A linchpin by any name, Manny Harris has added muscle to his already dominant all-around game.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated
The state of Michigan basketball often can be summed up by how coach John Beilein addresses Corperryale L'Adorable Harris, the given name of All-Big Ten junior guard Manny Harris. "If Coach is liking me, he calls me Fresh," says Harris. "If it's just a regular day, it's Manny. And if I'm in the doghouse, it's Corperryale."
Everything seems fresh in Ann Arbor these days. The Wolverines, who upset Duke and UCLA last season and then made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998, have their top six scorers back, plus promising freshman guards Darius Morris and Matt Vogrich. Expectations for the program have soared. "I don't think we're at the level of the Michigan States, North Carolinas and Dukes," says Beilein, who engineered an 11-win turnaround after a 10-22 debut season in 2007-08. "The goal is to get to the NCAAs every year, because anything can happen there."
The Wolverines' success will hinge on Harris, an explosive slasher who led the team last season in scoring, rebounding and steals. While his 185-pound frame won't resemble Blake Griffin's anytime soon, Harris increased the maximum on his bench press from 215 pounds to 250 this summer. He also briefly flirted with the NBA draft, but came to the realization that "I have a lot of work to do."
Beilein's biggest concern is point guard, where he will have to choose a starter from among three unproven players -- Morris and sophomores Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass. The Wolverines also lack frontcourt size, unless 7-foot redshirt freshman Ben Cronin and 6' 10" freshman Blake McLimans perform beyond expectations. "Our plan is to play small ball," Beilein says.
Harris, whose father started calling him Manny after a character in the movie Scarface, hopes the coach's plan also includes fewer references to Corperryale (a combination of relatives' names that is pronounced CORE-pre-AL). Says Beilein, "I'm looking forward to a lot of Fresh this season."
-- Richard Deitsch
Issue date: November 23, 2009