On a Michigan basketball team that lives and dies by its film, Isaiah Barnes got plenty of extra lessons over the past year.
After a freshman season spent on the bench — held back in part by a struggling transition into college life — those additional studies could turn Barnes into a critical cog in the Wolverines’ offense going forward.
“Watching from the sideline is kind of like watching film,” Barnes said on the “Defend the Block” podcast. “You’re sitting by all the guys and they see certain things that’s going on, and they point out like what you’re not supposed to do, like ‘oh what is he doing, he’s not supposed to be there’ (and) ‘oh he’s not in his right spot’ or stuff like that. You see it from a different view.”
That different perspective matters for a player who openly admits his freshman season started off not with a bang, but with a crawl. He and associate head coach Phil Martelli noted that in the first few weeks of last season, Barnes struggled to get used to the college rhythm. The practices, the schoolwork, and the playing time looked nothing like what he had seen his whole career.
But by taking a step back and watching from the sideline, Barnes acclimated as the season wore on. Now, he can turn that time spent studying the game into success when he comes off it. For the Wolverines, that could define their trajectory.