Aug. 5, 2011
One of seven forwards on the 2011-12 University of Michigan men's basketball roster -- all of which are underclassmen -- Blake McLimans does his best to make a difference, both on and off the court.
After redshirting his true freshman season in 2009-10, McLimans battled with Michigan's young and talented group of big men a year ago to appear in 25 games, gathering 20 rebounds and shooting 100 percent from the free throw stripe.
Measuring a towering 6-foot-10 as the tallest member of the U-M team, the Hamburg, N.Y., native opted out of post-high school careers in both baseball and volleyball to become a Wolverine. He has continued to utilize his skills while helping to run the University of Michigan youth volleyball camp this summer.
MGoBlue.com caught up with McLimans for a one-on-one exclusive interview, discussing everything from his off-season basketball and weight lifting preparations to his in-practice competition with his teammates.
On summer preparations for next season ... "I was home for a while working out with a trainer, lifting and gaining some weight. But as far as basketball goes, I went to Baltimore for a few weeks to train with other Division I players and European pro players, just getting really good workouts in so I can play against high level competition."
On finding different practice facilities with summer Crisler Arena renovations ... "It's a change, it's different, but you have to adapt to it. We just need to keep thinking that it's going to be worth it because we are going to have one of the best facilities in the nation this upcoming year. We just have to deal with it, work with it, but we still have a chance to get better. It's not like we have nothing to work with."
On anticipation for new practice facility ... "Everyone on the team is really excited about it. I don't know how much it was, but it's supposed to be the top in the nation and everyone is really excited that we can just go there and shoot. We're all really excited to get better and about the facility."
On redshirting freshman year ... "The first year it was good because I got to watch DeShawn (Sims), Zack (Novak), Manny (Harris) and all of them, and I really learned from them. Last year, I almost just mimicked what they did and just knew that hard work would pay off and they would get me into the game. I knew we would have success if we kept working hard, and those guys set the tone for us, and now I try to set the tone for our young guys, too. So it was a great experience for me."
On confidence provided by NCAA Tournament bid ... "Everyone on this team thinks we're a national championship contender. We say it every day. I truly believe that, too. We have enough talent, chemistry, coach Beilein's great, our offense is great, and our defense is great. We have all the keys to be a really successful team, so I think everyone is really excited. It really gave us confidence last year."
On competing at practice with young group of big men ... "It's great. It's so competitive that you know every day that it's going to be a competition out there and that makes you so much better. So you go out there knowing that you're going against some really good guys that are young, but you know you'll get better."
On goals for next season ... "Obviously getting stronger. That's what I'm doing right now in the summer, but as far as the season goes, I really want to work on defense. I know in the Big Ten there are some big guys that are really strong and I wasn't as strong, so I want to get stronger and work on my defense, so I can fight down on the post with those big guys."
On working Michigan volleyball and basketball summer camps ... "It was great. It's good to give back to Michigan. They've given so much to me, and working these camps and seeing these little kids that look up to you, it's really our pleasure to do it. It's a great time and it's a great time with your teammates too, to get involved with some little kids together. It was a good experience."
On playing three sports in high school ... "Coming out of high school I didn't know what I wanted to do, that's why I went to prep school. People would ask me what I was going to play in college -- volleyball, baseball, or basketball? And I really didn't know. I liked all three of them. But it set the tone for my work ethic, playing three sports, always having something to do after school and not having free time. It made me work harder, so I guess that's where my work ethic came from."
On rooming with Matt Vogrich ... "We've had some good times. We really get along, which is good. People have mistaken him for my little brother before. We just have good chemistry. There are too many funny stories to count. I can't really think of one off the top of my head right now, but we always have a good time."
2011 Summer Basketball Q&A Series: Catching Up with the Wolverines
• Catching Up with Guard Josh Bartelstein (7/29/2011)
• Catching Up with Forward Evan Smotrycz (7/22/2011)
• Catching Up with Captain Stu Douglass (7/15/2011)
• 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