Player Comments from U-M Men's Basketball Media Day

Chris Young | Leon Jones | Rotolu Adebiyi
Herb Gibson | Ron Garber | Mike Gotfredson | LaVell Blanchard
Gavin Groninger | Bernard Robinson Jr. | Avery Queen | Josh Moore
Colin Dill | Marcus Bennett | Dommanic Ingerson | Chuck Bailey

Senior Forward and Captain Chris Young

On changes this year ... "Just the renewed enthusiasm. I mean, everybody's excited about being here. There's almost an energy, you can feel it. It's been building up the past couple weeks toward practice tomorrow. You can feel the excitement."

On coach Tommy Amaker's influence on team enthusiasm ... "It started out being Coach Amaker, it's just the way he is -- his energy, his enthusiasm -- but after that it kind of rubbed off on the captains. Then it kind of rubbed off on the juniors, then the sophomores, then the freshmen and now everybody's just kind of anxious and ready to go."

On the team's new enthusiasm ... "It makes it that much more fun. It makes it that much more fun when you have to get up at 5:30 in the morning to be at weights by 6:30. You know we're building towards something right now."

On what he will bring to the team as a captain ... "Just leadership and experience. I've been through any and every thing you could possibly dream of in the past three years and I've just got to be able to show the younger guys how to deal with different things."

On what he is looking forward to this season ... "I'm most looking forward to practice starting. But as far as games go, just getting out there and showing everyone in the Big Ten and in the country what Michigan is capable of doing."

Senior Guard and Captain Leon Jones

On his teammates and Coach Amaker ... "Well, it's a new coach so it's a new start and I'm really excited about that. I don't think a captain really has to be the guy to score all the points. I guess it says something about my teammates that even though I didn't have a good year last year due to a lot of circumstances that they still have faith in me as a leader, so I feel honored."

On how his experiences have made him a better captain ... "I think all the experience I've had since I've been here has prepared me to be a captain. I've been probably one of the oldest guards since I've been here and have been through three coaches, but all the trials and tribulations have helped me."

On his goals for his last season ... "I'm proud of this team. There are three captains who are seniors but there's also three other seniors on the team. I think it is very important that we have that kind of leadership. It's not coming just from the captains but it's coming from six individuals on this team. Leadership can take you a long way and I think that's what's going to be pretty strong with this team. Even the juniors on the team, Gavin (Groninger) and LaVell (Blanchard), they step up so I think that's going to help us in the key to win some games and to help put Michigan back on the map."

On his role on the court ... "When I'm out there I'm going to be very aggressive. It's my last year and I do have a sense of urgency. I think it's probably going to be the best year of my four years here. There's a lot of changes, a lot of changes for the better, and I'm just looking forward to our last go-around."

On Coach Amaker ... "I think we kind of hit it off when he first came here at his first press conference. He called me 'Hollywood' instead of Leon and ever since then we've kind of had a little bond. We've talked a lot and he's instilled a lot of confidence in me. He really looks to me to do some things this year and I'm really excited to have him around. I think he's a great guy and a great individual. He's turned this program around so far since he's been here this year and I think the future of this program is safe in his hands."

Senior Forward and Captain Rotolu Adebiyi

On how it feels to be named a captain ... "I mean, it is Michigan basketball. Being named captain of the Michigan basketball team is just a great honor because of the precedents that's been set by previous teams. No matter what happens this is going to be a great program, not just as far as basketball, but also for football and all the other sports. Especially under Coach Amaker, this is an honor because he's a really great guy. I'm really honored also because it was kind of a team decision and the coaches had some say in it, too."

On what he tries to do for the team when he's not on the court ... "Well, even as far as last year is concerned, I wasn't a captain but I've just always seen myself as a leader. I try to do things off the court and even during games I try to help my teammates. I help them keep their heads in the game. If I see somebody make a mistake, you can always correct them and say, 'Don't do this, you need to be more aggressive' and such. As long as you're giving people constructive criticism people listen to you. If I show that I, myself, am a leader and can prove that to them, then they'll listen to me and I can help them on or off the court."

On how he feels about the new coaching staff ... "I'm getting along with Coach Amaker really well ... and along with the rest of the coaching staff. Since the first day they came in, they've had a good rapport with the team. As far as the whole team is concerned, we all feel really good that they're here. They've been doing a great job, working hard. The recruiting class for this upcoming year is already looking really good. Just the things that they've worked with us on, it's just really good. Basically, I have no complaints about the coaches."

Fifth-Year Senior Guard Mike Gotfredson

On what it means to come back as a fifth-year senior ... "It was a choice where I just wanted to see how last year played out. I wanted to see if I could have any more opportunities this year to finish up my basketball career. I tell everyone I don't want to be 40 watching television and think I had one more year left. I'm just trying to come back and have some fun this year and hopefully win a few games. That's kind of what I'm looking forward to, just a winning atmosphere."

On how he feels he fits into the team this year ... "Last year was kind of interesting because sometimes they'd just throw me in there and other games I didn't play at all. I think this year is going to be more of the same. My role is just going to be to try to make the other players better. At the same time, I'm going to keep working as hard as I can. If the coaches feel I deserve some minutes or they put me in, hopefully I'll be ready for that. Make sure I know all the plays."

