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November 04, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-04

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 4, 2011- 7

Chesterton has put
Michigan back on the map

ook at a map of Michigan.
You'll find a dot mark-
ing Ann Arbor, home of the
University of Michigan.
Now look
at a map of
South Bend
and Gary
is a small
town called DANIEL
ton. Until
recently, its
only connection to Michigan was
the sewage it dumped into the Lit-
tle Calumet River, a tributary into
Lake Michigan.
But like most small towns in
Indiana, the people of Chesterton
live for high school basketball.
There's a little pep in Tom Pel-
ler's voice when he thinks back to
the first time he saw the 6-foot-
2, shaggy-haired eighth grader.
Peller, Chesterton High School's
coach, wasn't blown away by the
boy's physical attributes, but he
knew a special player when he saw
one. And Zack Novak is a special
"Here's an average-sized white
kid with average speed and quick-
ness, but I knew his heart was
going to get him somewhere and
that that would make the differ-
ence, and I think that did," Peller
said. "If you want one word, he
was a winner."
So that's what Novak did. Win.
Novak led the Trojans to a
57-31 record as a four-year start-
er, the program's best four-year
stretch. In his senior season, he
led the program to its first out-
right division title. Even though
Novak had put himself into the
mix for Indiana's Mr. Basketball
by averaging nearly 27 points and
eight rebounds a game, the offers
weren't comingin.
Valparaiso offered a scholar-
ship - only because its campus is
10 miles from Chesterton - and
thenwithdrew. Butthebigschools
weren't the only big thing that
paid little attention to Novak and
his work ethic that year.
At every one of Novak's game,
a 6-foot-9 freshman was in the
stands. At each of Novak's prac-

tices, the tall kid was there work-
ing up a sweat - but maybe not
While Novak was working his
tail off, the tall kid's work ethic
wasn't quite there. The class-
room yielded similar results,
with Novak excelling in advanced
placement classes and the tall kid
struggling to pass.
Meanwhile, John Beilein was
struggling mightily in his first
year at Michigan - both on the
court and on the recruiting trail.
Beilein heard about Novak's sit-
uation. With nothing to lose and
few alternatives, Beilein started
showing up in Chesterton's stands
and came away impressed.
That chance he took on the grit-
ty, hard-nosed player established
Michigan's foothold in Chester-
Novak's commitment was
hardly a splash. Scout.com left
him unranked, without any stars.
Rivals.com almost inexplicably
gave him three stars for commit-
ting to a Big Ten program, but
didn't even give his profile a pic-
But somewhere else in those
stands with Beilein was that tall
kid. Maybe they even shared a row
once or bumped into each other.
Maybe the kid looked at Beilein in
awe. Maybe he didn't give it much
Beileinwouldn'thave -couldn't
have - known who he was, but in
the stands with Beilein was the a
sweaty kid who'd just finished his
JV game: Mitch McGary. But the
Novak-Michigan-McGary con-
nection should've stopped there.
McGary's grades continued to
decline - after his junior year, he
was forced to transfer to Brews-
ter Academy, a New Hampshire
prep school - justto give himself a
chance of garnering a scholarship.
Novak, on the other hand, was
making headlines in Ann Arbor,
putting together a stunning rise
from a nobody to a four-year start-
er and three-time captain.
And then McGary turned his
life around. His game followed
closely behind.
"He did not have the work ethic
that Zack had, but I think now he
does," Peller said. "Mitch has come
back since then and I can see the

maturity, I can see the improve-
ment. You can see he's matured a
lot, just talking to him."
Though he didn't even start on
Brewster last year, he made the
honor roll. When summer came
around, Mitch McGary simply
blew up. Playing on the AAU cir-
cuit, he went from being a player
on the rise to one of the summer's
hottest players and finally, to his
current position: No. 2 in the
Somewhere amidst all of the
fame he was receiving, he made
time to stop back in Chesterton.
With the hectic lifestyle of a bas-
ketball phenom, there couldn't
have been much time for the visit.
The same can be said for Novak,
who was busy leading offseason
workouts in Ann Arbor.
But as fate would have it, their
visits home overlapped. Natu-
rally, the two best athletes to
come out of Chesterton in the last
decade would head to the gym,
where they would finally play
It was just a pick-up game
and no one, including Beilein,
was in the stands this time. But
at one time, five years earlier, he
had been. He found Novak, the
scrappy, disregarded kid, straight
out of "Hoosiers." Novak would
take Beilein's program, coming
off a 10-win season - out of the
Big Ten's basement and into the
NCAA Tournament.
When Novak graduates this
year, he'll have left the program
a better place than he found it
- even if McGary hadn't cho-
sen Michigan. But in that small
Indiana town that doesn't even
show up on the state map, Novak
brought the University of Michi-
The connection was once
bound only by a sewage-filled
river. But when the kid who once
shared the bleachers with John
Beilein committed to Beilein
over Mike Krzyzewski and Duke,
Mitch McGary finished what his
tack Novak started. Together,
they put Michigan on the college
basketball map.
Wasserman can be reached
at dwass@umich.edu or on
Twitter @ dwasserman

