The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MAY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 29   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL a highly efficient three-point shooter and solid defender off the bench. "If he just shoots it 40 percent and he makes good decisions — which he does — he makes his free throws and he guards his position, there's going to be a team who can use him," the analyst said of Livers. "And maybe it'll take a couple teams — some- times, timing is everything, and you get cut and get picked up by another team and you wait for the right op- portunity — but there are enough guys who have made it with his par- ticular skill set for me to think that Livers will catch on somewhere." U-M has had 11 players drafted to the NBA, including eight first-round picks, since 2011, and it appears that Livers and Wagner are potentially on their way to being the next former Maize and Blue standouts to play in the association. — Clayton Sayfie Three Best Players 1. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson: He was Michigan's leading scorer in its four NCAA Tourna- ment games, averaging 13.2 points and racking up at least 11 in all four con- tests. Dickinson also pulled down 5.7 rebounds an outing, highlighted by an 11-board performance in U-M's 86-78 win over LSU March 22. The 7-1 freshman was his usual disrup- tive self on the defensive end as well, blocking seven shots in the four contests. 2. Sophomore guard Franz Wagner: He posted a solid stat line of 10.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game throughout the Wolverines' four contests, and poured in 15 points in U-M's second- round victory over LSU. Wagner registered a double-double (13 points and 10 re- bounds) in Michigan's Sweet 16 triumph over Florida State March 28, while also adding five assists against the Seminoles. The 6-9 sophomore was a reliable option from the charity stripe as well, concluding with a 13-of-16 showing (81.2 percent). 3. Senior guard Eli Brooks: He picked the perfect time to have his highest- scoring game of the year, compiling 21 points on efficient 7-of-11 shooting in U-M's second-round win over LSU. Brooks averaged 11.5 points, 3.7 re- bounds and 5.0 assists during the four games, handing out at least four assists in all four clashes. The 6-1 senior was also deadly from three-point range during The Big Dance, connecting on 8 of 18 attempts (44.4 percent). Key Play Michigan trailed UCLA 50-49 with 14.3 seconds remaining in the March 30 Elite Eight showdown, looking to win the game on what appeared to be the final possession of the night. Wagner dribbled to the top of the key and suddenly found himself wide open as he attempted to bury a game- winning basket. Instead, his three-point try wound up being an air ball, though it fell conveniently into the arms of Brooks with 10.3 seconds remaining. Brooks, who caught the ball along the baseline, immediately tried shooting a reverse layup to potentially put Michigan up one. His shot wasn't close to go- ing in, however, and was rebounded by Bruin junior guard Jules Bernard. Granted, the Wolverines wound up getting two more shots off following that juncture to try and win the game (three-point tries by Wagner and fifth- year senior point guard Mike Smith), but the aforementioned sequence was by far Michigan's best opportunity to grab a victory down the stretch. U-M concluded the night by missing its final eight shots from the field, with its inability to score in crunch time end- ing the Maize and Blue's season. Best Highlight With Michigan leading Florida State 7-6 and 14:31 remaining in the first half of the Sweet 16 showdown March 28, Brooks inbounded the ball to Wagner following a made basket by the Semi- noles. An uncharacteristic move then ensued from the Maize and Blue. Wagner immediately pushed the ball up the court, with several of the Florida State players and even some of his Wol- verine teammates seemingly caught off guard. Junior forward Brandon Johns was the only Michigan athlete who ran stride-for-stride with Wagner all the way to the other end, and he was rewarded for his hustle. Once Wagner — who, again, had pushed the tempo the entire possession — reached the left side of the Seminole free throw line, he executed a beautiful bounce pass to Johns, who was charg- ing in hard from the other side of the basket. Johns didn't even have to dribble before throwing down a monstrous two-handed slam that ignited the U-M fans that were in at- tendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. The dunk put the Maize and Blue up 9-6, and they never trailed again from that point on en route to a 76-58 blowout win. Bold Prediction At least one of Michigan's seniors or fifth-year seniors will take advantage of the NCAA's free year and return once again in 2020-21. Brooks seems to be the most likely candi- date to spend one more year in Ann Arbor, though fifth-year senior center Austin Davis has yet to officially announce his decision. Transfers Chaundee Brown Jr. and Mike Smith have already announced they're moving on, while forward Isaiah Livers has signed with an agent. — Austin Fox Superlatives For Michigan's Four NCAA Tournament Games Hunter Dickinson averaged 5.7 rebounds per game and blocked seven shots in the Wolverines' four NCAA Tournament contests. PHOTO BY BRETT WILHELM

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