Oct. 11, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With official practice starting in just three days (Friday, Oct. 14) and the start of the season only weeks away, the University of Michigan men's basketball team held its annual media day on Tuesday (Oct. 11) in the newly renovated Crisler Arena. U-M will take on Wayne State in an exhibition matchup on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. inside Crisler Arena. The game will be shown on BTN.com.
U-M Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "We are so excited about the start of practice on Friday. It's something we've looked forward to since our last game. We've had a very good preseason and over the summer we have worked very hard on both our bodies and our game to improve. I think that one of the signs of a very good team is how they develop in the summertime. So we're excited about it. We think we have a team that, with a lot of players coming back, is good to have. We certainly have a key replacement to make at the point guard position, and that is something that we'll work very hard on all year long, not just the first four weeks, to judge, and look at very closely. As we just talked about the use of the ball screen, they do get it more than others and so we have some very good candidates there, but none of them have been involved deeply in that position at this level. But we feel good about everybody's development, and now we just have to get to practice. I think they're all anxious to practice. I think this is a team that likes each other and they like to practice. They may feel differently after the first week or so because they have to get their body used to it, but we've really had a good preseason even though it's only been nine hours. We have nine hours and 15 minutes, so just put that in perspective. Because it's a short week and we can go four hours a day at a maximum, we will go four hours Friday and four hours Saturday. There will be films, there'll be weights involved, but that's more on Friday and Saturday then we've gone in the last five weeks. So we'll certainly know more, we'll have twenty-eight hours in roughly, starting with Friday, about nine days. We'll know a lot more than we did in these previous nine hours. But we need to continue to grow as a team to get better defensively and offensively. Coaches need to continue to be versatile in our approach. That's a thing I hope has always been a strength with my coaching staff, that we are not resistant to change yet still staying with your core values of what you think helps you win games."
On how the offense will change because of the point guard position ... "What I'm really interested to see is, because of Darius'(Morris) length, how big a factor that would be in some of the passes and how our young guys, or Stu (Douglass) or Eso (Akunne) or Josh (Bartelstein), handle all of that. But I also think, while we're rebuilding that position a bit, the strengths in the other positions will help that be an easier transition."
On the timeline of selecting his starting lineup ... "We'll have a lot of patience here. Traditionally we have never played three games before the Thanksgiving tournament, usually it's two. We snuck another game in there just to make sure we had one more real game experience. But we'll have a scrimmage and an exhibition game, and then we'll have three games before the Thanksgiving tournament. So we are trying to get as much in as possible, but that won't be judgment day. There's that November period, then the rest of the nonconference, then the conference, and then the second time around the conference in the Big Ten Tournament. So there are many times to see where the team is and what lineup best fits this team."
On making sure that Tim Hardaway Jr. does not take on too much responsibility ... "He played a lot of minutes last year as a freshman and it was because he handled that particular aspect pretty well. I don't worry about that at all. I think hopefully we'll have depth enough that we know he does not have to play thirty-six or thirty-eight minutes. Same thing with Zack Novak. Hopefully we'll have enough depth so that they're not out there really fatigued during tough games, which we're obviously going to have a lot of them."
On Jon Horford's improvement during the offseason ... "I think Jon Horford has made really positive strides. He was basically getting himself into foul trouble almost every game. When he gets into foul trouble, he puts the team in the bonus, and we don't like getting into the bonus on us. So he's been on a mission since the end of last year -- on his body and his development. There's still a long ways to go for Jon, but we have several guys, he included, that love to practice basketball. Jon loves it, and usually good things happen when you have that type of passion."
On the difficulties of putting together the schedule ... "With scheduling, it's become very difficult getting a schedule together the way you want it to sit. People are a couple years out now with conferences agreeing. The Big East is not working with the Southeast Conference, the Big 12 is working with the Pac-10. There are not those games anymore that you can just go because everybody's getting their RPIs through these tournaments. We have the potential there to play three extremely talented teams over three days. So you do that and you do your challenge, and four of your games are high-level games to be judged by. We've tried to do our best. It was as difficult scheduling this year as probably we've ever had it, but I think we have some very talented teams in one stretch there compared to in the December stretch after Maui. And then during the middle of the Big Ten, really difficult stretches in our games."
