8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 1, 2004
Michigan freshman Brent Petway energizes his team with his high-flying ability and rim
By Daniel Bremmer Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan basketball team has been inconsistent this season. But there is one thing that the team can count on game-in and game-out: Freshman
Brent Petway is going to bring the energy, and he's going to bring it in huge doses. Because of his uncanny ability to pump up the crowd and give his
team a shot in the arm, Petway compared himself to the Energizer Bunny earlier this season. With his backboard-shaking dunks, his gravity-defying leaps
and his perfectly-timed blocks, Petway has been a catalyst for the Wolverines. And he knows he can continue to do so for the team down the road. I
It's no surprise that Petway idolized Michael Jordan
while growing up.
Just take a look at the '23' on his jersey or at his newly
Or watch him when he puts on his pre-game dunking
clinic, and you'll truly see how the NBA legend has influ-
And make sure to look out below.
I've kept on doing
it since then'
What do you get when you combine a vertical leap of
more than 40 inches with a 6-foot-9 forward?
Some one-sided high-school games with a lot of dunks.
Petway led his Griffin High School team to a 28-3
record his senior season and finished third in the voting
for Georgia's Mr. Basketball.
During his high-school years, Petway routinely dunked
multiple times during each game. His all-time high for
dunks in a game was eight.
Petway also completed his most memorable dunk dur-
ing these years, when he threw the ball off the backboard
to himself and stuffed it during a game.
"I stole it, dribbled down, and it was like a two-on-two.
My teammate was in the corner, and there were two
defensemen," Petway recalled. "I just dribbled (between
them), and I don't know what made me do it, but I threw it
off the glass and went and got it."
Petway's dunking began even before his high school
The first time he ever threw one down was when
he was a 14-year old in eighth grade.
"I had been trying all year, so after basketball sea-
son was over, I started track with the high jump," Pet-
way said. "I guess that helped me get a few more
inches on my vertical. I went in the gym one day after
track practice and I was able to dunk, and I've kept on
doing it since then."
Petway also was a track runner in high school, compet-
ing in the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles and the 4x 100
relay, in which he ran the anchor leg. He finished second at
the Georgia state championship meet running the hurdles.
"When I would go out for the 100 meters, people would
look at me like, 'Hold on, you're 6-9. You're not supposed
to be running the 100 meters.'"
Air Georgia lands
in Ann Arbor
Since he's been at Michigan, Petway's had more trouble
keeping his head from hitting the rim than he's had find-
ing ways to get free for dunks.
"I always duck, every time," Petway said. "I've hit my
head on the backboard before, blocking a shot, but I
always duck, 'cause I (can sense) before I'm gonna bang
Through 25 games, 25 of Petway's 39 career field goals
have come in the form of dunks.
All of his Michigan teammates already know about Pet-
way's amazing leaping ability, something that fans and
opposing teams have been exposed to in flashes this sea-
son. In practices, teammates try to throw alley-oops over
the freshman's head, just to see how high he can get. But
to their amazement, he has caught most of the passes and
converted the alley-oops.
Teammates often ask Petway if he can imitate what they
see others do on television.
"They'll see me dunk, then they'll watch Sports-
Center later that night, and they'll be like, 'You think
you can do that?' " Petway said. "And I'll be like
'Yeah,' and I'll try."
And with his great leaping ability, Petway has
received some great nicknames. Fellow Wolverine and
team co-captain J.C. Mathis calls Petway 'R.J.,'
acknowledging the similarities he sees between his
teammate's play and that of Richard Jefferson of the
New Jersey Nets. Jefferson is, one of the NBA's most
recognized high flyers.
Most recently, the Maize Rage has dubbed the freshman
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker is another Petway sup-
porter. Amaker has never discouraged Petway from pump-
ing up the crowd with his dunking ability, especially on
pass or being in the right spot under the hoop.
"He doesn't really get on my case," Petway said of
Amaker. "I'm trying to take the ball to the hole strong, so
either you're gonna foul me or I'm gonna dunk on you."
Flying high into
Petway's outlook on his Michigan future - like
many Wolverine fans - is bright. The freshman hopes
to always play a unique role'at Michigan - being a
high-energy spark for his team to feed off of.
"My offensive game might blow up a little bit, but
I'm an athletic-type player, and that's what I'm doing
now," Petway said. "You shouldn't change your game
as you get older. You might develop more skills to
use, but you should stay the same type of player
And-recently, Petway has shown flashes that he
may do more than just dunk the ball. In Michigan's
71-59 upset of Wisconsin last Sunday, Petway con-
nected on three field goals from the floor, none of
which came on dunks - a milestone of sorts for the
And in yesterday's 75-64 win
are all dunks or wli
shots, it's gonna su
a few buckets in cc
a little bit."
The freshman wil
one of which is his s
"I've probably go
guys are pretty big i
me to block out."
On the other end
needs to perfect his
jumpshot, which he