Nov. 26, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Last week, the University of Michigan men's basketball team was given the opportunity to win its first championship of the season. With wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas State, the Wolverines accomplished that goal and brought home the NIT Season Tip-Off championship trophy.
Now with that trophy secure in the William Davidson Player Development Center, Michigan has turned its attention to its next task -- the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Wolverines will host N.C. State at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night (Tuesday, Nov. 27) inside Crisler Center. The Big Ten has won each of the last three Commissioner's Cups and the Wolverines are set on doing their part to make it four in a row.
The Wolfpack, who is ranked No. 18 in both of this week's national polls, will enter the game with a 4-1 record. While Michigan's NIT title helped improve its national ranking to No. 3, Coach Beilein was adamant at today's media roundtable that the team pays no attention to the ranking and that their performance on the court is all that matters.
That mentality was proven true last year when the Wolverines were not picked as one of the top three teams in the Big Ten during the preseason and went on to win a share of the conference title for the first time in 26 years (1986).
That 2011-12 championship team will officially make its mark on Michigan basketball history tomorrow night (Nov. 27) when the championship banner is unveiled in Crisler Center prior to tipoff.
U-M Senior Guard Eso Akunne
On winning the NIT Season Tip-Off ... "It was a great win for us, winning those two games in New York against two quality teams. We're all really happy about it, but we've already moved on to the next thing. But that just shows that what we've been preaching as a team, the captains and the coaching staff, is all starting to sink in and we're doing a better job."
On the team's 'Next Man Up' motto ... "Everyone can really be relied on out there on the court. That has shown in practice and how we compete. We're all fighting really hard for spots, but we all stay united at the same time. Whenever someone has to come out of the game, the next man up is always ready -- that's why we practice that way."
On competing in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ... "Especially for us seniors, it's our last one so we want to make sure the Big Ten wins, but we just want to control what we can control and take care of our game. It's special to be a part of that, the whole Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It's always such a special part of college basketball. Everyone is watching to see which conference wins and we feel we're the best conference in the country, so we have to go out there and prove it."
On tomorrow's Big Ten banner ceremony ... "It's going to be crazy. It had been a while since Michigan won a Big Ten title and to know that you were on a team that has a banner up there is special. Future teams will always be able to look up and see that 2012 Big Ten Championship banner and that will motivate us to get the next one. We'll also get to reminisce on how great that season was."
U-M Freshman Forward Mitch McGary
On the depth at the four/five spot ... "On our team, we have the motto, 'Next Man Up,' and say Jordan (Morgan) or Glenn (Robinson III) gets in foul trouble, Jon (Horford), Blake (McLimans), Max (Bielfeldt) or myself are there to fill in their spots or give them a breather and give them good minutes. I think our depth is great and we've been working really hard to give the team good minutes when they need breaks."
On winning the NIT Season Tip-Off ... "That was a key championship for us. It was our first chance at the start of the season to show people that we're for real about this season. We had a lot of expectations and people had a lot of doubts, but we're showing that we're a high-caliber team and we can compete with other high-caliber teams in the nation."
On being able to win from behind or establish a lead and hold on to it ... "It shows how we handle adversity. We have to stay composed and get through that. Against Pitt, we were down at half, we came out of the locker room with the mentality that we have to make a stop every possession and make baskets one at a time to get back in the game."
On tomorrow's Big Ten banner ceremony ... "Being part of this team this year is special. They had a ring ceremony during the summer and being a part of that made it feel special and that we're here and we're a part of something, not only for me, but for us five freshmen. It's a really big deal for us and now there's a chance for us to make a statement and hopefully win another Big Ten championship."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423
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