Player Comments from
U-M Men's Basketball Media Day
J.C. Mathis | Lester Abram | Ashtyn Bell | Graham Brown | Sherrod Harrell
Daniel Horton | Chris Hunter | Dani Wohl | John Andrews | Amadou Ba
Dion Harris | Brent Petway | Courtney Sims | Alex Brzozowicz | Ron Coleman
Fifth-Year Senior Forward J.C. Mathis
On the off season ... "It has been a long off season. I am looking forward to playing this year. It was a good off season. I did a lot of playing, a lot of participating. I am just ready to get started here."
On his role on the team ... "Basically my goal is to come out and play good basketball and play hard every day."
On the freshmen ... "Ron (Coleman) has been playing well in open gym and I can't wait to see how he plays when practice starts. As of now he has been great."
On team chemistry ... "We have good team chemistry. We don't have any selfish guys, but chemistry wasn't a problem last year so I don't expect it will be a problem this year."
On the team's focus during the preseason ... "We have just been trying to get better physically. We have been running, weightlifting, we have just been trying to get our bodies ready for this season."
On team improvement ... "I think we are better this year. The goal is to improve every year and everybody improved in different aspects over the summer. I think we are better this year."
Junior Wing Lester Abram
On his expected performance this season ... "Last year, I did a lot of things. I had a lot of statistics last year and I am going to improve those this season for the simple fact that each year I play here, I get better."
On being a consistent offensive player ... "I need to work on my shooting to be a better scorer. I need to understand certain situations on knowing when to shoot, how to read screens from my teammates and getting to the free throw line and making free throws."
On there being more shooters on the team ... "Everyone has really tried to improve this season. No one ever wants to stay on the same level as the year before. This season, the team has tried to become better shooters."
On being a captain and a leader on the court ... "I would like to lead by example. As a captain, I need to lead by example and be very vocal. I have to be encouraging. I tell my teammates what needs to be done on the floor and tell them if they're not doing what needs to be done."
Junior Guard Ashtyn Bell
On off-season improvements to his game ... "I mostly focused on my ball handling. I was trying to work on controlling the ball in high-speed situations. For example, if I was running my fastest, could I stop and make a move, and still control the ball. My court vision, and court awareness were also important, knowing the floor, knowing where everyone should be. The things a point guard should know."
On what team needs to focus on to start the year ... "I think we need to focus on continuing to play hard. We need to keep focus, and keep playing hard, and not live off of the NIT. Sometimes when guys come out of the game, they kind of get down, we need to stay together as a team."
On his role this season ... "I think my role this season will be more instead of just helping Daniel (Horton) and Dion (Harris) take the ball up in practice, I am going to try my hardest to become part of the rotation at the point guard so maybe Daniel can get a break, or move to shooting guard if he needs too. Basically I want to be the backup point guard, so I can come in and give Daniel a break, and have coach rely on me to bring the ball up and run the offense."
On what the team has tried to improve this off-season ... "We worked on staying together. If one guy didn't finish something, we all had to do it again with him. We worked on lifting weights, running, and everything like that. We're a family, and no matter what happens we stay a family, rather than everyone just going around and doing their own thing."
Junior Forward/Center Graham Brown
On his style of play and diving for loose balls ... "That is just how my mentality is. The ball on the floor is the most important thing. Without the ball you can't play the game. So I just know if the ball is going out of bounds, I have to be the one to go and get it. That's just always the way I've been taught, that's always been my mentality. I'm not going to change it."
On team's improvement in strength ... "Yeah, we've been in the weight room a lot. I feel a lot of our guys have improved this summer and we're going to be ready to go here come tomorrow. It's easy to know. Maybe last year guys came in a little weaker over the summer. But our guys worked hard over the off season, and we will be ready to go during these preseason games."
On this being "the year" ... "Yeah, I think this is our year. We're going to go out there and play our own game, and just see what happens. Things are going to fall in place if we just play our own game, so we're going to do whatever we can to make the NCAA tournament. That is not what we are really focusing on right now. It is always going to be in the back of our mind, but we are going to go out there and just try to win, first the preseason games, then the non-conference games, then the Big Ten, then the Big Ten tournament, then the NCAA tournament. We're just going to take it one step at a time, and do whatever we can to make it to the ultimate goal, which a championship."
On some preseason magazines putting Wolverines in Top 25 ... "When I first came here we were probably ranked in the high 80s, so it's just a great feeling to know that my class kind of started the whole trend of moving up. It's when Coach Amaker came in. I am sure it is just a great feeling for him. I feel like he's done a great job, and we're going to just keep improving and try to get up into that No. 1 spot. It's a great feeling knowing we've made a difference here at the University of Michigan and we're going to keep trying to improve that.
