Jan. 2, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the first time since the 1985-86 season, the University of Michigan men's basketball team went undefeated in non-conference play, and the team will enter its Big Ten season on Thursday, Jan. 3, at Northwestern with an unblemished 13-0 record. With six Big Ten teams ranked in the nation's top 25, including four in the top 10, the Wolverines begin a new challenge.
Michigan's two overtime wins against Northwestern last year provide a great learning tool for the team, as U-M's five freshmen prepare for their first Big Ten action.
Prior to traveling to Evanston, Ill., for their first conference matchup with Northwestern, the Wolverines held a media roundtable on Wednesday (Jan. 2). In addition to Coach Beilein, Eso Akunne and Nik Stauskas speaking with the media, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke sat down for brief interviews about the start of the Big Ten season.
U-M Junior Guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
On starting Big Ten play ... "It's definitely very tough once you're in conference play. I think everybody has done a great job of keying on the principles of being a successful team. We know from watching previous Big Ten games that conference games are much more physical and it means a lot more now. Everyone is just going to have to give 100 percent because there is little room for error."
On learning from last year's two overtime wins vs. Northwestern ... "You definitely have to watch film. We know they don't have Drew Crawford or John Shurna from last year, but they're still a diverse team with very smart players out there on the court. It's going to be a mental game for us. The freshmen are coming into a new type of offense that they are learning to guard. We've been doing a great job of getting reps against it and the veterans are doing a great job of coaching the freshmen."
On upperclassmen helping the freshmen through their first Big Ten season ... "The Big Ten is always a different environment. I think what the freshmen have done so well is just ask us questions and ask the coaching staff questions; whether or not they got something right or if they missed something out there on the court. They're a very humble group of young men and we couldn't ask for more. They're doing a great job right now, and they just want to continue doing what they're doing."
U-M Sophomore Guard Trey Burke
On what helps the team prepare for a tough Big Ten road game ... "A lot of film and just knowing what Northwestern does. Watching the games from last year and seeing the mistakes that we made really helps. We have to learn their offense and their defense and their tendencies. Film is very big from this day forward because every team you play against is going to be tough. It's just a matter of knowing the other team's personnel."
On having a year of experience in the Big Ten ... "It helps a lot having that year of experience under your belt; knowing what to expect going into these tough environments. It's my job now to help the freshmen know what to expect going into the next couple of games and what to expect going into the Big Ten. With that year of experience under my belt, it helps a lot."
On the freshmen getting solid experience in the non-conference ... "That helps too because they have some type of experience and they're not just going right in to the fire. They know what to expect a little bit, and they have confidence from the success that we've had thus far, so that will definitely help."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423