Oct. 24, 2013
Head Coach John Beilein 7th Season at U-M Career Coaching Record 673-403
Opening statement ... "Thank you everyone for coming today. It's a great day to have media day and begin the process of beginning to play games. Two weeks from tomorrow will be our first real game, and we're excited about it. We've had a great preseason. It's different because it's been a different schedule, but I think we've been experimenting in some areas; how to keep them fresh, but at the same time make the right progress. I'm sure we didn't do everything right, but I think we like that we're fairly healthy right now, and we're playing as good as we can for this point in the season. I like the guys on this team; they're a good bunch of young men, virtually maintenance-free up to this point. Now we go ahead and we go about trying to help them develop their skills while teaching them what winning basketball at Michigan is all about. I'm sure you have a lot of questions, and I look forward to you meeting some of these young men and having some time with them because I think you'll really like them. The seven young men that were with us last year that are not with us, the five seniors and Trey [Burke] and Tim [Hardaway Jr.], were great representatives of the University. I think you'll find the same thing with these three new scholarship players and walk-ons that we have."
On the health of Mitch McGary ... "He's making great progress, but we're super cautious. He's been doing underwater treadmill workouts that are really productive. I know I couldn't do some of those, and so it's really good but we're being very cautious as well. If he keeps making this progress day after day (he's still day-to-day), one of these days he's going to have to get out there to see what he can do. But we're very cautious."
On the versatility of this year's team ... "I think with Mitch not being in there right now, we're not as versatile as we'd like to be because we want to have people playing a lot of different positions. When Mitch is healthy, we are fairly versatile where we can play a bunch of multi-position players and just let it roll. Some things have happened in practice thus far that would be good for us to just play that way, whether it's continually with a big lineup or really small, all long guys at one time. I do like that part."
On any similarities between Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. ... "There are some similarities. Tim was certainly a shooter that learned to drive and handle. I think Zak has done a lot of those things. Derrick is 100 percent right now; at least he has been in practice. He missed about four or five days just while we made sure that his foot was fine. I've seen great decision making by Derrick, which is really good. I've seen that type of thing from very few freshmen. Both Tim and Trey had a different air about them; one was a quiet confidence, one was more pronounced. I see both of those qualities."
On the biggest challenge going into this year ... "I think the two biggest ones are to replace the intangibles we had off those five seniors that left this team and won a lot of games in their time. There were things going on in the locker room, in practice, in the weight room, meals, and it's hard to replace those things. And then the whole idea that there's Tim and Trey at the end of the shot clock and at the end of games, if we were drawing up things it was going to them. Who are you drawing up things for at the end of the games? That's something we're working through right now. Two first round draft choices, it's been a long time since we've had a first round draft choice. We had two in the same year that we've lost, so trying to replace that, we'll learn on the fly a little bit."
On what the five freshmen have to learn from the veteran players ... "It's just giving Mitch a great opportunity to help coach Mark Donnal, and he's been doing so in practice so that's really good for us. Glenn (Robinson) has really stepped up from a very quiet leader and taken in so much information trying to figure out himself to be able to give some of that same knowledge over to Zak Irvin. And then Spike (Albrecht) is doing the same thing with Derrick (Walton). They're partnered up pretty well, and it's nice to see that type of attitude."
On the high expectations for this season despite losing two first round draft picks ... "I think a lot is premature. We're not going to know what we've lost until we find out what we can do. But at the same time, I think Michigan should have high expectations every year. You don't do as well some years, well then the expectations probably were too much. It beats the alternative, certainly, but we're trying to handle it well. To be honest with you, after our second NCAA Tournament year where we almost beat Duke in the second round, there were high expectations and last year there were even higher expectations. They've been able to meet them pretty well, but you're never going to meet all expectations that everyone has."
On the strength and depth of the front court ... "It's flipped, hasn't it? All of a sudden we have a very experienced front court, not very experienced but one year of experience. I think that we can multi-position those guys, that's one thing, and we can continue to do what we've been doing, I mean really multi-position, like something no one's ever seen. Guys like Caris and Nik, who are all 6-foot-6, and ones that are almost 200 pounds and ones that are over 200 pounds; they can play a lot of positions."
