Tue, 19 Jan 2021

Michigan won't shy away from freshmen against Ball State

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2020, 06:40 GMT+10

Juwan Howard has plenty of experienced players at his disposal. But the Michigan coach proved on Sunday he's not reluctant to use his true freshmen with the game on the line.

The Wolverines (2-0) survived an unexpected scare from in-state rival Oakland with big contributions from Hunter Dickinsonand Terrance Williams. Those young bigs will look to build off those performances in a home game against Ball State on Wednesday.

Michigan's close call dropped it just outside the Top 25 in the latest poll released Monday.

Dickinson, a 7-foot-1 center, scored all 19 of his points in the second half and overtime in the 81-71 victory. He also had four rebounds and four assists.

Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward, contributed seven points, four rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes.

"I trust them and also we needed a spark," Howard said. "Those two guys are very talented, skilled, know each other very well."

Dickinson, in particular, has made an immediate impact. In his college debut, he contributed 11 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes against Bowling Green.

"He's the type of guy that's hungry, wants more information, thrives and loves the idea of working with a coach like myself who has played a similar position as him and played it at the highest level," said Howard, a longtime NBA center. "There are times when just the two of us, during the NCAA rules, when we were allowed to, we get work in individually, together -- one-on-one. I enjoy it. ... That's the beauty of having a guy like Hunter who wants to get better, because I enjoy that. Because I'm always first a player development coach."

Howard didn't seem to be having much fun in the first half on Sunday, when his team committed 15 turnovers. He also had a verbal exchange with one of his seniors, forward Isaiah Livers.

They got along just fine after halftime and Livers finished with a team-best 22 points.

"He was holding me accountable," Livers said.

Ball State hasn't played since last Wednesday, when it dropped a 74-73 heartbreaker at Northern Kentucky in its opener.

The Cardinals couldn't convert on their final possession after a Northern Kentucky 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining put them at a one-point deficit.

K.J. Walton scored a career-high 28 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds in the defeat. He only played 10 games last season due to injuries.

"I thought we did a lot of good things, but obviously we didn't finish it," coach James Whitford said. "We ran out of gas physically."

Ball State finished last season with an 18-13 record and won the West Division in the Mid-American Conference. Michigan is the only Big Ten team on its schedule, and the Wolverines beat another MAC school, Bowling Green, in the season opener.

Whitford has high hopes for his team, which is led by Walton and another experienced guard, Ishmael El-Amin (15 points).

"In time, we're going to be very good," he said.

The two schools haven't met since 1998, which was also the only time the Cardinals defeated the Wolverines in the 10-game series.

--Field Level Media

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