Brooks brings fresh con­fi­dence on court

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY JAMES HAWKINS The Detroit News

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.

Cen­ter ex­per­i­ment

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.”

Paul Sancya/As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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