Press Conference Comments from Coach Amaker and Players

Comments from Coach Tommy Amaker and
Michigan Men's Basketball Players

NIT Final Four Press Conference


Michigan coach Tommy Amaker

On the attitude of the team right now ... "I'm pleased with the spirit of our team. We've had good practices. Sometimes that translates into good performances and good games, and sometimes it doesn't. I'd certainly like to think that having good workouts will allow you to be better when it comes time to compete. We've been very pleased with the way our kids have been practicing."

On playing Old Dominion knowing that they beat NCAA Final Four qualifier George Mason ... "I don't have to mention that to our guys, they know it. For Old Dominion to advance to the semifinals is a significant accomplishment in itself. We have a great deal of respect for their team and the job they've done to get to this point. They've done something that we haven't done yet, which is go outside of their home arena to advance. They have done an outstanding job and I'm sure they will do an outstanding job tomorrow night."

On the strengths of Old Dominion ... "They have an experienced inside-outside combination with (Alex) Loughton and (Isaiah) Hunter. They have some explosive guys who are tough and experience. They have shown that they can win anywhere at anytime. They have some juniors and seniors who play very prominent roles. (Head coach) Blaine Taylor has done a tremendous job with their program. They're very disciplined. They can play a couple different styles. We certainly feel that they're a capable ball club."

On the concerns that Old Dominion brings ... "They haven't surprised me. They're tremendously well-coached and they have a good experienced player in (Isaiah) Hunter. He's an outstanding scorer and shooter, he scares me to death right now. He's explosive and can shoot it from anywhere. He gives that team a lot of confidence and the team seems to rally from his spirit and confidence. They have inside production from their post players. They're a solid basketball team that deserves to be here and is certainly a contender to win this championship."

Senior Forward Graham Brown

On whether the team is excited to be back in New York ... "Of course. We're always excited to get an opportunity like this and play in big games. It's great to be back here in New York City and still be playing at this point in the season. Although we didn't make the NCAA Tournament, we're still playing games and we're still trying to get some wins."

On what he knows about Old Dominion ... "We haven't seen much yet. We're going to watch a little bit today and look more into it tonight in our scouting. They're a good team and they've played beat some great teams in this tournament. We're going to have to play tough to get a victory."

On the strength of the NIT field this season ... "I think this is one of the best fields they've had at the NIT Tournament. This is a good group of final four teams here and it's going to be tough to come away with a couple victories and a championship. We just have to take one game at a time, and that starts with Old Dominion."

On what this weekend means to him as a senior ... "We still have a chance to win some games and put another banner up. We're playing in a great city and any time you get an opportunity to win some games in a postseason tournament is great."

On what a second NIT championship would mean to this program ... "We really wanted to be in the NCAA Tournament; it was a tough time for us when we didn't make it. But this is a great opportunity for us and a great way we can leave our mark on the program. We really have to play hard and see if we can walk out of here as NIT champions. It's going to be fun; it's a great atmosphere and a great venue. We can't wait to start playing tomorrow."

Senior Guard Daniel Horton

On the Colonial Athletic Association ... "We know that their (Old Dominion's) conference hasn't gotten a lot of respect. I think the theme of their conference is to prove people wrong. I think George Mason is doing that right now in the NCAA Tournament. I'm pretty sure that Old Dominion has the same focus coming into this tournament. They want to knock off some bigger name schools and you have to respect that. We have to be ready to play because they're going to come out and play hard."

On being in New York City and focusing on basketball ... "When you come into things like this, you have to keep it in your mind that you're here on business. If you have an opportunity to have fun and do things outside of basketball, then you can take advantage of that. But the goal first and foremost is to win and compete, and that's what were here to do"

On performing in front of a large audience on a national stage ... "That doesn't matter to us. We just want to come out and play hard and get a victory. If everyone is watching, then that's fine. Our focus is on winning, that's all we're worried about right now."

On what the senior class has meant to the Michigan program ... "We've meant a lot to this program and this basketball team. I think we've done a great job of building a legacy and we obviously want to continue to build on that tomorrow and Thursday. What we do here is bigger for this team and this program than for our legacy. We've pretty much solidified our legacy already."

On what an NIT championship would mean to this team ... "It would mean that we ended it the right way. That's where are focus has been since we found out we were playing in the NIT. We didn't end the regular season the way we wanted to by making the NCAA Tournament, but we still have a chance to end it the right way and go out as champions."

On Michigan's success playing in New York ... We've always played well here. It's not about playing away from Crisler. Our struggles came on the road in the Big Ten. I think every team struggled on the road in the Big Ten; that was expected. As far as neutral sites and playing away from Crisler, I think we've always done well."

Senior Forward Chris Hunter

On being in New York City for the NIT ... "We've been here before, playing in the postseason and preseason NIT and other games. It's nothing new to us, but it's still fun and exciting. We're ready to go out there and compete."

On the value of postseason play for the younger players ... "I think it's great for everybody, especially the young guys. They get an opportunity to play in some more games and some more meaningful games in a tournament format were every possession counts. It's good for everybody to get that experience and hopefully they can carry that over to the off-season and into next year."

On the level of talent in the NIT Tournament this year ... "There are so many schools in the NCAA that can't get into the 65-team tournament. There are a lot of quality teams in the NIT that can make a case for being in the NCAA Tournament. I think the NIT is definitely a great tournament and it's something that is worthwhile."

On whether it is hard to get up for these games as a senior having been here before ... "When you step onto the court, you're a competitor. It doesn't matter if you're a senior or a freshman. You don't want to go out there and lose. Whatever the stakes are or the venue is, you want to go out there and try to win."

On how the program has progressed throughout the past four years ... "The program has come along way since we were freshmen. We've done a lot of great things here. Obviously we didn't accomplish everything we wanted to do, but we want to put another championship banner up at Crisler and leave as champions. We want to be one of the two teams to end the season with a win."

On having a healthy lineup for the postseason and proving themselves as a team ... "It just feels good to be playing with those guys and having everyone back out there. It's not about proving everybody wrong, it's about getting back as a team with the guys who worked hard all year long."

On the how the team has grown since the Big Ten Tournament ... "I think there's a big difference. I think we came out a little flat against Minnesota. This team is playing more unselfishly on both ends, we're helping each other on defense and we're sharing the ball. It's great to finally see this team do some of the things we need to do."

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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