Many believe that freshman Courtney Sims has tremendous
potential and will be a big part of the future of the Michigan
basketball team. But you might not know that from looking at
Michigan’s last two boxscores.

After steadily improving throughout much of the season,
Sims’s production has dropped this week.

The 6-foot-11 freshman put together two of his most complete
games of the season against Illinois at the Big Ten Tournament and
against Missouri in the first round of the NIT.

Sims worked hard inside against the Illini and finished the game
with 12 points and 10 boards — his second double-double of
the season. Three days later, Sims made a big impact against the
Tigers, contributing eight points and 10 rebounds, while battling
with physical Missouri center Arthur Johnson (6-foot-9, 268
pounds).

But in Michigan’s last two games against Oklahoma and
Hawaii, Sims struggled to get anything going on offense. The
Roslindale, Mass., native combined for just nine points and two
rebounds over the two games. And his minutes fell from the mid-30s
down to 19 and 20.

Despite his statistical drop off, Sims isn’t worried. His
team has won each of the last two games, and he believes
there’s a good reason why his numbers are down: He’s
finally getting more respect.

“I think I’m getting more attention on offense (from
opponents),” Sims said.

And he wasn’t kidding. During the non conference season
and much of the early Big Ten season, opponents played Sims
one-on-one in the low post. But since the freshman became more
comfortable catching the ball on the blocks a few weeks ago —
and began to routinely convert touches into baskets — other
teams started running two and three men down low when Sims got the
ball.

Being double-teamed is something Sims will have to get used
to.

“I think I tried to force it too much when there was a
double- or triple-team on me,” Sims said of his recent
performances. “Now, I’m just trying to look for my
teammates when they double down on me.

“I just have to be patient and wait for the game to come
to me.”

As for Michigan’s road ahead — the NIT semifinals
and possibly the NIT Championship game next week — Sims
believes he can make a difference even if he’s not scoring in
double figures.

“(I have to) just rebound, and be a defensive
presence,” Sims said. “I can be the same offensive
presence and not score points by kicking it out to open
teammates.”

The Moose is loose: Apparently, one Wolverine will now go
by another animal nickname. Michigan sophomore Graham Brown was
dubbed “Moose” by the Michigan faithful in its game
against Hawaii.

While the Maize Rage started the “Moose” call on
Wednesday for the first time, Brown was tipped off about his new
nickname in advance.

“They asked me if I would mind if they call me that, and I
didn’t really care,” Brown said. “I think its fun
for those guys, getting so into the game — I think it’s
a good thing. Whenever I do something good, I hear it from the
stands, and that’s a good feeling, having everyone behind
you.”

Brown gave the Maize Rage plenty to cheer about with his 14
points — which tied a career high — and his six boards
on Wednesday.

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