After the Michigan men's basketball team's 99-74 blowout win over the University of North Carolina Asheville, graduate student forward Olivier Nkamhoua had nothing but praise for sophomore guard Dag McDaniel.
"That's him!" Nkamhoua declared." Tell him he deserves two more assists. He doesn't have enough assists."
McDaniel, who led the team in minutes, assists and plus/minus, answered the challenge with a career-high 22 points and eight assists.
"In the offseason, my teammates told me, 'Gosh, you're a snakehead,' " McDaniel said, " 'We're going to go the same way as you.'" ...... I took that to heart. I try to do my best, not only for myself, but if I'm a snakehead, for my team.
McDaniel is shooting 60 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range, and his presence on the court has made the team's offense more fluid.
"Game one is how you set the tone for the rest of the season and put yourself in a good position," McDaniel said." I brought it and I knew it would set the tone for the rest of the season. I stepped up and made a statement.
McDaniel's vision culminated in a "home run," as Nkamhoua put it. With two minutes left in the first half, McDaniel was casually dribbling down the court and noticed Nkamhoua cutting to the basket ahead of the Bulldogs. He threw the ball from the half-court line toward the basket, and Nkamhoua scored with both hands, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
But with another year of maturity, McDaniel doesn't just care about home runs.
"I take pride in hitting singles," McDaniel said." You don't have to hit a home run every game. I like flashy passes, but not every pass is going to be flashy."
While the airborne home run was notable, it was just one of eight times McDaniel connected with teammates to score on the night. That doesn't include the countless times he found someone in foul trouble or scored on an extra pass.
The aerial connection could have been a shutout that the Wolverines were poised to pull off. But each of McDaniel's close-range passes and shots allowed them to track down their prey and brought them one step closer to finishing off the University of North Carolina Asheville for good.
Led by McDaniel's snakehead, Michigan showed off its razor-sharp fangs.