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January 09, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-09

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8A - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

TheMichigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

MEN'S BASKETBALL
For Michigan, an
embarrassment of riches

Freshman guard Caris LeVert has added 20 pounds and over an inch to his wiry frame since arriving on campus this fall.
LeVertMitchigan set
to fcl.,e Co ruskr

Gus Johnson knows injus-
tice when he sees it.
What Johnson saw
.as the Big
Ten Network
play-by-play
man during
the Michigan
basketball
team's 95-67
victory over
Iowa on Sun-
day was sim- STEPHEN J.
ply unfair. NESBITT
He said as
much on the
broadcast, encapsulating it in
one swift sentence.
"John Beilein has an embar-
rassment of riches on his team,"
Johnson said.
Think back a few years.
When did it become OK to coo
about Michigan basketball? I
still remembersa raging debate
over whether Michigan fans
should have stormed the court
after the Wolverines, who start-
ed the season ranked 15th, beat
No. 15 Connecticut at Crisler
Arena. That was just less than
four years ago.
That was an embarrassment.
This is something different
altogether.
Michigan is one of the coun-
try's four remaining unbeaten
teams, is ranked No. 2 in the
land and, at 15-0, has started
this well only once before.
The Wolverines face Big Ten
basement-dweller Nebraska at
Crisler Center tonight (7 p.m.,
Big Ten Network) vying to
match the program's best start,
set in 1985-86.
A victory over the Cornhusk-
ers would pit Michigan against
No. 15 Ohio State in Columbus
on Sunday with a chance to set
the program's new benchmark,
one that may not be eclipsed for
a very, very longtime.

the helm in Ann Arbor, never
even reached the 16-win mark
in his first and third'season on
campus.
An embarrassment of riches.
That seems pretty accurate
for Michigan, ateam winning
by an average of 22.5 points per
game while consistently rotat-
ing five true freshmen onto the
floor. Just look down the bench.
Beilein has more-than-service-
able options two and three deep
at every position.
The Wolverines are two
games into the Big Ten season
and have already registered a
pair of 28-point victories over
Northwestern and Iowa. Sure,
the Wolverines haven't really
been tested by talent on par,
with what else is around the Big
Ten. But they sure haven't fal-
tered, either.
You can't talk Michigan
without mentioning sophomore
floor general Trey Burke, who
has the Wolverines atop the
polls and is making a serious
push to be the favorite in the
national player of the year dis-
cussion, despite not ranking in
the top-five nationally in any
standard statistical category.
Burke is averaging 18.2
points and 7.5 assists per game,
shooting 54.6 percent from the
field and 76.7 percent from the
free-throw line. All good num-
bers. But dig beneath the rigid
statistical surface for a moment
and you'll find what makes this
kid great.
Aside from being the lead-
ing scorer on the No. 2 team
in America, Burke spearheads
perhaps the most balanced
offense in the college game, and
he's distributed the wealth with
hardly a misstep. Managing a
potent transition offense, Burke
averages just 1.9 turnovers per
game for an assist-to-turnover
ratio of 4.04.

To put the numbers into
context, Burke is on pace to
supplant Gary Grant for the
program's assists-per-game
crown. Grant averaged 6.88
assists per game during the
1987-88 season, but he also had
a Michigan-record 150 turn-
overs, resulting in a meager 1.56
assist-to-turnover ratio.
Burke has made dashes to the
basket, beaten defenders off the
dribble and broken ankles with
step-back jumpers.
But he'll tell you that scor-
ing isn't his focus. It's his court
vision that has the Wolverines
as the only 15-0 team in the
nation.
Thanks to Burke, Michigan
has four players averaging
12-plus points per game. If
you tally together the scoring
averages of those four play-
ers - Burke, junior guard Tim
Hardaway Jr., freshman for-
ward Glenn Robinson III and
freshman guard Nik Stauskas
- they alone are good for 60.6
points per game. In Beilein's
five previous seasons at Michi-
gan, his entire teams have never
averaged more than 66.9 or
less than 62.6 points per game.
Today, the Wolverines are aver-
aging 82.0 points.
There's no storming the
court, not just yet. The expec-
tations are a little higher now,
and Michigan has one of the
most exciting teams in the
country in one of the best are-
nas. It's a good time to be in
Ann Arbor.
Pardon the numbers-heavy
analysis, but the tale of the tape
is the best measuringstick for
Michigan. Just ask Gus John-
son.
Michigan's got an embarrass-
ment of riches.

By COLLEEN THOMAS
Daily Sports Editor
Coming off a career-best per-
formance against Iowa, fresh-
man guard Caris LeVert was
smiling, braces and all, when he
approached the
podium Tues- Nebraska at
day for a press Michn
conference.
The once- Matchup:
assumed Nebraska 9-6;
redshirt has Michigan 15-0
impressed When:
Michigan coach Wednesday
John Beilein 7 p.m.
so much that Where: Crisler
LeVert went Center
from sitting out TV/Radio:
the season to BTN
becoming an
integral cog in
the rotation - he was even given
the nod to start when junior guard
Tim Hardaway Jr. was sidelined
from agame againstCentral Mich-
igan with an ankle injury. Despite
his improvedshooting and growth
on defense, LeVert was asked more
about his physical growth than his
play on the court.
LeVert ;has gained 20 pounds
andgrown atinch and ahalfsince
arriving in' Ann Arbor, due to a
strict diet and an intense weight-
training program designed by
Beilein and his staff. The weight
gain was one reason Beilein ulti-
mately de'cided to burn LeVert's
redshirt.
"He needs another 20
(pounds)," Beilein joked. "(We
want him to eat) all day long if he
MEN'S BASKETBALL

