Oct. 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the first day of official practice beginning in just two days (Friday, Oct. 12) and the start of the season only weeks away, the University of Michigan men's basketball team held its annual Media Day on Wednesday (Oct. 10) in the William Davidson Player Development Center. The Wolverines will welcome Northern Michigan to the newly renovated Crisler Center for an exhibition matchup on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live on MGoBlue.com and BTN.com.
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Corey Person
On deciding to return to Michigan for a fifth season ... "It was a really big decision and a late decision for me. It was about a week before graduation when we finalized as far as me thinking about coming back. I really had to mull it over and think about it, but when I started thinking about the guys and the environment here at Michigan then it became a really easy decision."
On his leadership ... "Hopefully, my leadership means a lot to the team. We have a lot of leaders, but along with those other people, that will be one of my roles throughout the season. Not only this year but in years to come the younger guys can show others the culture of Michigan basketball and what we represent here. With the combined leadership we have, it's mostly all of us teaching the younger guys what we do here and how we operate."
On the bonding with the freshmen ... "It's been great. Those guys are young and talented, and are all willing to listen, so that's a crazy combination for them to have so early on. They have all blended in and all of them are part of us as one of the guys. We're looking forward to them growing. They're all unselfish in being about the team."
U-M Senior Eso Akunne
On how being a senior changes his mindset and role on the team ... "This year more than last year I will go out of my way to say certain things. As far as being a teammate, especially through the last two or three years I have always been encouraging people, motivating people, just treating people the way that I want to be treated. So nothing with that has changed, just going out of the way more often to say something that I see."
On what he has worked on in the offseason, especially coming off last season's injury ... "I have done some yoga to prevent injury. First when I got back, I was just happy to play. I was out for so long and there was a period for one month or so where I was working out but wasn't allowed to play. I got so tired of working out that once they cleared me, all I wanted to do was play and get the experience back. Everyone has improved and we have all gotten better, so it should be exciting."
On who has stepped up as leaders this year ... "All of us have stepped up -- not just seniors, but juniors as well. Jon (Horford), especially, has let the younger guys know how we do things here, but also he has been incorporating them into the team goals and getting everyone thinking as one mind. Everyone has done a good job. The seniors like me, Josh (Bartelstein), Blake (McLimans), Jordan (Morgan), Matt (Vogrich) and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) have followed."
U-M Senior Josh Bartelstein
On his thoughts of being a senior leader on the team ... "It's crazy how fast time has gone by, but as an upperclassmen you have to carry on the program's values and pass them down. We have a saying, the old teach the young -- show them the way and keep them in line, which has been easy with these guys, it's been a really good group so far. Our whole team has done a good job of showing leadership qualities, but that is one of my main jobs right now. I learned a lot from Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass), but it's something that I have embraced and talking a lot and doing things the right way and making sure guys understand to be on time. There is a way that we do things and it's not that hard as long as you do things right and this group has done that."
On how the upgraded facilities have benefitted the offseason work ... "It's everything in one place. You can come here and shoot, eat lunch, lift, and get treatment without having to travel around a lot. You can live here, really. It makes you want to come here every day, when you can use your iPad in the locker room and shoot baskets. There's no place better in the country."
On how the confidence level of the team compares to last year ... "We are a very confident team because when you work hard, you gain confidence. It doesn't have much to do with expectations, we create our own expectations. When you work really hard and put the time in like we have, you expect really good things. We try to get better every day and embrace the journey and whatever happens will take care of itself."
U-M Senior Blake McLimans
On what he has worked on the most during the offseason ... "I was here all summer and worked on my strength and defense. The main thing that I got out of this summer was that our whole team was able to work together with the coaches for two hours a week and gaining that chemistry and flow on the court with my teammates is really what we worked on the most and that was the most beneficial aspect of this summer."
On his ability to be a threat from the outside and spread out the defense ... "I have been a three-point shooter my whole career and I have worked on that, but I don't hold myself to that. I hold myself to whatever Coach Beilein wants me to do that puts me on the floor. Whatever he asks me to do; I will do for the team. That is what I believe my role is."
On his thoughts of entering the season as a threat in the Big Ten ... "We don't really look at expectations and rankings, we just come in everyday and work hard. We know we have a lot of talent, so working hard and talent should allow us to do well."
U-M Senior Matt Vogrich
On the freshman class ... "'They are all great kids. Each one came in with smiles on their faces and they were ready to go right away and be part of the team."
