Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Coming off a tough stretch in our season, our young men have showed both mental and physical toughness. Both the 20-1 start and the current No. 1 ranking are very exciting, but it is important to reiterate that neither is our main focus. Fans should relish the victories, but what really matters is who the No. 1 team is when the NCAA Tournament comes to a close. We need to continue putting in the hours now in effort to be champions when it counts.

Wednesday night was a great win for us as we remain undefeated here at Crisler.

After beating Northwestern earlier in January, our student-athletes carried themselves with the appropriate level of confidence necessary to protect our home court. As a team they executed well, improved on the mistakes they made during our first meeting, and were able to grind out yet another win.

I'm proud of the team. The defensive execution was incredible vs. an extremely well-coached Northwestern team.

Our next priority is our game in Bloomington this Saturday night. Playing in a game like this one is the reason our student-athletes come to Michigan. We are excited about the opportunity to face such a tremendous team in Indiana, but we recognize that it is going to come down to 40 minutes of execution.

The effort will be there Saturday night in Bloomington. We are going to work over the next few days to make sure the execution is in order for the Hoosiers. College GameDay is broadcasting from Assembly Hall, and the 9 p.m. start should make it an exciting Big Ten battle for the nation to see.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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We used the last week in between games to get better as a team. Our bye week in conference came early this year, and our staff felt that our team used it productively on and off the court.

Last night served as a quality win in the Big Ten Conference for us. Purdue is a tough, athletic team that is extremely well coached by Matt Painter and his staff.

Protecting home court is a point of emphasis for our team. I sincerely believe that this mentality carried our guys last night through the tough stretches of the game. We knew going into the game that Purdue would not give up anything easily on the offensive and defensive end of the ball.

Our staff loved the unity that our team displayed throughout the game. Our staff consistently speaks to our student-athletes about being energy givers and not energy drainers. With a halftime deficit of one point, we felt our team showed great togetherness in what we would describe as the consummate team win.

Balanced scoring by our starters and positive contributions from our bench allowed us to pull away from the Boilermakers in the second half.

This next stretch of the season certainly serves as an opportunity for us to show our toughness. With games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday vs. conference opponents, we will have to manage our preparation and our team's energy level wisely.

In shifting our thoughts to Illinois, the first thing that jumps out to me is their skilled perimeter attack. With players like Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand, they are a versatile team that will challenge our ability to guard.

We look forward to traveling to Champaign this weekend to take on the challenge of playing a team whose shot-making ability makes them a dangerous match-up in the Big Ten Conference.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The last two games have served as wonderful game films for us to learn from and grow from. As basketball coaches, our job is to figure out the best ways to prepare our student-athletes for competition. Sometimes the best teacher is live competition.

I embrace the process of building a team. In the Big Ten Conference, games vs. Nebraska at home and the Buckeyes on the road are part of the process of building a team.

Nebraska served as a great challenge for us last Wednesday. I thought that they did a great job of utilizing the shot clock on offense and committing to stopping our transition game on defense.

The game in Columbus on Sunday shows us the importance of starting the game well. Credit the Buckeyes for coming out strong and building an early lead.

I loved the intensity and the heart we showed to claw back into the game. The only way to get back into games when trailing is one play at a time. I thought our guys did a great job of embracing this mentality in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, we did not have enough to take the lead and get a win.

Over the next few days, we will break down the film from Sunday's game as well as prepare for Minnesota on Thursday. The trip to Minneapolis serves as an opportunity for us to bounce back after our first loss of the season.

I have no doubt that Minnesota will be well prepared for us. It is our intention to play the Minnesota game with a high level of effort and execution. These things must come together in order to win games on the road in the Big Ten Conference.

Go Blue!

-John

With the turning of the last page in the 2012 calendar and the start of the New Year, I couldn't help but get excited knowing this year would be the year that TEAM ONE will arrive on campus. It also got me thinking about what the word TEAM means to me and how I am going to convey that message to the group of young women we have all coming together in September to form the first Michigan women's lacrosse TEAM. This quote does a good job of summing up how I feel about THE TEAM: "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."

Lacrosse

Recently, I have been watching a lot of basketball games on TV. Basketball is similar to lacrosse in many ways. It's my favorite sport to watch, but as of late I have been watching basketball games from a coach's perspective and looking at and analyzing different strategies, game plans, adjustments made based on how the game is developing, coaching styles, etc. It probably goes without saying that I've watched many of the Michigan basketball games thus far, both men and women. The women are off to an amazing 14-2 start and earned a top 25 ranking in the AP Poll, and the men are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation. Although there is a lot of season left, it's been quite an exciting year thus far for the Maize and Blue. While it's fun to watch all that talent out there on the floor -- among both coaches and players -- what has really resonated with me most is the heart of the group of individuals that make up this year's squads ... THE TEAM.

The women had a change in coaching staff this year and with that always comes a big adjustment for players and coaches alike. With just a few short months to implement their system, the women's staff has done a tremendous job of preparing their team for success and managing to translate a new style of off-court teaching to on-court wins in a very short amount of time. They are winning games because they are playing as a TEAM; they are all on the same page.

