Player Comments from
U-M Men's Basketball Media Day
Bernard Robinson Jr. | Colin Dill | J.C. Mathis | Dani Wohl | Lester Abram
Graham Brown | Sherrod Harrell | Daniel Horton | Chris Hunter | Amadou Ba
John Andrews | Dion Harris | Brent Petway | Courtney Sims
Senior Wing Bernard Robinson Jr.
On stepping up his game for his senior season ... "Coach (Amaker) has really stressed to me that I need to take it up one more notch from last year as far as the level of my game. I need to try to go out there and get everyone involved to do more as a team. I've accepted that role with LaVell (Blanchard) not being here and I'm ready for the challenge."
On the adjustments made now they are NCAA tournament eligible ... "It was the easiest thing in the world to adjust to. We now have the opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament. Individually, it's a goal that is now possible to achieve, so when I heard the news I was really excited and couldn't wait to get this season underway. It will give us that extra push or motivation to make it to that tournament."
On the team's attitude before the sanctions were lifted ... "It would have been easy to get motivated regardless. We had a lot of things we could have achieved this year. First of all, to win games, to put Michigan back on the map. We've always said that the last few teams are starting Michigan's dynasty so we had the chance to help make Michigan great again. We had a chance to win the Big Ten and the Big Ten Tournament so we had a lot of things to play for so we were definitely focused from the beginning."
On if the media underrates them ... "I don't really focus on that or have heard what people are talking about but I definitely think we're up there as one of the top teams in the Big Ten Conference. I think we can match up with any team in this league or in the country for that matter with the nucleus we have."
On Michigan vs. Michigan State becoming a Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry ... "I definitely think it's possible. I know it's possible for Michigan to be dominant and Michigan State has been doing great things for so long so I think they will always be a great team and a team to always contend with. I think it's possible for both of us to be competing with everyone in the country."
On his player/coach relationship with coach Amaker ... "It's definitely grown, it's blossomed every year. I've got to know him more as a person and his offense and style of coaching so it's a good situation."
On this year's freshman class ... "They are definitely very good freshman and freshman who can do some things right now. I can't imagine what they will do next year and the year after that. They showed us that on the Canada trip, things that freshman usually can't do, they can do. The smarts they have are amazing to see and I pick up on things they do all the time."
Senior Forward Colin Dill
On the heavier expectations of this season and whether or not the approach is different ... "I don't think so because we have a great group of veteran guys and our coaches do a great job in making sure that we are as prepared as we need to be going into our basketball games. A lot of our guys have come from programs where they are use to being the mark team and our use to that sort of pressure."
On wither the Toronto trip was a valuable experience ... "Toronto was great in the fact that it showed us how good we could be. It showed us what we need to work on to make sure that we achieve what we want to. That is to win every game and play our best in all of our games."
On J.C. Mathis being named captain ... "He was voted captain of our basketball team because the players wanted him to lead our basketball team. He is a great guy and leader. Everybody saw that J.C. is a quality guy and wanted him to lead our team and that is why we chose him to be our captain."
Senior/Junior Forward J.C. Mathis
On being named captain this season ... "It is a little different than last season, but there are no dramatic changes. I was trying to show some leadership last year, but I am really trying to do that this year as a captain."
On what he did in the offseason to improve ... "The two main things I did in the off season was working on shooting and trying to run quicker and longer. This year we are trying to play more of an up-tempo style and more of the type of defense that Coach Amaker wants. That is what I have tried to work on."
On the Toronto trip ... "We played three games. We played very well as a team and I think Coach Amaker was pleased with that. Everyone got a chance to play and that was great. I think it helped team chemistry a lot to spend fall break together. Overall it was a positive experience."
On what he adds to the team ... "I think I'll help with rebounding and scoring in the frontcourt. I think I will play the power forward most of the time, but I will sometimes play center too."
On the depth in the frontcourt ... "The team is going to be much better. We are not slim in the frontcourt anymore. We have quite a few frontcourt players and we all bring something different to the table. We can help our team in the game, but it also helps us get better in practice and pushes us. I think it is a huge advantage for our team."
Junior/Sophomore Guard Dani Wohl
On contributing as a point guard ... "I can bring consistency. I can be on the court, be a presence, and help the team out in any way possible. Obviously, my main role is not to score, it's to be the leader on the court, an extension of the coach, to dish the ball out and get the ball to the right people who are going to score. If I can do that, I can help the team."
On playing in Toronto ... "I think it was a great experience. It was a great opportunity for our team to come together early, before anyone else got to start to their season. We have a head start compared to other teams. Winning all three games was not necessarily as important as gelling as a team. It was a great opportunity for our team to come together."