On mentoring the freshman class ... "All 10 of us are helping out. We all know the culture and we all know how to help get them through it. When we pick up on things, one of us will pull them aside and talk to them, so this is kind of a leadership by committee at this point in the season for us."
On handling the pressures of the season ... "Coach Beilein is always just so calm and sets a great example for us. It's like he says, we have 25 or more people with us. So we just have each other and we talk about that a lot. Coach Beilein's leadership just shines through with us and we all feed off of his."
U-M Junior Tim Hardaway Jr.
On his role as an upperclassmen and leader on the team this year ... "I'm just trying to help the freshmen out any way I can and get them to understand what being a Michigan basketball player is all about. Just trying to help everyone adapt to what we're doing right now. I've been working on my leadership role, but so have a lot people such as Trey (Burke), Jordan (Morgan), Jon (Horford), Josh (Bartelstein), everyone has been doing a great job of communicating and trying to be leaders out there."
On how the feel at the start of this season compares to the start of last season ... "It's the same, both seasons we have been coming off of great years before that. We're just trying to have another great year this year. We don't listen to all of the hype surrounding the team. As a team, we hear it all, but we block all of that out and do a great job being humble and going out here and having fun."
On what he learned the most from last year ... "How great this team can really be. If we just play hard and work on things and get better each and every day. Take things one day at a time and I think we could be a really great team."
U-M Redshirt Junior Jordan Morgan
On the camaraderie amongst the low block players ... "It's hard to tell right now, but we have a great sense of community in our locker room right now. We all enjoy being around each other, and as we get into practice, we'll see how we work together and how we mesh together, but it is definitely fun to play with those guys."
On having more size this year ... "It will be nice having more size up front this year, but at the end of the day, we're still going to have to guard so that may turn the tables for us unless we work hard at that. We can give more looks this year on both ends of the floor in terms of the amount of bodies we have with size, as well as skill in general. As long as we come to practice and work hard, it's going to be hard to find a look that we go with that will be easy to deal with."
On each front-court player having a different skill set ... "We all bring something different to the table so that right there is what contributes to the fact that we can be so versatile. We'll be able to put two guys together in different combinations to give other teams different things to worry about throughout a contest."
U-M Redshirt Sophomore Jon Horford
On his overall health coming into the season ... "I'm feeling good. Things are going well for me from a health standpoint, and our team is looking great, so I can't complain at this point in the season."
On how working with his brother (NBA Player Al Horford) in the offseason has helped ... "Just seeing the way he does things, not even from a skill aspect but just the way he carries himself and treats his teammates was the biggest thing I took away from being with him this summer."
On learning things even while being out due to injury most of last season ... "I learned that you simply never know what is going to happen and you have to focus on controlling the controllables. Overall, it is simply about being patient and always just look to your team and realize and expect great things from them on and off the court."
On having more depth on the front line ... "It's going to benefit the team as a whole for sure. If the coaches want to play more big guys up front, we're able to do that with the added depth and skill level."
U-M Sophomore Trey Burke
On what he worked on during the offseason ... "Just getting into the gym, getting shots up, and just that repetition for my shot. I packed on a few pounds in my lower body and I feel like that will really help me out on defense and down the stretch in games in the second half."
On taking leadership from last year's seniors ... "I am just going to be myself, and be more of a leader naturally. I picked up a lot from them (Stu Douglass and Zack Novak), but I am mostly going to try and stick to my role this year and try to help the team win any way that I can."
On what he is most excited for this season ... "Just to get started. This offseason felt so long for me, but we have a lot of options this season and I know that a lot of people are ready and excited to see us play. Just getting out there on the court with the guys and getting a feel for the real game again is something that I am really looking forward to."
U-M Redshirt Freshman Max Bielfeldt
On what he learned from redshirting his freshman season ... "The biggest thing I learned was how the college game works. Some of the specific things would be new things that you didn't learn in high school -- stepping it up on defense, different kinds of offense, some of the complex plays we have that high school coaches don't expect their team to be able to do, as well as how we scout the other teams, and learning from Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass) how to lead at the college level. In high school, we had guys on the court who were there just for the fun of it, but having guys who are serious about basketball and have that ego, which is good, is different. So I definitely learned that too."
On adapting to the speed and physicality of the game in the Big Ten ... "Any time you put in a lot of work you're trying to get as good as you can, but I have definitely made big strides playing at this level. It's completely different, especially the Big Ten, it's such a physical conference. There is definitely a difference in the physicality compared to high school. If you were 6-8 in high school you don't need to be 240 pounds, because no one else is going to be that big."
