Statistics provide no indication of the impact junior center Jordan Morgan had in his 17 minutes of action in Michigan's win over Illinois Sunday afternoon at Crisler Center -- one point, two assists, and six rebounds. Against an Illini team with guards that thrive on attacking from the perimeter, Morgan's veteran presence was huge.
"He reacts just a little bit quicker than the other bigs as to all of the changing that goes on out there," said Michigan coach John Beilein. "This is a great ball screen team and we were chasing, we were doubling, we were hedging -- doing different things. And coming back out of there there's got to be a guy that tells everybody where to go or knows where to go. He knows that.
Is he faster than the other guys? I don't think so. Is he taller? Does he block shots? No. But he anticipates much better than the younger players do."
Sparking Michigan defensively in the second half, holding Illinois to just 16 points in the first 15 minutes of play, Morgan gave the Wolverines more time and energy than he expected to provide -- even after a week to get his body back in shape.
"I didn't really expect to play 17 minutes today," said Morgan. "I don't think that was the plan going into today but I stayed ready. I warmed up hard and stuff. Just being ready to do what it takes to win.
I'm at the point where it's not about whether it hurts anymore, it's about getting my strength back."
Beilein was happily surprised by Morgan's ability to fight through his temporary deficiencies physically.
"We had been very hopeful coming out of this mini camp that we had where he made some progress that he would be back to his old self -- he wasn't," said Beilein. "He was not in the last couple days of practice.
He played very well on the scout team on a few occasions so I said we're going to use him, see what he does and right from the get go he was not 100 percent but he was better than he's been."
To watch video of Morgan after the win over Illinois, press play below.
Morgan Sparks Michigan Defensively (w/video)
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