March is full of unsung heroes.
On Sunday in the rescue victory of the Michigan men’s basketball team over the then 23rd Ohio number, 3-point jumper Kobe Bufkin at the end of the game wrote his name in history textbooks as one of these heroes.
It doesn’t matter that the freshman guard played against the Baku team for only seven minutes. It didn’t matter that Buffin didn’t play a big role in Wolverine, despite being a McDonald’s American last year. It didn’t matter that he had only joined in three of the last 23 3-point attempts in the previous 17 games.
With Michigan staying ahead by four points and remaining less than 90 seconds in a game where defeat could mean certain death for their post-season hopes, it all didn’t matter. When the ball flew into Bafkin’s hands, he stepped to the left, climbed over two Ohio defenders in his area and confidently scored.
He flew perfectly towards the basket, killing nothing but the net to increase the advantage to seven and silence the enemy crowd in the Value City Arena. The seven-point lead was insurmountable – and the victory, most likely, repulsed the ticket of Mark’s madness Wolverines.
At this point, there was a discussion of Bufkin’s shortcomings throughout the season. Instead, it was the culmination of everything Buffin did when his game didn’t capture headlines.
“We’re at the end of the year and we’re looking for one show,” said acting head coach Phil Martelli. “It’s growth. Because Kobe was involved in the game. He made a big shot but was involved in the game. As if he was holding swords and even throws that he picked up and did, he thought they were going. That’s what I saw. “
This was not the first time Martelli sang Bufkin. In the first game Martelli, who replaced Michigan coach Juvan Howard, and freshman Musa Diabat and second-year forward Terence Williams II were disqualified for one game, Buffin was called to fill a big hole in the rotation
He played 21 minutes of the season, and his defensive activity that night was key to slowing Rutgers ’heated attack. He did not raise anyone in the report, but was able to stay on the field. His involvement and understanding of defensive missions were leaps ahead of where he was at the beginning of the year.
“He (was) focused on the things that are important here,” Martelli said after defeating the Scarlet Knights. “As if he was very angry with himself in the second half because he allowed the lead. Six weeks ago that didn’t happen. Three months ago this was definitely not the case. So, again, it’s growth. “
This is a word that is found again and again in Bufkin’s description: growth.
This trait is manifested in different ways. This is demonstrated by the transition from a player who could barely hack double-digit minutes early in the Big Ten game, to a man who was called up for a long season.
It’s also shown to have confidence even in trying a 3-point shot with a season on the line if you’re not known as a 3-point shooter.
“With Kobe is very interesting because … his sweater looks different, right?” Said Martel after Rutgers’ game. “His sweater looks different.”
Perhaps Martelli prophesied.
Prior to Bafkin’s strike, Michigan watched as the 12-point result in the second half dropped to four, with all the momentum falling in favor of Ohio. The wolverines needed a bucket, but their two best three-point shooters – fifth-year-old Eli Brooks and freshman Caleb Houston – were combined 1 to 6 from depth. Someone else needed to get up.
A greener version of Bufkin may have shifted that responsibility to the more veteran. If Brooks ruled the baseline over time, Buffin could do so to make himself invisible in the game. The pressure was mounting, and the miss could have detrimental effects, but Bufkin did not shy away from that moment.
He called for the sword with outstretched arms.