On expectations for freshmen Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge taking over the point guard position ... "I've seen them and I've watched them but nine hours. Nine hours is all we spent with them and some of that is really elementary. But I have liked from both of them their early learning curve and their desire to become players, their desire to be coached. They're students. We have really liked that. They have shown their ability to shoot the ball as well in those nine hours, which is always good to have to be guarded from the perimeter. Trey would have a history of being a true point guard his whole life, while Carlton has been more a combo guard his whole life."
On expectations for the front court with a year of experience behind them ... "For Evan (Smotrycz) and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) in their first year, whether things were going well or going poorly, they kept pressing on. They were the more impressive players in the preseason. I know a little bit more about them than I know about Trey (Burke) and Carlton (Brundidge), but they've been very impressive those two in particular. They'll be working hard to start at those two positions and play off each other. They're both sophomores, so that's good and bad news from a standpoint that they're still young. I don't think either one of them is twenty yet, so they're still pretty young."
On how the team's dedication to working out during the offseason ... "All the summer workouts are voluntary. They were living in the dorms, they were lifting at wrestling, their locker rooms were in the baseball stadium, and they were playing at the IM. So when you throw those things together, you had to be very motivated to go visit Jon Sanderson voluntarily. Based on their bodies, they volunteered very well. We've done some conditioning tests, and thus far 15 of 16 passed their tests. The other one had an injury and that's why he didn't."
On whether the program is at the level where making the NCAA is an every year expectation ... "I don't think we're there yet. We're still going to be hunting that every day. I think we have still a lot to prove. We were sweating on Selection Sunday last year, despite the eight seed. We were sweating that. I think based on the league and the schedule, we're going to have to perform early and we're going to have to perform in the season as well. And there are a lot of good teams with a lot of good coaches out there. We don't know anything about injuries, we don't know anything about chemistry yet. There are a lot of hurdles we have to still jump through."
On whether Trey Burke's shooting ability will bring something to the table that Darius Morris didn't ... "You know the 200 assists that Darius brought from that standpoint, allowed others to be better shooters because he could get it into the lane so well. I'll tell you more about that at the end of the year. I really can't until I see him more in action. Darius certainly had a tremendous sophomore season."
On whether the Maui Invitational will be too difficult so early in the season ... "It's everywhere, whether you're in the Preseason NIT, the Legend's Classic, in the Old Spice. Look what we walked into in the Old Spice a couple years ago. That was difficult for us with a pretty good Creighton team, and then a Marquette team and Alabama -- they were very good. The travel is always another challenge, but those are things that everybody does. We're so grateful that we were invited to that and the University of Michigan has some history there as well."
On how much the team's performance in Maui will tell him ... "If you perform poorly out there, it does not mean your season is going to be a disaster, because of how difficult it is. I think that if you do perform well out there, you certainly have put some things on your resume that will be helpful when it comes time in March."
On whether Stu Douglass is an option at the point ... "He has played there many minutes. And when you have a two guard set like we do, it takes some pressure off that guard from being guarded too closely. So he's certainly an option, and I know he's worked very hard on it. He's also become a guy that can guard the other point guard. So he is an option."
On whether he pays attention to their preseason ranking ... "The preseason polls in basketball and football are so inaccurate sometimes, that I don't pay a lot of attention to it. Somebody has to be picked there. We like our team a lot, but I'm not going to be looking at are we a top 20, a top 10, are we top 50. I want to be in the top 68 in March. That's where we want to be, somewhere on that board in March because as you could see last year, anything can happen when you get to that point."
