Brooks brings fresh confidence on court
Ann Arbor — Michigan sophomore guard Eli Brooks has appeared to rediscover two things in the young season — his confidence and shooting stroke.
According to Michigan coach John Beilein, most freshmen battle bouts of self-doubt when they’re not able to shake off bad days like in high school.
Brooks was no different. For awhile, he was the starting point guard and then moved back to the bench where he received limited minutes.
But from last season to now, Beilein said Brooks’ biggest area of growth has been renewed confidence.
“I think the big thing is he knows his role right now,” Beilein said Friday. “Coach is going to look at me as the first guard off the bench, I know what I got to do. I think the comfort level in his role is a huge difference.”
Brooks said it’s easier to play with more confidence because he has a more defined role this season as a “key contributor” who looks for open shots for himself and others. And his comfort grows daily through repetition in practice.
“We can’t take him for granted,” Beilein said. “He does so many things and he also points out things defensively to people. He’ll see an action happening that we’ll guard different ways and he’ll tell everybody before I even see it sometimes. He’s just really good at seeing the game.”
It’s a trait Brooks said was an early strength. No matter if it was baseball, basketball or golf, he always had a knack for picking up sports quickly. It also helped that he would watch film with his dad, who coached him at Spring Grove (Pa.) High for all four years, to study how NBA point guards like Steve Nash and Chris Paul play.
While Brooks said he likes to play with junior guard Zavier Simpson and prefers the two more, he’s unselfish and will always move the ball, as shown by his eight total assists in the exhibition against Northwood and regular-season opener against Norfolk State.
Shooting numbers have been his most pleasant stat. After shooting just 30.2 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from 3-point range last season, Brooks has missed just one shot attempt so far. He made both shots, including a 3-pointer, and scored six points against Northwood and went 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 on 3s for eight points against Norfolk State.
Beilein said freshman Brandon Johns Jr. will continue to play at the five behind junior Jon Teske and redshirt sophomore Austin Davis and will likely see some action against Holy Cross on Saturday.
“People who have played primary center in high school going to play the perimeter four in college is so different, so it’s the best way to get him on the court right now,” Beilein said of Johns. “We can use Isaiah (Livers) there as well if we need to.
“He’s growing every day but for a freshman, he’s very normal right now. Right now, his time on the court is going to be limited until he feels more comfortable in practice.”
Michigan guard Eli Brooks went 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 on 3s for eight points in the regular-season opener against Norfolk State.