Michigan basketball’s Jett Howard seems to have avoided the worst with his ankle injury.
It was a worrisome moment at Crisler Center on Sunday, when the freshman landed awkwardly on his left ankle late in the first half of Michigan’s 60-56 win over Minnesota and immediately went to the floor. Howard remained down for a few minutes as he was tended to by athletic trainers before he was helped off the court without putting any weight on it.
Howard was ruled out for the rest of the game and emerged from the tunnel to the team’s bench midway through the second half wearing a walking boot. His coach and father, Juwan Howard, said after the game he didn’t yet have any information other than he was in a boot and “not sure how long he’s going to be out.”
While there’s still no official timetable for a return, there was more of an update on Monday.
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“I’m praying and I know he is too that it’s nothing serious and so far the X-rays, it’s negative,” said coach Juwan Howard on Michigan basketball’s “Defend The Block” podcast. “Now we’ve got to see what the swelling will look like.”
The Wolverines had an off day from practice on Monday, and a team spokesperson told the Free Press his status for Thursday’s game remains undetermined. But based on his father’s comments, it doesn’t seem likely that the freshman will be ready when UM (11-8, 5-3 Big Ten) hosts No. 1 Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) on Thursday.
“Jett’s down, because he wants to be out there and help his teammates,” Juwan said. “He’s a big part of our team on both ends of the floor and not having him out there on the floor, yes we miss a lot, but now it gives guys an opportunity to step up.
“We’re going to need Joey Baker as well as Isaiah Barnes, they’re going to get opportunities.”
Baker started in place of Howard in the second half against Minnesota and played 18 minutes, tied for his most in a conference game this season, although he struggled going 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-2 on 3-pointers . This season, Baker is shooting a team-best 43.5% on 3-pointers while averaging 4.5 points in 14 minutes per game.
Barnes, who has played in 13 of 19 games this season, played just three minutes on Sunday and at least seven minutes in a game just twice. He has shot 1-for-6 from the field since he scored a career-high six points against Kentucky on Dec. 4.
Howard is one of UM’s main ball handlers and playmakers; the team is already without starting point guard Jaelin Llewellyn, who suffered a torn ACL against Kentucky. Expect to see the ball in the hands of freshman point guard Dug McDaniel and sophomore shooting guard Kobe Bufkin more often.
Don’t be surprised to see extra minutes spread not just to the wing players like Baker and Barnes, but to the front court in guys like Will Tschetter.
“There are going to be times we have bigger lineups, mix-and-match a little bit,” Howard said. “That’s part of it, that’s part of the job.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan freshman Jett Howard’s X-ray’s negative; return unknown