On sitting out last year ... "Anytime you can't play, you look at the game from another perspective. You see stuff you wouldn't necessarily see if you were playing. You take in the whole experience, learning all the plays without having to go in there and run them right away. It gave me a lot of confidence, which will hopefully help me out a lot this year."
On the team's goals ... "Our main goal is to come out and win every single game we can win. Another goal we have is to win the Big Ten and win the Big Ten Conference Tournament and from there the sky is the limit."
Sophomore Wing Lester Abram
On hearing the news of the postseason ban being lifted ... "I was happy when I first heard the news but now I realize that nothing really is going to happen unless we take advantage of this year and do what we are suppose to do to get to the tournament."
On the tournament in Toronto this past weekend ... "I was real happy! Our chemistry was better than last year. This year I am not expecting one or two guys to be the leading scorer every game night in and night out. It could go between four or five different people."
On if he is going to take more of a scoring role this season ... "I just go out there and try to play my role. I do not know if it is going to be scoring or not but if that is what my Coach (Amaker) needs, I am ready to deliver for him."
On the adjustment of this year's freshman ... "Since day one, they have been able to pick up on everything. We have only had 10 practices and they have picked up on things so fast. The group of freshmen this year had to learn things so quick that I thought it was going to be tougher on them but they have adjusted real well."
On what each of the freshmen can do ... "Brent (Petway) has a lot of athleticism. He is probably one of the highest jumpers in the Big Ten if not the country. He had a couple of gigantic dunks in Toronto. Courtney (Sims) brings another down low presence and has the ability to step outside and hit some jump shots. He will probably create some match up problems for some of the other big men. Dion (Harris) brings an all around game being able to play the point, shooting guard and possibly the small forward. He is just a good all around player."
On filling the offensive from last year ... "I think I can step up and fill some of the load by picking up on my scoring and rebounding. I do not think I will have to play as many minutes this year because we have so much depth. That is good because last year I was playing 30-35 minutes as a freshmen and you tend to get tired and you want to come out but there is no subs for you. This year we have subs which is a good thing."
On his understanding of the game in second year ... "I think I understand the game better than last year. As a freshman you tend to make a lot of mistakes and I just had to learn from my mistakes. This year, I don't think I will be making as many mistakes. Especially on the defensive end you have to help because I always just wanted to guard my man and stop him from scoring. I learned you have to help your other teammates because no one can guard one man one on one for the whole game."
Sophomore Center Graham Brown
On last year ... "In the beginning of the season, we didn't play our individual roles and we didn't work together as a team. Once Coach Amaker instilled that in us we began to play as a team and finished the season strong."
On competing for the U.S. World Junior team ... "It was a great experience, having the opportunity to play for your country. It's one thing playing for a University because you play as hard as you can, but with this you know in the back of your mind you are playing for an entire country. It's a great feeling being out there and playing in Greece with everybody from around the country."
On his play overseas ... "We all played manageable minutes. I just went out there and played as hard as I could. Some games I played better than others. I feel very happy with my experience over there. I got more comfortable with that European game because they play a little different style basketball. I felt a lot more comfortable after a couple of games."
On his improvement ... "I think they [the fans] will see quite an improvement. I am a lot more confident than last year. Towards the end of last year, I was a little more confident than I was at the beginning. I am going to be a lot more confident this year and I will be more aggressive offensively. It's just going to be a totally different game. I'll still be the same person, but I am going to be more aggressive."
On his role on the team ... "I'm going to take pretty much the same role as last year. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can down low. I'm going to get the scrap points. I'm going to do what I can to help the team. Maybe I can dominate in rebounding, that's what I'm looking for. If that happens, that would be a great thing."
On the loss of LaVell Blanchard ... "I feel like a veteran as a big man out there compared to everybody else. I feel the responsibility to go out there and do whatever I can to pick up the slack we have from losing him. We have a lot of newcomers coming in and with Chris and J.C., we are going to have a great backcourt and a great frontcourt."
On the lineup ... "I don't know what is going to happen yet. When we were in Toronto, we were just trying to mix things up. We start official practice Saturday, and it's just going to be a tough battle. Everybody's going to be fighting for positions. It's probably going to be week-to-week. Everybody's going to play depending on matches and practice. That's what's going to make us so good this year. Everyone has improved so much since last year. We're probably going to have one of the better and deeper backcourts and frontcourts in the country."
Sophomore Guard Sherrod Harrell
On what he sees his role as this year ... "I'm going to come in and do the dirty work. I'm going to scrap for loose balls, scrap for rebounds, defend the ball well, and hopefully find some open shots."
