Michigan certainly doesn”t bring back memories of the tough, rough and mean Detroit Pistons” “Bad Boys” teams of a decade ago, but the Wolverines do have their own version of a Vinnie Johnson “microwave.”
Just as the nickname was given to Johnson for igniting the Pistons off the bench with instant offense and a sweet stroke from the outside, Michigan freshman Dommanic Ingerson has earned the title by fearlessly making his presence felt as a valuable sixth man for the Wolverines.
While the shooting guard averages just 20 minutes per game, he doesn”t waste any opportunities. He ranks third on the Wolverines in scoring at 11.4 points per game and has reached double-figures in four of Michigan”s seven games.
But Ingerson”s playing time may increase as the Wolverines take on two more nonconference foes before starting the Big Ten season on Jan. 1. Michigan hosts Eastern Michigan on Dec. 22 and faces San Francisco in the Pete Newell Classic in California on Dec. 29. After starting the season behind last year”s sharpshooter, junior Gavin Groninger, Ingerson received more than double the minutes of Groninger against Duke and has been inserted more often during key situations.
“He has helped us a lot,” said Michigan coach Tommy Amaker. “Dom has given us an opportunity to go to him off the bench. He is able to create his own shot, and when you are playing a tough defense like (Duke”s) it”s hard to run things. Then you need an individual to break a defense down. (Chuck) Bailey and him are giving us minutes and they made some good plays, but they also had some glaring mistakes like we all did.”
The knock on Ingerson prior to the season was his controversial past. Emotional meltdowns and suspensions in high school led some to believe Michigan”s “microwave” would let his animated and emotional past resurface at the collegiate level.
But the only thing visible from Ingerson”s past is his accuracy from 3-point range, as the freshman leads the Wolverines and is second in the Big Ten with a scorching 58-percent efficiency from behind the arc and sometimes even further.
Ingerson”s breakout performance came in Michigan”s second game against Fairfield, when he exploded for 23 points in just 21 minutes. Most of his points came on his stellar 6-8 shooting from 3-point range, including several he took from five feet beyond the line.
Ever since, the Maize Rage student section has instituted a cheer called the “Dom Bomb,” in which each fan drops from their standstill position onto their behinds in the new student bleachers.
And Ingerson”s aggressive shot selection keeps those fans on the edge of their seats. He”s never afraid to take a shot, which sometimes leads Amaker to pull him aside on the court and say, “slow down.”
The streaky shooting guard has also been one of the least intimidated Wolverines in big games and tough road environments. When Michigan desperately needs to stop a daunting run by an opponent, Ingerson is inserted to stop the bleeding and create some much-needed offense.
Ingerson tallied 16 points and posted a career-high 32 minutes against then-No. 15 Boston College two weeks ago, and last Saturday against No. 1 Duke, he notched 13 points in 24 minutes, which included some time at point guard.
The Michigan coaching staff has wanted to slowly adjust Ingerson to the point, but early on, the freshman”s shot selection and ball-handling wasn”t at its best. But with Ingerson”s recent success with post-entry passes and with his increasing ability to create his own shot, a move to point guard may be something that both the coaches and Ingerson can grow comfortable with.
“It”s a different mindset,” Ingerson said. “But, you know, I can bring up the ball. Whatever coach wants.”