The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview each of his first two seasons at Michigan, but took the floor at the opening of just 12 of 35 games last year. Even so, he played more minutes (1,065) than he ever has. Douglass drilled the three-point dagger in the closing seconds of Michigan���s win at Michigan State, and played all 40 minutes of the Wolverines��� cliffhanger in the NCAA Tournament against Duke. Morris��� departure leaves open the point guard spot, from which Douglass can supply strong three-point shooting and very solid defense. But the buzz surrounds Michigan���s freshman guards, particularly 201011 Ohio Mr. Basketball Trey Burke. Douglass isn���t sweating the small stuff anymore. He knows he���ll contribute, and he knows what he wants. ���I feel more comfortable with my role, and what this team is capable of,��� Douglass said. ���I guess I���m not as worried as I was the last three years about everything. I just want to win more than anything. I���m relaxed ��� not much to lose.��� And a whole lot to gain. Michigan���s coaching staff fixates on the process, the myriad teaching points that pull a team together and move it forward. Talking to that cadre of professors about next March is like discussing next spring���s final exam with an engineering prof the first week of school. ������ Senior Zack Novak ���It���s the expectation right now. It���s the way it should be. This is Michigan. We should be in the NCAA Tournament every year.��� The students, of course, aren���t nearly as wary regarding the bigpicture discussion. They believe Michigan���s basketball program has reached a point that Selection Sunday shouldn���t be over-wrought with nerves. ���There are a lot of different things that can happen ��� injuries, and who knows what else,��� Douglass said. ���But right now, the goal is the NCAA Tournament. There is really no other outlook.��� ���We all put in a lot of hard work ��� coaches, players and staff,��� said 54��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 sophomore Jon Horford. ���That should be a minimum for our program. It should be a minimum.��� ���It���s an expectation for us,��� sophomore Colton Christian concurred. ���The people who don���t expect that, we don���t have a problem with that. We know how good we are, and if we build off what we did last year, we can make it back there. It���s always the goal to get into the NCAA Tournament.��� Hardaway admitted players did have a problem with those who gave the Wolverines no shot at the postseason a year ago. They didn���t discuss it much at the time, but they didn���t have to look far to find motivational fuel, both before the season started and after they began the Big Ten campaign at 1-6. ���Last year, it was more proving everybody else wrong throughout the season,��� Hardaway said. ���Now it���s more as if people are expecting you to make it. There is going to be a lot on our shoulders, but we���re going to take it the same way as we did last year.��� Count Novak among those people. When he arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2008, the Wolverines hadn���t been to an NCAA Tournament since the spring of 1998, when he was 7 years old. The Wolverines featured a coach just in from West Virginia, one battling in recruiting the perception that Michigan basketball had slid so far it wasn���t relevant in the Big Ten. On top of that, the U-M basketball facilities lagged far behind those of schools with whom Beilein and his staff fought for recruits. Now as a senior, Novak gazed around at a lavishly renovated Crisler Arena, with all-new seating, a new scoreboard, and a reconfigured bowl. He anticipated walking into Michigan���s new locker room in a $23.2 million Player Development Center, part of basketball facilities renovations that will approach $100 million. ���That���s one of the things Coach talked to us about,��� Novak said. ���Crisler needed to be redone, we needed to get this facility built, and we needed to win to get it done. We don���t take sole ownership, but it���s fun to be a part of it ��� ���It���s been fun to watch this evolve. When senior Zack Novak arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 2008, the Wolverines hadn���t been to an NCAA Tournament since the spring of 1998, when he was 7 years old. Photo by lon horwedel This is the final phase for us, walking into Crisler and seeing how much it���s changed. It���s kind of a metaphor for the program.��� The Wolverines broke ground on a new dance floor, making the NCAA Tournament his freshman year. That was the hope all along, Novak insisted. ���It was our goal,��� he said. ���Initially, our goal was just to get back. We got back early, then had that setback. To get back last year was very important to us. At this point, you���ve got to take that next step. We���ve got to win a championship, wherever that may be. That���s next in the progression.��� If they���re challenging for a championship of some sort, the NCAA Tournament ought to be an expectation. He���s all about the process, but Novak appeared almost taken aback at the notion that March Madness is in doubt. ���It���s the expectation right now,��� he said. ���It���s the way it should be. This is Michigan. We should be in the NCAA Tournament every year.��� ���

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