The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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sometimes to get more comfortable they have to get more minutes. It's a work in progress." The lineup is set in a way, but never really set because of the possibility of foul trouble or injury. "I would like to be in a situation where [freshman] Caris LeVert and Spike can get a little bit more time, and play big a little more as well," Beilein said. "It depends on who it is. Some games that's not the way to play. There are many games it is the way to play. "You'll generally shorten the lineup later on in the year. Every coach does that. Nine or 10 would be good. Nine is always a pretty good number." They'll have plenty of options, regardless, given the amount of talent they've recruited over the past several years. They should be well prepared, too, regardless of the tough games they'll face in Big Ten play. "Our scout team gives us the best games we get sometimes," Beilein said. "… It's really competitive in our practices. Everybody knows we're watching everything because that's how we dole out the minutes." ❑ Head coach John Beilein said of his squad, "I'm really happy with the way that everybody has cared about what we have to do as a team to be better." photo by per kjeldsen Early Picks For Best Of The Big Ten A look at the league's best players, coaches and more through the nonconference portion of the schedule and heading into the Big Ten slate: Most Valuable Player: Trey Burke of Michigan and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State. This could be the last year in college for the Big Ten's top two players, both having met the preseason hype in the early going. Burke was averaging 18.0 points, 7.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game for the nation's No. 2 team, shooting 53.5 percent from the floor. Meanwhile, Thomas was averaging 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range. Indiana's Cody Zeller also deserves some recognition for his 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds through Dec. 17, while Illinois' Brandon Paul led his team in three categories. Best Freshman: Nik Stauskas of Michigan and Gary Harris of Michigan State. Stauskas has been everything expected and more for the nation's No. 2 team, creating room for the guards with his ridiculous shooting ability (50.0 percent overall and 54.7 from long range), and his ability to drive and finish. Harris missed a few games with a shoulder injury, but had earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors twice through Dec. 17, averaging 12.7 points and shooting 50.0 percent from the floor. U-M's Glenn Robinson would also be in the conversation, averaging 11.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Best Coaching Job: John Beilein of Michigan and John Groce of Illinois. This year's team is probably the most talented the veteran Beilein has coached in his lifetime, and he's making the most of it. Beilein has gotten playing time for several while building a selfless team, and he's continued to tinker with a number of different combinations. Illinois, meanwhile, has burst into the top 10 behind Paul, the Maui Invitational MVP and national player of the week after scoring 35 in a win over then-No. 10 Gonzaga. Worst Luck: Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody. Carmody lost guard JerShon Cobb before the season due to suspension and, more recently, potential All-Big Ten forward Drew Crawford to a shoulder injury, one that will sideline him for the season. The Wildcats entered the season with NCAA Tournament hopes, but now they'll struggle to finish higher than 10th in the league. — Chris Balas January 2013    the wolverine  33

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