June 17, 2011
With plenty of guards on the roster, the University of Michigan men's basketball team looked for a strong presence down in the paint. The search did not last long as the Wolverines filled that need with forward Jordan Morgan.
Morgan, who redshirted the 2009-10 campaign, started every game in 2010-11. He led the Wolverines in field goal percentage (.627), offensive rebounds (73) and blocked shots (19), ultimately landing him on the UMHoops.com All-Big Ten Freshman team.
The 6-8 Detroit native did not attempt any three-point field goals last season, focusing his energy on shutting down the opposing big men of the Big Ten. He helped U-M to a fourth-place conference finish -- the best since a third-place finish by the 2002-03 squad -- and an NCAA Tournament bid.
MGoBlue.com caught up with Morgan this week for an exclusive interview to discuss everything from what he learned redshirting as a true freshman to the goals set for the upcoming season.
On transition from redshirting to starting ... "It was a big transition. There is a lot of stuff that you need to learn. Going from high school to college, it's a completely different game. Game experience is really important, and the more games that I got under my belt the more comfortable I felt."
On what he learned observing during his redshirt season ... "The transition really helped. I was able to practice and learn the intensity that you need. I was able to go to different places with the team and see the environments that we play in and watch the game and get comfortable with it. When the time came the next year for me to play, I wasn't caught off guard because I had seen a lot of that stuff already."
On playing against other big men in the Big Ten ... "You try not to think about who you are going up against. You don't want to be intimidated. But it is some of the best competition in the country, so I try to embrace that and win my individual battle every game to help my team win. I like to embrace the challenge and go up against this competition and prove that I can play with anybody."
On impact of playing in the NCAA Tournament ... "Playing in the tournament was a great experience. The whole environment -- the arena -- is just a buzz. We had so much support from all of our fans and so many people made it down there; it was incredible. Getting there and getting a taste of it, getting so close to advancing, it made everybody so much hungrier. We were so close to going to the Sweet 16, and we realized that if we just play our game and play together, we can do anything. That is what the coaches have been telling us from the beginning. Being so close is really motivating us to work that much harder."
On communication with incoming freshmen ... "You talk to them, just make sure everything is going well. Before you go to college you want to make sure you enjoy your little bit of time off, but you can't stop working. I check on everybody, all my teammates, just to see how everything is going and how workouts are going. You try to get with everyone that you can. I'm able to get with Carlton (Brundidge) and get him into the things that we do in practice since we're both from Detroit."
On maintaining his high level of field goal percentage ... "Jon Sanderson will help, and has helped, me get a lot stronger. I've also been doing a lot of work on my jump shot, making it smooth and consistent and adding more confidence in it. I've been working on being able to score in different ways, and on my conditioning and my footwork, just to be an all-around better player. The majority of the shots that I've been taking haven't been three-pointers, but I do take some in practice. I want to get to where my mid-range jump shot is consistent before I step it out to shoot threes. I still shoot some three-pointers, but that's not my main focus at this point. It's important that I make sure I have to be guarded next year, because lots of times other teams would not guard me out by the three-point line. It's important that I make them guard me to keep them honest, but getting my mid-range jump shot consistent is the most important."
On team and personal goals for upcoming season ... "I haven't set any solid goals. When everybody gets back we'll sit down and set some team goals. Going forward, I'll probably sit down by myself and set some personal goals. But I am just going to continue doing what I can and improve every day."
On relationship with Darius Morris after being his roommate for two years ... "Darius was my roommate and my best friend. We had a connection off the court and on the court. The point guard and center are two of the more important positions, especially for Coach Beilein, so we went through a lot together. We always helped each other and supported each other while he was here. When it came to school or anything else, we were there for each other. Now, it's not going to change. We still support each other. I talk to him a lot, ask him about workouts and how his life is going. He's really busy with workouts right now, so I probably only talk to him once a week. I talk to him about where he's been, where he's going, about his workouts, how his body's feeling, but we stay in touch and I feel a little bit connected to him. I support him 100 percent. He's my best friend. He's not just my teammate or my roommate, but my best friend."
2011 Summer Basketball Q&A Series: Catching Up with the Wolverines
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423