On the next steps for Jordan Morgan ... "He's worked very hard on not just scoring on what we call drop offs, leverage points, just where he creates leverage for layups, but being able to score one-on-one and be able to shoot the ball consistently from the 15-foot range. That's what he's been working on. He's spent a lot of time on it, and still has a ways to go, but he's a worker."
On the team's motivation after they way last season ended ... "They are a very hungry group right now. They know we were very close to playing in the Sweet 16, and even the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. I think they felt that they could win the Big Ten Tournament last year as well, if we had just a few breaks go our way. And so, this is challenging for them to see what they can do up and above what we accomplished last year."
On what to improve on from last season ... "I think having a better defense collectively. It's impossible when you have that many freshmen to be all on the same page. And also the challenge of if we have a new freshman in the lineup, how to bring him into that fold at a quicker speed. I loved our progress last year. It's never enough, but if we can keep it up at that rate then we can do some special things."
On how having the Player Development Center will impact the team's development ... "It's amazing the practice sessions we'll be able to have over there. There's a setup there with six baskets. The type of competitive drills we'll be able to do will be amazing. At the same time, being able to do extra practice at times when traditionally the women would have the gym. We'd have to do it at 8:00 in the morning or we'd have to do it after practice. It's really going to help us. Just having everything in one place. Just the training room itself. After practice, it would take the hour to get people all through the cold tubs. We could probably have it done now in ten or 15 minutes. There's a quality of time that we hope is going to be helpful."
U-M Senior Zack Novak
On his personal and team goals for this season ... "I think one thing we always pride ourselves on is just trying to take the season in steps. We really want to make sure we have a good first couple of weeks here in practice and keep improving as the year goes along. Obviously we want to win, we want to win the league, we want to win the Big Ten Tournament, and then once you get to the NCAAs anything can happen from there."
On the differences between this team and the one that struggled with high expectations his sophomore season ... "We lost our main leadership from the year before and I think that really hurt us. We were struggling to find that and for someone to step up in that role. But we've got established leaders on this team that aren't going to let that happen again."
On whether his role might be more backcourt-oriented this year ... "It will probably happen. I've always said I'm just going to do what they need me to do and I'm sure there will be different games that call for different roles."
On the upperclassmen embracing the freshmen class ... "It's been good. They've come in and worked really hard, which is pretty much all you can ask out of your freshmen. It's always culture shock for them going from high school to college; it's a big jump. But they're doing a good job with it and I'm excited to see what they do, not only this year but the next four years."
On who else might take a vocal role on the team this year ... "Tim (Hardaway Jr.) has really stepped up. We had this discussion with him, or at least I have with him, last year because I didn't want the same thing to happen to him as what did after my freshman year. Once Stu (Douglass) and I are gone, hopefully there will be someone with experience leading. So that's the goal to keep grooming him and he's stepped up."
On his summer improvements ... "I've worked really hard on my body, improving my shot, and being able to play off the dribble more -- I think that's the biggest thing. Just getting more comfortable handling the ball if I do end up in the backcourt more. Just being able to do more than just shoot threes."
On the confidence and swagger of this year's team... "I think we do but I think at the same time it's good. Guys realize that last season is over and it's a new year. It's a little bit different of a team obviously. We got the freshmen here, obviously we're going to miss Darius (Morris). You can't say you're not going to miss a player like that. We know we've got our work cut out for us but I think we're ready."
U-M Senior Stu Douglass
On his summer improvements ... "I really worked on the consistency of my shot. I've been up and down the last three years, started off well last year shooting the three-point ball well but didn't finish the way I wanted to. So when the schedule gets tough and you start getting tired later in the year, I try and work on being more consistent."
On keeping the team's focus despite high expectations ... "We just take it day by day. We have a lot of young guys as well as old veterans who know the offense and are ready to practice. We have to bring the whole team along, we can't just bring six or seven guys along. It has to be the whole unit."
