Dribble and Drives: Performing for an Audience of their Peers

Dribbles and Drives from inside the House that Cazzie Built
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 22 - Performing for an Audience of their Peers

On Wednesday, the student body was given the first chance to get a glimpse at the 2008-09 Michigan basketball team as the Wolverines hosted an open practice for U-M students. Pizza was provided to students at the Junge Center before the Maize and Blue put on a 25-minute scrimmage. Coach Beilein wore a microphone throughout the scrimmage to provide the student further insight on the progress the team has been making. Following the scrimmage, Beilein and the team signed autographs and spoke to students about the upcoming season.

" It's great anytime that we can allow the students to get to know our players a little bit better and today was a good opportunity for that," Beilein said. "It's nice to allow our students to get into Crisler Arena and get to know a little bit of the personality of our team."

John Beilein and his 2008-09 Wolverines hosted an open practice for students.

The scrimmage was also a change of pace for the players, as they had the opportunity to perform in front of an audience for the first time this season which, as C.J. Lee noted, can serve as extra motivation.

"It is a change because we are always practicing by ourselves, so to have some people come and watch gives you a little boost of energy," Lee noted. "We are happy that we can do that for our fans and we hope that they come out and support us throughout the season."

DeShawn Sims echoed Lee's comments, "Student support is very big. I love walking to class and seeing the students that come out and support us during the season. Today, having those students come out and visit practice has been fun."

Student season tickets are still available for $99 by logging on tomgoblue.com/tickets, or visiting the U-M Ticket Office at 1000 South State Street, Ann Arbor. The U-M Ticket Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Court Vision with C.J. Lee
TUESDAY, OCT. 21 - Phase One Check, Now onto Phase Two

Since we last spoke, we have completely moved from phase one -- preseason conditioning -- into phase two -- preseason practice.

Last Friday, practice started at 7 p.m., and we have been practicing hard every day since. Friday was a special day for me also because it was my birthday. I had a good day and most importantly, we had a good opening day of practice.

Michigan has a fall study break which allows us to focus solely on basketball for a little while. Since Friday, we have been in minicamp meaning we have been practicing, watching film, lifting weights and learning our offense. Sunday and Monday consisted of two sessions. The first session was very instructional in terms of the coaches teaching us our offensive sets, press breakers and defensive schemes. The second session both days was more of an all out competitive practice, which consisted of implementing what we learned in previous sessions.

So far, we are making strides in the right direction and we seem to be competing every day. Guys are getting a lot thrown at them in terms of offensive sets and defensive principles. The main things that we have to do regardless of schemes are having high intensity every day and make it a point to compete in the effort areas.

I like the pace we are playing at right now, but we need to tighten up our execution. With guys trying to learn different spots and new guys getting placed into the mix, guys aren't as comfortable as they will be in the upcoming weeks. That will come, so I am not at all worried, it is only Day Four. The important thing is that guys continue to listen and continue to internalize what we are trying to do.

All over the country teams are doing exactly what we are doing, gearing up for the season. The biggest challenge we face is the urge to want to coast through practice and workouts. Every team in America is grinding out these practices in order to be good and we are no different. In terms of our approach to each day, I am all for putting last season behind us, but the one thing we do have to remember are those moments when we would have lapses that would cost us games. I think our coaching staff and the leaders on our team are doing a good job of holding people accountable each and every second of practice. When you see the man next to you giving his all for the team, you cannot possibly ask less of yourself than your absolute best effort.

Sunday night, the entire staff and team went over to Coach Mike Jackson's House for our training meal. This is something that Coach Jackson does every year generally in between preseason conditioning and preseason practice. I look forward to it every year because the food is outstanding. Mrs. Jackson and the rest of the family hook us up so nice every year. While at Coach Jackson's house, Kelvin Grady and I were going back and forth about who was eating the most in order to maintain their weight. Kelvin and I have a competition about who weighs the most every day before practice. Kelvin won this summer during the offseason workouts but I won the preseason conditioning this fall. His taunting that night was the reason I ate a second bowl of banana pudding just to stay ahead hopefully.

That is it for now. Bear with me, but I will keep you updated. I promise.

Dribbles and Drives from inside the House that Cazzie Built
TUESDAY, OCT. 21 - Practice is Officially Underway

The sound of bouncing basketball's and coaches blowing whistles is back. The squeaking of shoes and the swishing of nylon nets has been echoing throughout Crisler Arena since Friday, Oct. 17. Basketball season officially tipped off and the Wolverines have been engaged fully in their first workouts of the season.

"Our attitude is terrific, the kids are working very hard, we have lots of floor burns and I'm proud of them," said Coach John Beilein of the first few days of practice. "After three of four days, it's refreshing to see the attitude. This first week is like a training camp because of the long weekend. We've been going three to four hours a day because there are no classes. So we are into it, and the attitude has been great."

The long weekend Beilein is referring to is the university's two-day fall break, which gave the Wolverines a little more time to think basketball without classes. Call it the Maize and Blue training camp -- five straight days of intense working out.

"It's a nice five-day stretch where it's just basketball," said Zack Gibson. "Go home, eat right, get some sleep and more basketball the next day, so it's good for us."

"Everyone is working hard, it's fun," added Manny Harris. "This is what we were waiting for, we got the track (workouts) out of the way, and that's really the hard stuff. Now everyone can focus on basketball and school."

When asked if there were any surprises this year compared to other years, David Merritt didn't think so. "Same old, same old around here," he said. "We're working very hard, we know they (the coaching staff) are going to push you and we are going to push ourselves as well."

While that might be true for the practices, Merritt did point out one surprise, freshman Stu Douglass sporting the beginnings of a goatee on this chin. Normally beards are grown for the postseason, but this early

After getting a chuckle about it, Douglass noted that his goatee is most likely to not be a permanent fixture. "That will probably be gone," he said. "Zack (Gibson) always jokes with me about it, but he has the worst of it (facial hair), mine will be gone."

Gibson didn't seem too impressed Douglass' new look. "I'm always telling Stu that he missed a little spot down there. That is probably as much as he can grow, that's why he's sporting it."

Only time will tell if Douglass' goatee makes an appearance 16 days from today (Nov. 6) when they Wolverines open the 2008-09 season with an exhibition contest against Saginaw Valley State at Crisler Arena.

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