can. We watch what they eat, not
probably pouring over it like you
would a 5-year-old, but we are
watching what he eats."
Before LeVert arrived at Michi-
gan, he wasn't doing much more
than pushups and sit-ups in addi-
tion to his workout, and the fresh-
man said it was a shock to his
body after the first couple weeks
of weights. After many hours in
the cold tub, LeVert has begun to
adapt to intense practices and the
physicality of collegiate play.
. His improvement is a testa-
ment to howall the freshmen have
adjusted to college basketball.
Guard Nik Stauskas easily shot his
way into the starting lineup, but
has shown immense growth in his
ability to drive into the lane and
on the other end of the court, play
solid defense. Also, forward Mitch
McGary has become a legitimate
No. 2 post player for Michigan.
Despite getting into foul trouble
early on this season, McGary has
learned to control his body bet-
ter and has gained muscle to keep
up with the physicality of Big Ten
play.
So LeVert, the other freshmen
and the rest of the second-ranked
Wolverine squad are prepared
for the fast-paced offense that
Nebraska (0-2 Big Ten, 9-6 over-
all) will bring to Crisler Center
tonight (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).
Though their record may be
underwhelming, the Cornhuskers
run a fast-paced offense that relies
heavily on their transition game,
while their defense has held oppo-
nents to an average of 61 points

per game. Seniors Dylan Talley
and Brandon Ubel lead Nebraska's
offense that has three players con-
sistently scoring in double figures.
Beilein called Nebraska a "very
different" challenge.
"We went from a Northwest-
ern challenge, which is extremely
unique (to) the way Iowa played
us, they came out pressing us right
away," Beilein said. "Now we're
going into almost like a Wiscon-
sin-type of prep as far as what they
do defensively - very contain-
ing, going to make us make tough
(2-pointers), get out on us pretty
good. We've got to adjust again to
a different team."
For the Wolverines (2-0, 15-0),
who rely heavily on their youth,
Beilein is wary that this transition
- three different styles of play
from each Big Ten opponent in just
a week - may be tough both men-
tally and physically on his team.
Michigan's offense, which
scored a program record for
points in a conference game with
95 against Iowa on Sunday, may
be slowed down a bit by Nebras-
ka's defense, and Beilein hopes
his players are prepared to make
in-game adjustments and not get
frustrated.
"(The Cornhuskers are) going
to minimize possessions for both
teams and that maximizes the
team's chances to win," Beilein
said. "If that's the strategy
they're going to use, we have to
adapt. They're looking to shorten
games, stay in the game, and they
can beat you if you're not on your
game."

- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbitnumich.edu.

4,

Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A
with Nebraska's Tim Miles

9

ByEVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Editor,
Tim Miles strolled to the
podium in Chicago, sat down and
smiled. As the first-year coach of
Nebraska, this was his first Big
Ten Media Day, but Miles didn't
show it. He cracked jokes, poked
fun and ended his press confer-
ence with a panoramic photo of
the media in the room that then
went out to his large Twitter fol-
lowing.
Miles is the new man in charge
of a Nebraska team that won just
four conference games and fin-
ished dead last in the Big Ten last
year, but he looked like a coach
that was more thanicomfortable in
Chicago.
Lost in all the hoopla was that
Miles is actually a pretty darn
good basketball coach. He was
hired away from Colorado State,
where he had been since 2007. In
his first season there, the team
won seven games. In his last sea-
son in Colorado, the team won 22
games and reached the second
round of the NCAA Tournament.
Not just a personality, Miles is
slowly pulling Nebraska :(0-2 Big
Ten, 9-6 overall) out of the cellar.
It tookthe Cornhuskers until Jan-
uaryi11last year to reach nine wins
- this year, they reached nine
wins in late December.'Nebraska

travels to Ann Arbor tonight for
its biggest test of the season, No. 2
Michigan (2-0,15-0).
At Big Ten Media Day, Miles sat
down with the Daily to discuss the
upcoming season.
The Michigan Daily: What
places are you looking forward to
playing at?
Tim Miles: I'm. just excited
to be part of the Big Ten. I think
they are all going to be great envi-
ronments. I just have to find some
good lunch spots, because I had
the Mountain West down.
TMD: Is one of the exciting
parts about being in this confer-
ence knowing there is going to be
a challenge every night?
TM: I think it's a great weight-
loss method. I used to call it the .
Rams basketball diet back in Col-
orado - watch us play, feel like
puking for a week. You won't eat,
you won't drink, you won't do any-
thing. I just hope it goes well, and
I think it's going to be a grueling,
punishing season. But I think also,
when you have an opportunity to
compete with the best, you are
going to get better too. I look for-
ward to building our program all
the same.
TMD: Do you feel like there's a
culture change that has to happen
with this program?
TM: It's hard for me to say
because I can only talk about the

element I'm in and what I deal
with every day with our guys. I
do know there are some things we
need to acclimate to. That matters
most to me, thatcevery day interac-
tion, how we behave and how we
are going to perform before we
start involving the competition.
TMD: You've been moving up
the coaching ranks, do you feel
like you are at the top now?
TM: I really do feel like I'm in
the best conference in the country.
I look at fan support, quality of the
coaches, the way the teams play -
how productive they are, and they
are all well coached. They all have
amazing home environments and
venues, and they all have great
players. It's fun though, because I
think we have a great thing going
here and it's fun to be a part of.
TMD: How excited are you to
just start playing and see where
your team is at?
TM: Finally, you get to do your
job! Between today and March
24 (when Miles was hired) seems
like a lifetime ago. It's not like
you get to play golf all summer
and mess around. We tried to put
Nebraska basketball on the fore-
front and build a brand a little bit.
It's just amazing that journey and
how much life has been lived in
this short amount of time. Now
we finally get to do what we are
here to do.

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