Player Comments from
U-M Men's Basketball Media Day
Fifth-Year Senior Wing Lester Abram
On how did it feel playing in Australia this summer... "It was a chance to play with different people, different styles of play and different rules. With a farther three-point line and bigger lane, it still didn't feel that much different. I didn't really notice that much. So it was okay."
On if he feels a difference athletically or depth-wise in this team, compared to others... "I feel we have a pretty deep team every year we're here. With the incoming freshmen this year, I just expect us to be that much deeper, because I expect them to come in and contribute and get some time. The hardest part is going to be how our coaches decide to put people in for playing time. Last year we tried subbing five people in a row. You never know, it could be like that this year."
On his and the team's conditioning... "I just played a lot of basketball. I just worked on what needed to be worked on. Within that you get conditioning. I did a lot of conditioning. A well-conditioned basketball team is one of the things coach wants. Obviously we want to run because we have an athletic team. Our best bet is to not get into half-court, but to get out and run."
On what he and his teammates think about the start of practice... "All my teammates are just anxious to play. It gets to that point in time where you get tired of playing just your teammates and you want to play against some different competition. We're just ready for that."
On his quiet leadership helping this team... "I just go out and play basketball. I lead by example. You see me working hard in practice and in games. That's the way it's been from middle school on. If I've gotten here without changing anything, why would I change now I still do speak up. Just because you don't see me blowing a gasket on the court doesn't mean I don't say anything to my teammates."
Senior Guard Dion Harris
On what he worked on most this summer... "The main thing that I thought about this offseason was getting myself in great condition. I don't think there are a lot of problems with my skills or anything. Don't get me wrong, I did work on that in the offseason as well, but the thing that I really focused in on was getting in shape. I really tried to stay away from hard lifting all summer -- just try to get out and run all the time. When we were here in the spring, we ran. We ran in the summer. I just wanted to work real hard on it and just try to get myself in the best shape I could be for the start of the season."
On being prepared to play some point guard this season... "The last time I played there was in my sophomore year when I had to really come in and play point. It was unexpected. It kind of just got thrown on me. Now, all summer I've known that at I will be at the point some this year. Coming in knowing that, and with me being in better shape and being able to go out there and play at a high level, I know I have confidence that I can play the point, bring it up and do a lot of things for the team."
On being more vocal now and why he wants to be more vocal... "I've become 100 percent more vocal in the offseason. The main thing is that it will help the team -- it gets us where we're trying to go. If I have to come out of my character for the team to do well, then that's what I'll do."
On being able to step up in place of Daniel Horton in terms of making the big play... "I definitely think I can do that, me being a senior. I feel that it is time for myself and all the seniors to step up, go out there and give it all we have for the last year, and utilize all our talent and abilities."
Senior Forward Brent Petway
On his expectations for the season... "Everyone around here has high expectations for us. We do too. We stepped up the conditioning this summer. It's going to be a fun year for us. We never thought our senior year would get here, but it came around real quickly for us. I've got three other seniors here with me, and we all have the same common goals as coach (Amaker). We're going to make it a good year."
On the team's chemistry... "This whole team is a close-knit unit. I think this year we're a lot closer than we have been in the past. We all hang out together and things like that. That's going to take us a long way. It'll help us out on the court."
On being a vocal leader... "Some people are just born to lead. I think that being brought up with my mom; she was kind of the same way. She was a natural leader. With her guidance and influence, you just pick that up. I feel I am sort of the same way. But you need to be a leader both on and off the court."
Senior Center Courtney Sims
On if his four years has gone by fast... "Very fast. I remember my first day Coach Amaker had me here as a freshman. It seems like it was yesterday. That's something I tell freshman all the time, enjoy it now, because you don't know how fast it really does go by. It seems like yesterday I was a freshman."
On his critics calling his play inconsistent at times... "I have been very inconsistent at times, that is fair to say. It's my main goal to work on my consistency in games. Some games I'll have a dominant game and have almost 30 points and double-figure rebounds. The next game I'll have four rebounds. I've got to work on that and make sure that doesn't happen this year."
