6A - Thursday, March 21, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
From Page 5A
agreed to attend South Kent,
Nik had to decline.
Nik found he didn't like South
Kent, so he gave Dave a call.
"That guy's foolishness not
playing Nik Stauskas was my
good fortune," Dave said.
But when Nik arrived at St.
Mark's, he was in for a surprise.
Dave was a calm man off the
court - Nik said his calmness
is reflected in his love for jazz
music - but in the gym, Dave is
"insane." Paul compares him to
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Dave challenged Nik on
offense, making him not only a
deadly shooter, but a team player
St. Mark's featured a bevy of
other talented players, so Nik
didn't have to run the offense and
take every single shot. Dave said
that one thing he instills in his
players is that a bad shot is like
a turnover - something easily
avoided by finding the best shot
for the team.
But Dave knew that at certain
points, he had to let his best play-
ers create offense for themselves
in some situations.
He saw that ability in Nik, and
he kept pushing Nik to become
a better, smarter player. Instead
of destroying Nik's confidence,
like brash instruction might have
for most players, Nik took Dave's
instruction as a challenge.
"He definitely pushed me in a
lot of ways," Nik said. "Coming in,
I hated playing defense. I hadn't
really ever played defense at all,
and he made sure every time I
stepped on the court, I didn't play
unless Iplayed defense."
Dave said he had to "pound it
into him" because he wasn't used
to playing much defense.
"I remember after the very
first practice, he came to us the
next day and said 'I won't be able
to go today because my knees
really hurt,' " Dave said. "We just
laughed at him and said, 'Nik, get
ready, your knees are going to
hurt the rest of your life.'
"If you're a basketball player,
they're going to hurt. So we asked
him, 'When's the last time you
did running like we did yester-
day?' He said never, and we said,
'That's why your knees hurt, so
As one of the underdogs
in the Adidas Super
64 Tournament in Las
Vegas, the Grassroots Canada
squad wasn't expected to make it
far. But after seeing Nik dominate
the opponents, Ro and Anthony
"We won some gruelinggames,
and he brought us all the way to
the semifinals," Ro said. "After
that, the fact that he was able to
put the team on his shoulders,
that's when me and coach Huggy
knew. After that tournament, we
talked about it and said, 'This kid
is going to be an impact player in
college and had an opportunity to
go in the NBA.'
Dave knew even before Nik
went to St. Mark's.
"It was an AAU game," he said.
"(Nik) was playing with some
pretty elite AAU teams, and I
was on the bench and pulled the
bench - tried every single kid on
the team to guard him. One after
another, I said, 'Stop him. Don't
let him shoot threes and don't let
him attack the basket.' Every time
they backed off because (if before)
he came down and dunked, he hit
a deep three (the next time).
"He was just killing us. We just
couldn't stop him, and I thought,
'Wow, he's one of the most skilled
players I've seen.'"
And Nik knew he was going to
make it, too. Nik bred confidence
on whatever court he played, and
between his junior and senior
seasons at Grassroots and St.
Mark's, Nik knew he'd be able to
make it to a successful Division I
program and continue to work at
his dream of making the NBA.
After all the work he's put in at
the Player Development Center
during Michigan basketball prac-
tices, Nik hasn't forgotten where
Freshman guard Nik Stauskas honed his skills as a shooter through countless hours on a backyard court in Mississauga, Ont.
his love for basketball began.
During winter break this past
year, Nik went back to that back-
yard court for a short workout on
Christmas Eve. Nik was attempt-
ing to make 45-of-50 3-point
shots, and Paul was his rebound-
It was just like old times.
But instead of Paul having to
correct Nik's two-handed form,
Nik's now a better shooter with
a crisp, smooth release. And Paul
doesn't have to catch any airballs
Though Nik's in Ann Arbor for
most of the year working with the
Michigan coaches, he never gives
up an opportunity to go play on
his backyard court.
In the backyard, he's the same
player as always - a determined,
confident shooter that fell in love
with the sport on that same court.
Road to fourth straight conference title starts Saturday
team faces tough
Big Ten slate in
By JASON RUBINSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's ten-
nis team has won three consecu-
tive Big Ten titles and is looking
to keep its streak alive.
The Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten,
9-3 overall) have already won
a Big Ten match this season,
sweeping Michigan State, but
that was in the middle of the
season. Big Ten season official-
ly begins this weekend for the
Wolverines, marking a start to a
very difficult stretch.
"The Big Ten is stacked with
really good teams," said Michi-
gan coach Ronni Bernstein.
"Every team is going to be gun-
ning for us and we need to be
ready for each match."
With four teams ranked
inside the top 20, it's crucial
for Michigan not to get ahead
of itself. This year's dual-match
season has proven that rankings
don't earn victories.
"We can't look past anybody
(in the Big Ten)," Bernstein said.
"College tennis, this year, is one
where you see tons of upsets. If
you look at the national results,
you will see some surprises, and
we just don't want to be sur-
Added sophomore Emina
Bektas: "Everyone is fighting
for the Big Ten title. It doesn't
it is. Even
if they have March 23.............
zero wins, March 24.............
you always March 30.............
have to go March31..............
in there April 6..................
and have April 7.
a battle - A rill3 .
e e y n is A pril 13..................
fighting for April 14.................
the ring." April 19.................
M ichigan April 21...............
best tennis going into the Big
Ten season and will look to use
that to its advantage. The Wol-
verines have played a rigor-
ous schedule, but no opponent
defeated Michigan handily. The
highlight of non-conference play
was when the Wolverines upset
hedule bthen No. 2
@ Wisconsin gan has a
@ Minnesota strong core
s. Purdue of top play-
s. Indiana ers in both
@ Illinois singles and
@ Northwestern the doubles.
But in the
vs. Nebraska first weeks
vs. Iowa of the season,
vs. Penn State Michigan
@ Ohio State struggled to
find the right
binations. The Wolverines have
since solved that issue, though,
winning the doubles point in
their last three matches.
The pair of Bektas and junior
Brooke Bolender headlines the
Wolverines' lineup. The nation's
No. 2 pair is 7-1 at the top spot
and is always looked to for a vic-
"We know each other well
and know where we will be posi-
tioned on the court at all times,"
Bektas said. "We complement
each other well and have tons of
Added Bernstein: "They've
taken it to another level. They
are solid at the net and play
unlike any other doubles team
in the country. They are very
aggressive, and I don't know if
any other team plays like that -
teams don't see that."
The success doesn't end with
Michigan is stacked in its
singles lineup and boasts three
The singles lineup is solid
upfront with freshman sensa-
tion Ronit Yurovsky, Bektas and
sophomore Sarah Lee.
Playing at both the first and
second spots, Yurovsky has
faced tough opponents, and only
once has she come out on the
Yurovsky has gotten more
aggressive throughout the year,
taking more shots out of the air
and controlling the net.
With such a solid, deep lineup
the Wolverines are most defi-
nitely in the running for a fourth
consecutive Big Ten title.
"I expect the (Big Ten season)
to be tough," Bernstein said. "It
is going to be a grind. When you
play a Big Ten match, the energy
is different and we need to be
ready for every match."
Michigan starts the confer-
ence season Saturday when its
travels to Madison to take on
RELEASE DATE- Thursday, March 21, 2013
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