John Beilein fielded questions after the players were through. He had a lot to say and covered a wide range of topics, including rotations, the Europe trip, and how he’s going to try to replace all the lost production with Manny and Peedi gone. [Video from MGoBlue here]
- Feels like the Europe trip gave the team a head start. The team wouldn’t have made the trip had the freshmen not been allowed to come.
- Some of the “direction” of the team’s play may look familiar this year but we will definitely see some “twists and turns.” In coaching, you have to adapt.
- Loves the attitude, chemistry and teamwork, as well as length and the improved strength and injury prevention.
- There will be no “Michigan Madness” this year, which Beilein said was mostly his decision. Instead he’s going to have a two-hour and 15-minute practice and that’s how the season will begin. Just wanted to get to work–never been a big fan of that. Last year there was a pulled hamstring during it.
- Anticipates having a three-headed monster at center, with Jon Horford, Blake McLimans and Jordan Morgan. He said all three are fighting for time, and the competition is “wide open.”
- At the four, he said he can always put “The smallest four-man in Division-I basketball (Zack Novak)” in and be sure of what he brings, but he told Colton Christian and Evan Smotrycz to go in and battle for the position.
- Feels a fresh atmosphere around the team because of not only all the freshmen but also all the new coaching staff. Said he thought they “set a record” for press releases last year because of all the turnover.
[Much more after the jump – also see the player notes & quotes below]
- Michigan has Jeff Janssen of Janssen Peak Performance come in and teach leadership seminars. The basketball team took advantage of that by sending Zack Novak, Stu Douglass and Darius Morris to the seminar. Said the best teams have good leadership.
- Was asked if he wanted Tim Hardaway Jr. to come in and “take over the team,” and said he only wants him to do his best and said he’ll have an opportunity to prove that his best warrants him to earn big-time minutes as a freshman, then he’ll earn them. Said he has incredible focus and the staff has “loved” what they’ve seen from him so far.
- If Zack Novak plays 32 minutes at his natural position (shooting guard) he’ll be “much more productive.” Played him at 4 and he got tired at times. The team has enough backups now to be able to give him rest. His rebounding numbers may go up because he’s already a good rebounder but he won’t be boxing out the likes of Mike Davis or Raymar Morgan anymore, he’s boxing out a 2-guard. At the time of the Duke and UCLA wins, Novak was playing guard. He’s shooting the ball well. But he could still play anywhere.
- Doesn’t want to get into where he thinks the team will end up in the Big Ten, but just wants to get better every day. Knows the Big Ten is an extremely tough league and it’s going to be difficult. But the team will just focus on developing and finishing as high as they are capable.
- On Evan Smotrycz: There isn’t a shot he doesn’t like, which is a good thing. Has worked very hard since he came back, showed he has some ability. Seen a little more bounce and quickness since he’s come back from Europe (probably because he’s finally gotten over the injury that plagued him in the summer). Has a moxie and confidence.
- Colton Christian has looked good in individuals, is an athletic rebounder. Not as big as Evan, but he plays big. He loves defense, has picked things up quickly despite not playing in Europe.
- The players he has now fit well into the offense because of their length and passing ability. Also allows the team to switch on screens and gives them more options with zone defense.
- Doesn’t see plays being as scripted as they were in the past. “Players are gonna get open and you gotta know when you’re open and be ready for that next pass.”
- All the famous dads are coincidental and a testament to the University of Michigan.
- Blake is 240 pounds now and may need to scale back because now he needs to learn how to move that weight. Jordan has gone the other way and is in good shape. The big men learned in Europe it’s a physical game and they need to play through it, not get frustrated by it. Learned a great deal and emphasizing physicality all year long.
- As far as who will get the ball at the end of a close game, Beilein said it’s an evolving process, finding out who that player will be. A few plays in Europe worked at the end, but didn’t really matter who was there. As the season goes along, will find out that “This guy is really good in these situations and this works against a particular team.”
- Darius has worked very hard in the off-season. Hopefully can make enough shots to keep people honest. Sensed he’s been in the gym a lot. He didn’t shoot well in Europe, but that was skewed because Darius found himself with the ball in his hands at the end of the 24-second clock and had to shoot it.
- Jon Horford is very athletic, may be the best shot-blocker on the team. Made 62 3-pointers in five minutes in practice, which is “Pretty good for a freshman.” Right now just want him to use his athleticism to grab rebounds, said he’s a good rebounder in traffic.
- Jordan Dumars is coming off a small knee surgery but he’ll be back in a couple weeks or so. Corey Person had a similar injury but did not require surgery but the team is as healthy as it’s been in a long time.
- Stu and Darius will be battling for the point guard position.
- Told shooters that a bad night is 2-for-6, good night is 4-for-6. Can’t go 1-for-6, and they had way too many 1-for-6 nights last year from the 3-point line.
- Tim Hardaway has the ability to create his own shot, a la Manny last year. He’s been good in a couple shot-clock situations. Stu’s working on getting to the hole more and Darius can get by people but it’s going to be a challenge finding the player who can create his own shot. “With five seconds to go it’s not the play, it’s the play-er.”
- Will be looking for healthy competition at nearly every position. May have a nine-ten-man rotation.
- Doesn’t know who will be starting the season opener.