The Wolverine

February 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 43 of 67

44 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2022 L ast year, COVID-19 concerns forced crowds out of college basketball are- nas and postponed or canceled a number of games. Many hoped those days were long gone when the 2021-22 season be- gan, but the virus had other ideas. To date (as of Jan. 18), Michigan has had one game wiped out, a Dec. 22 con- test against Purdue-Fort Wayne, due to COVID concerns on the Mastodons' team. The Wolverines then lost to UCF (85-71 Dec. 30) and Rutgers (75- 67 Jan. 4) before having home games with Michigan State (Jan. 8) and Purdue (Jan. 11) postponed due to positive tests on the Michigan team. On Jan. 7, following medical testing, U-M fell below the Big Ten Conference roster minimum, with fewer than seven scholarship players available. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said Michigan counterpart Juwan Howard called him around 10:45 p.m. that night to inform him the game was being postponed. Izzo called the conversation "classy and good," though he expressed concern with the protocol. His team had already arrived in Ann Arbor and gone through a shoot-around. "It's a tough situation for everybody," Izzo said. "It's tough for them … I'm sure they had big crowds. We had people that flew in for the game, so it's tough on them. It's tough on us. "But it's the toughest — and I think everybody should understand this — on the players. Every time you get a sniffle, you're wondering if you got COVID. And that's difficult. … I just think from an administration standpoint that we should have more clarity on everything." Even before the MSU game, How- ard noted U-M had struggled to find enough players just to practice. He re- fused to make excuses, though. Howard was pleased with his short- handed team's performance despite the loss at Rutgers Jan. 4. None of his players complained despite command- ing more minutes and having the deck stacked against them. The most important thing, he added, was everyone "being healthy and safe during these tough times." "Whatever is thrown our way, we're not going to make any excuses for it," he said. "When we get the opportunity to play, we always are very appreciative and blessed that we're doing something that we all enjoy doing. No matter if it's two days in between, two weeks in between, we're always geared up and excited to have the opportunity to play against [other] competition." That includes looking forward to the games with Michigan State and Purdue. Though they have yet to be rescheduled, Howard insisted they would be. They'll need them. The Wolverines fell to 1-3 in Big Ten play with a 68-53 loss at Illinois Jan. 15 and could use all the games they can get if they're going to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. "We are going to play those games, and we're looking forward to playing them," Howard said. "I don't know when it's going to happen, but the Big Ten and our athletic directors will all get together, and we'll figure it out like we did last year." — Chris Balas MICHIGAN MAKES FLORIDA SIDE TRIP TO SEE OLD FRIENDS Michigan played a road game with Central Florida Dec. 30, one that didn't go as well as hoped. The Wolverines lost 85-71 after giving up 48 points in the last 15 minutes. They blew a 12-point second-half lead in the process. But the road trip did have its plus points. The coaches and players used it as a chance to get tighter with one   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL COVID Wreaks Havoc On The Wolverines' Schedule Again Head coach Juwan Howard's team has had one game canceled and two others postponed due to COVID concerns. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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