percent from three-point range, including this season in which he put up 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, shooting 45.7 percent overall and 43.1 percent from three-point range. Fifth-year senior Austin Davis is working on finishing his engineering degree and will not return for a sixth year, barring a change in plans. He averaged 5.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game, shooting an impressive 70.5 percent from the floor. Senior shooting guard Eli Brooks, however, was leaning toward a re- turn as of April 13, though nothing had been made official. Brooks said after the UCLA loss he would take some time before announc- ing a final decision. He was a key part of U-M's title season, called the team's MVP by assistant coach Phil Martelli near the end of the year, and could be a critical piece of next year's squad. "That's a conversation to be had in our exit meeting," Brooks said. "I Brooks — who started all 27 games he appeared in this season, and averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds per contest — could provide a huge boost to the Wolverines if he returns next season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 2020-21 U-M MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent Results Nov. 25 Bowling Green W, 96-82 Nov. 29 Oakland W, 81-71 (OT) Dec. 2 Ball State W, 84-65 Dec. 6 Central Florida W, 80-58 Dec. 9 Toledo W, 91-71 Dec. 13 Penn State* W, 62-58 Dec. 25 at Nebraska* W, 80-69 Dec. 31 at Maryland* W, 84-73 Jan. 3 Northwestern* W, 85-66 Jan. 6 Minnesota* W, 82-57 Jan. 12 Wisconsin* W, 77-54 Jan. 16 at Minnesota* L, 75-57 Jan. 19 Maryland* W, 87-63 Jan. 22 at Purdue* W, 70-53 Feb. 14 at Wisconsin* W, 67-59 Feb. 18 Rutgers* W, 71-64 Feb. 21 at Ohio State* W, 92-87 Feb. 25 Iowa* W, 79-57 Feb. 27 at Indiana* W, 73-57 Mar. 2 Illinois* L, 76-53 Mar. 4 Michigan State* W, 69-50 Mar. 7 at Michigan State* L, 70-64 Mar. 12 Maryland^ W, 79-66 Mar. 13 Ohio State^ L, 68-67 Mar. 20 vs. Texas Southern$ W, 82-66 Mar. 22 vs. LSU% W, 86-78 Mar. 28 vs. Florida State# W, 76-58 Mar. 30 vs. UCLA% L, 51-49 * Big Ten game; ^ Big Ten Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; $ NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.; % NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; # NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis

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