On replacing Darius Morris at point guard ... "It could be a number of possibilities that coach (Beilein) goes with. I think we all just have to be ready for what coach plans to do. The game plan might change from game to game, you just never know. But I know we'll definitely get Carlton (Brundidge) and Trey (Burke) ready to play that spot and I'll be ready to play that spot and we'll be good to go."
On the pride he takes in his defense ... "I take a lot of pride. Coming into college, not a lot of people thought I could defend at the Big Ten level, and that's something I've carried with me and motivated me to keep working as the years go on. Last year, I really took pride in it, that was the role I needed to fill for this team and it worked out great for us so I think I can carry it over to this year."
On the steps he needs to take to ensure a successful season ... "I need to step up as a leader more than I have the last three years. I need to help Carlton (Brundidge) and Trey (Burke) learn the offense and help bring them along at the guard spot. Just be consistent in all aspects of the game. Not just shooting, but stay consistent on defense and never get lax. Just make sure that I'm always there; Zack (Novak) and I are always the consistent spots on this team."
On the legacy he wants to leave as a senior ... "The new arena is part of it, the Player Development Center, it's all turning things around here. Really being a part of Michigan and the fans getting back to loving the basketball program like it was back in the early `90s."
U-M Senior Corey Person
On what was focused on over the summer ... "I've been working a lot on ball handling and getting my shot more consistent. That's a big part of our offense, being able to shoot the ball. Making sure that my three-point shot was consistent. Just overall ball handling and being able to move between the guard and the forward positions is a lot of what I've been working on over the summer. My in between shot also, because a lot of times when you're playing in games you won't be able to get all the way to the basket. So it's good if you're able to make that in between shot all the time."
On goals for the team and individually ... "I don't have too many individual goals for myself. My goal would just be to help the team as much as possible. To help the team reach its maximum potential so we can play to the best of our abilities. I think that, overall, our team goal is to play to the best of our abilities each night and we believe that we can play with anyone in the country when we do. Night in and night out, we feel like if we need to put in our best effort and then we'll see what happens."
On being a team leader and the importance of that role ... "I think it's very important. I learned that my freshman year watching C.J. Lee and David Merritt. I never knew about how much of a difference a leader can make behind the scenes. Watching that my freshman year really let me know how important that is and I just try to fulfill the same role they did. I try to be a vocal leader, make sure that everyone is focused and everybody is on the same page. Having a guy like that is very important for a team. A good leader definitely could be the difference that takes a team from being mediocre to the next level."
On how last year's success helps this year ... "We need to not dwell on what we did last year. The only thing that you can take from last year is that you have a bar that we reached and we know we should be able to play at that level. You just try to improve on things and learn from last year. The things that went wrong are obviously going to change and as for the things that went right. You're obviously trying to keep those things going and better those skills as a team."
U-M Junior Eso Akunne
On summer workouts ... "This summer I tried to eat a lot better, drop weight, work on my handle a lot -- doing a lot of cone drills. I also worked on my defense, the mentality, so when I was in open gym I focused on being able to help the team defensively."
On confidence from last season's success ... "I think it gives us experience in knowing how important every play is and every game is, knowing who you are playing, and knowing we've been in those positions before where it can either make or break your season. It gives us confidence because we know we're going to face the same challenges this year."
On role for this team ... "In my position, I can't give any individual expectations, I just have to continue to work and take every opportunity I get and use it as best I can. I need to continue to be a good person, a good teammate, a good catholic, and I think everything will work out."
On positive attitude ... "It's good when anybody on the team has a positive attitude. Coach makes it a point to say that no one brings in a bad attitude because it will bring everyone else down. So when everyone comes in with a positive attitude it makes it easier to come in and work hard every day and it makes it fun."
U-M Junior Matt Vogrich
On what he's worked on over the summer ... "I worked a lot on my strength. I gained about 15 pounds and weigh about 200 pounds right now. I also worked on my handle because we have a lot of minutes available in the backcourt without Darius. We're going to miss him a lot. We're going to need a lot more guard play without him."
