Oct. 27, 2011
CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team got one step closer to tipping off the 2011-12 season as head coach John Beilein, seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass and sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. represented the Wolverines at the annual Big Ten Media Day on Thursday (Oct. 27) at the Crown Plaza O'Hare in Chicago.
Interviews ranged from the Big Ten Network, ESPN, and BTN's The Journey to Sirius/XM Radio and the round table session, as the four Maize and Blue representatives got a chance to talk to all 12 conference schools media contingents.
Highlights from Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On defenses keying in to Tim Hardaway Jr. ... "We had an early answer on that the other day. We just had a scrimmage where he was so unselfish. He had seven assists and no turnovers. He sees open people, almost sometimes to a fault -- where if they're putting an extra man on him or guarding him a certain way. He is a team first guy now. He's been really fairly comfortable in that. Obviously he's still young. He's 19 years old. He's still young. His body is developing. But, still, he's going to have a lot of bumps in the road, because you have to guard him. He realizes that's part of the journey himself to reach his goals of being a great Michigan basketball player and then playing afterwards."
On if he is worried about expectations mirroring 2009-10 season outcome ... "One of the things that happened in that season was an injury to Manny Harris earlier in that season. The expectations were very high, but Manny (Harris) never really got to 100 percent, we felt, the entire year. And we were probably more dependent on him and DeShawn (Sims) and the rest of the pieces were not complete yet. I think that we can if those two did not have a good game; we had a very difficult chance of winning. This team, I think, has where the talent, those two are extremely talented players, this team may have a few more pieces, and I think we have a great team chemistry on the team as well, that hopefully a lot of intangibles going into winning. We hope we possess as many as you would need."
On whom he feels will replace Darius Morris at point guard ... "We have a scrimmage coming up. We have an exhibition game coming up. Those will be a big part of it (making a decision). Then every practice there is an opportunity for me to evaluate. The three or four days before our first game with Ferris State, we'll probably choose that just the week of that game."
On where Trey Burke fits among all the other Big Ten newcomers into starting this season ... "I have no idea about the other freshmen. I just look at my team. You have to look at the rotation and how many veterans they have coming back. He's (Trey) walked into a great situation with Darius (Morris) leaving, as far as him personally. At the same time, there's a lot that goes on from going from a high school guard to a college guard. So after two weeks of practice, he's shown a lot of moxie, some great poise. Yesterday, in particular, he showed a lot of toughness. Those are three things you'd like to have a freshman have. Usually that takes a few years for them to accumulate some of those traits. He showed last week some really positive things in those areas that are beyond his ability to make a jump shot or make a play. So we're hopeful he'll continue that trend."
U-M Senior Guard Zack Novak
On representing Michigan at media day for a second time ... "I remember coach Beilein telling me my sophomore year when he was leaving with Manny (Harris) and DeShawn (Sims) for this event that I would be going my senior year. To be able to come twice is a great experience. You get to see all the other guys from around the league in a different setting than you typically see them. Obviously we can all relate to one another. You find out that you might not like them on the court but here we all get along pretty well."
On the message he hops to portray about Michigan basketball ... "We're going to play hard and we're going to play smart. We've got a team that really like being around each other. We've got great team chemistry and everyone just wants to win."
On being ready to put all these words into action and play basketball ... "This is the time of year when you just want to play against another team. Practicing against each other for so long, we just want to play against someone in a different color jersey. That's what's fun and this is why we play basketball."
U-M Senior Guard Stu Douglass
On what it means to represent Michigan at Big Ten Media Day ... "It's an honor. There is a lot of great talent here with all the great players. To be associated with that is a huge honor, but really the goal is to get Michigan associated with the top of the Big Ten and carrying on that tradition -- that's the ultimate goal.
On what he wants people to know about Michigan basketball ... "Obviously that we are a tough team -- you're got to be a tough team in the Big Ten if you want to be successful. But we also want people to know that we can score points -- we can get out and run. People associate coach Beilein's offense with being slow and we want to kind of break all those stereotypes and have a run brand of basketball that people love to watch."
On his most commonly asked question at media day ... "The most commonly asked question was about how we're going to handle the point guard position and how to replace the productivity that Darius (Morris) had. I told them every time that collectively we're going to have to come together. It's not just going to be one or two guys creating now. We want three or four guys getting in the lane and creating and being productive.
U-M Sophomore Guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
On attending his first Big Ten Media Day ... "It means a lot for me to be here. I feel like I am the youngest person throughout the entire room. Being in here with this group of guys is awesome. The experience I had last night talking to them and today has been very fun."
On what's to come for Michigan basketball this season ... "We're just trying to get the message out that Michigan is almost back to where it needs to be, but we still have a long ways to go to get where the team was in 1989 and when the Fab Five was here. We think about that every day and just trying to go out there and play hard."
On being excited to start the season ... "I'm ready to play. I'm ready for this week to get by and to get on the court with my freshmen and my two seniors."
The conference office announced the preseason All-Big Ten team -- Draymond Green (Michigan State), Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Robbie Hummel (Purdue) and Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin). Sullinger was selected as the preseason Player of the Year.
The conference office also announced the top three preseason team rankings -- No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Michigan State.
Michigan was selected No. 3 in an unofficial 24-member media poll conducted by Columbus Dispatch's Bob Baptist. [ Article link ]
With the addition of Nebraska, the conference office released the new 12-team Big Ten Tournament bracket. The key changes are the top four seeds will receive a first-round bye, while the remaining eight teams play four session games on the first day to advance. The 2012 tournament will be played March 8-11 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. [ 2012 Big Ten Tournament ]
Media Day was briefly interrupted when the fire alarm went off.
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423