The Michigan Wolverines lost guard Eli Brooks this past Sunday during their loss to the Michigan State Spartans after he landed on the foot of an opponent, having to be assisted off the court.
As one of the team's top defenders alongside Franz Wagner, Brooks is averaging 31.2 minutes, 8.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and three assists per game this year.
Michigan begins the postseason with the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, but will Brooks be back by then?
“He’s the most valuable player on this team, plain and simple,” assistant coach Phil Martelli said Monday night on the Inside Michigan Basketball Radio show. “The most invaluable piece, both to his teammates and to the coaching staff, is Eli Brooks.” Martelli mentioned Brooks’ defense, his ability to make clutch shots, and how he takes pressure off point guard Mike Smith.
“His IQ and willingness to share his knowledge with teammates and coaches during practice, that’s why I say he’s the most valuable player on this team.”
6th man Chaundee Brown is expected to step in for Brooks should the latter not be available, as he's done before in the season.
Head coach Juwan Howard didn't provide much in the form of an update on Brooks' condition, and isn't expected to give an official word until Friday.
“I hope he can play,” Wagner said on Wednesday. “I don’t know if he can play. I’m sure if he somehow is able to play, Eli wants to play. He will be out there if he can. But I’m really not sure.”
According to Hunter Dickinson, it's up to the rest of the team to keep things moving smoothly until Brooks can return to the lineup.
“We’re going to miss him a lot, but we’ve got the guys to step up and help us keep the ship afloat.”
Asked for clarification on Brooks’ status, Dickinson said, “However long he’s out. Shoot, I miss him right now, not being with him. In practice and stuff like that, him being on the sideline yesterday, it was obviously different. You just miss him for however long he’s out. … We’re just trying to keep the ship afloat until he can rejoin us eventually.”
– – Quotes via Andrew Khan of MLive Link – –