Jordan Poole Excelling By Not Forcing His Shot, Letting it Come to Him

Jordan Poole Excelling By Not Forcing His Shot, Letting it Come to Him

Basketball

Jordan Poole Excelling By Not Forcing His Shot, Letting it Come to Him

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Life is different this year for Michigan basketball. Gone are the stalwarts in Moe Wagner, Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, some of the Wolverines primary scoring options from a year ago. Before the 2018-19 season, head coach John Beilein said his team was still looking for scorers to go along with the defensive foundation laid by coach Luke Yaklich.

And while that looked to be a work in progress in the Wolverines first two games of the season, now the maize and blue are able to play exceedingly well on both sides of the floor.

So, when a quality Big Ten team like Purdue comes to town, that can play both offense and defense, if it can’t hang, the team the Boilermakers are playing is doing something right. And after Michigan’s 76-57 win over Purdue, Matt Painter praised just how dynamic of a team these Wolverines are.

“They can beat you in the 90s and they can beat you in the 60s,” Painter said. “And I think they can do it against quality people. So, it just depends on how they’re flowing. Tonight, it looked a little bit better because they made their threes, but I also think they’re a little more open, too. But you can’t let Jordan Poole get five open looks.”

And Poole’s open looks is one of the reasons why the Wolverines got hot offensively.

The second-year guard was 8 of 9 from the field and hit all five of his three-point attempts. Poole finished the game leading all scorers on both teams with 21 points. But he also made a couple really impressive defensive plays, especially when the Boilermakers clawed their way back into the game, cutting a 20 point deficit to 12.

Given Poole’s play, it’s a sign of how far this Michigan team has come, where scorers even get into the habit of team defense.

“I think we’re extremely dynamic,” Poole said. “That goes to our bench as well, being able to switch off our ball screens to being able to have a big man that’s white and blue on the outside, and that can guard a one or two. Being able to have that dynamic defensively and offensively is huge. A huge step in the right direction.”

But Poole had struggled to start out the season.

Despite playing heavy minutes in the first three games of the season, Poole didn’t accumulate more than 7 points total, getting 3 in each of his first two games and 7 in the third.

Against George Washington, he finally broke through, scoring a career high 22 points, but the very next game, Poole went 1 of 5 from the floor, netting just 4 points against Providence.

But, after that, he started rolling.

Against Purdue, Jordan Poole went 8 of 9 from the floor and hit all 5 of his three point attempts.

He hit 6 of 10 against Chattanooga, then 6 of 13 on Wednesday against No. 11 North Carolina. And on Saturday, as you know, he went off.

So what did he do to get better?

“Nothing, just keep shooting,” Poole said. “Some are going to go in, some are not. I work so hard in the gym, and me and Coach Dre always find ways I can get my shots and being able to work out and they’re gonna fall eventually. It was early in the season. I didn’t know where I was gonna get my shots from, how they were looking. Just stay confident – I work so hard in the gym, and just being able to knock shots down is a good result.”

“I might have shared with you, his summer stats going into his freshman year was like 4 for 36,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “If he saw the rim, he shot it. And with defenders, with Charles Matthews guarding him, that’s not gonna happen. So (he) gradually learned that less is more, and he can get better shots.

“Guys like that, that can get their own shot, they have a lot of confidence, have got to realize, ‘I’ll take less shots, but I’ll score more points.’ And that usually is pretty motivating to people.”

Poole has an iconic shot under his belt, having launched the game-winning three in the NCAA Tournament to send Houston home. But averaging just 12 minutes a game was a different animal to his newfound time on the court. Through eight games, Poole is now playing 29 minutes of a 40 minute game.

He’s taken Beilein’s lessons to heart, saying that now that he knows he’s going to have his time to shine, he doesn’t have to force the action. He can just go out there and let his shot come to him.

“Last year, I was thirsty to come in and get a bucket, because I didn’t know how long I’d play,” Poole said. “But being able to play 25 to 35 to 40 minutes a game is definitely huge for a rhythm and being able to see one go in early is definitely huge.”

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