After suffering his fair share of injuries, junior Chris Hunter has done his best to fill the void left by the injuries that have plagued the University of Michigan men's basketball team this season. With injuries to Daniel Horton, Lester Abram, and fellow low-post mate Graham Brown, Hunter has stepped up in his expanded role. By draining nine field goals for 22 points against High Point, in his first start of the season, Hunter established a new career high and displayed potential that will make him an integral part of the Wolverines throughout the season.
Following a freshman year in which he received the U-M 2003 Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award and led the team with 35 blocks, Hunter suffered a series of injuries costing him 11 games during his sophomore campaign. Ailing from a broken nose and a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, Hunter was still able to score in double figures in four games, while shooting 50.0 percent from the field (34-for-68) and a career best 80.4 percent from the free throw line (37-for-46).
Hunter took a moment to talk about developing a leader, the loss to Georgia Tech, and his mental preparation towards the game of basketball.
On having a significant role in the playing rotation
"It feels good to be able to play, and help contribute towards the team. I'm happy to just play a role, and help this team get better."
On the difference in mental preparation between starting or coming off of the bench
"I prepare the same way, no matter if it's the starting lineup or coming off of the bench. I think that are some advantages and disadvantages to both starting and coming off of the bench. When you come off the bench you can see how the game is going, how the game is flowing, and certain things that the starters can't see while they are out there on the court. But I've always believed you should prepare as if you were starting, and always be ready to play."
On maturing into a leader
"I feel confident in myself and my abilities, and this team's ability. I think we've grown up a lot, but we still have a ways to go. I think we have the components here to grow and it just feels good to give some of these young guys pointers and watch them mature. There are players on the team, who are younger in class then me, but they are actually older in age, which is tough. But it's been fun."
On his performance thus far
"Individually, I feel I've been playing fairly well. There are things I can do better, but I'm confident in my abilities and I hope to keep playing an increased role. I believed I'm playing alright offensively and defensively, but there are things I'd like to improve and get better at."
On improvements to his game
"I'd like to be more aggressive and try to become more active on the defensive end and offensive end. I'm focusing on knocking down open shots and getting to the free throw line."
On the Georgia Tech loss
"I think there is a lot we can take from it. Even though it was a tough loss, I still think it was good to play in that type of environment and against a great team like Georgia Tech. I don't think that loss will be the end of us, or the down fall of this team. I think that loss will jumpstart us to do better things. It's good that a loss like that happened early, but it's bad that it happened at all. I'm just happy that we had the opportunity to play against a great team in that type of environment.
On how he is feeling physically
"Physically I feel alright. I'm not 100 percent right now, but I feel good. I'm confident in what I can do right now, given that my health has been up and down lately."
On his biggest influence growing up
"Definitely my parents. My mom and dad helped shaped me socially and as a person. They are the key people in my life. On the basketball side I'd have to say, my high school coach John Boyd. He has been a great role model for my life, while showing me how to play basketball along the way."
On his most memorable basketball moment
"During my senior year of high school, we won the state championship, which was something my city (Gary, Ind.) and my school (West Side High School) hasn't done for 30 years. To be able to win a state championship for my city, and that part of the state, was great."
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Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423