On what he has learned playing the post in the Big Ten... "It's very physical. I've gone up against the best in (Mike) Wilkinson, (James) Augustine, (Paul) Davis. There's been a lot of players I've gone against. Now I'm one of the older ones. I have to be able to use my experiences and be savvy like a veteran player against the younger players."
On if he senses pressure to make the NCAA Tournament... "There's always pressure. Especially for the seniors. You saw that last year. This is our last year to prove ourselves and make it to the tournament. We think we can do that through hard work. We know it's our last shot so we want everything to go smooth."
Junior Wing Ron Coleman
On the potential of the team... "We know that we are capable of being a very good team. We have a lot of good players. We have great freshmen that came in and want to learn. We feel that if we keep working hard and competing, we'll be hopeful to be a great team."
On how his game has evolved the past few years... "My game has evolved a lot. I've learned from a lot of upperclassmen throughout the years. People who aren't here anymore and people who are still here, and it's helped me out a lot. My game has evolved from being just a three-man to having to play the four as well -- just be all over the floor. It's helped my game out a lot, showing that I can be a versatile player. I can play a lot of positions, and do something well at each position."
On if there is any pressure to make the NCAA Tournament this year... "There's no pressure. Every team has the dream of making it to the tournament. We just have to come in, compete, work hard and be hopeful that we do make it."
On avoiding the late-season setbacks... "We just have to keep working hard. Last year, I thought we were just a little unfortunate, but we have to learn from that, pick ourselves up and keep getting better."
On the part of his game that he worked on most in the offseason... "I mostly worked on my ball-handling, being able to control the ball more on the wing, and my jump shot; that's something that I always have to work on. Right now, my jump shot is pretty good -- it has improved a lot."
Junior C.J. Lee
On his personal goals for the season since he has to sit out after transferring... "Basically, work really hard and adjust to how the system is run here. I know it's going to be an adjustment; it's going to take some time. My main thing is that I want to get better every day and I want to help the team out in any way possible."
On the strengths of his game... "One of my strengths is that I'm a good leader. My leadership skills have carried me this far. In my basketball career, I play point guard. I would say that I need to get stronger and just continue to improve every day. You never want to stay in the same place as a basketball player. Just every day, work hard with the assistants and the head coach, and just working to improve in all aspects of the game."
On his decision to come to Michigan... "I chose Michigan simply because I was born and raised here. I was born in Saginaw and raised in Lansing for about 12 years. My father attended here. I was born a Michigan fan. It's a prestigious university and its reputation speaks for itself. Any way that I could be associated with this university, I was going to take that opportunity and run with it. It was a blessing how it worked out -- I was able to come to school and play basketball here. I have the best of both worlds right now."
On his reaction to being asked to join the team... "I was thrilled. It was a dream come true. It has always been my dream to come here. Everything just worked out perfectly."
Sophomore Center Phil DeVries
On his role this season... "For this season, my role is to come in, work hard and do the best I can to make my teammates and myself better."
On the difficulties of acclimating the younger players to the program... "I believe that we'll be able to do that because our young players catch on easily. We have such great senior leadership that I really don't see that as a problem. If our seniors continue to be great leaders, then our younger players should be able to catch on to anything easily."
On avoiding late season setbacks... "We just have to continue to come in, practice hard every day and not get discouraged by anything."
Sophomore Center Zack Gibson
On what he's going to work on while sitting out a year due to transfer rules... "I'm going to come in, work hard, lift weights, add size and make my teammates and myself better."
On the decision to transfer to Michigan... "This is a great university, and this is where I want to be. I always liked it growing up and I had a chance to come back in and play, and I'm glad I took it."
On strengths and weaknesses... "Right now I'm a little light. I need to add a few more pounds. I can shoot well for a big guy. I just have to keep working on my post moves and my post game."
