Weekly Press Conference -- Coach Amaker and Players

Coach and Player Comments from
U-M Men's Basketball Press Conference

Previewing Michigan's matchup vs. Notre Dame (Dec. 4)

Michigan Head Coach Tommy Amaker

On his relationship with Mike Brey ... "I have had some fond moments with Mike. I think it was eight years we worked together as assistants (at Duke) and I think he has evolved into one of the best coaches in the country. I am really happy for him and his program and his family. He did a great job at Delaware. Obviously, it is not something that we look forward to in terms of playing one another, but when you talk about the two programs and institutions we thought it was a natural fit. Proximity played a role as well. I am anxious to get a chance to see Mike and say hello to him and congratulate him on another great start with their team and program"

On the match-up with Notre Dame's backcourt ... "I think in the world of college basketball I think you will see the backcourt match-ups most nights. We feel, and this is nothing about post guys or interior players, but we think those particular positions can set the tone for your team. Maybe I'm biased since I played in the backcourt, but I have strong feelings about that. The responsibilities that those positions have are big and not to be taken lightly. I do think that the match-up on Saturday will be critical in terms of what particular backcourt will play better. I would think that backcourt play is going to be measured very closely and I think that if at then end of the day you can look at that and be pretty accurate in trying to predict how the game was played or which team played better or what team won."

On Chris Thomas and Chris Quinn ... "The first thing I think is that you have very experienced players when you talk about their backcourt. (Chris) Thomas is a senior and (Chris) Quinn is a junior so you have a lot of experience there. You have players that have played with one another and are very comfortable with one another. Then is their ability to score. I think both of them are outstanding shooters. When they drive and get fouled, they are terrific free throw shooters. I think they are very smart in the way that they play. It is going to be a very tough match-up for us given the way that we play with our backcourt guys and the way that they play coming into this particular game. Our hands are full with those two players."

On depth issues without Lester Abram ... "I am sure that is a factor. We're not hiding behind that. We have known that Lester has been injured and been out. Regardless of that, we have to play better and in particular Daniel (Horton) and Dion (Harris). I think it's obvious that with our backcourt, whether we have Lester or we don't, their play has to be at a higher level than we witnessed in the last game for us to be competitive."

On how to get more out of the backcourt ... "You get to a point where, Daniel (Horton) is a junior and Dion (Harris) is a sophomore, and they know. Obviously, we are going to make that known to them in our own way as well. We will do that in different ways and things that we will coach here today and in the days before we play our next game. It is obvious that their play has to improve. We are not trying to push anything on them, that's not what I am here to do. To be honest about our team, especially with Lester being out, it's obvious that their play has to improve. Showing them film and working on it in practice today and tomorrow, hopefully they will have the resolve and determination as competitors to get back at it and improve and show they are better than that, which they are. We know they are. We have seen them do things that are certainly a lot better than what they showed last game."

On if Lester Abram's nagging injury is a concern ... "Right now, we're concerned with just getting him back. I think any more about that is counterproductive for us right now. I think if we found out that we can't get him back, then them the next step is to try and figure out what is the next step for out ball club. We are so focused on seeing if he can return and he is putting in a lot of effort as well as our medical community to see if we can get him back. I think there is a chance that could happen. At some point we will try it out again and see how it feels and hopefully he is able to progress with that. Everybody has injuries. You deal with that as part of the nature of the game. We are fortunate that we haven't had any major ones up to this point and now we have this. We'll deal with it and work through it and give opportunities to other guys to show their strengths for team and opportunities for them to emerge."

On seeing more of the frontcourt offense ... "We hope so. We like going inside-out with our shot selection or at least start that way. We made a point of emphasis of getting it inside to our post players and getting a higher percentage shot or getting fouled. We are hoping we will see more of that with better shots low because we haven't made shots on the perimeter. With Lester (Abram) being out, that is another perimeter player and three-point shooter that we don't have and so we are trying to utilize our personnel to the best of our ability. It is probably wiser for us to really go inside-out."

On focusing on getting the ball in the post ... "I think we have done that. I think we really tried to do that against Arizona with their front line. We got their front line guys in foul trouble with Channing Frye who was out a lot of the game with foul trouble. It is a little more difficult to do that against a zone and Providence. At some point you have to make some outside shots because that is the essence of that defense, to make you shoot from the perimeter. Certainly going against Georgia Tech, we made that adjustment and we tried to emphasize it. I thought our players adjusted fairly well in the second half, not looking at the difference in score, but playing that particular half in a certain manner. I think we accomplished some things from the mindset of trying to get it inside."

On the play of John Andrews ... "I think we are in a situation where we are looking for different options. I think John has brought a level of toughness to our team. I think he has always had that in terms of being a terrific practice player. I think our players have a great deal of respect for him. I think when you saw him on the court in Atlanta, he was one of the few players that was able to get in there and get offensive rebounds. He stuck his nose in there. I think those are the things that you can expect from him. He is strong and he is a tough guy. Those are the things that we look for with trying to block out and trying to guard certain players that can post us up on the perimeter. We looked for that from John in that game and who knows what the next game holds for him."

Junior Guard Daniel Horton

On the importance of Michigan's backcourt in respect to the whole team ... "I think in college basketball you have to have good guards to have a good team. If you look at a lot of the other good teams around the country, they all have good backcourts. We have that here; we just didn't play well Tuesday."

On the playing against another experienced backcourt in Notre Dame ... "I think we're pretty experienced too. We've played just as many games as they have, so at the same time we're looking forward to that match up. The way we look at it is: they have to play us too."

On the Notre Dame game being a must win ... "To become the team and program we want to be, we have to show character and bounce back from loses like Tuesday night. We have to get better today, tomorrow and hopefully some good things happen Saturday."

On players stepping in to fill Lester Abram's role ... "I think John (Andrews), Ron (Coleman) and Sherrod (Harrell) have stepped in and done a good job. We just have to put it together as a team. It is tough when you are used to having a certain guy in there and then somebody is just thrown into that position. You do not have the same chemistry and it's just a matter of time until it comes together."

On feeling pressure since Lester Abram has been out ... "I haven't felt any more pressure since Lester's been out. Even when Lester's here, Dion and I handle the ball most of the team for this team. We do a lot of the decision making for this team. So we haven't felt anymore pressure since Lester's been out."

Sophomore Guard Dion Harris

On the importance of the Notre Dame game ... "We lost three games in a row, so this game is real important for us. We need to get a win on Saturday."

On Notre Dame's starting backcourt ... "I know, as far as this year, they've been scoring pretty well. They are two solid guys in the backcourt."

On trying to stop Chris Thomas and Chris Quinn ... "It all starts on defense; we have to slow those guys down. Chris Thomas is a well known scorer in college basketball and we have to slow him down. The other guard, Quinn, has been scoring a lot also. We just have to slow them down on our defensive end and make them work when they play defense."

On the loss of Lester Abram ... "It's meant a lot. Lester does a lot for this team and he is probably the best all around player on our team, so we miss him. I think it shows that we miss him, by losing our last three games."

On trying to press things with the absence of Lester Abram ... "I think there is a danger of trying to press to hard. Early in the Georgia Tech game we took bad shots, but Daniel and I just have to continue to play like we always have."

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

»  Learn about Michigan men's basketball season tickets for the 2017-18 season.