The Wolverines will head into Big Ten play without their most experienced big man.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard announced on Friday fifth-year senior center Austin Davis will be out indefinitely with a plantar fascia injury in his right foot.
“I know right now he’s going to be out for extended weeks,” Howard said. “I’m not quite sure as far as how long, but I know it’s not day-to-day.”
Davis suffered the non-contact injury while going to set a screen early in the second half of Wednesday’s win against Toledo. On the play, Davis planted his right foot, took one stride and came up lame. He was whistled for his fourth foul as he hobbled off the court and struggled to put any weight on his right leg.
“When I first saw him start limping, I didn’t know what was wrong. My reaction was what’s wrong?” Howard recalled. “I’m not a doctor nor a trainer so I couldn’t diagnose exactly if it was knee, foot, ankle. I didn’t know because I was more locked in on there was a primary ball-handler near me that I was trying to get our guys organized to run a play set.
“Then all of a sudden, I saw Austin run up and he started limping and then the referee called a foul and I’m trying to figure that part out. I didn’t see a foul. I didn’t even see Austin set a screen. I was so confused. There was a lot going on just in that one-, two-second span.”
Davis went back to the locker room with trainer Alex Wong and later returned to the bench with a noticeable limp. He didn’t re-enter the contest and was in a walking boot after the game.
It was an abrupt end to a strong outing for Davis. At the time, Davis scored a career-high 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including Michigan’s first 10 points of the game.
While serving as Michigan’s starting center over the first five games, Davis has averaged six points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.4 minutes while shooting 75% from the floor (12-for-16) — all career-best marks.
With Davis sidelined, freshman Hunter Dickinson will likely make his first start on Sunday against Penn State and take on a larger role, something he seems equipped to handle.
Dickinson has impressed throughout Michigan’s 5-0 start and has consistently delivered off the bench for the Wolverines. A reliable interior option and exceptional low-post passer, Dickinson has scored in double figures every game and is averaging 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.4 minutes.
Given Davis and Dickinson are the only two centers on the roster, Davis’ injury could possibly lead to junior forward Brandon Johns Jr. receiving more minutes at the five.
“It’s all touch and go because how I do it is based on personnel,” Howard said. “I’ve always said this and I think I’ve proven it over the past of last year’s team when we had injuries to some of our key guys that it’s all hands on deck.”
Penn State at Michigan
Tip-off: 2 p.m. Sunday, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
Records: Penn State 3-1, Michigan 5-0
Outlook: The Nittany Lions rank last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (71.8 points) and field-goal percentage defense (44.6%)…Sophomore forward Seth Lundy (16.8 points) leads four double-digit scorers for Penn State, which has won the past two meetings between the teams…Michigan has won eight of its last 10 Big Ten openers, including five in a row at home.