2005-06 BKM Media Day -- Player Comments

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

Senior Wing Lester Abram

On coming back from the injury ... "I'm a 100 percent now. I went through all my rehab and my trainer got me ready. I'm ready to get out there on the court and do my thing."

On his expectations for the season ... "My expectations for the season are for my team to be good and win a lot of ball games and to contend for the Big Ten title and to get to the NCAA tournament."

On his thoughts of the freshmen class ... "Our freshmen came in here ready to play right away. They are all going to get a lot of playing time. All of our practices are going to be competitive this year because we have a lot of new people."

On looking back on last year, how he felt when he couldn't play ... "I was depressed at first, but that was normal. The hardest thing was sitting on the bench and watching my team suffer like they did all those games, I couldn't do anything about it. I was just ready for the season to end, and I know a lot of people on my team were ready for the season to be over with too. We were just undermanned a lot of games; we didn't have all our players."

On his role as a leader and a captain ... "I guess once they see the leader of the team or the captain of the team doing good out there on the floor, I always try to lead by example, if they watch me that probably gives them some motivation to go out there play harder and do what they have to do, just like me."

Senior Center Amadou Ba

On expectations of himself and the team ... "Every player has their own expectations. My expectations are to be the best player I can be for the team. Our expectation is to win every single game we play, we don't want to lose any game, the only way you can do that is to work hard and get ready to play before every single game, and from there you have to go on."

On his role ... "This is my last year. My role is to bring a lot of energy to this team, support the team, be the teammates I can be, and to be the best player that I can be. If I get in the game it's about playing defense and rebounding and helping my teammates get open."

On his thoughts of the freshmen class ... "I think they have a lot of character and they work hard this summer. It wasn't easy for them, it's not easy, their studies are difficult but they are handling it pretty good in school and getting ready for the season. I have a lot of expectations of them and they have a lot of talent."

Senior Forward Graham Brown

On leaving his legacy at the University of Michigan ... "It's not that I am trying to leave my legacy, it's just that I'm trying to play as hard as I can every game and that's what I want my legacy to be. I want people to know that I left my heart on the floor after every game. That's what I'm going to do this year, just go out there and play as hard as I can, show everyone what I have and I'm going to work with it."

On the most memorable charge he took ... "I know there was one last year against Michigan State at home. We were playing and trying to make a comeback there towards the end of the game and I took a big charge on Paul Davis right by the free throw line and tried to get us back into it. That's one of the ones I can think of right now but when it comes to taking charges, if the person comes into me I'll try and that charge."

On the expectations for this season ... "My expectations coming into this year are quite high expectations. I can't talk about getting to the tournament but my first expectation is to win some games. We've got to come into practice hungry tomorrow, we've got to come in ready and prepared and get some work done here in the first couple of days. We're trying to get better every day and that's one of my expectations. We can't be out here taking steps backwards. That's one of the things we've got to do and that is to take steps forward and always get better everyday. That's also one of the things this program tries to do. You've got to do whatever you can to win games and when the opportunities come, you're prepared for them. Preparation is something that's going to come with the experience and through time and that's what a veteran team has to do for you."

On what the team has done to stave off injuries this season ... "Injuries are a part of the game and you can't really do much about them. Over this summer, we've been doing a lot of extra stretching and preventative things to get the most possible injuries out of the system. You can't really account for all the injuries, especially the more serious ACL tears or the surgeries. We're just trying to get away from the sprains and the small things that are a part of the game. We just try and do a lot of mobility exercises and stretching that can lead to more healthy play."

Fifth-Year Senior Guard Hayes Grooms

On being eligible to play ... "I'm excited. I couldn't play last year, so I just had to sit back and watch what was going on with all the injuries, knowing I could have helped in some way. Watching that was hard. Being away from the game for that one year really got me excited and motivated to play this year. I'm looking forward to it."

On his season at Michigan ... "I think when I first got here, this was kind of my home away from home in a sense that my family was here, my friends were here and I already knew a couple guys on the team. When I first got here I felt naturally at home. I think this year, being my second, that I get to feel more comfortable than I was last year -- I'm comfortable with everyone on the team, and I'm confident and happy."