On what he worked on in the offseason ... "I lifted weights, tried to get bigger and stronger for this season. Shooting, dribbling and ball handling, things a guard has to do.
On the development of the team ... "We are so much farther ahead then we were last year. We are already gelling and playing together this year."
On his advice to the freshman class ... "Know what your priorities are and what your goals are in life. Now you have to do what will help you reach those goals."
Sophomore Guard Daniel Horton
On if his ability to be a clutch player has always been a part of his game ... "I think so. Being a clutch player is not necessarily making a big shot, but just helping to make a play or doing something to put my team over the top."
On his expectation for the season ... "I am confident that we will be good this year. People have had a lot of things to say about us since the postseason ban has been lifted. People say this and that, but nobody works like us. At first it was going to be that we were not motivated. Now it is another excuse now that we are hoping to make the tournament. All I know is that we are going to be good this year."
On knowing the postseason ban was lifted ... "It uplifted us, not basketball-wise, but psychologically. Basketball-wise we knew we were going to play hard every game like we did last year and we knew we could still attain some of our goals. With that, it added a little more to our mind."
On what he did over the summer to improve his game ... "I worked on my game individually and did a couple of things off the court. I had surgery in the end of July on my nasal passages to help my breathing. I am in a lot better shape physically this year than last year."
On what he learned about the team's depth in Toronto ... "We have a lot of depth, especially defensively. We can bring a bunch of different guys and do different things on defense, change defense and give teams problems. When you change defenses a lot and change the look other teams get, you can give them problems."
On the experience of being in the Big Ten race last year helping this year ... "It is going to help us a lot. It is going to give us that experience that we need to help us pull out games that we didn't pull out last year. We have a lot of experience coming back this year. We have four sophomores in the starting lineup right now and guys who played a lot of minutes last year coming off the bench. We have a lot of experience and that is going to help."
On the freshman class this season ... "They will contribute a lot. They bring a different dimension to the team that we didn't have last year physically. Brent (Petway) and Dion (Harris) and Courtney (Sims) are all long and athletic and can help us defensively. They all can score and that give us more options."
On him being a marked-man this season ... "I feel like I am the same player. I am more mature and I am older, but as far as my game, I am the same player. It is not about what I am going to do personally, but it about what we are going to do as a team. There are four other guys out there with me that are going to help take pressure off me when teams are ganging up on me."
On if he thinks Michigan will be in the NCAA Tournament ... "I would like to say there isn't, but there is a lot of basketball to be played. We have to win games and qualify to play in the NCAA Tournament. I would like to believe that we would be there."
On the Big Ten Conference ... "Obviously Michigan State is going to be good. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State. There are five or six teams in the conference that could win the championships. I think the conference is much stronger top to bottom."
Sophomore Forward Chris Hunter
On being one of the leaders among the post-players ... "My role changed drastically. We have a lot of guys coming in, like Amadou (Ba) and J.C. (Mathis) that were here but did not get any game experience. We also have guys like Courtney (Sims) and Brent (Petway) coming in that need a lot of assistance with some things like help-side defense and some of their footwork. That is something that Graham (Brown) and I bring to the table. Also, I think it is great for them to challenge us and for us to challenge them."
On his evaluation of the team going into the season ... "I think we made a great start but there are a lot of things we need to work on to be a great team. Right now we are a good team, but we are striving to be a great team. The Toronto trip got us on the road to being a good team, but we have a lot of things to work on and fine-tune so we can be a great team. That is where we need to be to make a Big Ten run and hopefully a NCAA Tournament run."
On what the team's goals are and his personal goals ... "For the team I just want to win as many games as possible and get as far as possible. For me, I just want to use my abilities to help this team to do as well as we can. Whether that is blocking shots, rebounding or scoring a little out there or whatever coach wants me to do."
On the Toronto trip ... "There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joking around, but when the game time started we got down to business. We did pretty well up there, so it was even better. In all aspects, this Toronto trip was great for us. On the court we showed a lot that we can do and we also showed a lot that we could work on. It was great for us on the court. Off the court it got us into the swing for how things are going to be in the regular season. Especially for the freshman, to be able to experience something like that before it really gets serious."
On what he did to improve in the offseason ... "I tried to put on a little weight. I put on five or ten pounds since last year so that is going to help me. I got a little stronger and a little quicker. I also think my mental game is better. I understand what coach wants us to do on the floor. I understand the concepts that he wants from us. I am just a little better prepared for the college game this year."
Sophomore/Freshman Center Amadou Ba
On the Toronto trip ... "It was very good for all the players because we got a chance to play together. It's a whole new team with the four freshman and J.C. (Mathis), Dani (Wohl), and myself who did not play last year so it helped us a lot to learn about each other."
