Chatman shows spark off the bench for Michigan

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Kameron Chatman

Aubrey Dawkins or Ricky Doyle.

One of them usually is first off the bench for Michigan, and the other usually is second.

Finding the third, though, has been a struggle for the Wolverines, whose lack of depth has been an issue this season — especially since Caris LeVert first went down with an injury Dec. 30.

Maybe Kameron Chatman is becoming that guy.

“Coach has really been emphasizing the next man up,” Chatman said. “Just the next-man-up mentality for everyone.”

In last week’s 86-82 loss to then-No. 6 Maryland, Chatman was that next man up in the first half.

He played a huge role in stopping the bleeding and keeping Michigan from being run right out of the building.

Michigan trailed by 16 when Chatman compiled some huge minutes.

With 5 minutes, 24 seconds left in the half, he hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 13. A little more than two minutes later, he picked up a steal that led to a Mark Donnal 3 which cut the deficit to five.

A little over a minute after that, Chatman hit another 3 — sending the Michigan bench into a frenzy — and then quickly assisted on a Derrick Walton Jr. 3-pointer as Michigan got to the half down only five.

The 3-pointers for Chatman were the fourth and fifth he’s hit this season, as he’s played only sparingly in Big Ten play, after having a breakthrough, of sorts, last season when all the injuries dictated such.

“We just made a decision that we flow better with him in there,” coach John Beilein said. “Being left-handed on the right side really helps us, too.”

A game after Michigan looked lifeless in a loss at Ohio State, it was plenty energized against Maryland, and teammates, including the star of the game, Donnal, credited the bench -- specifically Chatman, who scored all the bench points for the Wolverines.

The effort certainly caught Beilein’s attention heading into the home stretch for Michigan (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten), which played Northwestern (17-10, 5-9) on Wednesday at home.

“It’s something we see in practice,” Beilein said. “That’ll give him more time going forward.”

Even with LeVert, Michigan lacks depth.

It’s really been a problem the 13 games the senior swingman has missed.

Chatman, a sophomore swingman, averaged more than 15 minutes last season.

That led to the natural assumption that might lead to more looks this season, but he’s been well behind emerging Duncan Robinson and sixth man Aubrey Dawkins on the depth chart.