On his role this year ... "I'm just going to go out there and play hard. If the team needs me, hopefully I'll be ready and prepared enough to step in and help the team in anyway. All of that will fall into place. I'm just going to continue to work hard and help the young guys, because I'm one of the older players. In anyway I can help, that's what I'm going to do."

Senior Guard Sherrod Harrell

On what it feels like to be named team captain for the second year in a row ... "It's a great feeling and every time you think about it, it puts a smile on your face. It's a joy that you can't hide because your teammates chose you as one of the leaders of this team which says a lot about yourself and a lot about what your teammates are looking for in a leader."

On what kinds of expectations the team has this season ... "We definitely need to start small because you have to crawl before you can walk. We have to start with the little things, which are everyday, getting better. If we can keep doing that throughout the whole season, we'll be alright."

On what it feels like to start new with new faces and the upperclassmen back and healthy ... "It's great. It's a good feeling. Some of these guys weren't here last year, whether they were freshmen or out due to various injuries, and to be able to look to your right and left and see all these guys, it's a great feeling."

On his personal goals for the season ... "I think my personal goals go right along with the team goals and that is to get better, win our next game and get better in practice one day at a time. That's what works for me."

Senior Guard Daniel Horton

On his time off during last season ... "The time off really gave me a chance to sit back and look at the team. It gave me a chance to get to know my teammates better, not personally, but their games. By being able to sit back and watch these guys play without me, I think I learned a lot. I learned a lot about these guys individually as players, not necessarily their skill level, but how they think during a game."

On Coach Amaker's remarks of making up for lost time ... "I know when it's time to practice tomorrow, I'm pretty sure we'll all get after it. I know, Lester (Abram), myself and the rest of these guys will show up ready to practice. We have always talked about getting better everyday, but I think it's extremely important now that we have two guys back, who missed significant time last year."

On being extremely motivated ... "Yes, I think that is a fair assessment. I've always been extremely motivated and hungry to play, as the season gets closer every year, but I think this year I feel a little extra motivation, because I feel I let my teammates down last year."

On sacrificing parts of his game ... "I think so. I've always felt there are a lot of things that I'm capable of doing, that this team doesn't necessarily need me to do. I've had my times while struggling, trying to fit into the mold of the point guard that coach wants me to be, but for the most part, it's been a good learning experience and I've gotten better as a player because of it."

Senior Forward Chris Hunter

On how the team feels about accomplishing big goals this season ... "We feel like we can accomplish all of our goals if we just work hard in practice, starting tomorrow. We definitely feel like we can do that with this team and with our coaches and if we do what our coaches tell us."

On the team chemistry ... "I think we're a really tight team and the chemistry is great. Even with the incoming freshmen, they came in and felt like a part of the family."

On how hard the team worked in the offseason ... "I think we worked very hard. About eight or nine guys stayed here in Ann Arbor during the whole summer. They didn't go home, worked out hard, lifted everyday and ran a little bit. It was really good."

On gaining his own strength by the summer ... "I was feeling really good. I think that time off really helped me to get my ankle to where it needed to be and I feel it'll only be more effective in the long run."

On his personal goals and expectations for the season ... "I want to improve on all of the things that I did last year. I want to shoot the ball well, be a bigger defensive presence and rebound the ball well."

Junior Guard Dion Harris

On the return of Lester Abram and Daniel Horton ... "I consider last year like I was out there by myself. I was the only guy out there with experience. Lester (Abram) and Daniel (Horton) weren't there. I kind of went out there by myself and got attacked, basically, by everyone in the Big Ten. When Daniel went down, in the middle of the Big Ten season, I think everyone else attacked and stormed me and our team. So now that I have Daniel and Lester back, I think it's like I'm going back and getting my guys back and we're going to go get them this year."

On Daniel Horton resuming ball handling duties ... "He's been playing point guard his whole career here, and knowing that I won't have to handle the ball as much as last year will allow me to be a little more free. I was handling it 40 minutes a game, or however long I was out there on the court. Now we have Daniel back, it will take a lot of pressure off me and allow me to do other things on the court."

