Duct Tape and Paperclips
Michigan unexpectedly played without Hunter Dickinson in a must-win regular season finale at Ohio State. Somehow, Phil Martelli and the Wolverines made it work.
I expected the worst. I suspect you did, too.
As tipoff approached for Michigan’s regular season finale at Ohio State, reporters in attendance noted Hunter Dickinson wasn’t warming up, and the team’s official account confirmed he would miss the game with a “stomach ailment.”
The Wolverines already had a tough task: win a rivalry road tilt, their third game in six days, or fall onto the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Doing it without Dickinson? Against EJ Liddell? Brutal. According to Pivot Analysis, Michigan had played 323 possessions without Dickinson prior to Sunday when removing the dregs from the schedule. They were outscored 314-387 on those possessions.
Hell, even the coach figuring out how to make up for Dickinson’s absence wasn’t in his normal position; Phil Martelli had one more game in place of the suspended Juwan Howard. Martelli, hands tied, fielded a starting lineup of DeVante’ Jones, Eli Brooks, Caleb Houstan, Brandon Johns, and Moussa Diabate.
That lineup played only 51 possessions together all season prior to the Ohio State game with a plus-minus of minus-19. Martelli, in the role of MacGyver, would ultimately try 11 different lineups which were a combined minus-50 prior to Sunday. Nine of them had played 20 or fewer possessions together this season.
The starters were plus-one in 23 possessions. A grouping of Jones, Brooks, Kobe Bufkin, Terrance Williams II, and Jaron Faulds (Jaron Faulds!), which had only played together in practice (maybe), went on a 7-0 run over the course of only three possessions.
Michigan won by six.
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