After leaving Sunday's win over Michigan State on the receiving end of a violent looking, yet accidental elbow from forward Branden Dawson, Michigan freshman shooting guard Nik Stauskas returned to practice Monday and is expected to be play in Wednesday night's road trip to Purdue.
"I loved the way he bounced back and showed a toughness," said John Beilein. "I loved it. He jumped right into our -- cause he didn't get many minutes in the game -- but he jumped right into our all-star game and played 20 minutes.
"I don't expect anything right now -- anything different than him playing."
Stepping in for Stauskas against Michigan State and playing 30 minutes was reserve guard Caris LeVert. Defending Big Ten freshman of the year candidate Gary Harris for most of the game, Harris finished with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field. Although LeVert's aggressiveness offensively stood out as well, but his defensive effort could lead to added time on the floor moving forward.
The extra emphasis on defense and toughness in recent weeks saw mixed results before Sunday's game. The second half against Illinois on February 24th appeared to be a turning point until the following Wednesday brought doom but also possibly a wake up call with the loss to Penn State.
LeVert and fellow freshman Glenn Robinson III each stood in to take a charge, Jordan Morgan neutralized Derrick Nix inside, forcing tough shots, and Trey Burke stole the show, literally, in the closing seconds.
Heading into Purdue Wednesday night, now with a shot at a share of the Big Ten regular season title if the Wolverines can win out, the physical and mental toughness can only help.
"We've been edging closer and closer to it every practice this year but it's still just really hard," said Beilein. "So for us to go out and do what we did -- and there's still some areas to clean up -- to do what we did in that game against one of the more physical demanding games we'll play all year, is a lot for us to understand -- ok I survived it, I can do it, and I can be better at it."
Michigan and Purdue jump it up at 7pm/EST Wednesday night in West Lafayette.
To watch video of Beilein, press play below.
Beilein talks about Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas ... and getting ready for Indiana…