If you listen to commentary for the men's games, you will often hear about how much they like each other, how well they play together, or the fun they have out there together on the court. When you watch them out on the floor, they are unselfish in their play. When you hear each one of them speak, they are always talking about their teammates and how great they are and circling back discussion to others -- to THE TEAM. They are a TEAM in every sense of the word. And while they are all extremely skilled basketball players with an enormous amount of talent, they are winning in the way they are right now due in large part to the fact that they are playing together as a TEAM. With such a young squad, it's not an easy task to get everyone in sync while playing at the same level, but thus far they have been able to do just that.

It's true, "Together Everyone Achieves More" and this doesn't happen by simply playing with each other, but player together, playing as a TEAM. The 2013 edition of the men's team refers to this as "WE ON" (When Everyone Operates N'Sync). Well said.

It may sound like a simple task to accomplish: to work together as a TEAM, but just because you are called a TEAM doesn't mean you play like one. As we look to build the first women's lacrosse team here at Michigan, the strength of TEAM ONE will be each individual member. The strength of each member will be TEAM ONE.

We can't wait to get started!

Coach Valore

University of Michigan head rowing coach Mark Rothstein will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to Michigan rowing.

Balance is an important concept in the sport of rowing. Whenever a new rower gets into a boat for the first time, she is always surprised by how unstable a rowing shell is. Novice crews typically row with two of eight rowers sitting out to "set the boat," while the other six learn the stroke in a stable environment. Once these "training wheels" are taken away, the rowers must be able to balance the boat themselves while rowing. To go fast, a crew must become very good at balancing the boat.

Balance in another sense is also important for our rowers. There are 168 hours in a week, and 20 of those hours are spent at rowing practice. The remaining 148 hours are taken up mostly by sleeping, going to class, and studying; however, there is still a lot of time left over for our athletes to do other things -- and there is definitely not a lack of things to do in Ann Arbor. One area where our team chooses to spend a lot of their free time is in pursuing community service opportunities. And this is one place where balance comes in.

Last year, our 52-member varsity squad completed more than 1,600 hours of community service. For their efforts, our team received the Athletic Department's Rachel Townsend Community Service Award. They also received something else. Through helping people in need, our rowers continually discover the importance of living a life of service. They learn that by giving to the lives of others, we help make our own lives more meaningful and special. Here is a sample of some of the activities that our team engages in: visiting patients at Mott's Children Hospital; reading to students at local elementary schools; writing pen pal letters to elementary students; raising money for local charities through several means, including the annual Mock Rock event (which last year brought in more than $100,000); visiting patients at the local Veteran's Hospital; and volunteering at Feeding America while training in Tampa, Fla.

Last month, I was at a wonderful holiday party at athletic director Dave Brandon's house.  Hunter Lochmann, our head of marketing in the athletic department, sought me out to tell me that he had met a group of Michigan rowers that morning: they were volunteering at a local "Girls on the Run" event his daughter participated in. More than 25 of our rowers gave up a good chunk of their time on a Sunday morning -- in the middle of final exams after coming off a tough week of training, no less. Many people would choose to sleep in under these circumstances. Our rowers chose to give back. Who knows, maybe there was a future Wolverine Rower participating in that Girls on the Run 5K event. And maybe someday she will give back the way our rowers gave a little bit to her.

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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On behalf of the University of Michigan men's basketball program, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season as well.

The holiday season affords us the wonderful opportunity to get better as a team and devote extra time to individual skill development. With the student-athletes not in classes, we simply have more time to improve and more opportunities to grow as a unit.

This season's holiday break was the longest that I can remember in my years of coaching. Our guys had four days at home and they all came back energized and motivated to continue to get better.

Our game versus Central Michigan served as a good learning experience for our team. It is always great to teach after a victory and based on our staff's breakdown of the game film, we identified some areas that needed to be addressed as we headed into Big Ten play. Specifically, our team must continue to sustain high-level play throughout the 40 minute games in the effort areas like transition defense and knowing player tendencies.

We opened up Big Ten play last week in Evanston versus Northwestern, which is always a challenging match up. Our staff complimented our players after the game on handling a ton of information in our game preparation. I thought the energy level and the unselfishness we displayed at Northwestern was special and contributed to our victory.

On Sunday (Jan. 6), we took on a very good Iowa team here in Ann Arbor at noon. The early weekend games are always interesting in college basketball. Often times, it is the team that starts the game the fastest and the toughest that wins.

We certainly did not start the game in the fashion that we wanted to but I thought that we closed the first half and started the second half really well. These stronger segments were able to offset the slower start to the game for us.

So many people contributed to Sunday's win, but Glenn Robinson III's activity level was undeniable. To finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first Big Ten home game shows you the type of ability this young man has.

Each year shows and proves that Big Ten Conference play is unrelenting. We have two wins right now, but all of our attention has shifted to Nebraska. They are a tough defensive team and will certainly try to impose their pace and will on the game tomorrow night.

I look forward to getting back out on the practice floor with our team as we prepare for Nebraska. We can't wait to see our fans and hear our fans tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

Go Blue!

-John

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: There's No Place Like Home

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Ulehla Christmas tree

Happy Holidays everyone!

