July 15, 2011
As a senior at the University of Michigan, men's basketball guard Stu Douglass is determined to lead next season's team past the expectations that, once again, have swarmed the Wolverines following an NCAA Tournament berth.
Last year's co-captain -- one of two players in his senior year from head coach John Beilein's first recruiting class -- has helped lead the Maize and Blue to the NCAA Tournament in two of his three seasons in Ann Arbor. Before the 2009 bid during Douglass' freshman campaign, Michigan fans had not watched their team compete in March Madness since the 1998 tournament.
Last season, Douglass claimed U-M's Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player Award while also averaging 7.1 points and compiling the second-most assists (59) on the team. The 6'3 guard has seen action in all 102 games since beginning his Michigan tenure in the winter of 2008, starting 58 of those contests.
MGoBlue.com sat down with Douglass for an exclusive one-on-one interview, discussing everything from the preparations and goals for next season to the art of shooting.
On summer preparations for next season ... "I was home this summer. I had a good workout with Ed Schilling and Chambers Academy, the same thing I did last summer with a lot of great competition and a lot of great guys. This summer we have a lot of team workouts, a lot of open gyms, showing the young guys the offense, shooting drills, all sorts of stuff just getting everybody acclimated. It's been good. We'll just continue to team-build, teaching the young guys stuff and getting everybody together."
On communicating with the incoming freshmen ... "We've had a good chance (to talk with the freshmen). We've showed them the basics of the offense. We showed them one day, we're not trying to overload on them too much. We showed them certain shooting drills that we'll do, a lot of testing that we'll do shooting, and a lot of shots that they'll get. It's very specific offensively. They'll shoot in certain places with certain cuts, so we're just showing them all of that."
On meeting preseason expectations for the 2011-12 season ... "We're using last year as an extra motivator to make us even hungrier. I don't know if we got complacent, but I don't think we were as motivated my sophomore year to get it done, but we're all excited this year. We all want more; we all want to get past the Sweet 16 and go on to the national championship and Final Four. Actually, I'm not worried about the repeat of sophomore year. It's always in the back of my head and it's always pushing me to keep going and help the freshmen and show them extra stuff."
On ensuring next season's success as a captain and senior leader ... "A lot of guys grew up really quickly. Tim (Hardaway Jr.) grew up really quickly. Jordan Morgan grew up really quickly. A lot of guys stepped up -- Matt (Vogrich), Blake (McClimans), Colton (Christian), Evan (Smotrycz), a lot of guys on the bench -- and they've been through it and know what to expect. So I just remind the sophomores and juniors what to expect and what to do and just keep them on track to stay motivated and stay within the team. The young guys, we just want to keep bringing them along. It's not an easy thing. It's kind of a slow process with learning the offense, and our defensive style that coach wants. I just keep talking to the guys and we've been a lot closer, so it's been good."
On team and personal goals for next season ... "I've been thinking about them. I think when we meet back as a team after summer session we'll have a better idea of what to expect. The team goal is to get to a national championship and win a national championship. I think we can do that. That's the goal, but we'll really sit down and talk about that in the fall. Every year coach talks about setting personal goals. If a player is doing better then the team is doing better most of the time. If the team is doing really well then that player is probably doing really well. It's all about 'team first, team first,' but I definitely have a lot of individual goals. I think every player has to set those for himself. I think I've been too hard on myself, getting down when I haven't reached those goals in the past years, but I'll probably come back in the fall and set my own goals."
On playing both point guard and shooting guard ... "It was tough the first couple years (switching between the two positions). Even last year it got a little easier. It just keeps getting easier every single year. Some players like to be in a certain spot and get used to it, but I've gotten so used to switching back and forth that I don't really want to be put in the one spot or two spot solely. I like to play both and switch it up. The game is never boring, but it makes it more exciting to switch roles -- playing point guard and running the offense and then playing two and looking for shots more. It makes it more fun."
On the art of shooting ... "I've always thought there was (an art to shooting). Growing up, you're always taught the fundamentals and I think there's a right way, but I think it's all about being consistent. The art of it is that even if your shot looks ugly, if it's consistent it goes in. I don't really think it matters anymore being taught the right shot. Coach Beilein does a great job with shooting camps and he teaches it the right way, but it's all about consistency and shooting the same shot every single time."
On being in 'the zone' while shooting ... "It hits you mentally. Sometimes you can feel like you're feeling it, but you're still missing by an inch or two. That's the other thing, if it feels good, but you just miss it barely, keep shooting the same shot. But when you feel it, you feel it. I don't know how to explain it. It just mentally hits you and you ride it throughout the whole game."
On succeeding in final season as Beilein's first Michigan recruiting class ... "It would mean a lot to keep taking the program to the next level. I think we did a good job of that freshman year. We kind of stepped back sophomore year a little bit, but it was a good learning experience for us. From year one to year two we experienced everything from top to bottom. Last year was a great year, unexpected by a lot of people, but I think we want to take it to a whole other level again in this next year. It would mean a lot to us. There have been a lot of great players who have come through here that haven't had an NCAA experience and we could have three and keep building on this program. It would be a good feeling. It's hard to feel it when you're in the middle of it, but I think two or three years down the road when we see how well Michigan's going to be doing it will hit us then."
On rooming with Zack Novak, the other member of Beilein's first recruiting class ... "It's interesting. He's outwardly intense and I'm more inwardly intense, so we're opposite in a lot of ways. I think we can complement each other really well from a leadership standpoint, not just have two guys barking at you but really have two different types of leaders on the team. We complement each other in that way and do different things, but he's interesting. He's funny -- really intense playing video games. Josh Bartelstein lives with us and when Josh beats him in something, he hates it. It's funny. But he brings that competitiveness wherever he goes. It's been good going through these past three years. It's been interesting looking back on what we have done, not really knowing what to expect when we came in the first year."
2011 Summer Basketball Q&A Series: Catching Up with the Wolverines
• Catching Up with Guard Matt Vogrich (7/8/2011)
• Catching Up with Forward Colton Christian (7/1/2011)
• Catching Up with Forward Jon Horford (6/24/2011)
• Catching Up with Forward Jordan Morgan (6/17/2011)
• Catching Up with Captain Zack Novak (6/10/2011)
• Catching Up with Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (6/3/2011)
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423