The Michigan basketball team was desperate for a win, and last night against IUPU-Fort Wayne senior tri-captain Chris Young gave the Wolverines just that. His spirited effort on the block propelled the Wolverines (3-3) to an impressive 91-62 victory at Crisler Arena.
“We”re going to need him all year,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “No one is more valuable to our team than Chris. We need to have him on the floor.”
In the last two games, Young has provided the Wolverines with a greater inside presence than at any point in his career. In addition to the increased number of touches that Young has received in the paint, the 6-foot-9 center has also added a mid-range jumpshot to his offensive game.
“I didn”t prove tonight that I could shoot at all,” Young said. “But I was really strong with the ball inside, and I was confident every time I touched the ball inside. That”s what all this boils down to is confidence.”
Young finished the night with career-highs in points (22), field goals made (nine) and attempted (16), but Amaker was more impressed with his 10 rebounds and 4-for-5 performance from the free throw line.
Basketball Jones: After sitting out the last four games with an injured thumb, Michigan senior tri-captain Leon Jones wasted no time in making his presence felt.
Jones drove all the way to the hole for a basket in his first minute of action. All of Jones” minutes were valuable, as he finished the game with five points and seven rebounds in just 12 minutes.
“It”s great to get Leon back,” Amaker said. “He”s a senior, a captain and a veteran guy. He gives us depth on the perimeter.”
“Q” is for point guard: After tallying just eight assists in his first four games (all while coming off the bench), Avery Queen has solidified his role as the Wolverines” primary ballhandler and distributor with 13 assists over his last two outings, both of which he started.
“I don”t worry about who starts. That doesn”t matter to me,” Queen said. “I know that I am going to play, and I just have to go out there and do the things that coach wants me to do.”
Kings for a day: Michigan forwards LaVell Blanchard and Bernard Robinson had started this season with lower-than-expected offensive performances. Entering last night”s contest, the Wolverines” highly-touted tandem had combined for just 24.5 points per game, compared with the 32.2 that they averaged last year. But Blanchard and Robinson combined for 34 points and just one turnover against Fort Wayne.
Robinson was especially impressive in the first half. His aggressive play in the first 20 minutes (14 points and four offensive rebounds) helped the Wolverines pull away from the Mastodons early on, despite the team”s poor shooting percentage.
“I was just attacking the glass,” Robinson said. “(Amaker) has been stressing to me all week to be more aggressive.”
Hanging on: After throwing away 21 possessions against Boston College on Saturday, Michigan was much more cautious against Fort Wayne, turning the ball over just twice in the first half and nine times in the ballgame.
“I was very pleased with the way we took care of (the ball),” Amaker said. “This was not a team that was going to press us, so it was going to be up to us to not be loose with the ball.”