On the upcoming Big Ten season ... "I'm looking at it like we have the best talent in the Big Ten. I think we have the best talent, hands down. As long as we go out there and play our game, and everyone does what they know they can do out there on the court, I don't see us not being in the top three of the Big Ten."

Junior Forward Brent Petway

On summer shoulder surgery ... "I just started playing two weeks ago, but it's been doing real good. I got to shoot a lot of jump shots over the summer, so it's been alright. I haven't had much trouble out of it since the surgery. It's been cool."

On freshman point guard Jerret Smith ... "I watched him this summer during open gym. He's got nice handles, he can get into the lane and create, and he loves to pass. That's what the big guys love. I've seen a bunch of times, where he gets into the lane and make a nice pass. It makes it easy on you, because you don't have to post up all the time and make your own move. You can just get a few layups in there and that helps out."

On perfecting a jump shot ... "I've specifically wanted to work on that for a while. This summer I really got the opportunity, because coming off that shoulder surgery they really want you to get up a bunch of shots, because they don't want your shoulder to get tired during workout periods. If you get up a bunch of shots, your shot will always get better, so it helped out a lot."

On his style of play ... "I'm pretty much in the middle. You can't count me as a front court player, because I'm kind of small and you can't count me as a back court player, because I don't play the guard position. I'm just in the middle of things, just trying to fit in. We're making it work so far, so hopefully we can keep it going."

Junior Forward Courtney Sims

On his expectations for this year ... "My expectations for the team are to make the tournament and to make it far in the tournament. A lot people are saying it would be a big achievement just to make the tournament, but I'm looking forward to making it to the tournament. That's my main goal."

On his thoughts of the freshmen class ... "They are not getting a lot of media play like me, Dion (Harris), and Brent (Petway) did. A lot of people don't really know them. A lot of people are like, who is this kid Kendric (Price) Kendric is a real athletic floor man who can run the floor good. Jerret (Smith), he controls the game, he is a great passer and penetrator. Jevohn (Shepherd) he is just a scorer, he reminds me a lot of Dion in his freshmen year. I think they are going to bring a lot to the team."

On if he thinks his role will change this year ... "I think I need go ahead and take over the block lead again, be the leading shot blocker in the conference again. I need to up my rebounding stats and just be a scorer. I mean I've always been a scorer; I need to keep scoring in the paint and be the best scorer in the conference."

On what happens if injuries should occur again ... "I think we just saw what could happen if we don't come together and play as a team. Individually, we are as good as anybody in the country, but if we don't come together as a team that won't matter, so I just think we just know that we need to come together as a team and work as a team and we will be fine, regardless of who gets hurt because we have enough talent here to make it far no matter what injuries happen."

Sophomore Guard Alex Brzozowicz

On what he learned during his first season ... "I think what I learned is to take advantage of the situation while you have it because, for me, it's a one year thing every year. I just have to work as hard as I possibly can all the time because sometimes you can get away from that, you can let go and relax and just take for granted that you're on the team. You always have to be aware that you go be gone at any time and get hurt or cut so you always have to work hard."

On what examples he can set for the freshmen this season ... "I think the one thing is to not be afraid to mess up because I know I was pretty scared to mess up last year. I would be so scared to mess up sometimes that I would mess up just because of the simple fact that I was scared. I think that's one lesson that I can pass to Phil (DeVries), Kendric (Price), Jerret (Smith) and Jevohn (Shepherd). We're all going to mess up so if you mess up a couple times, learn from it and take it. Obviously, people are going to get on you or say something to you, take it, take it as them wanting you to get better and wanting us to get better. You just can't be afraid."

On his role this season ... "It's pretty much going to be the same as last year. I've got to be a good practice player, I've got to hustle and do all that I can for the team. I want to take on a more vocal role but I'm only a sophomore and we have seniors to lead us. I just want to get into the game."

On his expectations for the season ... "We're all really excited for this season and we're just trying to work hard. We're not going to go in saying how well we're going to do or what games we're going to win. We're just going to take this season game by game and play by play and we will be okay."