On how the transition was for him from Calvin College to Michigan ... "The biggest change for me was really managing your time. With a Division I basketball team, Big Ten, it's incredibly important to get all of your things in order, in terms of academics and basketball. You're competing in basketball for three hours with some of the best athletes in the country. Then you're taking classes that are supposedly some of the best in the country as well. I think it was an adjustment for me as in terms of really focusing and saying this is what I want to do and really putting a lot of effort into that. There's not a lot of free time, but it's been fun. It's been challenging and fun at the same time."

Senior Forward Herb Gibson

On being a senior leader ... "We all know what it takes. We've been there before and want to bring everyone together as a team."

On Coach Amaker ... "He started a new fire. He's an energetic person and it all starts from the coach. Now we want to work hard and step up our games."

On the looking ahead on the schedule ... "We really want to take it one game at a time. Oakland is the first one, so I'm looking forward to that."

On his contribution to the team ... "I'm going to compete out there everyday, and as long as everyone is competing it will make everyone better."

Senior Forward Ron Garber

On preparing for the season ... "We obviously wanted to work hard (in the offseason). We ran and lifted weights in order to get ready to play. Now that the season is here, we're all excited about being able to get going."

On playing for Tommy Amaker ... "He's always excited to be there. He brings with him a lot of energy and he makes it a lot of fun for us to play for him. He has an instant credibility because of what he's accomplished. You've got to listen to a guy like that."

On gaining the support of the student body ... "Having the Maize Rage behind us really creates an atmosphere in the gym. It makes a huge difference to know they're behind us, and the players can really feed off of that energy."

Junior Forward LaVell Blanchard

On the difference in the atmosphere from last year to this year ... "I can't really put my finger on it. It's something different. I don't know what it is. If I did it'd be a better answer but I don't have an answer to that. There's just something different about the people in the program, around the program. There's just something different about the team this year."

On what he has learned about Tommy Amaker over the past few months since his hiring ... "I think he's a great person. That's what I see right now. We haven't really gotten a chance to be on the court as much as I'd like to be because it's the offseason. Off the court, he's a great person, a great man."

On what the renovations of Crisler Arena do for the team ... "I don't know. Right now, we haven't really seen the locker room finished yet. I can't wait to see the fans in the new seats. Those are all little things. Mostly, we really respect what they did as a university to help us out. They gave us these beautiful things. Now we have to get wins for them."

On if he thinks Michigan can make it to the NCAA Tournament this season ... "I believe so. I think Michigan has great tradition. We have a great team right now. With Coach Amaker leading us, we should jump on his back and do what he says. That's the main thing."

Junior Guard Gavin Groninger

On getting to know his teammates ... "In years past, we haven't gotten to know each other as well, but this year we're moving forward and we do know each other well. It's important for chemistry. Some of the team experience is on the court and some of it is off the court. There's going to be good times and there's going to be bad times, but the better you know each other as a team, the easier both those types of times are to get through."

On Coach Amaker ... "The thing I respect the most about Coach Amaker is he'll be the first one to jump on you if you aren't doing something right, but he's also not afraid to praise you if you do something right. With Coach Amaker, it's his way or the highway, and that's good for us, that's how it needs to be, because then we know what we have to do. His door is always open, and I think it makes you want to play harder for him, because you know he really cares about you."

On playing in Europe this summer ... "It was really laid back. We had 10 days and six games, so we had a lot of free time to see sights and go out at night. It was a really good experience. It helped me a lot confidence-wise. I've been working really hard, and I know that everyday I can look at myself in the mirror and say that I've been working hard and I'm the best player that I can be. So, I think that's going to carry over to this season."

On the exciting atmosphere around campus ... "I think people realize what a great coach we have coming in, and realize the success that he's had and where he's been and where he's from. They also realize that we have a nucleus back that we haven't had in a few years, so hopefully that will really carry over."

On the new environment surrounding Michigan basketball ... "Just seeing guys like Juwan Howard and Jimmy King come back here, seeing the all the banners moved, and seeing the effort our athletic director Bill Martin has put into giving Coach (Amaker) what he wants just shows that he wants this program to have class, and that's how Michigan should be. I think that's carried on in our attitudes and our actions."

Sophomore Forward Bernard Robinson Jr.

On Coach Amaker ... "He's the kind of person you want to be around. When you meet him, he's the type of person that you just fall in love with, not even just as a coach. He can relate to just about anybody that he comes across, and it's so good to have a coach like that. With me having mono (mononucleosis), I feel that a lot of coaches would try to rush me back, but he was so understanding. He didn't want me to do certain things, and he was just taking care of me. That the type of stuff I like. I'm just happy he's here."

On recovering from his illness this summer ... "I got [mono] at the beginning of August, and it's affected me a great deal, because it's prohibited me from doing anything on the court. I was out for about a month and a half, and I didn't play any basketball. When I came back here, I tried to get as healthy as possible. Right now I don't know where I am at. We just got some results back that set me back a little, so they just want to keep me out right now to help me get 100 percent. I want to play whenever Coach says I can play. Right now, I think I should lay low and rest."

