Court Vision with C.J. Lee
SATURDAY, NOV. 22 -- Trusting the System
Going to New York City to play was a good experience for our team.
Before the trip, I was anxious to see how our team would respond to competing against some good competition in a neutral site. Playing at Madison Square Garden was incredible. To play in the same building where a lot of basketball history has been made was an honor. Our team really enjoyed the time spent in New York. I think our program took some steps in the right direction this week and we need to continue to build on what we have done thus far.
The UCLA game was very exciting and I was glad we were able to pull out the victory. The atmosphere was great from start to finish and we definitely fed off that. We played UCLA last year very well so I think it was evident that we knew we could have success. A win like this is great for our program in the sense that it gives us some visibility early in the year. UCLA really makes you execute because of their pressure and denying of the wings. When we needed to execute, we executed, and that makes us feel good as players. Everybody contributed to the victory and it is very nice when you see your hard work paying off in the form of victories.
The team was disappointed losing to Duke in the Championship of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. Yes, we were pleased to get to the Championship, but winning it would have really made the trip great.
Playing against Duke for the second time in two years shows us where we are, and where we are trying to go. Duke plays so solid on both ends of the court, and rarely do you see them get rattled or out of control. Teams like Duke and UCLA serve as a marker for us to gage what it takes to consistently be one of the best teams in the country.
We play Duke again in two weeks at Crisler which will be exciting us players and Michigan fans. I hear it is already sold out!!
We need to take a number of things from this trip to New York. Things like competing for 40 minutes, being focused for 40 minutes, and giving maximum effort for 40 minutes are a given, but the one major thing I think we need to take from this weekend is to trust our system.
What I mean by this is, we need to trust what we have been taught to do on the court by our coaching staff. Trust in our system got us a 1-1 record versus two top five teams in the country. The system we have in place is designed for us to have success. Without question we have done a better job of this so far this year, but we still have a ways to go.
This is a big week for us going into Thanksgiving. We have a game on Tuesday and a game on Saturday. Our team needs to go back to practice with the energy and drive to get better. The New York experience this week was great but we cannot get complacent.
This cannot be the highlight of our season. Our coaching staff I'm sure is ready for us to get back to practice so we can get better as individuals and as a team. Our team needs to be thinking that this is only the beginning, not the height of our season.
Dribbles and Drives from Inside the House that Cazzie Built
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19 - The Wolverines Name Their Captains
Recently, the Michigan basketball players held a team vote to elect the captains for this season and fifth-year seniors C.J. Lee and David Merritt were elected team captains by their peers. Both Lee and Merritt were appreciative of the honor bestowed upon them by their peers.
"I'm very grateful to my teammates for appointing Dave and myself to that," said Lee. "It means a lot to us because it cements the fact that the hard work that we have put in trying to be on this team and trying to contribute has paid off and people recognize that. I'm humbled by being named a captain too because my teammates appointed me a captain."
"It's hard to describe but it's just really special and I thank Coach Beilein and this team for the opportunity to be awarded a captain's position," said Merritt.
For both Lee and Merritt, the journey to becoming a Michigan captain is even more remarkable considering where they came from. Lee began his collegiate career as a scholarship player at Manhattan College before transferring to Michigan after his sophomore season. Lee was given preferred walk-on status when he transferred to U-M.
After turning down Division II scholarship offers, Merritt came to Michigan on an academic scholarship and competed in walk-on tryouts his first two years in school, he was cut both years. Merritt continued to believe in his abilities and, in his third try, was awarded a spot on the roster.
Last season, both Lee and Merritt played significant roles for the Wolverines. Lee appeared in all 32 games, making seven starts, while Merritt played in 20 contests despite being slowed by a knee injury in the latter half of the season.
Prior to this season both Lee and Merritt were rewarded with scholarships and now the pair will also serve as captains during their final season in Maize and Blue.
"It is something I can look back on when I'm old and tell my grandchildren that I was actually a captain for the University of Michigan basketball team," said Merritt. "It's just a joy and a privilege and I am really honored."