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April 05, 2013 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-05

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Michigan gets creative to simulate,
Syracuse's length as semifinallooms

0

0

For NBA probables, a final send-off

By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Editor
ATLANTA - The last home
practice for the 2012-13 Michigan
men's basketball team didn't look
normal.
Sure, the mood was loose Tues-
day, with players nodding their
heads to the piped-in music play-
ing overhead during a post-practice
dunk contest, but there were some
oddities.
Mainly the fact that 6-foot-10
senior forward Blake McLimans,
a reserve, was the scout team's
player tasked with simulating the
top of Syracuse's famed 2-3 zone.
Syracuse has such length that the
Wolverines were forced to use one
of their tallest players to simulate
Orange point guard Michael Cart-
er-Williams, who is 6-foot-6.
On top of that, Michigan coach
John Beilein implemented a new
drill for his perimeter players. A
whistle sounded during offensive
run throughs, and whichever Wol-
verine had the ball had to jack up a
shot, even if they were three to four
feet behind the 3-point line.
Twenty-eight-foot shots and
centers playing the top of a zone -
that's the type of practice required
to master the Orange's defense.
For much of the week, much
attention hasbeen paid to this zone,
put in place by legendary Syra-
cuse coach Jim Boeheim, and how
Beilein would attack it. The two are
friends and have roots back to when
Beilein coached at Canisius in the
1990s.
Beilein's offense is, and always
has been, built around players who
can shoot. He's never beat Boeheim
in nine attempts, but he's also never
had quite the repertoire of shooters
that he does now.
Is that abigdeal?
"We are going to try and make
it a big deal," said sophomore point
guard Trey Burke, the straw that
stirs the drink for the Michigan
offense. "We understand that they
are really long and successful in
that zone. My job is to make sure we
are moving the ball, not just stand-
ing around but making them move
and try and hit the open man."
As he has been for the entire sea-
son, Burke will be at the forefront of
the offensive attack. Even though
2B1 Final Four, April 5, 2013

Carter-Williams has six inches
on the recently crowned Associ-
ated Press Player of the Year, Burke
will still be asked to penetrate the
impenetrable to keep Michigan's
offense fluid. Burke's drives set up
Michigan's shooters, specifically
freshman guard Nik Stauskas, who
made all six of his 3-point attempts
against Florida in the Elite Eight
last weekend. The consensus is that
if Michigan can shoot like it did
against the Gators, when it made 46
percent of its shots from the field,
the Wolverines can advance to the
championship game.
Playing Syracuse this Saturday
instead of last Sunday makes a big
difference, though. Beilein and the
Wolverines have six days to prepare
for the zone, instead of the two that
they had to prepare against Florida.
For a young team, that could
make all the difference.
"Before, we got like 36 hours to
cram in all this information," Staus-
kas said. "Sometimes, when you're
sitting in film for a couple hours, all
the information doesn't really sink
in just because it's so much at once.
Dividing it up over five or six days
makes ita lot easier to take in."
This is a team that's finding its
stride at just the perfect time after
a mid-season swoon during which
the Wolverines lost three of four
games at one point and finished 6-6
in their last 12 games.
It turns out the answers were
never too far out of reach for the
seniors who had their last-ever
practice at Crisler Center on Tues-
day. The team had to slow down and
regroup, needing a slight infusion
of confidence to catapult it back to
a place commensurate with its tal-
ent level.
Now, afterweathering the storm
and becoming one of the last four
teams standing, Michigan has
found its stride, even if that stride
involved a 6-foot-10 reserve acting
as the opposing team's point guard.
"I never though we were in
trouble," said senior guard Corey
Person. "The thing that I saw, that
always kept me in high spirits, was
that in a lot of the games we were
losing, the mistakes that we were
making were a lot of the same mis-
takes. It wasn't something big, like
we needed someone to grow three
inches, or that we needed to be

