The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 81 stuff like this on TV. It's still a little bit surreal to me. It's stuff I'll never forget. "People tell me, 'Just have fun out there. Be yourself.' When you're be- ing yourself, it makes the game a lot easier." STRIKING THE BALANCE Molding the game without muting the personality no doubt injects the "interesting" into the fine line Beilein walks in nurturing Poole as a college talent. Poole himself recognizes the ongo- ing effort. "He recruited me, and he knew who I was as a kid coming into col- lege," Poole observed. "He's the head coach, and I'm going to listen to him no matter what. But just accepting me as a person and not changing me as a person is a huge key. "If I'm out there being myself, and the other players are out there being themselves and having fun, we have a personality on the court. It's some- thing we love to do. We just love play- ing basketball. That's a huge key." Those words could have come right from Rose's mouth, nearly 30 years ago. Beilein runs a tighter ship, but his greatest on-court concern in- volves making sure Poole progresses in all the fundamental areas to help his team win. "He is growing every day in what we feel winning basketball looks like," Beilein said. "He's got so much talent. It's really encouraging. But there will be setbacks. … There are moments they regress, and you've got to bring them back in." Unlike in high school ball, college coaches enjoy the resources to ex- tensively scout and identify tenden- cies, which can then be exploited. The book on Poole includes a couple of chapters the head coach hopes the rookie rips out in the coming days. "He's been beaten back door sev- eral times," Beilein noted. "I say, 'Do you think that's coincidence, or does every coach say, man, Jordan Poole is going to overplay too much and get beat back door?' "Now your staff can be watching video and giving input. There are a lot of things going on that he's never seen before, that he has to adapt to." Again, there's no public pushback from the rookie, who recognizes his need for knowledge to combine with burgeoning ability. "There's some stuff in practice that we've probably been over 500 times, and I'm looking like, 'What is this?'" Poole offered. "You ask questions, you talk to [redshirt sophomore] Charles [Matthews], and Ham, and Coach. They're so willing to help. "That goes back to experience. I didn't know anything about the scheme or the stunts, or how to be in the perfect position. Playing more and understanding what Coach wants, just seeing the floor as a freshman, is key and really paying off." Fifth-year se- nior Duncan R o b i n s o n saw the light g o o n f o r Poole earlier in the season. " J o rd a n h a s picked it up," Rob- inson said. "It takes time for every freshman, but there was a turning point earlier in the year where it just kind of started to click. "He's super talented. There's no shortage of talent. He's only go- ing to get better as he continues to embrace that learning aspect of it." As he embraces, he's em- braced. That's certainly true of Poole at his best, when he's supplying the lightning bolt jolt to a run or a rally. "It's being happy and bring- ing joy to others, putting a smile on their face," he said. "Those are the shots you live for, when you're wide open. You want those to drop, and the crowd goes crazy." ❏ Poole drained five three-pointers en route to a career-high 19 points in his Big Ten debut versus Indiana Dec. 2. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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