Notebook: New strength coach has Wolverines slimming down

Said Alsalah/Daily
Zack Novak plays against Purdue on February 26, 2009. Buy this photo

BY JOE STAPLETON
Daily Sports Writer
Published October 13, 2009

When redshirt junior forward Anthony Wright woke up each summer morning and realized the first thing he had to do that day was run, it’s safe to assume that he didn’t exactly spring out of bed.

Luckily, redshirt sophomore guard Laval Lucas-Perry was there to make sure he did.

“That’s just part of being a leader, waking up for those runs at 6:00 or 6:30,” Wright said.

Lucas-Perry and Wright made sure one woke the other for all of those workouts, and the results showed at the Michigan Media Day yesterday, where the two were noticeably slimmer and leaner than the year before.

And they weren’t the only ones. Sophomore Zack Novak has slimmed down significantly as well.

“Their bodies have changed,” coach John Beilein said. “They’re leaner, they seem like they’re quicker, I just like what I’ve seen from them so far.”

New strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, who came to Michigan after spending the last three years at Clemson, had a significant hand in bringing the players’ weights down to where they wanted by shedding fat and adding lean muscle.

“We’re trying to make them stronger and more explosive than before,” Sanderson said. “All of the agility training we do is to make them move more efficiently on the court.”

Lucas-Perry said the new strength coach has clearly made a difference.

“We do more lower body and core strength which helps us be more agile,” Lucas-Perry said.

Tough Road to Start: Last year, Michigan’s nonconference schedule included games against Duke, Connecticut and UCLA.

Wins against UCLA and Duke early in the year played a huge role in ensuring the Wolverines earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in 11 years.

This year, the nonconference schedule doesn’t get much easier.

Michigan will travel to Orlando to play in the Old Spice Classic, with a matchup against Creighton in the first round. Six of the eight teams in the tournament played postseason ball last year and four of them made it to the NCAA Tournament.

After that, Michigan takes on Boston College as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and on Dec. 19, the Wolverines will face perhaps their biggest test: traveling to Lawrence, Kan., to play the Jayhawks.

“ 'Wait a minute, you’re going to Kansas to play and they’re coming back on a Saturday night for our students?' " said Beilein referencing the team's game three days later at home against Coppin State. “We’ve got to do this, and this is the year to do it.”

Beilein isn’t worried about the schedule hurting his team.

“May it backfire?” he said. “I don’t think Connecticut backfired last year on us, and that was an extra addition.”

Injury Report: Redshirt freshman Ben Cronin, who missed all of last year after undergoing hip surgery, is practicing again with the team.

“I’m excited to get back going and excited to help the team however I can,” Cronin said.

Beilein said Cronin has been looking good in practice.

“He ran a 5:53 mile today,” Beilein said. “For a 7-foot-1 guy, he runs pretty darn well.”

Freshman Jordan Morgan, who underwent knee surgery in early July, is expected back in practice “within the next two weeks,” according to Beilein.