Franz Wagner Talks Eli Brooks' Impact, Bouncing Back Tonight And More
The Michigan Wolverines’ basketball team had been red-hot through its first 11 games before Saturday’s showdown at Minnesota, though the Gophers exposed a few weaknesses in the Maize and Blue’s armor that other teams hadn’t been able to.
U-M’s offense committing 20 turnovers was one of the most disappointing aspects of the loss, with the Wolvernes unable to get into any kind of rhythm on that side of the ball all afternoon long.
Senior guard Eli Brooks’ absence probably had a little bit to do with it, with the veteran player missing the game with a right foot sprain. The outcome may not have been any different if Brooks would have played, but the senior impacts games in ways that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.
“Eli just knows how to play the game,” sophomore guard Franz Wagner told the media. “His stats may not make him seem like one of the best players, but he does things that matter that people who don’t understand basketball may not see.
“He makes the right passes to find the open shooters. He runs the floor as well and does all the little things that coaches talk about that make things easier for everyone else.
“Eli plays well off and on the ball, so he’s versatile. He just knows how to play and when to pass and cut, and things like that to help everyone else. Eli’s IQ allows him to read situations better than other people — he knows what he’s supposed to do and where he’s supposed to be.”
His status for tonight’s game against Maryland is still unclear, though he was originally listed as day-to-day when the injury news first came out on Saturday. His defense is an area that will be missed if he is unable to go again, though the Maize and Blue have quickly turned into one of the best defensive units in the entire country.
“We can guard really well when we play with energy and and when we talk,” Wagner explained. “One big thing is that we talk to each other and we trust it. We have help behind us that is able to fix things if we mess up on defense.
“We don’t let teams run their stuff easily, so I’m very confident in the way we guard, especially on the perimeter.”
U-M’s defense wasn’t the issue Saturday in Minneapolis, despite the fact the Gophers shot 47 percent from the field. The sloppiness and inability to consistently hit shots on offense was ultimately what led to the club's downfall.
“Some weaknesses were exploited, but we lost the game because we didn’t run our stuff the way we can,” Wagner admitted. “I was surprised with what we saw on film afterward, because it was stuff that’s pretty easy to fix.
“That’s my mindset going into this next game. We have to do what we did throughout the first several games, and so much of it is about making good decisions during the game.
"We can make it easier for the post guys to find open players as well, and though setting screens isn’t the most obvious thing, everything is a lot harder when you don’t screen others.”
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