On playing power forward ... "I'll play anything Coach Amaker wants me to play. I don't have any problem playing power forward. That would be something different for me, but I would try it as much as possible. It would definitely be a challenge as far as weight is concerned and who I'd be running up against. That's a position that I've never played before, and it's something that I'd have to strive to get better at in practice."

On his teammates being fun to watch ... "I think everybody on the team is fun to watch. Everybody is playing with a lot of confidence, and we can all appreciate that. It's great to get a chance to watch guys like Dommanic (Ingerson) and Chuck (Bailey), who have just been able to step in and show how good they are as freshmen. It's just good to be out here playing with everybody, because they're all fun to watch."

On all the changes around Crisler Arena ... "I just feel like I'm coming into a new program, like this is my first year. With the students right behind us, the better lighting on the floor, and all the banners hanging around that we can look up at during games and practice, that will all be great."

Sophomore Guard Avery Queen

On the 2001-02 basketball season ... "It definitely has a different feeling. We are starting off smoothly, with no problems among all of us. I feel good about this season. It's going to be exciting."

On how he will be different this year compared to last ... "I am a year older, I have a Big Ten Conference year under my belt, I am stronger this year, and I think my overall game is better, having gone through the initial transition."

On the toughest challenge last year ... "The toughest part was fitting into the system of our team and learning about the Big Ten. There is a huge transition from high school to Big Ten basketball. This is a very strong conference and the players were all bigger and stronger and better compared to what I was used to. It was difficult to find my groove and know my role, but I am confident about this year."

On Coach Amaker's system ... "I am ready and really looking forward to this season. Amaker is going to demand a lot from me, having been a point guard himself. He has been helping me prepare mentally from the first day he got here and I am excited to meet his challenges."

Sophomore Center Josh Moore

On what he did this summer ... "I worked really hard on improving my game. I worked on my footwork, my shooting, my speed, my strength, my moves, and I played almost every day. I used my time this summer to get in a lot better shape than I was starting the season last year."

On what is different about the team coming in this year compared to last year ... "That's easy, the overall mood. Everyone's excited about participating. This is the first year that everyone from the team has returned from the year before, since I have been here. We have gone through a lot but stayed as a unit."

On what will be different about his game this season compared to last season ... "I have to stay out of foul trouble. I have to be more positive as well. I can't get frustrated like last year. I can't be going through people like I did last year. That was part of an ego thing ... I knew I had the ability to do things, but my body wasn't doing it. I think the year layoff I had before starting last season was the biggest factor in that. I have to be more selective in my shots this year as well as my overall offensive game."

On how he prepares for practice and games as a student-athlete ... "Separation is the key for me. I have to separate my class mentality from my practice or game mentality. If I am frustrated in one area, I try not to let it carry over to another. That is the probably the biggest lesson I took from last year, too."

On how his physical conditioning has changed from last year ... "Last year I came in at 330 (pounds) and finished the season at 285. I am 305 now. This is my dream weight. I am so much stronger and fitter this year than I was last year, but I wouldn't say I am in the best shape possible yet."

Sophomore Forward Colin Dill

On Coach Amaker ... "He has an enthusiasm on the court that we can really feed off of as players, which makes us excited to play too. Having a coach like that gives us a huge boost."

On his contribution to the team ... "Whether it's on the game court or the practice court I'm looking to do whatever coach wants us to do in order to win."

On creating excitement inside Crisler Arena this season ... "Historically, Crisler has been known as a quiet gym. With the support of our fans, and now Maize Rage, we really hope that our gym will become an intimidating place for an opposing team to come into and play against us. Having that gives us an advantage over visiting teams in the Big Ten, or from anywhere."

Freshman Guard Marcus Bennett

On the transition from high school to college ... "The transition is going well so far. Michigan is great."

On senior leadership ... "The seniors have been really good. They have brought the team together and have done a really good job."

On expectations for the season ... "We are going to have a great year. Being a freshman I just want to contribute anything I can."

Freshman Guard Dommanic Ingerson

On competitiveness ... "I am very competitive when I get on the court. I feel I can compete with anyone."

On his role on the team ... "I just want to play my role and contribute to the team. I am going to carry out any assignments that are given to me."

On moving from California ... "I want to see and experience different things. I want to get involved here and am really looking forward to it."

Freshman Forward Chuck Bailey

On the transition to college ... "I am just a typical freshman with the ups and downs. The classes are not as hard as I thought they would be. As far as basketball the game is played at a much higher level but the transition is okay."

On senior leadership ... "Our seniors and captains are doing a great job at leadership. Not only have they been leaders in basketball but in other areas as well. All of them have taken me under their wing."

On team workouts ... "The workouts have been really hard. Our conditioning coaches are great and it is a step up. We want to be a great team so we are really pushing ourselves."

On Coach Amaker ... "Coach Amaker is a great guy. He is a great coach, a great person ... a great everything. We really love him."

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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