Late in the second half of the men’s basketball game against Sacramento State, the crowd heard the announcer shout something that it had yet to hear this season.
“Johhhhhn Andrewwws … for two!”
“It was great being out there in front of the crowd with my friends,” Andrews said.
The Wolverines were up by nine points when Michigan coach Tommy Amaker made the decision to give the sophomore walk-on his first opportunity to hit the hardwood during gametime this season.
“John Andrews was a spirited lift, contributing the things that he was able to do for our team,” Amaker said of the sophomore’s performance against against Sacramento State.
This lively beginning led to great things for this non-scholarship player. With Junior Lester Abram on the bench nursing a shoulder injury, Amaker has had to improvise by cycling less experienced athletes into the game. In the Preseason NIT Tournament last week, Andrews has made the most of this chance while spending a total of 28 minutes on the court within the hallowed walls of Madison Square Garden.
“We had strong contributions from John Andrews, Ron Coleman and Sherrod Harrell, who started,” Amaker said after Wednesday’s game. “At the same time, you can’t really replace a Lester (Abram) … (and) you can’t expect them to come up and win the game. They did a lot of little things for us, and had to guard some tough guys down low.”
Although Andrews didn’t exactly put up numbers like Abram, he did his share in New York. He grabbed three rebounds, served up two assists and nabbed two steals.
Andrews’s game experience has increased exponentially in the last two weeks, but there is no doubt that he is still working out the kinks. This was most evident in Michigan’s loss to Arizona when, with fewer than five minutes left in regulation, Andrews fell short on two relatively attainable layups.
Last season, the green Andrews spent just 11 minutes total on the floor.
On Nov. 19 alone, he played for 12.
While in the game, Andrews scored two points and grabbed two rebounds, one on each end of the court. He also notched the first assist and steal of his collegiate career.
While these kinds of numbers would be mediocre for junior Daniel Horton or sophomore Courtney Sims, it was a break-out performance for Andrews. Of course, those stats would have marked a slow day for Andrews when he was a high school senior at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in West Bloomfield, when he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per-game.
His game did have a few lowlights — namely a missed free throw opportunity and one turnover, but they were far overshadowed by his more positive numbers.
Amaker was also quite pleased with Andrews and the other players who came off the bench to not only hold on to, but increase the margin between the Wolverines and the Hornets.
His playing time was pared down from 21 minutes versus Arizona to just seven minutes when the Wolverines took on Providence in the Preseason NIT’s consolation game on Friday, and he still managed to hit a jumper from outside the arc.
But the feeling of accomplishment was evident in Andrews’s game-weary, yet energized expression after the Wolverines’s matchup against Sacramento State.
“It was fun,” Andrews said. “It’s the first time I’ve played in a situation like that in my whole career at (Michigan). So by far, the word that comes to mind is fun.”