Sunday, February 27, 2011

Novak = Heart

I have been a big fan of Zack Novak since he stepped on campus.  He wasn't highly recruited out of Indiana with his only other scholarship offer coming from Valparaiso.  He was a diamond in the rough that John Beilein found and added late to the 2008 class, which happened to be Beilein's first ever recruiting class in Ann Arbor.  The Rivals site didn't even have a photo of him up. (The photo to the right was from when Zack was new on campus as a freshman) Zack was a 3 star player with only one offer and Beilein gave him an opportunity to play at a Big Ten school.  IU and Purdue had looked at Zack and both took a pass.

Since day 1 Zack has left everything on the floor in every game.  How many games have you watched where an announcer says, "I'm betting Indiana and Purdue wishes they kept Zack home" or "this kid is nails!".   Zack is why Michigan Basketball is starting to be special again.  This team with no seniors and who most expected to be lucky to make the NIT is now on ESPN's last 4 in bubble list.  

Zack hasn't been very "offensive" lately missing his last 14 shots in two games (before Minn. game) while still playing well on defense.  Agent 0 as we like to call him around here was 0-14 but missing open 3's he would normally hit and even bricking a few layups didn't seem to bother him much.   On Saturday he hit an early three and a late three to help Michigan get a much needed victory in the Barn against a team playing for their tournament life as well. 

I wasn't sure how the Wolverines would come out in this game after the devastating loss against Wisconsin on Wednesday.   I hinted in other posts that they couldn't let one shot beat them twice, they didn't and showed early they had come to play.  TH2 was "hot" early hitting five 3 pointers in the first half and then in the second "the Butterfly" took over by beating his man and driving to the bucket.  Both of those guys are exciting to watch and if they stay together could be one of the best tandems in the country in a few years.  But my game ball would have gone to Zack yesterday.  Hitting a long 3 when Michigan had 1 second on the shot clock and guarding the 7 foot Ralph Sampson, Jr. most of the game.   I don't know too many coaches in college basketball that would send their 6'4 shooting guard/small forward down low to guard a 7 foot son of a legend.  Zack did and did it pretty well, even getting a late steal and outlet pass to Morris to seal the victory. 

Zack played 33 minutes and scored 6 points on his 2 made three pointers.  If you just saw the box score, you probably wouldn't be too impressed.  If you watched the entire game, you would have.

Michigan hasn't accomplished anything yet and still needs wins against rival MSU on Saturday and a couple Big Ten Tournament wins, but there is one thing for sure.  The excitement is back in Crisler Arena which is worth smiling about, no matter what happens the next two weeks.

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