As Michigan entered its first extended layoff following a stretch of eight games in 17 days to open the season, nobody looked forward to the break more than freshman forward DeShawn Sims.
“We weren’t doing a lot of learning or practicing; we were just playing games,” Sims said. “I felt once I got in a rhythm and was able to practice, put a couple days of practice together, I knew the next time I got an opportunity, I was going to produce.”
And produce he did.
In just 11 minutes against Wofford on Saturday, Sims recorded a career-high nine points on 4-for-5 shooting and added two rebounds, one block and one steal to his stat line.
But it was his energy that really helped the Wolverines.
On one series, Sims finished a baseline spin move with a shot off the glass. On the ensuing defensive possession, he rejected a Terrier shot attempt, and then followed the play down the court, finding an offensive rebound and putback for his efforts.
“He played great,” junior Ron Coleman said. “He came in aggressive, and that’s what we need – guys to take the pressure off of Courtney (Sims) and Brent (Petway) and to come off the bench and give us a big lift.”
The game had to be quite a relief for Sims as well. The Detroit native finally looks to be catching up to the team. It was a tough road back for Sims after his brother was shot and killed in Detroit on Nov. 3. In addition to trying to adjust to all the usual things a first-semester student-athlete normally struggles with, Sims now had an unfathomable new obstacle to overcome.
Sims also struggled with a minor injury to his left knee, and was admittedly not totally ready for the team’s first road game, at North Carolina State. The coaches decided to reduce his playing time, and give him the space he may have needed to recover. Sims played more than six minutes just once before Saturday.
But the attention and time the team has given him helped, and Saturday may have served as a breakout performance.
“The thing that he’s had and the word that I’ve used with him is spirit; he has a great spirit about him,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “And he never gets down about things, he keeps his head up, he keeps fighting and battling, and he recognized that he was behind and he put in extra work to get back up to speed, both on and off the court. To see these things materialize for him today, he’s earned it, he deserves it, and it’s nice to see it happen.”
Black and blue: The Wolverines experienced their first major injury this past week when freshman guard K’Len Morris dislocated his left shoulder in practice.
“I went up for a dunk, someone tried to take a charge, and I fell, and I tried to catch myself on the fall, and that’s when it happened,” Morris said.
This isn’t the first time the Grand Blanc native has hurt his shoulder. He dislocated it several times in high school and middle school, and when he was young.
“It’s happened a few times,” Morris said. “It happened when I was really little, too. I was a little rambunctious, so I was injury-prone when I was younger. I was always into trouble.”
Morris hopes to miss just a couple of days, but the medical prognosis indicates that he will more likely miss three to four weeks.
Maize and maize: Michigan broke out its all-maize jerseys for the first time this season on Saturday. Previously, it had stuck to the more traditional white jerseys at home and blue on the road, but Saturday’s contest brought a change.
And the Wolverines seemed to welcome the new look, which has been traditionally reserved for big, conference games.
“I was watching the (women’s basketball team) play in them yesterday, and I didn’t even know we had the maize jerseys,” DeShawn Sims said. “Maize has been working for us so far. I know we’ve only won one game, but I love the maize. Everybody loves the maize.”