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
A report by sports business
reporter Darren Heitner, citing an
unnamed source, surfaced Thurs-
day saying both junior guard Tim
Hardaway Jr. and sophomore point
guard Trey Burke are prepared to
forgo their final years of college eli-
gibility to head to the NBA as soon
as the Michigan men's basketball
team's run ends. The families of
both players denied the report.
Three other freshmen - guard
Nik Stauskas and forwards Mitch
McGary and Glenn Robinson III -
appear destined to have eventual
professional careers, as well.
In the meantime, this past week
has given these future pros a spe-
cial appreciation for the uniqueness
of life on a college campus.
That began just hours after the
Wolverines defeated Florida in the
Elite Eight, 79-59, as more than
1,000 University students congre-
gated outside Crisler Center to wel-
come the team back.
"That was very special," Robin-
son said. "I don't know how many
students there were but we couldn't
even drive through the parking lot.
People were banging on the bus and
as soon as we got off, everyone was
just waiting for us.

almost.
Hardaway and McGary each had
papers to turn in the following day,
and Robinson said that an athletic
department official checked in to
make sure he showed up on time to
his 10 a.m. class Monday morning.
Aside from being in class for
the first few days of this week -
the team departed for Atlanta on
Wednesday afternoon - the play-
ers are hardly normal students,
despite the 6-foot-10 McGary's best
attempts to stay "incognito," which
he admitted isn't an easy thing to
do. But the freshman is going to
try to stay under the radar for at
least another year, as he announced
on Tuesday that he's returning to
Michigan for his sophomore year
next season.
"We're normal people, and we've
got to do those things, and we've
got to get our work done," Robin-
son said, who then listed a host of
abnormalities he's encountered this
week, includingstudents approach-
ing him with ticket requests and
teachers congratulating him in
front of crowded lecture halls. "It's
been crazy. Everyone's been com-
ing up and talking to us."
This week marked the one-year
anniversary of when Burke - who
according to several reports had,
for a time, decided last year to
declare for the draft - held a press

conference to announce he'd return
to Michigan.
Spending his sophomore season
in Ann Arbor has proven to be the
right decision. Burke, a consen-
sus All-American, has enhanced
his draft stock from fringe sec-
ond rounder last spring to a likely
lottery pick in June's draft. On
Thursday, he was awarded both the *
Associated Press National Player of
the Year and Bob Cousy Award for
the country's top point guard.
And though he has excelled on
the court, his time off it has proved
equally rewarding. His time at
Michigan is something that he says
he'll certainly miss.
"That hits me all the time, really,
just because the-college atmosphere
is so great," Burke said.
It was at that press conference
last year that Burke said his inten-
tions were to compete for a Nation-
al Championship, a statement that
many around the country scoffed
at.
Now, with the Wolverines just
two wins from the title, Burke's
words appear prophetic.
"I just understood the type of
talent we had coming in and the
type of talent we had returning, you
know, the talent to put together a
run like we've put together," Burke
said. "We're here now. We just still
have unfinished business."

"I don't know if I'll ever be a part
of something like that again. I was
enjoying that moment."
Several players, including Robin-
son, took out their phones to record
the experience as Michigan coach
John Beilein and the team's four
captains took hold of police mega-
phones to address the crowd and
turn it into a pep rally.
"I don't know if you're ever going
to see something like that in the
NBA," Stauskas said. "The fact that
we have the support from all the
fans here and that they waited for
us to come back, it was cool."
Two days before the win over

the Gators, no one had a better
seat to witness Burke's game-tying
3-pointer to send Michigan into
overtime against Kansas in the
Sweet Sixteen than Beilein. But
reflecting back on that moment, the
headman lightheartedly joked that
he wishes he had a different van-
tage point.
"I wish I could beam into a res-
taurant here and watch everybody
watch Trey's shot go in," Beilein
said. "I probably would be right
there with them."
But when the parking lot cel-
ebration ended, it was back to nor-
mal for the student-athletes. Well,

TODD NEEDLE/Daily
Michigan coachJohn Beilein has used taller players, like 6-foot-10 forward Blake McLimans, to simulate Syracuse's athleticism.

