8B Tpoff/ TuesdyNovember2 2010
From Page 5B
Like Stu, Zack spent last summer
reworking his shot into a more com-
pact style and prepared himself to
return as a starting guard, which for
at least one Big Ten big man, is a posi-
"He's always feisty, you know, he's
always battling for rebounds. On film,
fhey always talk about how every year
he's got a couple rebounds over me.
My coach makes fun of me about it,"
Illinois forward Mike Davis, who has
five inches on Zack, said of Zack's play.
"He pushes you and he fights you. He
plays better than he is."
And in Chesterton, the bars pay
for the Big Ten Network so they can
watch Zack play on TV. Kids ask Pel-
jer, what do I need to do to be as good
His response: You've always got to
try to be better than you are.
It's not as though
Stu and Zack are the first to come
from Indiana. And while being a
Hoosier separates them from others
in some ways - they're not the kids
who grew up playing in the streets of
enormous cities - in a much bigger
way, being a Hoosier bonds them to
those who came before them and led
as great players and coaches.
Players like Larry Bird, who grew up
in rural Indiana, playing on unpaved
driveways, shooting baskets when
the rim was crooked and attached to
a garage. A man who faced adversity
only to become known as one of the
greatest shooters ever in the NBA.
Stu and Zack grew up during the
Michael Jordan/Larry Bird era,
where finesse faced off against hard-
nosed play. Michael Jordan was the
epitome of flashy court play. Bird was
never that, he never jumped the high-
est or ran the fastest. His photos don't
appear on any kind of brand names,
but his blue-collar work ethic made
him one of the most recognizable ath-
letes, and men, of his time.
And by the time Larry Bird left for
the East Coast in 1978, a new face had
taken over Indiana basketball and
what it stood for.
While Bobby Knight was an Ohio
native, he embodied the passion and
drive - in his early years - that Hoo-
sier basketball desired to be. He was
"The General," a man who demanded
But most important, they come
from the home of the late John Wood-
en. A man who revolutionized what
it meant to be a collegiate basketball
coach - a man who held true to his
Indiana values when he was in the
middle of Los Angeles.
He told his players: Be more con-
cerned with your character than your
reputation, because your character is
what you really are, while your repu-
tation is merely what others think you
And for Zack and Stu, maybe the
whispers remind them of that. The
whispers they hear every summer
when they return home. When their
parents and coaches tell them that a
young kid asked about them or they
realize just how far they've made it,
how their dream of playing Big Ten
basketball seemed so far away such a
short time ago.
It is this humility and passion that
will, like their Hoosier background,
bind them and separate them from the
leaders wrho have come before them in
As freshmen they watched and
learned from C.J. Lee as he took
a team that had finished 10-22 in
the previous year and led them to
unthinkable heights. Lee was not the
prolific scorer, averaging less than 2
points a game that year. But his pres-
ence was an undeniable force that led
that team to a place they could not
"They have a chip on their shoul-
ders," Beilein said. "I don't think
there's any doubt both of them came
here t6 prove that they could help us
win at the University of Michigan."
In an arena where so much weight
is put into the wins and losses, a young
team will be led by two young men
who have seen what basketball has
done in their lives and their home-
towns. They've changed where they
came from and seen how single play-
ers have changed Michigan.
When Zack entered
high school, Chesterton had won two
sectional championships in 50 years.
According to Peller, Zack's perfor-
mance during the years, on and off the
court, changed all of that.
"He helped elevate everybody's
perception of basketball around
here," Peller said. "It was an exciting
time around here and we hadn't had
that. Besides being a good leader on
the floor, he was an example to a lot
of the younger kids. He just elevated
And in the Carmel High School
locker room there's a framed 8x1O
portrait of Stu in one of his first games
at Michigan. It's one of the last things
the players see before they walk out
on the court that Stu once ruled.
And so the whispers continue to get
louder as the season approaches.
The Big Ten will be the strongest
conference in the country. Michigan
is young and inexperienced. The Wol-
verines will be the underdog in almost
Stu and Zack aren'tgoingto say any-
thing. They're one step ahead of you.
They smirk. The whispers they want
heard are the ones they carry with
them from Carmel and Chesterton.
Let the whispers of the underdog
persist, they say. A whispering dog
Junior guard Stu Douglass has been known to show up in high-pressure games for the
Wolverines in his two years on the team.
Junior guard StuDouglass was told by his high school coach that he couldn't play at Michigan. After two years Junior guard Zack Novak was the third-leading scorer in the state of Indiana in his senior year of high school and
as a Wolverine, Douglass is expected to be one of Michigan's leaders. has the most points in Chesterton High School history.