Last April, Nik Stauskass season at Michigan came crashing to a halt with a tough 82-76 loss to the Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA Championship game. The 66" shooting guard started all but six games in his freshman year, averaging 11 points per game and shooting .440 from the three-point line. Based on his post-game comments, it was clear that he took the championship loss hard. "We just got to move on," he said, his eyes clearly filled with tears. "I know myself, Im going to get back in the gym tomorrow to start working on my game." Stauskas wasnt giving lip service. The dozen or so shooting videos, shot from his backyard in Mississauga, Ontario in sun, rain and snow on YouTube, attest to his incredible drive. His quest for improvement was doubly as important as the top two players on the Wolverines, National Player of the Year, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., were both selected as first-round picks in this past Junes NBA Draft. With their departure, someone had to emerge on the team to pick up the slack and Stauskass work ethic would not allow it to be anyone else but him. "It just comes from me loving the game," he said. "I enjoy playing basketball, so its not really work for me. I enjoy getting better and anytime you go out there and see yourself being successful, it motivates you to try even more and get even better. Its kind of like a cycle for me - the better I get, the more I want to work." Already established as one of the best shooters in college basketball, Stauskas spent the summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, rounding out his game. Working on his ball-handling to take defenders off the dribble and finish at the rim, he also added 16 pounds of muscle to his lithe frame. The result of his efforts was something no one expected him to do, by averaging 18.2 points in his first 11 games of the season. When met with stiffer competition in the Big 10 Conference, he led the Wolverines to a 9-1 record in one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA, all of which translated into Michigan moving up the national rankings and garnering the sophomore a spot on the Naismith Award Midseason Top 30 list. "Ive never really had recognition like that before," Stauskas said. "To be put in that group with those guys, its an honour. Theyre all really talented and its a prestigious award. Im happy that I can be there and that my work is paying off." Yet as Stauskass talent continues to develop with increased freedom and responsibility, opposing coaches have recognized this, as well. In some games, he has been neutralized as defences key in on Michigans primary threat. "I think the biggest challenge for me personally has just been addressing the way teams have been defending me," he said. "A lot of teams have been preparing for me, more than anyone else on our team. Getting double-teamed and being face-guarded has been an adjustment for me, cause Ive never had to deal with that before. Its made me work harder in a lot of areas I havent had to work on before." Stauskass growth, however, isnt solely physical, as he has had to make the adjustment to being a leader on his team. "Its tougher to pick up the rest of the team and stay positive and encourage everyone else while you struggle personally," Stauskas. Yet, he recognizes its a necessary adjustment to take his team and game to the next level. His focus and drive to succeed wont allow him to think otherwise. This April, Stauskas has similar visions on what another Michigan group of fabulous freshmen accomplished in consecutive seasons - back-to-back trips to the NCAA Championship game. "After the loss we had in the Final Four, obviously our goal is to get back there and win that championship game," he said. "At the same time, we came two points away from winning a Big 10 Championship. Those are both goals I want to achieve coming back this year. The way were playing right now, I think were right on pace to do that, we just have to keep working hard." http://www.themichaelkorshandbagsoutlet.com/michael-kors-hobo-outlet/
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. DeMar DeRozan had 13 points and Terrence Ross added 12 for the Raptors. Gerald Wallace led the Celtics with 16 points, and Jared Sullinger had 14 with six rebounds. The 36-year-old Stevens was hired in July after a successful run at Butler University.ATLANTA -- Russ Smith looked at the scoreboard, then at the clock, then over at the bench. Louisville needed a run, but he had no idea where it was going to come from. The starters were struggling, the fouls were piling up and the only lift injured Kevin Ware could give the top-seeded Cardinals was an emotional one. "It was like, Man," Smith said. "I was actually waiting for our run. And it happened. Luke exploded. That was actually what I was waiting for. Then Chane exploded. Then Peyton made a big layup. Then Tim Henderson. It just kept going and going." And Louisville rode it all the way to the title game. Luke Hancock scored 20 points off the bench, Henderson sparked a second-half rally with a pair of monster 3s and Louisville reminded everyone it can grind it out, too, advancing to the NCAA title game Saturday night after escaping with a 72-68 victory over Wichita State. Louisville will play Michigan, which beat Syracuse 61-56 in the other semifinal, for the national championship Monday night. The Cardinals (34-5) have had this game in their sights since losing to Kentucky in last years Final Four, and they got added motivation after Wares tibia snapped during last weekends Midwest Regional final, the bone poking through the skin. Ware was on his feet when the final buzzer sounded, grinning and throwing his arms into the air. "Weve got to bring our best game," Ware said. "Its the last game of the season. If we lose, everything weve worked for just goes down the drain. Thats the last thing we want right now." Especially after such a close call against the ninth-seeded Shockers (30-9), who