On how this season will be different than last season ... "There's a big difference from last year for me. Last year I mainly supported my teammates from the sidelines and tried to help them that way. I'm very excited and happy with the chance to play this year."
On team and individual goals for this season ... "The teams goal is to win more game this year than last year and to get off to a good start. What I can bring to the team is a lot of energy on the floor and a lot of defense. We have a lot of people on this team who can shoot so I can do my best to try to get them open shots and that will free me up to get rebounds. I think my biggest role on this team though is to play defense and to guard my man and come from the help side for my teammates."
On the buzz around campus and the atmosphere for this year's games ... "It was really good last year and we had a lot of people supporting us. It's always has been that way but this year is going to be bigger because our team this year will be much better than last year. I think we'll win more games and we have a chance to play in the tournament so a lot of people are excited about it and we are excited about it. We just have to work hard and with each other to achieve our goals."
Freshman Wing John Andrews
On his Michigan experience as a student-athlete so far ... "Academically I was kind of overwhelmed at first because Michigan is one of the best universities around. The workload, I knew it was going to be a lot of work but I didn't know how much. I had to adjust; it's a lot different from high school. Basketball-wise, it's been pretty much what I expected. I knew coming to Michigan, a big time school, the level of the game would increase."
On why he chose Michigan ... "I chose Michigan because this is a place where I felt most comfortable and it's close to home. So feeling comfortable in the college atmosphere and being close to home were the two things I was looking for when choosing a school. Michigan offered both for me."
On what aspects of his game he plans to improve ... "My goal is to quicken my decision making and being able to read and react. Coach Amaker is very big on reading the other team and your teammates. I just want to improve on the overall speed of the game and reacting to it."
Freshman Guard Dion Harris
On where he is most confident in shooting the ball from ... "Three pointers are what I do best. I think I can come in and be a key three-point shooter. Coach (Amaker) said if I get my feet set that I am allowed to shoot the ball."
On being a part of this program as it is on the way back up ... "It's exciting knowing that they came off that great season last year. It feels real good right now!"
On what he expects of the season ... "I just want to come in and do whatever is takes to contribute to the team. Whether it is scoring or playing defense. I think this year I will be asked upon to score. I have run the point and shooting guard positions in practice this year. So, I think I will be able to run some point guard but mostly I will play the shooting guard position."
On what he learned from the trip to Toronto ... "It was great to go and play with the team in live game type situations and I got a feeling for what my role is going to be on the team."
On being able to run a fast break offense this year ... "I prefer being able to get out and running and I think this year he is going to let us get out and run a lot. We will be able to do what we want to do on the offensive end as long as we are playing good defense."
Freshman Forward Brent Petway
On personal goals for the season ... "I just want to contribute to the team, play my role and get the job done so we can advance to the NCAA Tournament."
On the crowd at Michigan ... "I played in front of a couple of big crowds, but I think it is going to be different. I like playing in front of big crowds, I have a very exciting style of play and I like to feed off their emotion. It should cater to my game and get me hyped up to play better."
On his expectations ... "For the team, we just want to win it all. As for myself, I just want to compete and do my job on the glass and rebound. I just want to contribute to the team."
On his dunking ability ... "I'm a crowd pleaser. If the ball comes off the rim, I'm trying to go up and dunk it on somebody. I just try to get the crowd into the game and that helps the team because once the crowd is in the game, then you start to play harder. I feel like that is my job. I'm like the energizer bunny. Dunking helps me play defense harder and shoot the ball easier. I love to hear the crowd roar."
Freshman Forward/Center Courtney Sims
On his fellow freshman teammates ... "Dion (Harris) is a great scorer, period. He can shoot the ball and also penetrate and dish off and everything. Brent (Petway) is the best athlete I have probably ever seen, he can jump out of the building. John (Andrews) is a great scorer also, he just finds a way to score and I'm the shot-blocker who can also shoot. I think we play very well together."
On his athletic background ... "I grew up playing tennis, I used to play tournaments all around. I won three national tournaments at age 13, 14, and 15. Tennis really helped me with my footwork and hand eye coordination. I wasn't that tall then, I was 6-3 as a freshman in high school."
On his first experience playing basketball ... "I didn't play on my first basketball team until I was a freshman in high school, I never played organized basketball. I didn't know any rules, I used to foul all the time. Even though I was one of the tallest, I never knew to rebound and I didn't even start for my freshman team. I started playing AAU as a sophomore and I grew to 6-7 and that's when I started playing varsity."
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423