Sophomore Wing Ron Coleman

On his experience in the Big Ten Foreign Tour ... "It was really beautiful there. I had never been to Spain so we went site-seeing and the country had nice beaches. I had the opportunity to develop new friendships with players from different schools and talk about how their programs are different. It'll be a good experience knowing these players when conference play begins. When the game starts, they won't be my friends but it'll be a good experience when that time comes. The experience really allowed me to gain some confidence in myself. I was able to play my role and I knew that I could shoot, dribble the basketball and just go out there and be a great player."

On taking on a larger role last season and what he took from that ... "I came in not thinking I was going to be thrown into the mix like I did. Coach Amaker told me that I was and to go out there and make the best of my opportunities. I did that and it helped me out a lot and gave me a lot of confidence. Playing with Dion (Harris) and playing with the older guys really helped me out a lot, too. They would talk to me and do things to give me confidence when I had to learn things as quickly as I did."

On the competition amongst the team for starting spots ... "There's a lot of competition and that's good for us. It will make our team even better and compete harder and that's different than last year when we had players out and going down. That made it hard. This year's going to be a lot different because we're going to have players out there really trying to compete with one another."

Freshman Center Philip DeVries

On his biggest obstacle as a freshman ... "Adjusting to the speed of game because I went to public school for high school. So far the thing I have to adjust the most is the speed because I'm not use to it."

On the biggest difference from this level of play ... "By far the competition, everyone is more competitive. They are all just going for the same thing, no one wants to fail, but in high school you have kids on your team or opponents that really didn't care if they succeed."

On expectations of himself and the team ... "I don't know. As a team we expect to win the Big Ten and maybe even win the Big Ten Tournament and then go from there. We believe if we stay healthy we will be able to do good things. Well as a team, as for me, I expect to adjust to the game more and just take it slow instead of rushing, so I can just use to it."

On who has influenced him the most so far ... "There is a lot, there is not more than one, everyone on the team so far has helped me out. I've learned more probably in this past month, then I have in four years in high school. Just having teammates like that that look for you and that are trying to help get you to the level that you need to be at."

Freshman Forward Kendric Price

On expectations as a freshman ... "I didn't come in here expecting it to be easy, I'm going to have to work. I know its going to be a battle but I'm not afraid of anyone else. I just have to worry about what I'm going to do as far as playing against others."

On if anyone has helped in his transition ... "Yes, the whole team pretty much is helping me. As freshmen we bond and we go through a lot of things together. There are some things that you have to go through by yourself, I'm far from Boston and I'm far away from home, but I'm not home sick because the team makes you feel welcome."

On the expectations of the team ... "Our goal as a team is to be the best team in college basketball, if that means winning the national championship, so be it. It's going to be a lot of hard work; I wouldn't be a human being if I didn't acknowledge the fact that we had to do a lot of hard work. So probably with me saying that right there we have to do some extra sprints, I don't know, we will be alright."

On the biggest difference from high school and college basketball ... "The competition is different. In high school you could just let a team score a couple of baskets and you would be okay, but you have to learn and work strategies in college. Strategy is a big part of college basketball."

Freshman Wing Jevohn Shepherd

On the biggest difference from high school ... "The main difference is the speed and guys are stronger, faster, and smarter. The competition is a lot better the main difference is you have to come to play in high school you can get away with an off day.

On where he sees himself fitting in ... "I'm just here to help in anyway. We are trying to get to the tournament and we are going to get there."

On if there has been any one person who has taken him under their wing ... "It's been collective for all the freshmen, all the older guys have been there showing us the ropes."

Freshman Guard Jerret Smith

On the freshman experience so far ... "I like the experience. A lot of the players have taken me under their wing, showing me college life and the whole experience of college basketball. It's not bad at all."

On adapting to college ... "You have got to adjust to every part, because it's a step up. You have got to adjust academically, and adjust athletically with practices and things like that. It's just a step up."

On choosing Michigan ... "Because of the coach. I like coach Amaker, who was a point guard in college so he understands the game. Also, the support that the team gave me when I came here on my team visit, a lot of players showed me a lot of love and made me feel at home, so I decided this is the place I needed to be."

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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