Wichita, Kan. — Michigan freshman guard Jordan Poole simply can’t help himself. When he gets the hot hand and hits a couple 3-pointers in a row, he typically ends up unleashing his emotion and throwing up hand signals to the crowd.
Freshman forward Isaiah Livers said he thinks the gestures have something to do with his hometown. Redshirt sophomore forward Charles Matthews said he believes it’s in relation to the No. 3.
As it turns out, nobody in the Michigan locker room seems to really know the answer.
“I hope he’s not making any bad signs at all. I don’t have any idea what he’s doing,” Michigan coach John Beilein said Friday. “I don’t watch those types of things. I’ve learned to make sure that if he stays in line and he does the right things — I’m just watching the young man grow every day.”
Beilein said he’s never asked Poole about his celebrations this season, which is something that still surprises Poole.
“There’s so much going on. He’s dancing, he’s doing all this stuff,” Beilein said. “There’s certain things that you just got to step back and if it’s not for the bad image of the University of Michigan and our high-quality character of kids that we want, I’m fine with it.”
According to Poole, his hand gestures are just a way of getting himself going without saying anything to the opposition, and is something he started doing last season at La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind.
“I’m kind of letting them know I’m here,” Poole said with grin. “A little sign language. A little something. It’s not really a story behind it. It just gets me amped up.”
Poole said he uses a combination of signs and goes with whatever comes naturally, but noted he won’t disclose them because it’s “certified information.”
He has even offered advice to teammates to make their own celebrations “a little smoother, a little bit more swaggy.”
But like Beilein, Poole said none of his teammates pay much attention to it because they know that’s how he expresses himself and it helps spread energy.
“He’s just having fun and that’s what it’s all about,” Matthews said. “I feel like in the game so much we get caught up in all the hoopla. To see him playing out there with a smile on his face, him dancing, a lot of reserved people would tell him just play basketball. I’m like have fun, be you and I like it.
“As long we’re getting buckets, he can do whatever he wants to do.”
Saturday's matchup against Houston will mark the first time grad transfer Jaaron Simmons will face his former team.
Simmons started his career with the Cougars in 2013 before he transferred to Ohio for two seasons and then to Michigan last offseason.
He still keeps in touch with a couple staffers who were there during his time — assistant coach Alvin Brooks, who recruited him, and assistant director for player development Mikhail McLean, who was a senior when he was a freshman on the team.
“I guess it has come full circle,” Simmons said. “It ain’t no sentimental stuff with me, bro. It’s a different game.”
… Junior center Moritz Wagner said he felt terrible when he heard the news Purdue center Isaac Haas (elbow) will miss the rest of the NCAAs.
“That just sucks,” Wagner said. “It gives me the sign to seize the day and be grateful for what we’re doing here because it could be over just like that."
Michigan vs. Houston
Tip-off: 9:40 p.m. Saturday, INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.
TV/radio: TBS/950 AM
Records: No. 3 seed Michigan is 29-7, No. 6 seed Houston is 27-7
Next up: Winner advances to Sweet 16 in Los Angeles