Livers sustains ankle injury in Tuesday's loss
Isaiah Livers stole the ball and headed up the court. He rose over a Northwestern defender and laid it in, putting the No. 20 Michigan men’s basketball team up, 4-0, less than two minutes into Tuesday’s game.
When the freshman forward landed, though, he turned his left ankle and fell to the floor. He got up and attempted to play the next defensive possession with a heavy limp, but Wildcat guard Bryant McIntosh attacked Livers, drawing a foul.
Livers hobbled off the court and was immediately attended to by trainers on the bench before going to the locker room. The freshman tested the ankle after halftime but was ultimately unable to return.
After the game, Michigan coach John Beilein said he thought the injury was a left ankle sprain, though he admitted he hadn’t spoken with the team doctors yet.
“The fact that he wanted to go out and try it again means it’s probably not a break or anything like that,” Beilein said. “But, you know, with an ankle sprain, you never know.”
Livers has struggled offensively in recent weeks. Since he broke into the starting lineup — usurping fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson — in the Wolverines’ Jan. 13 game against Michigan State, he has yet to score more than eight points in a game.
Livers’ points-per-game average has slowly dropped to 4.4, and while his energetic defense has allowed him to maintain his starting spot, he hasn’t been the same offensive threat as of late. So it’s unlikely Livers would have been able to jumpstart the stagnant Michigan offense in Tuesday’s game, though Beilein did mention the stress Livers’ absence put on the team’s rotation.
“(Livers’ injury) certainly affected us a little bit, but that was not the reason we lost,” Beilein said. “ … (Against Northwestern’s) zone, you know, he didn’t play a lot. It certainly would have gave Duncan a rest, and I think that you can’t, probably, put a measure on what that does to Duncan and his shooting.”
Robinson played 36 minutes Tuesday and scored just three points. He too has struggled offensively, shooting just 35 percent from deep — a far cry from last season’s 42-percent clip.
Though his availability for Sunday’s game against Wisconsin is still unclear, as Beilein mentioned, the fact that Livers was able to at least try to play on his ankle likely means the injury isn’t too serious.
For that, the Wolverines can be thankful. Junior forward Moritz Wagner mentioned Livers’ energy, defense and versatility as things Michigan missed with the freshman out of the lineup.
If Livers is unable to play in the future, it stands to reason Robinson will get a hefty share of the available minutes. When Robinson does need a break, Beilein could also play redshirt sophomore forward Charles Matthews as the four-man with freshman guard Jordan Poole and senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman at the wings.