Michigan prepping for a healthy Draymond Green, hopes to continue success against MSU captain
With regard to Michigan State senior Draymond Green, the question of "will he or won't he" seems to have turned more into a wonder of "how much and at what percent."
But the Michigan basketball team isn't concerned with either.
The 23rd-ranked Wolverines fully expect to see the Spartans' captain charged up and ready to go Sunday in East Lansing (1 p.m., CBS), no matter what.
"We expect him 110 percent," Michigan sophomore forward Tim Hardaway Jr. said Friday. "The mind can do unbelievable things.
"He's going to block that pain out and go out there and play as hard as he can."
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
Following an injury to his left knee in a loss earlier this week at Illinois, Green has reportedly been given clearance to play Sunday against the Wolverines.
It remains unclear just how effective the 6-foot-7, 230-pound power forward will be due to his knee pain, but again, Michigan says it can't concern itself with that.
The Wolverines know how good Green can be, injured or not.
"We don't know anything, and I feel bad for Draymond because he's a very good player," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "But we're assuming, unless they say he's not playing, we're assuming he's playing.
"And that's what we're preparing for."
Green will be looking for his first real breakout performance against Michigan in his career.
In six games against the Wolverines, Green -- who is averaging a double-double this season -- has put up an average of 6.2 points and five rebounds.
In most of those games, it's been Michigan senior captain Zack Novak doing the one-on-one checking.
Novak, a guard, gives up three full inches and 20 pounds against Green in the paint. But he's been successful at limiting MSU's best player.
"He's a really good player, and obviously he's got a unique combination of size and skill," Novak said. "It's just one of those things, we've been playing against each other for four years now and it seems like we've been matched up a lot.
"I don't know exact stat lines, or whatever. We play a team defense, so it's never just one guy. If he takes me one-on-one in the post, I'm going to struggle, but we've got other guys coming at him as well."
Novak echoed the statements of both Beilein and Hardaway when it came to Green's health. Earlier in the week, the Michigan captain said he was hopeful Green's injury wasn't too serious, and wanted to see him in uniform Sunday for the series finale.
He added that he and Green -- both captains and current on-court faces of their respective programs -- have always had a mutual respect, and seem to enjoy their battles on the floor.
"We've ran into each other off the court a couple times, and it's not like we see each other and start yelling at each other," Novak said. "I think there's a respect there and, obviously, he's kind of the head of their program and with me being one of the captains of this team, there's a mutual respect.
"He's had a good career. As far as the rivalry goes, though, I think we're split. So this is kind of a fitting way for it to come down."
Last month, after Michigan beat the Spartans for a third straight time with a 60-59 win in Ann Arbor, an outspoken Green went as far as guaranteeing a victory in the rematch.
Novak brushed off any questions about Green's bold statement, but that doesn't mean the rest of the Michigan locker room didn't hear about it.
"Oh yeah, we're definitely aware," Hardaway said. "We're aware, the whole state is aware. That's how he feels and it's a free country, you can say whatever you want.
"We know he's going to come out there and play hard and give his best effort, but we're going to give our best effort. Everyone should expect a great game."
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