The shot clock dipped below 10 seconds, and the Wolverines had yet to find an open look. Hayes Grooms received the ball at the top of the key and found an open Sherrod Harrell in the corner.
The senior captain took the pass and calmly stroked the shot just before the shot clock sounded.
It was his only field goal this season.
Even though Harrell’s jumper had no significant impact on the outcome of Michigan’s recent 71-55 win over Minnesota on Jan. 21, his position on this team should not be overlooked.
“You’re not going to find anyone with a higher character than Sherrod,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “He has a great perspective and I trust him greatly. I think his value has been immeasurable in our locker room.”
So far Harrell has scored just four points in 14 minutes on the court this season, but his teammates know he is a crucial part of the success Michigan has enjoyed this season.
“He’s the epitome of a teammate,” senior Graham Brown said. “He’s always there for somebody. He’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate and a great person.”
Last year, Harrell played a career-high 390 minutes and even started 12 games for the injury-depleted Wolverines. In big games, like the contest against then-No. 1 Illinois, Harrell gained valuable experience playing under pressure.
“I can understand the mindset of a starter now at this level,” Harrell said. “People always say that experience is the best teacher. So now that I’ve been there, I can say things that help (my teammates) out.”
But because his playing time surfaced as a result of injuries to Lester Abram and Daniel Horton, as well as Horton’s suspension, Harrell understood that the situation would change this season and that he could see less time on the court.
“Coming in and working out over the summer, I had that background of starting games,” Harrell said. “I played more minutes last year, and I knew the reasons why. But I still had that experience, so if coach needed me, I was there for him.”
This season hasn’t been the dream that Harrell might have imagined. With freshman Jerret Smith and sophomore Ron Coleman coming in to relieve Horton and Dion Harris, Harrell has been stuck near the end of a deep and talented Wolverine bench.
But you won’t hear the senior complain about his playing time.
Because his teammates elected him to his second term as captain, he knows he can make an impact whether or not he’s on the court.
“I really try to be an example and try to say the right things to motivate guys to get us going, in practices or games, whenever,” Harrell said. “Guys get down all the time, and that’s my role to step in and give them a word or pick their head up.”
For Harrell, just donning the maize and blue has always been a dream. Growing up, the Kalamazoo native watched the Fab Five on TV and was immediately drawn to the Wolverines.
A three-sport star in high school, Harrell played both linebacker and quarterback for Central High School. He received scholarship offers from several colleges interested in having him play on the gridiron.
The offers were tempting, but Harrell never wavered on his plans to play basketball for the Wolverines. He walked on his freshman year to realize his dream.
“When I had the opportunity, I just took advantage,” Harrell said.
Harrell has seen the ups and downs of Michigan basketball. From the high of winning the NIT as a sophomore to the low of a 10-game losing streak last season, the senior does whatever he can to boost the Wolverines.
“If something needs to be said, I want to say it,” Harrell said. “If something needs to be done, I want to do it. Whatever needs to be done to get these guys going to help us get to that next step, I’ll do it.”