Junior Guard Sherrod Harrell
On off-season preparations ... "You look at yourself as a player, and see what part of your game are lacking. You work on the part of your game that you see lacking. You have to know yourself as a player, and be able to work on what needs to be worked on."
On being named captain ... "It means a lot. It says a lot about what my teammates think of me. I definitely don't take that for granted."
On expectations for playing time ... "Everyday you step on the court you have to work hard. No matter how much, or how little I play, every time I get in, I am going to work hard."
On expectations for new players ... "They have to come right in and get right with the program. We have a good solid core that has been here for a couple of years now, so as long as they hang around, and hang around us, they should be able to play right in. And I say that because they are both smart players, both Ron (Coleman) and Alex (Brzozowicz). Both are talented guys, and they should both be able to grab right on."
Junior Guard Daniel Horton
On Michigan's defensive-minded style of play ... "Since Coach Amaker has been here, he has implemented a system that is predicated on how we play defense. The games that we win are the games when we're rebounding well and playing great defense."
On the progression of the program since the arrival of Coach Amaker ... "When I first started playing here the talent level of the team wasn't as good as it is now. We didn't have the depth that we have now. We've become a very defensive-minded team and this style of play is something that's been working in the seasons with Coach Amaker."
On getting Sims involved with the offense ... "He's going to be a great big man. He's very talented and with Chris (Hunter) and Graham (Brown) beside him, we're going to have a very good and consistent front court."
On opening up play for the front court ... "I have to be a quarterback out there. I have to run our plays and run our system. I have to know when to break down the defense and make a play for somebody else and get everyone else involved. This year, I think there will be more emphasis on getting the ball down low because our big guys can play."
On his first two seasons with the Wolverines ... "I think I've grown a lot as a player and the coaches gave me the ball and they told me to go play. This team expected a lot from me and I think I've provided that. I didn't shoot the ball as well as I wanted to last season, but I led this team well in a lot of other things and I did my job as the point guard."
Junior Forward/Center Chris Hunter
On off season practice ... "I just stayed up here in Ann Arbor all summer, worked out in the weight room, rehabbing to get my body stronger."
On expectations for this season ... "My expectations are very big, personally for myself. I just want to do a lot of things better for this team to help take the team to the next level."
On what he hopes his role will be ... "I hope definitely my role increases. Who knows what it will be, just to help this team win in any way possible."
On his defensive improvements ... "I think just understanding the game better and just knowing how to play defense and knowing where to be."
On the captains this season ... "It is a good group of guys, a diverse group of guys as tri-captains. They are hard workers and very deserving of their role. I think it will be good for us this year. They keep us in line."
Senior/Junior Guard Dani Wohl
On the improvements he made to his game in the off season ... "I have tried to work on a lot of different things. I was running to get conditioned, I was putting up a lot of shots and really worked on my ball handling."
On his thoughts on conference play this season ... "The Big Ten is definitely improving from season to season and there is going to be some great play. It's going to be quite a challenge for us and definitely tougher than it was last season. We've all worked really hard as a team. We have great team chemistry and I hope it's going to pay off and we'll produce in conference play."
On his role this season ... "My main role is to be a great practice player and push the main guys in practice in order to make them better players. I need to bring enthusiasm, encouragement and toughness to the court and be a leader by doing the little things."
On the team chemistry ... "We have all been playing together for a while now and we're really getting comfortable with one another. We definitely bonded after we won the NIT championship last season, but that's behind us now. It's a new team and new season and we're really looking forward to it. We just need to push the right buttons and have people in the right places and we can do great things."
Sophomore Wing John Andrews
On how he improved during the off season ... "I've mostly improved physically by making my overall game quicker. I worked on being quicker off the dribble and on increasing my shooting range."
On his relationship with Coach Amaker ... "Coach has been great. I really like his style of coaching. He's taught me a lot about the game and a lot about being a man."
On being 2004 NIT champs ... "It was a great experience because we were such a young team. But we are more experienced now and that is only going to help. We have bigger and better goals for this season."
Junior/Sophomore Center Amadou Ba
On off season improvements ... "I lifted a lot of weights. I played with my teammates a lot. I went to Europe with the Big Ten Team and played in a lot of games there."
On playing with the Big Ten Team in Europe ... "I think my experience was very important because I had a chance to play in games, getting up and down the floor and gaining more experience I can bring with me this year. It was good experience because we played against guy who were older, bigger, and who played together for a long time. It was good competition."
On his role will be this season ... "I don't exactly know what my role will be on the team. Whatever coach asks me to do I will do. I will try to generate a lot of energy throughout the team."
On the freshmen ... "I really don't have any expectations to the freshmen because they have already shown us over the summer what they are capable of doing. They are not behind because they have been doing all the workouts and everything the rest of the team has been doing. We are really excited to have them here."
On team chemistry ... "I think we have team chemistry because we have been together for a while. We only have two new people coming in this year. We all know each other and have played a lot of games together."