A potent offense meets an impenetrable zone

By COLLEEN THOMAS
Daily Sports Editor
It's the final weekend of the
NCAA Tournament, and the Michi-
gan men's basketball team is still
playing.
After breezing through the open-
ing weekend, then upsetting top-
seeded Kansas and demolishing
Florida en route to their first Final
Four in 20 years, the Wolverines
will take on Syracuse in Saturday's
national semifinal.
The Daily basketball beat breaks
down the matchup.
Michigan offense vs. Syracuse
defense
It's the matchup everybody's
been waiting to see: How will the
Wolverines' fast-paced, Trey Burke-
focused offense handle the daunt-
ing 2-3 zone that held Marquette
to a tournament-low 39 points and
Indiana to SO points.
38 Final Four, April 5, 2013

Syracuse's long, athletic play-
ers fit perfectly into coach Jim
Boeheim's defensive scheme with
their ability to close out on shooters
quickly and cause turnovers - the
Orange causes 15.6 turnovers per
game.
Syracuse also does a great job
shutting down shooters. It rendered
Indiana's Jordan Hulls and Mar-
quette's Vander Blue ineffective
from the field (Hulls went 0-for-6
and Blue went 3-for-15) and will
look to do the same with fresh-
man guard Nik Stauskas and junior
guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
But Michigan is prepared to mold
its offense around the zone. The
Wolverines have worked on shoot-
ing from well beyond the 3-point
line to avoid blocks on closeouts by
the lanky guards, and the forwards
have practiced high-low sets to try
to find space in the low post.
Michigan likes to runa pick-and-
roll offense that gives Burke the
ability to drive off the screen, dump

it in the post or kick out to a shooter.
The zone will most likely neutralize,
the drive, but Michigan can break
down the orange defense with
good ball rotation and ball fakes.
If Michigan can get out in transi-
tion to prevent Syracuse from set-
ting up its zone or if it can find a hot
shooting hand, the Wolverines can
overcome the zone.
Edge: Michigan
Michigan defense vs. Syracuse
offense
Michigan has struggled to play
40 minutes of good defense all sea-
son, but it seems to have found some
sort of rhythm in the tournament.
Entering the tournament, one of
the biggest questions was whether
freshman forward Mitch McGary
would be able to play defense after
earning the starting spot over red-
shirt junior forward Jordan Mor-
gan.
Luckily for the Wolverines,

McGary stepped up in the tourna-
ment both by playing tough defense
in the paint and by limiting oppo-
nents to one-and-done possessions.
McGary shut down Kansas' Jeff
Withey in the Sweet Sixteen match-
up, and the backcourt of Burke and
Hardaway has been solid.
But Michigan hasn't seen a set
of guards like Michael Carter-Wil-
liams and Brandon Triche. Carter-
Williams has been the story of the
tournament for the Orange on both
sides of the ball.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore is the
team's leading scorer, averaging 13
points per game in the tournament.
Carter-Williams is six inches taller
than Burke, which will be a match-
up issue, but if Hardaway guards
Carter-Williams, Burke is tasked
with guarding the 6-foot-4 Triche.
The Wolverines saw a similarly
built team in Virginia Common-
wealth in the third round and ended
up blowing the Rams out, but Syra-
cuse's guards are simply more tal-

ented and athletic. Michigan will
not only have a tough task guarding
Carter-Williams, but playing a full
40 minutes of good defense.
Edge: Syracuse
Bench
For the majority of the tourna-
ment, Syracuse has used an eight-
man rotation, but center Baye
Moussa Keita is the only bench
player to see significant minutes,
as he shares time with forward
Rakeem Christmas.
The Orange will always have
a fresh big man in the game with
Keita and Christmas splitting min-
utes, but foul trouble could be an
issue for the two. And if Syracuse
brings another guard off the bench,
it doesn't have the talent to replace
Carter-Williams and Triche. Yet
the duo is used to playing a majority
of the game, so fatigue might not be
an issue.
See BREAKDOWN, Page 46

able to make 50 3-pointers a game.
Everything we were doing were
small mistakes that you can fix ina
weeks or couple days time.
"I was always confident, and I
was just waiting to see when we
were going to be able to flip that
switch."

THE EARLY SEMIFINAL
When: Saturday 6:09 p.m.
Where: Georgia Dome
TV: CBS
No.1 Louisville No. 9 Wichita St.

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