On being an aggressive player ... "Everyone on our team is pretty aggressive. We all just get after it and play scrappy basketball. That's the way coach Beilein wants us to play -- leave everything on the floor, and that's what we're going to do."
On playing more minutes this season ... "I'm just going to do whatever coach asks me to do. There are more minutes to be had in the backcourt since Darius played 30-35 minutes per game. He was a great player and we're going to miss him a lot, but we've got a lot of talent in the backcourt and coach is going to utilize it."
On keeping three-point shooting sharp over the summer ... "I just make a lot of shots every day. Coach tries to say 1,000 shots a week. Some weeks I'm over that, some weeks I'm right around there, but I'm shooting all the time. My shot is definitely a strength of mine."
On being an upperclassmen and helping the freshmen ... "We've been going over the offense a lot with them because everyone knows that coach Beilein's offense is very intricate. In open gyms, Zack (Novak), Stu (Douglass), Tim (Hardaway Jr.), Jordan (Morgan) and I were talking to them, teaching them the offense. We're just trying to get them so that they don't have a lag time and right when they get started they know the offense. It's been going well."
U-M Junior Josh Bartelstein
On off-season workouts ... "I talked to coach Beilein a lot about my ball-handling. Without Darius (Morris) we've got to be able to get guys involved, not just getting in the lane but also pushing the ball in the fast-break."
On role this season ... "Being an upperclassman, I think part of my role is being a leader -- helping the old teach the young. We have a really good freshmen class, but you have to show them the Michigan way. Another part is being a point guard, being there for coach Beilein whenever he needs me, proving that I can help this team on the court."
On helping freshmen learn college basketball ... "It's a huge transition, but they're doing a great job with it. The preseason stuff, they've passed all their tests, they really look good, and then practice starts Friday and it's just another step. We need to tell them to enjoy the process and keep listening, but they're doing a great job."
On goals for the season ... "Our goal every day is to win a Big Ten Championship, but you've got to start at the bottom floor and work your way up. We need to start by putting in the basic stuff each day and try to get better and better, and ultimately in March try to win a Big Ten Championship and then go on from there in the NCAA Tournament."
U-M Junior Blake McLimans
On summer improvements ... "Definitely defense. You have to play defense to be successful in the Big Ten. I worked on that and also my strength. Worked on my inside game too. Just overall doing whatever I can to help better this team."
On how the big man depth has helped him ... "Having all of those guys to work with really helps with the competitive nature and helps everyone to get better. Working with Jordan (Morgan), Jon (Horford), and Max (Bielfeldt) every day on and off, getting each other better definitely helps the team all around."
On his role and goals for this season ... "If it's working on my inside game, my outside game, I'll do whatever I have to do in order to help this team be successful."
On being an upperclassmen and helping freshman Max Bielfeldt ... "You just have to go as hard as you can every day with them. The Big Ten is definitely a physical league. Max is a big, physical guy for a freshman so he already has that advantage. The goal is to get him ready for the speed and everything and ultimately prepare him for the games."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Jordan Morgan
On the improvements to his post game he made this summer ... "I just worked on being more versatile, being able to face up and being able to attack both ways. You don't want to give your defender an advantage of guarding you knowing you only have a few moves, so just working on your overall game. One of my big focuses in the offseason in the post was being able to pass out of the post. Being a threat in the paint, there's going to be a lot of double teams and you have to be able to see those double teams and find the open man, so I worked on that a lot this summer."
On his development as a post player ... "I don't like to really harp on success. Personally, I feel like I have a lot of improvement to do myself, and I've been putting in a lot of work in areas where I might not have been as sharp as I wanted to be. I feel I've made strides but I'm not at all satisfied with my success at this point."
On losing Darius Morris ... "He was a big threat on the perimeter with his attacking ability. It's definitely a big hit to the team, but we have other people that can step up and fill his role. There are big shoes to fill, but that's the challenge of college basketball and our coaches have always taught us to adjust and we've been doing our best to adjust to the situation."
