I was on hand for Michigan basketball media day today at the Junge Center. Actually, I was more than on hand–I was an active participant. John Beilein and the rest of the staff thought it would be fun to have the media go through an average (but very scaled-down) workout that players go through. Participants included Mark Snyder from the Free Press, Tim Sullivan from MGoBlog and Mike Rothstein from AnnArbor.com. We attached these weird heart rate monitors to ourselves and our heart rates were projected onto a big T.V. screen. Suffice to say, I was at over 100 percent of my optimum heart rate after the stretching portion of the workout. And that’s all I have to say about that.
To the good stuff. After the workout, players were brought before the media. We didn’t have quite as much time as I would’ve liked, but I was still able to catch up with a bunch of guys and here’s what they had to say.
- The freshman have responded well to the conditioning. Some got tired at times, but that’s expected. So far they’ve really held up well. Most of them arrived in pretty good shape.
- The team was able to get an idea for what they have while they were in Europe; what different guys can do, what they bring to the table, etc. It also showed some of the guys what they needed to work on when they got back. It especially helped the young guys figure out what they needed to do in order to be able to effectively contribute.
- Michigan has a really young team, but is very talented. They have a lot of guys who can “Think the game.”
- Everyone is healthy other than Jordan Dumars.
- Europe was more physical than he thought it would be. He expected it to be more of a finesse game, but he was playing with really good players. A lot of them were last cuts in the NBA. He thought the team played well overall.
- Game experience is huge, but the freshman have done a good job so far of picking everything up.
[Video Interview: Zack Novak at Media Day via MGoBlue]
- He’s been focused on not just being a shooter so that he can score in different ways, working a lot on pull-up jumpers, which are a big part of the offense. Manny handled them mostly last season and the team needs someone to step up in that regard.
- He got a lot of time to work out with the coaches before going to Europe, worked a lot on pull-up jumpers. Coach Meyer, Alexander and Jordan worked with them around the rim. Vogrich also has gotten much stronger, adding 15 pounds of muscle during the off-season. He’s hoping that will help him when going to the rim and coming off screens.
- The focus has been on the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet: closing out, loose balls, etc. especially given how many close games Michigan lost last year.
- His confidence level is a lot higher from last year–he feels like a completely different player. Doesn’t know what it is, thought the whole team was in a rut last year. This year, they have a fresh start and the shots are falling.
- The added bulk effects his defensive game much more than offensive. He doesn’t need to use his forearms to bump people when they try to take it to the rim against him. Was “Kind of a liability on defense.”
- Lots of young talent on the team. It’s a rebuilding year, but they “Still have a lot here.” Lots of good athletes.
- Freshmen have a really positive attitude, never hear any complaints. Everybody’s trying to get better every day. “If we get themselves better, they get Michigan better.”
- A lot of great talent on the team, though it may not be apparent from last year’s roster. People say there aren’t any stars, but if we come together as a team, they’re going to do a lot of good things this year and get some wins.
- Has a new leadership role and is more vocal than last year, when he may have been slightly hesitant as a freshman. He’s been through it once before which allows him to help others.
- Has more freedom to go out and execute the offense.
- Looking forward to making plays for his teammates and also create for himself. That’s part of the game plan.
[Video Interview: Darius Morris via MGoBlue]
- One thing people forget when they point to his and Jordan’s on-court inexperience is the fact that they have been through all the off-court stuff before. That’s what allows them to be leaders in the off-season.
- Really likes the team’s chemistry. In Europe you could sense as the games went on that the team was building chemistry. Even though they’re still a young team, the Europe trip benefited everyone.
- Went against some pretty tough big men in Europe and the Big Ten is full of great post players, but he and Jordan Morgan need to “take it day by day.”
- The play in Europe was more bruising than expected, but the team didn’t back down.
[Video Interview: Stu Douglass via MGoBlue]
- Finally totally healthy, ready to go.
- He and Blake are ready for the responsibilities that come with being the post players. Been working on it all summer and into the fall.
- Workouts he’s been doing during the summer and this fall are a lot different than what he did in prep school. Got used to it, but definitely a shock.
- In Europe, found out they have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things. A lot of different guys scored and a lot of guys were grabbing rebounds.
- Got a lot of reps in at the 4. Had some trouble with fouls but can see himself picking up on a few different positions. His versatility allows him to move all over.