Nov. 8, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With two exhibition games under their belt, the University of Michigan men's basketball team is anxiously awaiting the official start of the 2012-13 season. Prior to practice on Thursday (Nov. 8), head coach John Beilein and select players addressed the media about the start of the new season.
The Wolverines will welcome Slippery Rock University to Crisler Center for an 8:30 p.m. matchup on Friday (Nov. 9). And many of you may ask, "Why Slippery Rock?"
The unique tradition between the two universities dates back to 1959 when football public address announcer Steve Filipiak announced Slippery Rock's score at a Michigan football game -- and it has been a tradition at Michigan football games ever since. Slippery Rock was so popular with U-M fans that SRU played rival Shippensburg in 1979 at Michigan Stadium in front of 61,143 fans, a record for a Division II football game.
In The Rock's first exhibition game against Navy, junior forward Tabari Perry led the way with 18 points as SRU sank Navy, 79-56, in Annapolis, Md. Slippery Rock was picked to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division preseason poll.
The Slippery Rock tradition, combined with the excitement surrounding the start of the season and the newly renovated Crisler Center, has Michigan expecting a sellout crowd at Crisler on Friday night.
Michigan is expected to go with the same lineup it used during the Saginaw Valley State exhibition game, including Trey Burke, Matt Vogrich, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Jordan Morgan. But with the Wolverines' depth and versatility at both the guard and forward position, fans can expect to see seven to nine players getting solid minutes on the floor.
Here's what coach Beilein and some of the players had to say in anticipation to the start of the regular season:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "We are excited about opening the season. There are a lot of Division I games going on Friday night. People don't realize what Slippery Rock has become as a team, particularly this year. They are an extremely, extremely talented Division II team. With some breaks, this is a team that could win a Division II championship. They return four of their five starters, and their fifth player is a very good player. They just scrimmaged Navy, at Navy, and were ahead by 30 in the second half. They are very well coached. With all the seniors and transfers, they have a lot of minutes played already. We have our work cut out for us. It's time to play that type of basketball game. This is not your father's Slippery Rock. This is an extremely talented basketball team."
On Slippery Rock being a good test to start the season ... "It's going to be more than a test. It is going to be the real deal. They run action that veteran teams run. You look at the Wisconsin teams who usually have a lot of veterans out there. They run their sets so effectively and efficiently, it is difficult for freshmen who are in tape delay a little bit to pick up on it. We will have probably four freshmen out there a great deal. We are going to have to grow up real fast, not only because of who they are but how they play."
On taking a moment to realize how far the program has come ... "It's almost every day now. When I come in and I see what we have, what our administration has supported, we feel very fortunate. We are living a coach's dream as far as the support and the young men I get to coach every day. Now the facilities are really special. I do appreciate it every day."
U-M Junior Tim Hardaway Jr.
On being able to play his natural two-guard spot this season ... "I feel that I'm doing a pretty good job at the two-guard spot right now, and Coach Beilein I feel is very confident in me playing that position right now. But if he needs me to play the three, I can play both of them. Our freshmen, Glenn (Robinson III), Nik (Stauskas), are doing a great job of playing the three right now. Whatever Coach Beilein needs me to do, I'll do it."
On playing multiple positions during his career ... "Knowing what other positions are out there for me to play really gives me an idea of how to play those positions if needed. It gives me the ability to play multiple positions for Coach Beilein."
On the team's mentality as it starts the regular season ... "We all know we have a big test on Friday to defend our home court. I think the mentality stays the same -- we're all doing a great job in practice preparing for any challenged we're faced with."
On the team playing multiple lineups ... "This team is very versatile. Coach Beilein has been putting different lineups out there -- going with two bigs at the same time or having four guards with one big. The coaching staff is still trying to see what is good for our team, but I think we're doing a great job of playing with whatever lineup is out there."
U-M Freshman Nik Stauskas
On the team's ability to play different lineups ... "It shows our versatility, and we have a very unselfish team, so any lineup we put out there, whether it's bigs our guards, we're unselfish so everything that we've been putting together works."
On whether the team's mentality changes moving forward ... "Not necessarily. Our intensity level in practice has definitely been turned up. I think guys are just really getting ready for the season now. But as far as games go, we're going to come out with the same mentality -- we want to play defense, stay focused and share the ball."
On who he pointed to when he hit his first shot at U-M ... "My mom was there for the first game, and she wanted me to point to her after I made my first three so that's who I was pointing to."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423