On practicing against the other bigs and their work ethic ... "Practicing against them is a big benefit. None of us really take plays off and it's always high intensity. As far as playing, I feel we all deserve to be on the court, we've all put in the work. Jon Horford has put in a lot of work and him and Evan [Smotrycz] have gained a lot of weight. I feel like us three in the middle can really hold it down."
U-M Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.
On filling a scoring void this season ... "I'm just going to expect the same thing as we did last year, just going out there and running the offense, communicating on defense and just playing hard as a team. Everybody says Darius (Morris) is gone, everybody says I'm the focal point of the team, but there's no focal leaders on the team, that's why it's called a team. There are five guys out there and all five of us can score at any given time, so expect that. There's no one-man team out here."
On Team USA experience ... "It helped me big time. It helped me realize that we have a really good team, and going overseas and seeing all those guys together and how hard they play together and how they know where people are going to be on the court, and then coming back here it feels good. Over there we only had a 10-day span to get to know each other and the offenses, but here everybody knows where they are on the court and everybody's ready for the season."
On development from last season to this season ... "I expect more out of myself and out of our team, but also having senior leaders now out there on the court -- Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass) were juniors last year -- gives our team that extra boost. They've been there before and they know what it takes to get to the NCAA Tournament."
On last season's success bringing confidence ... "We have a lot of confidence. We tasted the NCAA atmosphere and we want to go back there and taste some more. That's the aspect in our minds right now. We just want to go out there and play our game and whatever happens, happens."
On leadership role ... "My role as a leader hasn't changed that much. I'm trying to back up and learn from Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass) still. I wouldn't want to learn from anybody else in the country but them. They go out there and bust their butt every day -- in the classroom and on the court. So having them as role models out there is great for us and great for our young guys coming in."
U-M Sophomore Jon Horford
On his offseason lifting program ... "Whatever coach Sanderson told me. We did a lot of lower body stuff primarily. A lot of squats, clean pulls, front squats, things like that."
On how his strength can help him with his post game ... "It's going to help a lot because the post game is all about strength. It will help me keep positions and hold people a little bit better in the post."
On the speed of the game slowing down as a sophomore ... "Oh yeah, I think so. I think that's how it is for most people. The more time you go at something the easier it gets."
U-M Sophomore Evan Smotrycz
On improving over the summer ... "I think the first thing that I wanted to improve on was my strength. That affected every other part of my game like rebounding and confidence. I think rebounding and putting on weight was what I needed most."
On adjusting to college basketball last year ... "I think as the season went on I got more accustomed to the pace and I got used to playing against defenders and all the athletes in the league."
On defense evolving ... "Number one, being willing to take charge is a huge thing for coach, so I wanted to be able to mentally take charge. But along with that, being in the right position, being a step ahead and anticipating."
On confidence from last season's success ... "As a team we were really young, so it just showed that if we put the work in we can really play with anyone."
On role for this season ... "Obviously I want to become more of a leader, make more plays, do more things on the floor -- just do whatever I can while I'm out there and keep making plays."
U-M Sophomore Colton Christian
On summer improvement ... "The biggest thing over the summer was shooting. I worked a lot on three point shooting. I talked to the coaches after I left. I had gone on a tour in China and a big thing they wanted me to work on was shooting. Getting used to shooting from the three's side of the court and the four's side of the court."
On the experience with Asia with Athletics in Action tour this summer ... "It was a great tour. As far as playing, I was playing with a new group of people and becoming more comfortable with them."
On improving offensively ... "I worked on coming off of ball screens and shooting a lot. Just feeling more comfortable from the perimeter."
On how last year helps moving forward ... "That was last year. Coming into this year, we know what we can do. I think that helps us a lot as far as confidence and where we can be. We're going to strive to push past that. It's a new year and we need to keep working as hard as we did last year."
U-M Freshman Carlton Brundidge
On preparing for college basketball ... "One, I had to get in shape. I kicked it with my teammates, trained really hard, and got used to lifting weights. I had never lifted weights like that before. I had to get stronger and get faster."
