Big Win vs Penn State
Bill Simonson: Good talk to Brian Boesch, voice of Michigan Basketball. Wolverines hung on last night, wasn’t pretty, but it’s a road win in the Big Ten and their NCAA tournament hopes and Big Ten seeding status gets a nice little bump. How are you doing Brian.
Brian Boesch: I’m good, Bill. How are you?
Bill Simonson: Good. You know, this is a team that just and it’s obvious that they’re just fighting through every game right now.
Brian Boesch: Yeah, they are. And, you know, it’s been interesting because, you know, defensively had been a real issue for them, and it’s come against some really good offensive teams like, you know, like a Purdue over the weekend and also against some teams that don’t jump off the page offensively like Rutgers earlier in the season. And you know, this team did buckle down on the defensive side. You know, it’s interesting because that happened when the offense really abandoned themselves. I mean, Michigan shot thirty one and a half percent in the game last night, so that was it. But Penn State wants to mess with the tempo and slow things down and and take away possession. So that was kind of played on their terms. You know, but this Michigan team found a way very unconventionally compared to what we’ve seen from them. And boy, through 16 minutes it looked like Penn State was going to shoot about 60 percent in the game.
Who Will Step Up Off the Bench?
Bill Simonson: Now when you look at Brooks and Dickinson and those two guys stepping up last night and the five points from John’s off the bench was strong, a couple of points from Williams. But this is really about their starters having to put in and this is the rest of the way, long minutes and maintain some scoring. It’s just the fact, you know, Howard and his staff are dealing with what they have, and they really can’t change a lot right now.
Brian Boesch: Yeah, I mean, you’re going to see a reliance on those five starters, and I think Devonte Jones has come into his own. I know he didn’t shoot the ball well last night, but I think he has become a leader on this ball club and understood kind of what it’s like to play in the Big Ten. Eli Brooks, I thought, you know, again, he’s he’s so important to this team who knows where this ball club would be without him and Hunter. I mean, it was inefficient because of some offensive rebounds, because of some, you know, good contests from Penn State. But I mean, he’s he’s a guy. He’s had to be great for Michigan to win or to stay in some games, but they didn’t ultimately pull off. But but he’s been brilliant. There’s no doubt about it, and he’s going to have to continue to be. This is a ballclub that will go the way that Hunter Dickinson carries them. And, you know, that’s a little challenging because it’s tough. You know, if you’re a center, you can’t just bring the ball off the floor and create your own shot all that easily. You’ve got to be in position. It’s obviously a little bit more challenging in that regard. But boy, he’s he’s come through. He’s averaging like twenty two points since coming back from Covid. He’s been brilliant.
Bill Simonson: It would be nice. Whether it’s Houston, who has been up and down and then Bufkin will have some lapses, but they really the rest of the way to try and fight and claw their way to a Selection Sunday birth. They need a couple of guys off that bench each night to come up big. They really do.
Brian Boesch: Yeah, no, you’re right. I mean, you can’t play five guys down the stretch. I mean, you know, Coach Howard has referenced a couple of times where, you know, stamina, and then that stuff is just, you know, it’s affected things. And it’s it is. It is a difficult expectation for Hunter, for Eli. You know, twenty eight plus minutes for all five starters last night, so I don’t know who it will be to emerge. I think we’ve seen flashes from pretty much everybody who’s come off that bench. Quite frankly, I think Jace Howard should probably get some minutes. He’s an energy spark plug on this team, and I think he can. He can help and we’ll see if he gets, you know, continues to be involved in play last night. But but he’s played a good chunk of the last month or so. But yeah, I mean, somebody is going to have to emerge, a la Brandon Johns last season when Isaiah Livers went out, because if not, you’re just it’s going to be tough with Michigan having a three game week this week and then the final week of the regular season three games before the Big Ten tournament.
Coach Howard and The Locker Room
Bill Simonson: Brian Boesh is the voice of Michigan Basketball and he’s joining us on the Meijer Guest Line here on the huge show across Michigan to talk about the Wolverines. You know, any Big Ten arena you can leave with a W is big this year, so from the start of the season to where we are now, from all the expectations Bryan and it’s obvious with what they lost. I don’t think a lot of us in the media, I don’t think a lot of fans really looked at what exited Michigan basketball in the hype on being right there with Purdue as a preseason Big Ten champ, being a top five team in America. How has Juwan navigated this reset inside the Michigan basketball locker room?
Brian Boesch: Yeah, I mean, he’s done it with a lot of positivity. He’s not going to call out his players publicly. What we saw late in the first half yesterday was pretty rare. He was he went out after a media timeout and literally jumped on the floor right near the free throw line because he wanted to show Kobe Bufkin hey go after the basketball. Get it when it’s on the floor. Those fifty fifty balls are so vital, especially in Big Ten play. You know, we saw him occasionally, with some shrugging in the shoulders and visual frustration from a guy like Devante Jones earlier in the season. But that type of stuff is where you. You have seen maybe to a fault that he’s been very positive, very uplifting for this program behind closed doors, obviously, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, right? I mean, there’s you know, he he coached these, these young men up very, very hard. But you know, I think publicly that’s an important aspect, and it’s not easy to to try to go out and publicly throw out some quotes and stuff like that that might try to fire up your ball club. But but that’s not his style. He does it behind closed doors. He does it man to man. And I think that’s, you know, that that’s why he’s known as a player’s coach. So I think he’s handled it well. Obviously, it has not been the season that anyone anticipated. But you know, this is this is a third year coach who I think is, you know, facing his his first real on court only adversity, right? I mean, there was the pandemic and all that that that adversity is is absurd and everybody was was kind of feeling it out and trying to navigate it without any experience over the last 18, 20 months. But this is the first real on court adversity for a team that had high expectations. Yeah, the results haven’t been there as consistently as people want, but I think what we’ve seen from him as a coach, him as a leader, it bodes well for the future.
Bill Simonson: Brian Boesch, voice of Michigan Basketball Wolverines fighting for Big Ten tourney seeding and also a berth on Selection Sunday. And let’s see what they get from their bench. Brian, always appreciate your time here on the field show across Michigan.
Brian Boesch: Happy to do it. Thanks, Bill.
Bill Simonson: Bryan Boesch joining us on the Meijer Guest Line. Meijer – Proud to be longtime partners with the University of Michigan Athletics.
(Photo – ESPN)