Michigan junior Zack Novak should probably never have been playing forward, at least not in college hoops. A really skilled, 6-foot-4 forward might be a godsend in the high school game, but in college? Not so much. In the Big Ten, which is defined by its oftentimes plodding, interior style? Definitely not.
But that's what Novak did in his first two years at Michigan. This year, with athletic two-guard Manny Harris in the NBA, Novak is moving out onto the perimeter, and he's making with the funny in discussing his former position:
"I remember my freshman year someone kept complaining to the refs about what I was doing," Novak said, shaking his head. "I said: 'Bro, I'm like 6-2. What are you complaining about? You should score on me every time. What's going on?' "
This goes for pickup basketball, too. There's always that guy at the gym who's like 6-foot-7, and by default (because pickup games tend to not have many players taller than 6-foot-2) that guy gets matched up with me. My strategy, being about 6-foot-2, is to push and elbow and sometimes plain shove this player away from the hoop at all times. After this player catches the ball, I will play good, hard defense, and this player is probably getting fouled. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
Of course, this player always complains. But guess what, guy: Deal with it. Don't whine. If you can't deal with contact, that's your problem. Pickup rule No. 4,508: Don't complain if you're six inches taller than everyone else on the floor. It's lame.
This rule should be applied to the college game, too. Fortunately for Novak, his days of dealing with the whiners are over. He's moving to the two, where he can get plenty of looks from the perimeter (and add bonuses in the rebounding and toughness department, rather than being counted on as a rule). Michigan might not have its best team of all-time in 2009-10, but that transition is a positive one.