Michigan freshman Jordan Poole thriving as minutes grow
College Park, Md. — The Poole is open for business.
Over the last three games, freshman guard Jordan Poole has been a consistent spark off the bench for Michigan and scored in double figures, including 12 first-half points in Saturday’s 85-61 rout at Maryland.
The reason for the increased production is simple: He’s earning more trust and more minutes.
“I think the coach is playing him more and that’s got to be a good thing,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He’s showed us that defensively and offensively he's about making the next right play more than maybe typical freshmen or maybe he was earlier in the year.
“So, now we’ll play through a mistake because we know they’re not as competent as they were when he was still developing.”
In the past week, Poole poured in 15 points in 19 minutes against Ohio State, chipped in 13 points in 26 minutes at Penn State and added 12 points in 22 minutes at Maryland. Prior to that stretch, he scored more than 12 just once and received 20-plus minutes twice over the first 25 games.
The extended playing time has allowed Poole to settle into the game and get into a better rhythm, and it has shown in his numbers.
During the three-game span, Poole is averaging 13.3 points in 22.3 minutes and is shooting 57.1 percent (12-for-21) from the field and 75 percent (9-for-12) from 3-point range. He’s also 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and has eight rebounds, three assists and one turnover.
“If I go out there and can be relaxed and be comfortable and not feel like I’m rushed or anything, that’s where I feel like I’m at my best,” Poole said.
“I can go out there and be aggressive. Come out and be aggressive early, but also make the right plays, get into the flow instead of coming in for a short stint and trying to bring energy or create offense right away. I’m able to calm down, be patient but also still be aggressive.”
Poole, who can heat up in a hurry and isn’t shy to let it fly, displayed that patience when he first checked into the game with 15:21 left in the first half. After he missed his first shot at the 13:14 mark, it wasn’t until roughly three minutes later he attempted another field goal, making back-to-back 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Michigan a 29-18 lead.
Then later in the half, Poole scored six straight and couldn’t help but turn and acknowledge the Xfinity Center crowd after his third 3-pointer put Michigan in complete control, 49-22, at the 1:04 mark.
“Definitely just the excitement how I made a couple shots,” Poole said of spinning and making hand gestures at Maryland fans. “Moe (Wagner) hit a couple shots and then I hit a couple shots. Then when you look and you’re up by 20 in the first half, there's a lot of momentum and the energy and the fire that I have just came out a little bit.”
It’s a fire Beilein is starting to stoke more as Poole has formed into a formidable one-two, quick-strike punch with fifth-year senior forward and fellow sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.
“He’s still 18 years old right now and he’s very young freshman. He’s just growing through it and he’s got a little bit more,” Beilein said. “He’s put some trust into our bank so that we can say, ‘OK, he made a mistake. He’s got more in him.'
“But he’s been a key right now. He and Duncan Robinson, having those two guys come off the bench has been a big key for us.”
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
At New York
All games on BTN unless noted.
■No. 12 Iowa vs. No. 13 Illinois, 5:30 p.m.
■No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 14 Rutgers, 8 p.m.
■No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, noon
■No. 5 Michigan vs. Iowa/Illinois winner, 2:30 p.m.
■No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 10 Northwestern, 6:30 p.m.
■No. 6 Indiana vs. Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 9 p.m.
■No. 1 Michigan State vs. Maryland/Wisconsin winner, noon
■No. 4 Nebraska vs. Michigan/Iowa/Illinois winner, 2:30 p.m.
■No. 2 Ohio State vs. Penn State/Northwestern winner, 6:30 p.m.
■No. 3 Purdue vs. Indiana/Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 9 p.m.
■Michigan State/Maryland/Wisconsin winner vs. Nebraska/Michigan/Iowa/Illinois winner, 2 p.m. (CBS)
■Ohio State/Penn State/Northwestern winner vs. Purdue/Indiana/Minnesota/Rutgers winner, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
■Championship, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)