nearly pulled off their biggest upset of all. Wichita State had knocked off No. 1 seed Gonzaga and Ohio State on its way to its first Final Four since 1965, and the Shockers had a 12-point lead on Louisville with 13:35 to play. It was the largest deficit all tournament for the Cardinals, who seemed lost after the emotional week following Wares gruesome injury. But Louisville had come back to win five games after trailing by nine points or more already this year, including rallying from a 16-point deficit in the title game at the Big East tournament. Even coach Rick Pitinos horse, Goldencents, had to rally to win the Santa Anita Derby, and a spot in the Kentucky Derby, on Saturday. This rally trumped them all. "We just played super hard," said Smith, who led the Cardinals with 21 points. "Nobody wanted to go home." Henderson, the walk-on who was forced into increased playing time because of Wares injury, made those back-to-back 3s to spark a 21-8 run. While Hancock and Behanan were knocking down shots, Smith and Peyton Siva were turning up the heat on the Shockers, forcing them into seven turnovers in the final seven minutes after theyd gone more than 26 minutes without one. The first came when Siva darted in to strip the ball away from Carl Hall. Siva fed Hancock, who drilled a 3 that gave Louisville a 56-55 lead, its first since the end of the first half. "Down the stretch, we were just loose with the ball, we just didnt take care of it, pretty much," said Wichita States Malcolm Armstead, who had just 2 points on 1-of-10 shooting. "I cant give you an explanation -- it just happened." Cleanthony Early would give the Shockers one more lead, converting a three-point play. But Siva scored and then Smith stole the ball and took it in for an easy layup that gave Louisville a 60-58 lead with 4:47 left. Louisville fans erupted, and even Ware was on his feet, throwing up his arms and clapping. The Cardinals extended the lead to 65-60 on a tip-in of a Smith miss and another 3 by Hancock. Wichita State had one last chance, pulling within 68-66 on Earlys tip in with 22 seconds left. But the Shockers were forced to foul, and Smith and Hancock made their free throws to seal the victory. As the final buuzzer sounded, Chane Behanan tossed the ball high into the air and Henderson and Hancock did a flying shoulder bump at midcourt.dddddddddddd "Its just a mix of emotions, of feelings. It hurts to have to lose and be the end of the season," said Early, who led the Shockers with 24 points. "But these guys fought to the end, and we had a great season and keep our heads high and know the grind doesnt stop." Chadrack Lufile of Burlington, Ont., had two points and an assist for Wichita in three minutes of play. Teammate Nick Wiggins, from Toronto, scored two points in a minute of work for the Shockers. The Cardinals were the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, and they steamrolled their way through their first four games, winning by an average of almost 22 points. They limited opponents to 59 points and 42 per cent shooting while harassing them into almost 18 turnovers a game, setting an NCAA tourney record with 20 steals against North Carolina A&T. The presence of Ware was supposed to provide even more motivation for Louisville. He urged his teammates to "just go win the game" before being wheeled off the court on a stretcher last weekend. Three days later, he joined the Cardinals as they made the trip to the Final Four in Atlanta, Wares hometown. The Cardinals have modified their warm-up T-shirts in Wares honour -- they now read "Ri5e to the Occasion," with Wares No. 5 on the back. He had a seat at the end of the bench, his right leg propped up on towels, and every one of the starters went to shake his hand after being introduced. But whether it was the roller-coaster of the last week, the expectations or just Wichita State, the Cardinals seemed out of sorts much of the night. Wayne Blackshear and Gorgui Dieng went scoreless, and Siva was just 1-of-9. "Theres a reason our starters played poorly, because Wichita State is that good," Pitino said Wichita State may not have the names or pedigree of a Louisville, Syracuse or Michigan. But what the Shockers lacked in star power they more than made up for in hustle and heart. This, after all, was a team with one player (Carl Hall) who salvaged his career after working in a light bulb factory and two more (Armstead and Ron Baker) who paid their own ways in their first years. The Shockers barely seemed to notice that vaunted Louisville press until the final minutes of the game. They didnt rush shots, working it around until they got a look they liked -- Louisville was called for more than one foul late in the shot clock, including one on Smith with only a second left -- and they were relentless on the backboards. And that "play angry" defence? Now the Cardinals have an idea of how their opponents have felt. Wichita State bottled Louisville up inside, never letting Gorgui Dieng be a factor, and the Cardinals were continually forced to put up awkward and bad shots from outside. "We were kind of waiting to make our run," Hancock said. "Obviously youre a little concerned when youre down by 12 in the second half. We just had to turn up our intensity, maybe gamble a little more." Louisville was struggling so badly that Ware actually got out of his seat at one point, hobbling over to the Louisville huddle. "He just wanted to tell us that we needed to pick it up," Siva said. "We know how much it would mean for him to be out there. He just tried to give us whatever we needed, the extra motivation, the extra boost to get over the hump. Thats what he did." The Shockers have had trouble hanging onto leads, and this game was no different. After Hendersons 3s, the Cardinals were off and running, all the way to the last game of the season. "Coach Pitino kept telling us to go out there and have fun and keep playing and we were going to win. Stop hanging our heads," Siva said. "Thats what we did." ' ' '