On reuniting with high school teammate K'Len Morris... "It's nice to play basketball with him again. We've always been close friends. I met him back five or six years ago, so it's always good to have a guy on the team that you know well."
Sophomore-Freshman Forward Kendric Price
On being ready to play this year after taking a redshirt... "I'm more prepared to contribute this year. I've been in the weight room. I've put on about 15 pounds. I'm obviously stronger, but I think I can contribute more. Last year really helped me because I'm more acclimated to the system. I feel like I can help the team by being active, hitting the boards, running the floor, playing defense all over the floor."
On what aspects of the game he has improved on... "I've been working with coaches who are helping me work on my low post moves. Last year, I got a feel for what sort of moves work, and which ones don't. We'll see if I can put that to test this year."
On if there is pressure making it to the NCAA Tournament... "I think there is always going to be pressure, but it comes down to us. Everybody can say what they want to say, but it comes down to what we do on the court."
On avoiding late-season setbacks... "I'm not really sure what happened last season. I think that's just how basketball is sometimes. This year we just got to try and avoid that. We'll try to figure out way, but I feel confident that won't happen this year."
Sophomore Wing Jevohn Shepherd
On his role for the team... "Just to contribute in any way possible. If I see there's a niche defensively, rebounding, anything like that, I want to do it. I just want to be there for this team, no matter what role that is."
On the pressure to make the NCAA Tournament... "I don't think there's extra pressure, but ultimately, that is our goal. Whether it's last year's team, this year's or next year's, it's going to be the same goal."
On avoiding late-season setbacks... "You can't avoid setbacks. You can approach the season with a positive attitude and work a lot harder to try and avoid them. The guys that have been here can pick it up and just encourage the incoming class to do the same."
Sophomore Guard Jerret Smith
On his role as a point guard... "My expectations are to take this team on my shoulders. Being the point guard now, and having a coach who used to be a point guard, my expectations are to carry this team because coach (Amaker) can only go so far. He can't come on the court with us and play. So me being a player, I have to be able to take this team on my shoulders. When we lose, some of that blame will be on me. When we win, it's a team effort."
On undo pressure being put on the point guard position and the team in general... "I never really felt the pressure. It's not the first time this type of thing has happened and it won't be the last time. Right now, I'm working my hardest to be the best player I can be and all that stuff outside the gym doesn't bother me."
On the team chemistry... "It's just as good or even better now. The chemistry is always good. Obviously, Daniel (Horton) and Graham (Brown) brought something that the program didn't have. They've been with coach for a long time, but we never lost chemistry when they left. It was great playing with them. But now, they're putting the program in our hands. Our chemistry is better than ever right now and if we keep it up like this. The sky is the limit."
On the effect of injuries last season... "We thought we were going to have a healthy team that we started off with. Unfortunately things happened, we didn't have that team. It's just unfortunate that we didn't have the ending that we wanted. So right now, we're just going into the season with all 16 guys healthy. It's a new year, so we have to focus on this year. You can't focus on the past."
Freshman Guard Reed Baker
On how he can contribute to the team... "All of our guards are really good and I'm just going to try and do whatever I can to help the team out. Whether it's in practice or in the game, I just want to help the team out. I'm not really sure what my role will be, but I'm looking to do whatever I can to help us win games. In every aspect, not just playing time, I hope that I can contribute to the benefit of the team in general. That's all I really want to do."
On being known primarily as a shooter... "There's more to my game. Right now, I'm just trying to learn a new system that is different from what I had in high school and play a lot more in the point guard role. There are so many other people on this team that can score. There's definitely a lot more that I can do than just shoot."
On the freshman class... "They're all really fun. We all get along really well. They're all really talented players; highly recruited guys coming in. We're all talented basketball players and we're all good friends."
Freshman Wing K'Len Morris
On his expectations and his role... "I want to come in and work hard and learn the system. I will, hopefully, contribute to the team. I am willing to play whatever position to help the team win, whether it is the point, shooting guard or whatever is best for the team. I do whatever I am told."
