Isaiah Livers will not be on the court for the Michigan Wolverines in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which is a massive blow to a team that has national title aspirations. A stress fracture in his foot will sideline him for an indefinite amount of time after an aggravation of his foot in the Big Ten Tournament against Maryland.
The senior forward spoke to WTKA on Monday morning to discuss what happened and the process that led to his injury situation.
“Rehabbed and just ignored it, foot soreness, whatever,” Livers told The Michigan Insider. “You know how that goes. Played again, must’ve tweaked it. I don’t know when. My dad did mention (the) Illinois game when I twisted it or did something to my foot. I didn’t even think about that. That could’ve been where it got reaggravated again.
“That play against Maryland where people were talking about, in transition, definitely played into it. Honestly, I wasn’t 110 percent in warmups before the game. The transition play kind of made it worse and that’s when it made me really realize that I needed to sit my butt down and that I need to go get this looked at because this doesn’t feel right. In my head, I never had a stress fracture so playing with it, or whatever I was doing, I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t have that feeling. I thought it was bruised or whatever, foot soreness. That was definitely a key play to it.”
Stress fractures typically take between six and eight weeks to come back from, but Livers is not ruling out being able to return in some capacity if his team makes a run through March. However, he did suggest it might be an act from the heavens if he was able to get back on the floor.
“We can put it to a chance. I wouldn’t say it’s expected, just talking with the doctors and talking with coach Howard,” he said. “If I do, that’s miraculous, it will get talked about, the world is full of possibilities. Honestly, you never know but it’s definitely one of those things where it takes a minute to fully recover. That will be a huge question. Coach Howard, my family and my trainer will speak of that in the coming weeks. As I said, if I can feel good enough, if I feel good to go, then I’m out there because we’re going to make a tourney run and I want to be out there with this team.”
The moment that he had to break the news to the team was perhaps the most difficult thing he has ever had to do. He was able to become a beacon of positivity after a good night’s sleep.
“Coach Howard gave me the floor because we’re super transparent in this program,” Livers said. “I came back to some film so I snuck in through the back door. They went to go walkthrough and then he gave me the floor. I couldn’t speak, he had to speak for me. I said little words. I said, ‘I love y’all, You’re my family, you’re my brothers. Let’s go on this run. Let’s go get this championship.’ That was the only thing I could say that night. The next morning, I was full of positivity before the game, being that leader. Roaring in the huddles, giving advice to BJohns, Franz, Terrance, guys who need to have that voice in their ear.
“I’m still proud of those guys for the way that they fought in that game on Saturday. They played really well and played hard fighting back through the game. That just shows a lot about the team. I keep seeing all this stuff without Isaiah Livers and all this crap, this team is very high-level. Very elite. They have habits, they practice hard. They’re built for it and I’m gonna be there 110 percent supporting. Being the best coach that I can be on the sidelines. We have a lot of weapons.”
Brandon Johns replaced Livers in the starting lineup with Chaundee Brown coming off the bench in his usual role. It remains to be seen if this could change at all during the postseason.
The Wolverines will take the court on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in the No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup. The opponent is yet to be determined, as Mount St. Mary’s and Texas Southern will play on Thursday for the right to take on Michigan.