On handling the point guard position and who will start on Tuesday's exhibition ... "We have to put a thing down and make sure we get enough minutes during those days, and it's real good to have a local school, Concordia, be able to come over. It's really neat for them and good for us. I'll wait a couple more days, but between Derrick or Spike, I guarantee one of them will be at point guard. But it's very different than everybody knowing that Trey was going to be at point two straight years. But we'll play with that a little bit and see who is best coming off the bench. You know the deal with me, sometimes the guy coming off the bench may be the better fit for the team, or who he's in with. It took Trey a little bit to get in front of Stu [Douglass]. Derrick is coming on really strong, but I think Spike right now - I think the other day he had 20 assists and two turnovers, and I'm saying, 'I'm still mad, Spike, about those two turnovers,' because I thought they were turnovers that he knew better than to make. Spike's teams traditionally win in scrimmages no matter who we put him with, so we're still trying to figure that out. Some of those answers are fundamental; it's just about the right guys."
On Glenn Robinson III playing small forward this year ... "Our two forwards do the exact same thing. Who's on the right side, who is on the left side, but we can't call them both three-men because that would be really confusing. Wherever he plays, I think you'll see him on the right side and the left side, and you'll see him a lot in both areas. It's like having two wide receivers. As many of you know, I made that survey this past year that most people play skilled wings and even in the NBA they play with more small forwards than they play with big bulky power guys."
On getting Glenn Robinson III involved in the offense, rather than him creating his own shots like last year ... "The things he is doing right now with his game are things that he never even dreamed of doing last year. We'll continue to experiment with what's best for him. I'll make a comparison with football, you've got a guy like MegaTron (Calvin Johnson) and you've got a guy like Barry Sanders. You might throw MegaTron the ball seven times a game, but he may score three touchdowns. Barry Sanders might have the ball 30 times a game and he might score two touchdowns. It's the same thing, so whether he [Robinson] is playing with space or playing with the ball, he's basically important to everything that we do."
On if the shooting guard position is set yet ... "I think that Nik and Caris can both play like a big guard. Both of them are two-position players. Caris probably can play either guard and Nik can probably play what he played before and play the off-guard. We could play the two point guards as well. With Zak Irvin, you'll mostly see him as a forward right now."
On Nik Stauskas' improved strength ... "He's getting the areas he needs to get to, and that's really important. He's learning to play through that contact, which is such a big part of college basketball. Now we have some new rules coming this year where maybe he'll get to the foul line even more if people are going to hold him, but we've got a lot of work to do. If you watch us do layup drills, they're not your grandfather's layup drills. There's a pad hitting somebody every time to make sure they are embracing contact. He's good at it, but he's not Trey Burke-good at it yet. Tim Hardaway became good at it later on, and very few younger players are. He'll be fine at it. He's a unique skill set that he can really shoot and his handle is really good. Now he's trying to pick and choose his spots."
On his confidence that the NCAA will enforce those contact rules ... "I watched the video yesterday, and I think there's a pretty big emphasis on it. We'll see what happens between that and the charge rule, those are very significant changes. Our scoring has gone up every year in the last three years, and apparently they feel scoring is going down. I don't know if I agree right now, but they got some really skilled and well educated in the game of basketball men making those decisions. Whatever they do, we'll just adapt."
On whether the Big Ten can be as good as it was last year ... "I think in today's basketball, it's really hard for any conference to be the monster conference every year. However, I see us winning recruiting battles, I see us having the coaching staffs having the retention that should keep us at the top. In the [Big Ten/ACC] Challenge, for example, it could be two buzzer-shot games, and it could be the two last place teams that determine which conference is better. I think it was one time before I was here, it may have been getting three or four teams in. I don't see that ever happening again."
On any changes he has seen in Stauskas' game ... "His pace is really something that we work on a lot, but his pace is terrific. It's like finding a running back that learns how to spot his holes, or a quarterback that knows when to step up. His pace is so much different than it's been and it's continuing to grow because he's a big perimeter player that can throw over the top, like Darius Morris used to run a pick-and-roll. That can be really effective when you have a guy who can not only see over the top, but can throw over the top as well as throw underneath."
On trying to repeat last year's success ... "The harder things are making us all recall how focused we were as we went down the stretch, with the entire atmosphere, the environment changes. Look at this room, the environment changes very quickly when you're able to make the run that we did. How did we get to that point? It was incredible focus. Do we have that again, that's the most challenging thing. I don't see anything different than that, but I'm with them four hours a day and they're with me four hours. Are we as focused as we've always been, that's always the challenge. We work at it, we talk about it every day and we really work as hard as we can. As we examine ourselves, and you've heard me say this before, when you have a mistake you say, 'I'm going to work to never have that happen again.' We did some Cybermetric stuff to try and figure it out, but that's what you can't measure. It's something you need to keep talking about, and hopefully to guys that never hang out together, all of a sudden buying each other lunch. There's all kind of things that go into this."