On if he can come in and contribute right away... "Once practice starts, I will have the opportunity to prove myself along with everybody else on the team. If you work hard day-by-day, everything will fall into place."
On being a vocal person... "I have always been more of vocal person than most people. I am a very blunt person; not in a negative way. I feel being a vocal leader helps keep your team motivated. The type of guys on our team, even though I am a freshman, allow me to be vocal. They know it is just part of who I am and my game."
On adjusting to the college level... "I think I have adjusted to it pretty well so far. I know that there is a lot more ahead of me to learn. I am just going to take it day-by-day and learn as much as I can and develop as a player."
Freshman Forward DeShawn Sims
On what does he bring to the table as a freshman this year... "I know that I can bring hard work to the table. I can fill in for guys. I think I can pick up the pace for my team."
On if there is a specific position he expects to play... "We haven't discussed anything. The coaches just enforce playing hard and being competitive. That's all I strive for now. I'm not going into the season with any intentions but to play hard, and give as much as I can on the basketball court."
On what he sees from the other freshmen... "Speaking of the freshman class, we all work hard. K'len (Morris) is a versatile player in the two guard spot. I think his IQ for basketball is very high. It'll be amazing to see when he gets his chance, what he can do on the floor. Anthony (Wright) is a player that can play multiple positions. He can play two, three or four. He can shoot the ball very well, he works hard. Smart on the basketball court, as K'len is. I look for Anthony to be the sleeper and do good things for us this season. Ekpe (Udoh) is a great defensive player and really works hard up and down the court and Reed (Baker) can really shoot."
On if he sees himself as a vocal player... "Yes. I've always been the type of player that speaks out, says positive things on the floor. I'm very emotional. Anything I can say to help boost our team's confidence, I say it. I don't have too much negativity toward anyone."
On the biggest difference he has seen in the college game... "The strength and speed. Guys are stronger and guys are more physical. Definitely speed as well."
On if he senses pressure to make the NCAA Tournament... "That's our biggest goal. It's a lot of pressure I understand. You can't change when pressure comes. You always have to stick with what you've been doing. If we are pressured at all, we're still going to work hard. We're not going to let getting to the tournament or not getting to the tournament affect how we're going to work."
Freshman Forward Ekpe Udoh
On being able to contribute early on... "It's a possibility. I just have to keep working hard, running the court and just competing every chance I get. It's a matter of doing the extra work, doing the small things in practice on and off the court, and hope I'll get a chance when the season starts."
On his ability as a shot-blocker... "I just really contest anything that comes in the lane -- just go up and try to get it and make the play. I have always taken a lot of pride in my defense."
On the mental aspect of the game... "That's probably the most important part of the game, the mental edge. If you don't have that, you're not going to get anywhere on the court. I think I do that very well, and my teammates do as well."
On adjusting to the college game and life in Ann Arbor... "It might take a little time to adjust, but I think I'll be able to transition. It's the weather that's a little tough to transition to. It's getting cold right now, which is a little early in the year for me, but I should get through it."
Freshman Forward Anthony Wright
On if he thinks of himself has having a high basketball IQ... "I see myself as a hard worker. I go just out every day and do my best. I'm pretty versatile."
On if he sees himself as a balanced player... "Being bigger than most guys on the wing and quicker than most guys in the post, I'm pretty much a balanced player."
On if he has felt any pressure to make the NCAA Tournament... "Not at all. Every day you just go out, work hard and just compete and I get better as the team gets better."
On the biggest difference for him so far in the college game... "At Oak Hill there are plenty of talented players there. The biggest difference would be the speed of the game. Everything's a sprint and I'm still learning that. Everything is in turbo-drive."
On his impressions of the freshmen class... "All of us work hard, nobody slacks. We're going out and competing with older guys and getting better."
On what he thinks his role will be... "I haven't even been to a real practice yet, so I couldn't tell you. So as of now I'm just working hard. Day by day first, then I'll see where I fit in on this basketball team."
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423