Dec. 8, 2011
Press Conference Video (via Florida)
Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen
Opening statement ... "Obviously, we're excited to be here. Your goal in the NCAA Tournament is to advance and continue to advance. I think this is a great regional. They're all great programs and great teams. The coolest thing about this regional is that any one of these four teams can advance. It will be interesting to see how each team plays and how they handle the opportunity. We're very excited to be here and get to practice. We're glad to be in Florida and glad to be warm."
On the matchup versus Stanford ... "It was actually very ironic because we played them two years ago in the Sweet 16 at their place. In the scouting preparation, it was really almost identical. When we saw the tape on them, and we hadn't really seen them throughout the year, as we started breaking it down a little bit I thought that they were very similar. I thought there were lots of things that we matched up well with, and as I looked at just the matchup of it -- the things we do well and the things we don't do so well, I thought it was a great matchup for us.
"I came to the team early on and told them 'I think this is a team that we could very likely beat. If we play well we should be fine against them.' It wasn't being over confident, it was just a matter of the fact that I felt well with how we matched up against them. It's ironic that too, both times we matched up against them, it was in the NCAA Tournament; I just had that feeling.
"Sometimes you watch a team and think 'Wow, this is going to be a real challenge for us, it just isn't a good matchup.' I felt very confident going into that first and second round. If we played well we could do well. I think when our team watched them against Sacred Heart in the opening round; I could sense that they saw those same things that I felt we could exploit. We met afterwards, and you could see it in the girls faces a little bit -- they felt very confident that we could have some success against them."
On the matchup against Florida ... "They're a very good team. I'm sure they're watching us and seeing things that they can exploit on us. I think it will be a really good match. Both teams play well, which will make for a great match, which is what you want at this point in the year. There are certainly things that they can do really well, that we're going to be challenged by. But I also think there are some things that we hopefully can exploit a little bit to help us out."
On the presence of Big Ten at regionals ... "To be honest, I like our draw better. Not because I think Florida is an easier team, but at this point in the season it's nice to play someone that you're not familiar with. I think for our players it's exciting to play somebody new. You do the scouting report and it's fresh, versus a team that you already played. Looking at Illinois' perspective, they have to try and defeat a team for a third time this season, and that's tough to do. Our situation right now just creates a different kind of challenge that we don't have, and that I'm thankful we don't have.
"It was interesting though, as we started preparing, going into last weekend we to think about three teams. We had to take care of Baylor first, but in the back of your mind you're looking at the other two teams knowing that you're going to hopefully face one of them. Same thing with this weekend, but the good thing is that we're fairly familiar with both of the other teams - we played Ohio State less than two weeks ago, and Illinois twice this year. We have a pretty good idea of what they're trying to do.
"We don't have a complete game plan yet, but at least we have a pretty good foundation going into watching them play tomorrow. So, if we're lucky enough to get past tomorrow night, then we have a pretty good read going into the last night. Of course, they have just as good a read on us."
On the SEC versus the Big Ten ... "We're not playing the whole SEC so I haven't really watched them. I have watched Florida, and I think that Florida does a lot of things that are similar to a lot of teams in the Big Ten. I think that they are a highly regarded team with a lot of tradition and a lot of success, not only this year but in previous years. We very much respect their athleticism and their volleyball skills. We know that we're going to have to come out and play really well in order to be successful."
On Big Ten volleyball ... "The first year that I was at Michigan, it seems like a long time ago, but we went into the second round and played Pacific who was ranked fourth in the country. We lost 19-17 in the fifth game, and it was a battle -- we finished eighth in our conference that year, and they went on to play in the Final Four. I think it's that way every year -- we're always kind of surprised by it. It's grueling when you're in the conference because every weekend you're preparing for great teams, and you're playing great teams. We all know in the end though, if you can weather that, it makes you better. I think that some of the adversity we went through this year is one of the things that has allowed us to be playing pretty well right now too. We just had to go through a lot -- the Big Ten takes you through the grinder a little bit."
On the biggest challenge the team has faced throughout the year ... "I think in my opinion, it was ourselves. We were battling a lot from the inside. Not because we have bad people on the team or because there are inner problems -- it was just a matter of we were kind of getting in our own way a little. We had to learn to get through that, come together as a team and put everything aside and just play volleyball. To me, as a coach, it has been very gratifying to watch this team go through that process and see where they're at right now versus where they were at a month and a half ago. It was hard at the time, but I'm really proud and excited with how we have come through that."
U-M Senior Outside Hitter Alex Hunt
On beating Stanford ... "It was a good win over a ranked team, which we hadn't had in a while. We kind of really picked our game up a lot going into the tournament. We're really excited to continue our winning streak."
On missing last year's NCAA Tournament ... "I think that was one of the hardest things I have had to go through in my volleyball career -- to sit there at Washington with a boot on and knowing that I couldn't do anything for my team. I am definitely looking forward into playing in volleyball NCAAs this year."
On the mood in the locker room ... "I think everyone is really loose. We're having a great time in the locker room -- we have some really funny personalities on the team. I think everybody is just really enjoying the opportunity to advance and to continue to play against good teams."
On bringing momentum to regionals ... "I think that we're really excited for the opportunity, everyone is just going in knowing that this could possibly be the last time that we play volleyball together, especially for the seniors. It's something that we don't want to end. We're just taking that and running with it for as long as we can."