Court Vision with C.J. Lee
THURSDAY, NOV. 6 - Game Time, Inspiration and History
November 6th marks the day of our first exhibition game. There is also less than one week remaining until we officially start our season. I am excited about playing Saginaw Valley for a number of reasons. First off, I am anxious to see how the team responds to live competition.
We have been playing against each other for a couple of weeks now and it is important that guys get a sense of how the season is going to be before we officially kick it off. As players, we need exhibition games to compete and work through our issues without the structure of practice. Our coaches need exhibition games so they can teach and correct the things that are vital to winning. I anticipate that guys will be anxious to play in front of our home crowd for the first time.
I am also excited to play against Saginaw Valley because a number of people in my family have attended school there. My mother graduated from there as well as two of her other siblings. My Aunt Ava, who is a Nursing professor at SVSU, has been very excited about the opportunity for us to play her school. My Aunt Ava has a special bond with our team and weekly she sends devotions to me, a few other players and some of the coaching staff. We all appreciate her taking the time out to do that. It keeps us uplifted and forward looking.
Tuesday night marked the end to a hard fought campaign for the presidency. I have paid very close attention to this presidential race and I was very pleased with the result. The 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama and it is exciting because we are experiencing history.
I am pleased because I feel Obama represents so much to so many people. To me as an African American, he represents the sentiments of not accepting things for how they appear or have been, but how things can be. I have been amazed at his poise, calmness and class throughout the entire campaign. He is someone worth trying to resemble in these respects.
I feel privileged to be in Public Policy school at this time also because politics and policy I feel are becoming popular once again. This speaks to the type of leadership and inspiration Obama has exhibited.
So, it has been a very special week with inspiration and history. But the excitement is only just beginning.
Maize and Blue Game Prep
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5 - It's Time to Tip it Up
The long wait is finally over. Thursday night, season two of the John Beilein era begins as the Maize and Blue play host to Saginaw Valley State in an exhibition game at Crisler Arena at 7 p.m. After two-and-a-half weeks of practice and months of workouts, the players are ready for the lights to come on and the ball to be thrown in the air.
"It feels really good, after all the hard work to finally get to put a product on the floor," said David Merritt. "We've been working pretty hard, so we're anxious to get out there."
While it is an exhibition game, and the stats won't count in the record book that certainly doesn't mean the Wolverines won't be taking the game very seriously.
"To us it matters," Merritt said. "You have a Saginaw Valley team coming in here, and even though they are Division II, their players could easily play Division I. They are going to come in here and play very hard and expect to beat Michigan. So we have to come in here on our toes and treat it like a regular season game."
"We want to come into this game like we do every other game and that's with a strong mindset that we are going to make a statement" added Kelvin Grady. "We're going to let people know, and let ourselves know, that we can play with anyone in the country. We can play hard, we can play smart and we can play together and overall we are going to have fun."
One thing an exhibition contest does do is it allows the team to go through the full game day experience, something Stu Douglass believes is a benefit to the freshman class.
"We're going to go through the schedule of what a real game is going to be like and that's going to help. Any little thing that me, Ben (Cronin), Zack (Novak) and Corey (Person) can pick up right now is going to help us out a lot. We just have to treat it like a regular game, we can't take it lightly, everything -- the game, pregame, postgame -- everything."
The game also serves as the first chance for the freshmen class to experience the college game as a player, something Douglass has tried not to think about.
"I've tried not to, but I've thought about it," Douglass said. "You get too distracted when you start thinking about the crowd. This is probably the biggest gym I've ever played in, so it will be a little different with the fans and the band playing loud, so we'll see."
What the Wolverines will see on the opposite bench is a team that, like Michigan, has a coach beginning his second season. Last year, in Frankie Smith's first season at the helm, the Cardinals finished with a 12-14 record. SVSU is led by Lawrence Ross, who averaged 16.5 points per game last season. The 6-2 guard is a senior from Battle Creek, Mich., and began is college career at Miami (Ohio) before transferring to Saginaw Valley prior to the 2006-07 season. Ross is a preseason All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division selection; the Cardinals were picked to finish fourth in the GLIAC North.
Finally, we mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Douglass was sporting the beginnings of a goatee at practice. We're happy to report that Douglass is still clinging to the bit of facial hair on his chin, but a trim is in Douglass' future prior to Thursday's contest.
"I'm going to trim it up a little bit," Douglass said. "Coach was joking with Zack (Gibson), he had to shave a little bit and Zack gets on me about it still. But I'm going to trim it up a little."
Come check out Douglass and the Wolverines as they open the 2008-09 campaign Thursday night.