After spending the last six years with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Curtis hoped there would be a chance to head back to the collegiate ranks where he began his career. The NBA had been proven to be a wonderful working environment and great training ground working for so many of the top athletes in the world.
As Curtis continued to build a reputation as one of the up-and-coming strength and conditioning coaches in the league, he began to have an itch to get back to a college setting. Following his playing days at the University of Virginia, he got involved in strength and conditioning and finished his bachelors degree in Sports Medicine from Virginia in 1998. He followed that up by earning his masters in Exercise Physiology in 2000 before moving on to Dayton and then South Carolina serving as a strength and conditioning coach.
For over eight years he continued to hone his philosophies and workout regimens. With his unique experience in both playing college basketball and serving as a strength and conditioning coach in the collegiate and professional ranks, Curtis will have his chance to get back to the university setting after being hiring as the strength and conditioning coach for the Wolverine men's and women's basketball programs.
In what has been a whirlwind first few days in Ann Arbor, MGoBlue.com sat down with the Curtis to learn a little more about the newest member of the Wolverine coaching staff.
On leaving the NBA to come back to the collegiate ranks ... "I missed the opportunity to have an effect on young men and young women's lives; you don't get that opportunity as much in the NBA. I wanted to have the chance to spend four years with student-athletes and watch them grow and mature, physically, mentally and socially. That was one of the big reasons why I came back to the collegiate ranks and I didn't think there was a better place to be than Michigan to be a part of that process."
On differences between pro and college training methods ... "There will be certain things that do differ. But at the heart of it, I'm going to try to make each one of our student-athletes better athletes so that we can enhance their performance by increasing their ability to move more efficiently, while at the same time allowing them to produce more force in the right direction and play the game faster and more explosively, giving them a physiological advantage over the people they will play against night in and night out in the Big Ten."
On his training philosophy ... "My philosophy is based on analysis of the game. So I look at the movements of the game and primarily we are going to train those movements and try to make our athletes more efficient at those movements that are inherit to the game and hopefully that translates into more forceful, more powerful Michigan athletes."
On the benefits of having played the game ... "I definitely have an eye for basketball and basketball movement. I have the ability to look at the game and think about it a little bit better than someone who may not have had to go through the day in and day out grind of practices and games as a player. My experience as a player has allowed me to look a little bit deeper into the game and understand movement more specifically because I have had to do it. I think that gives me a little bit of an advantage when it comes to training these athletes to become better basketball players."
On the basis for his training methods ... "I'm big on continuing education, so every year there will be something new that we bring to the table to help our student-athletes become better athletes. Science is the foundation of my training principles and it will continue to be, so as science advances our training will advance."
On his knowledge of the Michigan basketball program's ... "I'm familiar with Coach Beilein, I met him a few years back and I'm familiar with him. I'm not as familiar with Coach Borseth but I look forward to developing that relationship with him. Everything has happened very quickly so I haven't had quite the opportunity to grasp everything that I need to grasp in terms of the history of these programs, but I'm in the process of doing that right now and I think that is going to help me develop these programs for us."
On his first impressions of Michigan ... "It already feels pretty amazing. The interview process, stepping on campus, meeting Coach Beilein and meeting Coach Borseth, I felt like I was 18-years-old again going through the recruiting process. I've had nothing but chills and butterflies in my stomach because this is a special place and I'm finding that out each hour that I've been here. The architecture, the culture, the love people have for the Maize and Blue, it's unreal and I'm excited to be part of that and hopefully I can contribute something positive to that culture."
On the facilities at Crisler Arena ... "I think it's good. I was surprised that they had done such a good job with making the space as functional as it is now, but its a work in progress and we will continue to make those facilities better and I look forward to that. I think there will be a few changes; there will be some things we need to put in (the weight room) to help us become better athletes."