On his main focuses for the start of the season ... "We need to get off the block right away. We need to have a good start. If we have a good start, everything will be alright for us. We are just working on the season game by game, step by step."
Sophomore Guard Dion Harris
On his thoughts about making the Big Ten All Freshman Team ... "I kind of expected to make the all freshman team because it was one of my goals at the beginning of the season. I accomplished my goal and it was not a big surprise for me."
On the encouragement of the captains in preseason ... "The three guys have really been encouraging the team and cheering us on. They have been keeping us all motivated.
On the improvements he made to his game in the off season ... "This off season, I have really focused on becoming quicker, working on my mid-range game and moves going to the basket."
On what he expects his role to be this season ... "My role is to be the best player I can be on this team. This year, I want to take on the role like Bernard Robinson Jr. He led us in rebounding and assists. I want to do it all. I want to contribute like he did."
On the experience in the preseason ... "We stepped up our work-outs and went hard after everything. I think our work ethic is going to help us a lot going into the season."
Sophomore Forward Brent Petway
On team goals ... "We had five main goals during off season: get better, get ready, win our next game, win the Big Ten Championship, and win the Big Ten tournament. And maybe even win the NCAA tournament. We come in every year with the same five goals. If we take care of those, we become pretty good."
On Ron Coleman ... "He came in this summer. He's got a sweet stroke. He can get to the rack, and is real athletic, so I am really looking forward to his playing here. He's got a bright future in my eyes."
On how he has improved in his game ... "During the off season, I've been working on my ball-handling, perimeter skills a little bit, my jump shot and working on my post game. Hopefully this year I will be able to get to the rack a little easier with my perimeter game."
On what needs to focused on early on ... "Getting back into the flow of things. We all know what coach wants from us, so just getting ready to go back strong when the games start."
On his role and more flashy dunks ... "You know if you got it, why not use it If I can energize the team that way, then that is what I am going to do.
Sophomore Forward/Center Courtney Sims
On what his biggest focus change from last year to this year is ... "Rebounding mostly. I got taken out in the second half a lot last year because of my rebounding. That is what is most important."
On preseason rankings for this year ... "It feels good to be ranked but we are going to try to get even higher. I think we can compete with most of the Top 10."
On team goals ... "Every year the team's goal is to win the national championship and I believe we have the talent to do that. We just have to work as a team to accomplish that."
On team improvements offensively and defensively ... "Well, everybody came back a lot better and a lot stronger. I think we can just use our experience and we will be a lot better."
On the value of playing in the NIT to the team ... "It was very important because we learned how to play in single elimination where if you lose your season is over."
On bulking up in the off season ... "I lifted five days a week. I tried to eat three times a day and have protein shakes whenever I could. I didn't really eat fast food, just whatever my mom cooked me. I couldn't believe how much weight I gained. I gained 25 pounds. People can't push me around as much. I can take getting hit in the air a lot better. I don't really feel any slower. I feel the same as last year without the weight."
Freshman Guard Alex Brzozowicz
On off season improvements ... "In the off season I lifted weights and worked on getting stronger."
On the coaching staff ... "The coaches have been really helpful, showing me what to do, getting me prepared for what I need to do."
On playing for reigning NIT Champions ... "I am so excited! But, we still have a lot of work to do."
On contributions as a walk on freshman ... "I contribute in practice, I make my teammates work really hard by working really hard myself. I think I am helping to make my team better as a whole."
On if there were other places he wanted to play or was Michigan a definite for him ... "I have always wanted to come here. My dad grew up a Notre Dame fan and I grew up a Michigan fan. This is the only place I wanted to be. I am so excited to get to be in this atmosphere."
On who has been the biggest mentor on the team ... "I think Lester has. He is the captain. He is not that verbal but he leads by example and I think he is one of the hardest workers on the team."
Freshman Wing Ron Coleman
On goals for this season ... "My goals are just to come and play hard. To come out every day on the court and give my all, play to the best of my ability. To do what coach tells me to do and handle my business."
On replacing Bernard Robinson ... "I've heard people saying, 'Well maybe Ron Coleman is coming in to fill in for Bernard.' I just take that as another factor to just help out the team. I'm just here to play hard every game and help out the team. I don't think there is a player out there to fill in for him. I've just got to come in here and help. It's like we are a chain and I'm one of those links. I am coming in to make that chain stronger."
On what he wants to bring to this team ... "I want to defend hard, cheer for my teammates, pick up my teammates when they are down, all those things that a teammate needs to do. I come in here just to fill in, work hard, do what I am supposed to do on the floor, and listen to Coach Amaker. And that is what I am going to do."
On what position he will play most this year ... "I really don't know that, but I think I will be playing mostly the two or the three. In high school I played center, but I came here and I got stronger and bigger, so I can play the four a little bit too."
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423