Right now I am with my family in Los Angeles, California, having a wonderful time. The verse below from "Home for the Holidays" sums up this time of year for me ...

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how far away you roam -
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays - you can't beat home, sweet home!

Wishing you all a memorable New Year's Eve -- be safe. I'll see you next year!

Coach Ulehla

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This past weekend, our team played well in a neutral-site test vs. West Virginia. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn served as a great venue for us to compete in. We cannot thank the fans enough that showed up and were extremely vocal, rooting us on to a victory.

West Virginia is a good team and will compete every night in their new conference, the Big 12. Their team physicality and toughness forced us in our preparation to concentrate on winning the battles within the game, such as 50/50 balls, deflections and rebounds. Winning the rebounding battle 32-29 showed that our guys matched their toughness and brought the type of competitiveness to the table that will help us in Big Ten Conference play.

Our backcourt was tremendous in Brooklyn. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. certainly performed at a high level. Each player is seeing the game better this season, and each player is drawing worthy attention from our opponents each time we take the floor.

Final exams concluded on Thursday here at the University of Michigan. We are pleased with how our student-athletes are executing in the classroom and on the court.

Last night, our team performed well in front of a great crowd in Crisler Center against Eastern Michigan.

The balanced scoring and the 26 team assists that we compiled showed that our players executed the game plan vs. Eastern Michigan's 2-3 zone well. The 10 steals that we grabbed showed that the activity level on defense was high also.

Eastern Michigan challenges teams because the 2-3 zone greatly impacts the tempo of the game. Our staff thought that we combated this well by trying to beat the zone down the floor in transition.

This is a great time of year, and we certainly are happy to be 12-0. We are happy, but we are not satisfied. This team must maintain its humility and its hunger to learn from each outing.

Right now, our job is to continue to prepare diligently and to enjoy the holiday break with family and friends.

Happy Holidays and Go Blue!

-John

The holidays have arrived and everyone at Michigan has caught the holiday spirit bug. Campus has an added feeling of joyfulness outside of its usual warmth and happiness. Lights are strung generously throughout U-M's campus and Ann Arbor, casting a warm glow that envelops you while you walk along the busy streets of downtown. And people gather for celebrations of each other and life while sharing an optimistic anticipation for the New Year.

It's a great time of the year and a special time at Michigan.

Santa

This week we had our annual Michigan Athletic Department holiday party. It's a really fun event for all of the Athletic Department team members and their families and serves as a great way to celebrate the season with our own Michigan family. With the Big House as the host venue, you can't ask for a better back drop - it's always special to be up in the Jack Roth Club overlooking the majestic Michigan football field!

At this year's party, we had the opportunity to take special holiday themed photos on the "M" of the football field to remember the night, two of Santa's reindeer greeted us at the door (yes, live reindeer!), a photo booth inside captured some of the joyous moments of the night (keep an eye out for our Michigan women's lacrosse holiday card on Facebook!) and of course some energetic dancing capped off the evening just right. While a special appearance by Santa himself was a big hit for the kids, they also enjoyed the holiday face-painting and perhaps the biggest highlight of their night was the chocolate desert fountain (well, okay it was a big hit for us adults too!) What kid (or big kid like us) wouldn't want their favorite deserts smothered in chocolate?!

But while the heart of the holidays involves celebration and merriment, it also embraces the spirit of giving and benevolence and I am thrilled that Michigan Athletics recently announced a partnership with the Special Olympics. Service and charity is certainly something we focus on at U-M all year long, but this new relationship with the Special Olympics is a timely commitment to the spirit of giving. I'm looking forward to working with aspiring young athletes and getting involved with all of the wonderful events that come from this partnership. First up ... the "WOW!" experience of the Polar Plunge! (I think for this event I might just cheer on those very brave jumpers from the sidelines!)

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, cheer, laughter and love and I wish you and yours a very happy New Year. See you in 2013!

Coach Valore

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The 2012 fall semester here at the University of Michigan has flown by. It is amazing that the last day of classes is today and final exams begin on Thursday.

When our players reported to school in September, we explained to them that the semester seems long but it flies by because of how packed their schedules are with academics and athletics. Since the season began, it seems as if the each week passes even quicker, especially when we play multiple games.

The game this past Saturday against Arkansas was a good game for us. We respect Arkansas and knew that they would challenge us in a number of ways.

Our staff was pleased with how our team stuck together during the course of Saturday's game. Unity is one of our five core values, and our staff felt we showed great unity, especially when Arkansas cut our lead to one point during the second half.

Our execution down the stretch allowed us to secure the 80-67 victory in front of our home crowd. The balanced scoring and positive contributions from our bench stood out as points to be proud of.

What is nice about going to practice every day with this team is their commitment to improving. We are still motivated every day in practice because we desire to put together 40 minutes of Michigan Basketball.

Today, we take the court again to battle Binghamton at 7 p.m. There is no place like home, and we look forward to seeing all our fans this evening in Crisler Center.

We want to wish all Michigan students the best of luck on their final exams. We always tell our players to "Play Hard and Play Smart," so I encourage all of our students to "Study Hard and Study Smart."

Go Blue!

-John