On Caris LeVert's role this season ... "You look at our two-guard set, I mean we've had years where the off-guard had more assists than the point guard. Whether the forwards are mirrors or the guards are mirrors, it depends on who you're playing, what the pressure is like, who we would put in there. You could go out there with a 6-6, 6-6, 6-6, 6-6 and a big guy, that's very possible."
On whether McGary will be able to play in any exhibition games ... "I can't answer the date or the days, all I know is that the improvements are really good right now. Everyone else is pretty good."
On having multiple household names on the roster ... "I think it's different for these young men because they have grown up in this age of the last four or five years, where back in our days there was none of this, and you know that you're reading a book or watching the TV with Twitter following, but they're used to this. People are watching them, and it's different. That's the demand, I think, of everyone our age, and it becomes real when playing in college basketball, to focus on what's really important and what people say about you. How you're handling the press, how you're handling the attention, it can be simple if you keep it simple. Tom (Wywrot) does a great job of that, we try and do a great job of this, but it's basically as we say, you're on Times Square every day if you want to be. If you want to read about yourself, you could go read about yourself all day long. It's very important they understand what's really important. And it's not that clutter."
On the biggest lesson from having a young team last year that will help this year ... "It was ironic, that when we brought Trey in and we knew the quarterback. We had to keep it simple for him, and if we didn't keep it simple for him, Tim couldn't get open. Then he got to know everything and Tim already knew it, and then we had the three freshmen out there a lot, so they were ready to move on to the next stage, so we still were simple. I think it's still that same idea, to keep it as simple as we can, do what you do well, tweak what you think you need to change, but don't try and reinvent what we've done, because that's what they understand."
On having another young lineup, and whether that will become the norm as the quality of players are getting better ... "I think there will be some years that will be more of a veteran group, but right now I don't see that happening this year, that's for sure. The odds are that for six or seven years we'll have a young team. The last year that we did not have at least two freshmen out there all the time was probably the third year; we only had Darius Morris out there out of any freshmen. That didn't turn out the way we planned, but the other years we had Zack and Stu - NCAA Tournament. It was Tim, Evan, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford - NCAA Tournament. And last year, NCAA Tournament, so it can work both ways but we just have to keep it tight."
On Derrick Walton Jr. not thinking he needs to be Trey Burke ... "I think while they have a lot of the same qualities, they are different players. Trey was a guy who could really feel when it was time to shoot and what was the best shot. What he thought was a bad shot was probably what I thought was a bad shot. Although in the Kansas game I was looking at him 40 feet from the basket, what was he doing? And then I said, what a great shot, Trey! I think Derrick is much more where I'm going to make the right play and it could be my shot and I would probably urge him to shoot it more. So they both have these great qualities of having a feel of what's best to help us win. You'll probably see me telling Derrick, 'You have to shoot that,' where Trey may have been, 'Trey, that was the time that we think you should have passed it.' So it's all good, both of them brought high energy and a great skill set to us."
On the idea of being champions ... "We go on the floor as champions. We had opportunities to be champions in the Puerto Rico tournament, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the championship for our league, the Big Ten regular season, the Big Ten Conference tournament and obviously the NCAA Tournament if we can make it. What the next thing is that you're trying to win is what you're doing to try to be a champion. You can't be talking about the Final Four when you're still trying to go to Puerto Rico or something else. We're trying to be champions in this game."
On who will assume the role as defensive quarterback ... "Nik got back there a little bit and wasn't as loud. He knew what he had to do but didn't tell others. Caris has really taken on that role. If you see Caris for a few minutes, you'll see what he's doing. Last year I think he played 6-to-10 minutes, and this year he'll play a lot more minutes than that. You could put a defensive team out there that is really good. So when we do that, we better be better, because you act like you may give up some offensive things, who knows? We can put four or five guys out there that can really guard people."
On how ready Mitch McGary will be to step in coming off his injury ... "His skill development was always good and he had a great summer, because we can practice with him now. The biggest thing he missed is defensive principles if you are playing on the perimeter. He's been a post defender, and now if we have to use him on the perimeter. That's the biggest thing that he's missed. He's got to be able to guard a guy on the other team that is going to be very much like Glenn Robinson. Christian Watford last year, or a bunch of guys like Adreian Payne, they're all guys that are going to stretch you. Can he guard that guy, and we have to get him those reps so we can do either one. But when he does do those things, then obviously his minutes will go up and he can play both of those positions."