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Senior forward Chaundee Brown Jr. elevated for a putback slam, putting the finishing touches on a dominant 77-54 win for the Michigan men’s basketball team on Jan. 12. As Brown dismounted from the rim, the bench went into a frenzy, jumping and screaming as if to turn Crisler Center into a rocking full house for just a few short moments. 

This scene is one of many examples of the energy the Wolverines’ second unit has brought to coach Juwan Howard’s club this season. Even when the starters are on the floor, the bench has created somewhat of a spectacle on the sidelines. Led by Jace Howard, the self-proclaimed “Bench Mob” has become an unmistakable and essential sight of every Michigan game.

“It really helps having an engaged bench, and I think it makes everything a lot more fun,” sophomore wing Franz Wagner said after the win against the Badgers.

As effective as their passion is off the court, the bench has also provided consistent production, making Michigan one of the deepest teams in the nation. Brown, in particular, has fit in seamlessly in his first campaign in Ann Arbor, averaging 8.8 points per game and shooting just under 40% from the 3-point range, while also emerging as one of the top perimeter defenders in the Big Ten. Even though he was a three-year starter at Wake Forest, Brown understands his role as a spark plug off the bench at Michigan.

“Coach Howard always talks about sacrificing,” Brown said after an 80-58 win over UCF. “We’re sacrificing a lot of things that on other teams, we would’ve been star players or starting but we’re taking a second role on a winning team. We’re just always ready.”

The Wolverines’ bench production doesn’t end with Brown. Junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. has proven to be a serviceable backup ‘5’ off the bench and is shooting 63% from 3-point range. Freshman forward Terrance Williams and freshman guard Zeb Jackson have helped to provide energy in their first collegiate campaigns, and senior forward/center Austin Davis has built off last year’s breakout season after returning from a plantar fasciitis injury. 

“We have a very deep team,” Howard said after the win over UCF. “Our thing is all hands on deck. And game-by-game, it’s always being evaluated on what’s giving us the bench chance. But we’re gonna need everyone this season, it’s that simple. I’ll make sure everyone gets the chance to play.”

On Dec. 31 in an 84-73 win Maryland, the Wolverines went on a 31-9 second half run, in part due to an impressive defensive showing. After the game, though, Howard gave credit not only to the players on the court during the run, but also the energy brought by his reserves on the sidelines.

I give all the credit to the defense, and I also give all the credit to those guys that were sitting on the bench bringing that energy,” Howard said after the game. “And that’s what keyed our run. The defensive disposition and also the energy from the guys that hadn’t even checked into the game or the guys that were taking a breather that were sitting on the bench, breathing life into the players that were on the floor.”

Even when they aren’t playing, Michigan’s “Bench Mob” is finding ways to affect the game. With a tough Big Ten slate awaiting the Wolverines once play resumes, the bench will surely continue to bring the energy and, more importantly, be ready to contribute on the floor when their numbers are called.

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