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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

Michigan has interesting strategy to try to keep Moritz Wagner out of foul trouble

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Foul trouble has somewhat limited the effectiveness of Michigan big man Moritz Wagner so far in this year’s tournament, but the team may have figured out a fix just in time for the Sweet Sixteen.

On Wednesday, Wolverines head coach John Beilein revealed his interesting strategy to try and remedy Wagner’s fouling issues: have Wagner play defense while holding tennis balls in his hands during practice.

“So he is not putting his hands on people,” said Beilein of the technique, according to Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press. “He is going to [have] fouls, but they just can’t be the ones he can control.”

The junior forward is easily Michigan’s most important player — he led the team in both points (14.2) and rebounds per game (7.1) this season. But Wagner’s foul problems have held him to an average of 27.5 minutes in the tourney, leading to just 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. All in all, he has picked up a total of eight personal fouls through Michigan’s first two contests. Wagner also fouled out of three separate games during the regular season.

The Wolverines play Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday, and they will need the 6-foot-11 matchup nightmare Wagner on the floor for as long as possible. Otherwise, they may have to rely on more improbable heroics in order to advance to the next round.

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