On fitting into the offense ... "I see myself fitting in as a true Big Ten point guard. I see myself getting layups and shooting threes here and there, but basically I need to feed my teammates and feed three-point shooters.
On making an impact as a freshman ... "I'm really excited. Watching the team last year and how they made their steps to the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, it was nice. Darius Morris led the team and just watching that I couldn't wait to get there. Now that I'm here, it feels really good and I know everybody back in my hometown is watching and hoping for the best."
On style of play ... "As a scorer, that's what I've been doing, but now that I'm here we have a lot of scorers so I can just play defense and distribute the ball."
U-M Freshman Trey Burke
On summer improvements ... "This summer, to help me prepare, I basically tried to get as many shots in the gym as I could. I was here on campus for the majority of the summer, but when I went home, I was able to work out with my trainer and he helped prepare me for the upcoming season. We did a lot of stuff in the morning before school was out. We did a lot of stuff in the gym and after school we'd do some more. As far as here on campus, when I got the chance to go to the CCRB, I'd get in there, get a lot of shots up and work on things I think I needed to work on."
On starting as a freshman ... "Yes I think I'm ready to take on the position. It's not something I've really thought about a lot. If I start, then I start. Whatever is best for the team and whatever is going to help us win, I'm fine with that."
On how Stu has helped him ... "Stu has been a great leader and a great captain since I've been here. He helped me out with a lot of the plays. When we'd be in an open gym, he'd pull me to the side and tell me something very crucial in certain plays to help me out as far as running them in front of the coaches. I remember a lot of the things he told me on the sideline when the coaches weren't in the gym. He's really helped me out so far."
On his strengths and how he can help the team ... "My strengths I would say are my quickness, my ability to get into the paint, finding open shooters and of course when people play off of me or go on screens, I can shoot. I feel like I can make everyone around me better."
On what he's looking forward to most ... "I'm looking forward to a Big Ten championship of course. Looking forward to going very far in the NCAA Tournament. We've been working very hard and I feel like we're on the right track to accomplish these types of things. As far as personal, I look forward to making a big impact and helping the team out as much as possible."
U-M Freshman Sai Tummala
On the adjustment to the college game and college life ... "I've adjusted pretty well. It's a lot different than high school obviously. But coach Beilein does a great job of teaching us everything and the whole coaching staff and my teammates have been helping me out a lot, so It think its been good."
On where he sees his role on the team ... "I plan to do whatever coach wants me to do. He's given me this opportunity so I just plan on doing the best I can and taking advantage of that."
On which of his teammates give him the most assistance ... "Zack Novak's been helping me a lot as far as the mental aspect of the game goes. Colton Christian and Blake McLimans have also been helping me out."
On what it takes for this team to get to the next level ... "I just think we need to keep working hard. I think we've gotten a lot better since last year so if we just keep working hard, I think we'll get there."
U-M Freshman Max Bielfeldt
On his preparations for the college game and college life ... "I really just worked on my all-around game. There's not one area that I worked on more than others. Every single part of your game you have to work on to play at this level, so everything from strength and agility to shooting and ball work."
On his role on the team ... "I'll probably rotate a little bit between the four and five depending on where I'm needed. But I'm not quite set on my position just yet."
On his strengths in the post game ... "I'd say my physicality is probably my best strength. I like to push people around more than say a finesse post player would."
On practicing against the rest of the bigs on the team ... "Compared to high school, it's a whole different world. You're not playing against boys anymore, you're playing against men and that's the big thing. To get up to their level you just have to keep competing and become an expert at this level."
On what legacy he wants his freshman class to leave ... "I'd say we obviously want to make an impact as quickly as we can. One of the hardest things is getting the offense down because these guys have been working on it so long. We just have to get the feeling so we don't have to call it out any more -- we can just get right in there and know what to do instead of being told. So I'd say if we can get that down, we can be a very successful freshman class."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423