The Wolverine

March 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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8 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2022   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Sitting Down With Michigan Basketball Freshman Guard Frankie Collins Michigan freshman guard Frankie Collins has had his ups and downs in his first season at U-M, just like many have in his position. He's shown signs of life, however, as has his team heading toward the Big Ten stretch run. Collins recently an- swered a number of questions for this issue's Q&A: The Wolverine: Your team has had some re- schedules with Purdue and Michigan State, guys sidelined with COVID, etc., that really disrupted the flow of the season. How difficult has that been? Collins: "I wouldn't say it was hard because the coaches did a really good job keeping us together. At the end of the day, all we've got is each other. The coaches did a really good job of prepping practices and making sure we still got our principles down. They were doing the right things to game prep for our upcoming games. "It was just really having the next man up mentality for all of us, because we knew we had some players out. That kind of helped us as well, too, because with having players out, we got the chance for other players to build confidence while those players were out … I think it was really good for us." The Wolverine: Juwan Howard has said this freshman class is one of the hardest working he's seen, always in the gym on your own time. Who's leading the way, and what have you seen from Moussa Diabate, Caleb Houstan, Will Tschetter, Isaiah Barnes and Kobe Bufkin? Collins: "I would say it's all of us, all the freshmen. We're all in here every single day. … I think we all just bought in and just want to get better and help us win games as much as we can. So, we're trying to figure things out, whether there's film and things we need to work on, things like that." The Wolverine: How difficult is the transition to a system like this out of high school for all of you? Collins: "It was kind of a lot. You see so much on a scouting report, so much you've got to pay attention to … the small details, the big details. Over time, we got more comfortable with the scouting report, watching film, reading it over and understand- ing. "The biggest thing is understanding the scouting report and understanding what we're taking away from other teams. I think we've all gotten better with it, and it's helped us." The Wolverine: You guys had a rough patch late in December and in early January with losses at UCF, home to Minnesota. How did you overcome it? Collins: "There was conversations going on with the team and the coaches. Lot of teams do that, but we just feel like all of us were all winners, and no one likes to lose. When it's time to figure things out, we wanted to figure it out so bad … we feel like teams were punching us in the mouth first and we weren't reacting the way we wanted to. "If we go punch them in the mouth first, we'll be perfectly fine. Lately, that's what we've been doing, and that's been helping." The Wolverine: The team is still growing defensively. How have the veterans helped you young guys in that respect? Collins: "Eli [Brooks] and Brandon [Johns] have been here for some years. If you just watch them and see the things they do, you should want to do the same things. It's rare to see them mess up on the details, because they've been doing it for so long. They're so locked in on the small details. "If you watch them and just watch what they do, you would do the right thing if you just do what they do. That's what all of us are learning and picking up on right now." — Chris Balas Collins has steadily grown more comfortable since making the transition to the college level. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL MICHIGAN'S TOP PERFORMERS Senior distance runner Aurora Rynda: She earned National Athlete of t h e We e k H o n o r s from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Coun- try Coaches Associa- tion after a historic per formance at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational Feb. 5. The Toronto native is the first ath- lete in school history to receive the recognition. She ripped a 2:02.89 over 800 meters, giving her the national and conference leads in the event by more than a second. She became just the 32nd woman in collegiate history to run faster than 2:03 indoors. The performance ranks her No. 2 in Big Ten history on the all-track-size list and No. 9 on the all-time Canadian indoor all- track list. Gymnastics sophomore Evgeny S i m i n i u c : H e w a s named Big Ten Gym- nast of the Week for his performance in U- M's victory over No. 3 Nebraska Jan. 29. Si- miniuc earned titles in the only two events he competed in. He scored wins on parallel bars and high bar, notch- ing a 14.40 on the latter for a career high and a 14.30 on parallel bars. The league honor was the first of his career. Basketball senior guard Leigha B r o w n : S h e w a s n a m e d o n e o f 1 0 late-season watch list candidates for the Ann Meyers-Drysdale A w a r d , p r e s e n t e d to the nation's top shooting guard. As of Feb. 8, when she was named to the watch list, Brown had appeared in 18 games, averaging 14.8 points per outing on 46.9 percent shoot- ing from the floor and 36.7 percent shooting from three-point range. She also contributed 3.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, and had scored in double figures 16 times, highlighted by three 20-point show- ings. — Clayton Sayfie

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