January 24, 2014

McComick on win over Iowa, MSU

ESPN college basket analyst Tim McCormick counts himself among those impressed with not only Michigan's home win over Iowa, but the Wolverines' 6-0 start in Big Ten play. McCormick discussed exclusively with TheWolverine.com Michigan's success thus far.

Here's McCormick…

On U-M beating Iowa: "I was extremely impressed. I hate to say that I had my doubts, but I really thought that Iowa would win the game prior to the tip.

"I think Iowa is really good. They are big, talented, well-coached, they've got veteran players. They've got everything. I could see them making a really long run in the tournament. That being said, the fact that Michigan won really opened my eyes to their potential, and illustrated that this could be a really special team.

"I also was just blown away by the play of Spike Albrecht. Other than the Final Four performance, I had not really seen a lot from him. I thought maybe he was playing at a level above him. He really, really impressed me.

"People focus on points so much, but if you look at his stat line, I believe he had seven assists, no turnovers, four steals, helped out on the boards. He was very poised, and he blew me away with his performance."

On John Beilein discovering Albrecht: "I have a big smile on my face, watching him play, thinking this is why John Beilein is so good. To turn to a kid like that, who really wasn't coveted at the high D-1 level. He clearly is the kind of kid who is all about the team.

"I just have the sense that he keeps his mouth shut, cheers really loud, and when he goes in, he's really excited to be part of the Michigan basketball family. Those kinds of stories make you feel good about the benefits of playing sports."

On Nik Stauskas, and his rise into prominence: "I watched him play at the Top 100 Camp, and I knew he was really good. I'd be lying if I said I knew he'd be this good. He's clearly a worker, highly skilled with good play-making ability. That's the thing that separates him from most good shooters. His passing is phenomenal.

"He dribbles the ball a little bit high, and I always wonder if somebody is going to take it. But he never has the careless turnovers. He's really good. There are other candidates, but right now, he has to be at the top of the list for discussion about Player of the Year in the Big Ten."

On Michigan containing Iowa's strengths, such as transition game and rebounding: "That was very impressive. The fact that Michigan rebounded with them is amazing. [Melsahn] Basabe was unbelievable in the first half, and I don't know if it was more Michigan adjustment, that he got tired, or that Michigan stepped up.

"Aaron White was really good in the second half. That didn't really seem to phase Michigan.

"It was just a complete effort. I thought they played great. To me, that was their best performance of the year. It really sets up for a great atmosphere Saturday at the Breslin."

On whether Michigan has put itself in position to be in the Big Ten race the rest of the year: "It's too early. If Michigan loses three straight … and it can happen. Look at Ohio State. Look at Wisconsin.

"The term I would use about winning in the Big Ten is fragile. If you begin to have this feeling like 'We're really good, nobody is going to beat us,' then all of a sudden a losing streak is really easy to have happen to you."

On Michigan at Michigan State: "Number one, I'm really excited for the Gary Harris-Nik Stauskas match-up. They're two really good shooters that don't get enough credit for all the other good things they do.

"I also think it's really important what happens with [Keith] Appling and [Adreian] Payne. Payne is probably not 100 percent, and Appling looks like he's really beat up. He looks sore when he's playing, and it's a testament to his toughness, but it also offers some really tough challenges for their team."

On who has the upper hand: "I always will favor the home team in what appears to be a close match-up. Fouls can make a big difference.

"John Beilein is every bit the coach that Tom Izzo is. That will be a really fun coaching match-up to watch.

"If you could tell my right now whether Appling and Payne will be healthy, I could make a prediction. But if not, it would be pointless."

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