January 8, 2013

Borton's Blog: Spoon feeding

Eat. Just eat. No, that's not the leftover mantra from the holiday season. It's not even a leftover poster from the bowels of the old Crisler Arena, featuring a plea to Maceo Baston.

It's what John Beilein is telling freshman Caris LeVert these days. And how many of us would love to get that same message? Only for LeVert, it's not so much of an invitation toward indulgence as it is instruction toward team-mindedness.

Just eat it. It's like the Nike slogan for the corpulent, although the freshman guard isn't even close.

He came to Ann Arbor weighing 160-something. Now he's between 182 and 185, depending on the day. He doesn't hold the weight all that well, Beilein noted. But he needs to show caloric commitment, the boss indicated.

"That's really good," Beilein said of the weight gain already achieved. "He needs another 20 [pounds]. That's what he'll be working at.

"I told him yesterday at training table - this has got to be [a focus]. Would you ever go to the weight room and just sort of do a couple of curls, have a drink of water and get out of there? Well, if you go to training table, have one piece of meat and one green bean, it's the same deal.

"This is your training table. You need to treat it like a fitness center, to get stronger."

Just eat. Obviously, life is not fair.

It's not all about packing away the pounds, of course. The rookie has been a dedicated weight room warrior, and that has paid off.

"That weight room helps people go to the basket a great deal," Beilein said. "He's more confident, it doesn't hurt as much when there is physical contact. We see a great progression with him."

Beilein saw what he perceived as a different progression in passing the other day. LeVert is listed at 6-5, but another crack at the measuring tape may soon be in order.

"It just seemed like the other day when he walked by me … he just looked taller," Beilein said. "He might not be done growing. His younger brother is taller than he is. He could keep going."

The head coach noted LeVert has Michigan's two dieticians providing input into the rookie's intake, and trainers/strength coaches watching what he eats. Asked if the freshman is on a 7,000-calorie-a-day diet or anything similar (like the growing boys on Michigan's football offensive line), the head coach shrugged.

"I don't understand all that stuff," Beilein said. "I'm sure that's been spoken to - how many you want to get. I'm just … 'Eat. Eat a lot.'"

LeVert obviously reached a fork in his Michigan road when he proved too good and necessary this year for redshirt considerations. Now he's reaching for another fork, and probably getting his share of red meat on the road to March Madness.

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