Beilein Wants The Wolverines To Stay Hungry

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan has the makings of a strong NCAA tournament resume after a pair of big wins, and now it hopes to take advantage of a chance to pad it.
It's been almost a week since the Wolverines beat then-No. 4 Duke and the coaching staff has been making sure the players avoid a letdown.
"People have realized we have a couple of signature wins," assistant coach Mike Jackson said Friday. "But we have to make sure we continue to remain focused."
The Wolverines (6-2) upset Duke 81-73 before a full house on Saturday and are poised to return to the top 25 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Their next four opponents -- the teams were a combined 9-27 Friday morning -- offer the chance to enter Big Ten play with 10 wins.
Guard C.J. Lee said the Wolverines will enter the stretch in position the program hasn't occupied in years.
"We're being hunted right now. Guys see us and see we've beaten good teams," he said. "We definitely have a target on us.
"We need to stay hungry."
Fans might have expected the Wolverines to break into the top 25 for the first time since late in the 2003-04 season, but they currently sit 28th. While Jackson said the team would love to return to the rankings, being on the outside for the time being has its advantages.
"I think our guys might have been looking for that, but we still have things we need to do," he said. "That's a little bit of a motivation for them, it's one of their goals to be a top-25 team.
"For us not to be ranked right now is not the worst thing in the world. It will keep our guys hungry."
Michigan welcomes neighboring Eastern Michigan, which hasn't defeated a Division 1 team, Saturday afternoon and plays five of its next six games at Crisler Arena.
Jackson stood in for John Beilein on Friday after the head coach was forced to change his schedule.
The Wolverines knocked off then-No. 4 UCLA on No. 20 in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic in New York before falling to Duke a day later. Their only other loss was at Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Guard Laval Lucas-Perry can join the lineup for Michigan's next game, Dec. 20 against Oakland at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The guard, who began his career at Arizona before coming to Michigan last year, becomes eligible under the NCAA's transfer at the conclusion of the fall semester.
The offense can use his help. The Wolverines are getting more than half their scoring from swingman Manny Harris (20.2 points per game) and forward DeShawn Sims (16.4). Harris leads all Big Ten players in scoring but the no other player, save Sims, is averaging more than seven points per game.
Jackson also said the coaching staff still is debating whether to redshirt freshman center Ben Cronin, who's played just 10 minutes in two games this season.


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