~Offense will be tested by WMU

Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan hockey team
stole one last year against West-
ern Michigan.
The Wolver-
ines scored with Western
40 seconds left Michigan at
in regulation
with their goalie MichIgan
pulled to tie the Matchup:
game. Then they WMU 5-0-3;
scored again Michigan 6-1-1
with just three When: Friday
seconds remain- and Saturday
ing in overtime 7:35 P.M.
to pull off their Where: Yost
wildest win of Ice Arena
the season on Liveblog:
senior night. Michigandaily.
"We were com
lucky," said
Michigan coach
Red Berenson.
Lucky indeed. Case in point:
the Broncos rolled past Michigan,
5-2, in the CCHA Tournament
semifinals, en route to the cham-
Yet Michigan made some of
its own luck, partially because it
knew where to turn for its scor-
ing. Then-senior forward Carl
Hagelin scored both crunch-time
Who would be the go-to scorer
this year? The answer remained
unclear entering the season.
Maybe an established scorer like
senior forward David Wohlberg
would emerge as the guy, or per-
haps a younger player like junior
forward Chris Brown would
break out.
Really, though, the big question
facing No. 3 Michigan entering
the season was if it has enough
offense, period.
Through eight games, the Wol-
verines (2-1-1CCHA, 6-1-1overall)
have answered with a resounding

"We've scored a little more
than I thought we would," Beren-
son said. "I think we've got some
balance. It's not one line that's
carrying our team, we're getting
goals from all the lines. It's not
one class, it's all four classes that
are contributing."
Last year, Michigan ranked
16th in the nation in scoring - not
overpowering but certainly solid.
This year, the Wolverines have
jumped out to the second-best
scoring production in the nation,
averaging 4.88 goals per game.
Not bad, especially considering
they've only given up more than
their scoring average only once
- and that fifth goal came on an
empty-netter in Michigan's lone
loss to Northern Michigan.
But can the Wolverines main-
tain that level of offensive produc-
Berenson said that Western
Michigan (3-0-1, 5-0-3) would be
even tougher than Ferris State
was last weekend, a team that
came into Ann Arbor with the No.
1 defense in the nation. Michigan
and the fourth-ranked Broncos
will play a weekend series at Yost
Arena beginning Friday.
"They're doing what they did
last year," said Berenson of the
Broncos, who emerged from
the CCHA Tournament to earn
a NCAA berth last year. "And
they're probably doing it harder
now and with a little more confi-
dence because they didn't know at
this time last year how good they
were going to be."
Make no mistake about it,
Western Michigan is legitimate.
The Broncos remain the only
unbeaten team in the CCHA, and
they earned their ever highest
ranking with the fourth spot in
the poll, including one first-place
Western Michigan will test the
Wolverines' offense. The Broncos,

though, have limited opponents
to just L6 goals per game.
"They didn't lose much from
last year," Berenson said.
Michigan has capitalized on
its depth and the surprising play
of freshmen, like forward Phil Di
Giuseppe, to score heaps of goals.
Berenson has compared this
year's crop of freshmen to the
most recent graduating class that
included players like Hagelin,
Matt Rust and Louie Caporusso.
"When you have freshmen
coming in, you don't really know
what to expect from them," said
senior defensemanGregPateryn.
"But after the first week, you
could see some guys were really
going to stand out this year."
Western Michigan's defenders
have limited opposing offenses
to just under 22 shots per game,
but the Broncos' goalies haven't
played incredibly well. Western
Michigan has played two goalies
- with junior Nick Pisellini and
freshman Frank Slubowski split-
ting time - and the two have
stopped .931 and .918 percent of
shots, respectively.
The Broncos' goalies have
benefited from a strong top line
of scorers. Sophomores Chase
Balisy, Shane Berschbach and
junior Dane Walters have pow-
ered the offense, combining for
34 points through eight games.
And they've taken well to
coach Andy Murray in his first
season. Murray coached for the
NHL's Los Angeles Kings and St.
Louis Blues before making the
move to the collegiate ranks.
Berenson said Western Mich-
igan is playing like a confident
"(Last year) they didn't know
they were going to make the
NCAA Tournament, and make it
to Joe Louis and so on," Beren-
son said. "This will be a real
proving year for them."

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