On having a larger group of big men to workout with ... "The biggest advantage is the variety of experience you get to play against. With Jon (Horford), Mitch (McGary), Jordan (Morgan), Blake (McLimans), we're all unique in our own way and to guard that is good because you don't learn how to just guard one player throughout the whole season. We have every kind of big player there is, so it's been great."
On his role for the team this year ... "I am definitely a physical guy. If there is a bigger guy down on the post I can take them and not let them get inside. My ability to shoot also enables me to move around a little more."
U-M Freshman Spike Albrecht
On what he has learned from playing with Trey Burke ... "Trey is a great mentor and a phenomenal player. He is someone that I can definitely learn a lot from and I am just trying to take full advantage of that and get better every day. Trey is a tough player and he pushes everyone to work hard and get better every day at practice. That is something for myself that I have been trying to do and really as a team we have been focusing on working hard and getting better each day."
On what it has been like adjusting to the college level ... "It is a lot more physical game and the level of communication is higher. It's constant chatter and if you're not talking, you're going to be in trouble. You have to be vocal, you have to be able to play defense.
On his thoughts regarding playing in the Big Ten ... "It's a dream come true for me, being from the Midwest. I am just looking forward to starting the season as is everyone else on the team, this Friday. It's going to be a lot of fun."
U-M Freshman Caris LeVert
On what it has been like working with strength coach Jon Sanderson in the weight room ... "Coach Sanderson is a great coach. He works us hard every day and pushes us to be our very best both in the weight room and with conditioning. He is doing really great. We really work hard every day, we try to have a lot of energy in the weight room and we just push ourselves every day to get stronger. It is definitely paying off."
On what went into his decision to come to Michigan ... "The people here, especially the coaches, are awesome. The campus is awesome. The basketball program speaks for itself. Everything here just fits."
On his style of play and what he can bring to the team ... "Right now I am just working hard and trying to earn everything that I get. Just work hard every day in the weight room and in the classroom."
On how the transition to college has gone so far ... "It has gone really great. We have great leadership and great seniors, so that has really helped the freshmen out with the transition. It has been really good."
U-M Freshman Mitch McGary
On the importance of being able to begin workouts over the summer ... "It was very vital to the team just to get started and create that bond with every guy on the team. Working in the weight room and getting stronger throughout the preseason was a huge help."
On his high energy style of play, similar to Zack Novak, and what he can bring to the team ... "It's good, I am glad that Zack and I have those similar traits. I will do the same type of things that Zack did -- hustle plays, take charges, just do whatever I can to make the team better."
On the benefit of previously playing with some of the other freshmen ... "It has helped a lot. Glenn (Robinson III) has been my best friend for the past three years. I have been really close with him. Coming to Michigan and knowing someone and already having that close relationship has helped me tremendously both on and off the court. He is like a brother to me -- we have always been playing with each other so we know how each other play and how to pick each other up off the court. Spike (Albrecht) and Max (Bielfeldt) have been good friends. Spike is from the same area that I am; Max is about an hour and a half away. Reuniting with Max has been great; we have had some low-post battles in the past. I have always played against Spike when we were younger in AAU in fourth and fifth grade, and he would always kill our team. It's great to reunite with him."
U-M Freshman Glenn Robinson III
On what he needs to improve on ... "Defense is something that I have been focusing on and is a key for me, because defense really wins championships. It is important for the entire team to keep working on that part of our individual games."
On lofty team expectations and rankings ... "We really don't even look at or worry about that (expectations). We just want to get better as a whole team. We can feel the excitement it, especially on campus, but overall we don't really pay that much attention to it."
On how high the team's ceiling will be this season ... "Our ceiling is very high. We believe that we can accomplish anything that we set our minds to this season and just grind it out every day and practice as much as we can."
U-M Freshman Nik Stauskas
On his ability to play multiple positions ... "I'm just trying to focus on doing whatever the coaching staff asks of me, whether it is playing the 1, 2 or 3 position. Right now I don't think I'll be playing the point, but if I am needed, that is something I am going to do for the team no questions asked."
On his three-point shot developing ... "It's been going really well for me and the team thus far, and they are really looking for me to able to get my shot off. I know that is something that this team can use, so I am just going to continue to work at it and continue to work hard and we'll see where it goes from there."
On adjusting to college basketball ... "My teammates and coaches have helped me a lot, whether it's the veterans pulling me aside and telling me what to do or the coaches doing the same thing, everyone has been really helpful for all of us as a freshman class. All of them always do whatever they can to go out of our way to help us in any way that they can."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423