Notes & Quotes: Nik Stauskas previews Big Ten Tournament

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Michigan 84, Indiana 80-5Nik Stauskas followed his coach on the teleconference on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The sophomore discussed winning Big Ten Player of the Year, how he feels going into the weekend and much more. You can read notes and quotes from the teleconference below. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

  • On winning Big Ten Player of the Year: “I’m very excited. You know, I worked the whole offseason to put myself in this position to win that award. To have the media’s approval and the coaches in the league, to have their approval, it means a lot. I’m just super excited right now.”
  • On having more swagger this season: “Last year I think I struggled a bit throughout the (NCAA) tournament, other than the Florida game really. My shot was off, I couldn’t get things to fall. This year, I think my confidence has been pretty high the whole time. My teammates and coaches have put a lot of trust in me and they keep giving me confidence even when I’m a little down on myself. Heading into the Big Ten Tournament and then the NCAA tournament, I’m feeling good about myself and I’m ready to play.”

  • On being tired last year: “It may be a little bit of both, but obviously my role was a lot different last year. I think I can get into a rhythm by shooting a lot more. A lot of our offense ran through Trey (Burke) and Tim (Hardaway Jr.), so I was just taking any shot I could get open in the corner. There were some games I would only take five or six shots and it’s tough to get going like that.”
  • On what he learned last year in tournament play: “At this time of year, it just comes down to playing your best basketball, peaking at the right time. That’s what we did last year. I think we were very fortunate to start playing our best basketball in March. It just takes a lot of leadership from the older guys, staying together as a team. Defensively it’s going to be key for us. In some games you’re going to struggle offensively and it’s going to be the defensive stops that are going to win you games.”
  • On how he thinks the team will react to being the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament: “We’re the number one seed but I don’t think we’re the favorite to win the tournament. I don’t think anyone really thinks we’re going to win. We have a chip on our shoulder and we’re excited to prove ourselves again. It’s just another great opportunity to show how hard we worked all season and that we can possibly be the best team in the Big Ten.”
  • On maintaining that edge despite already winning the conference: “I don’t know if it’s talked about all the time, but we definitely feel like we play our best basketball when we’re under the radar. Guys are definitely pumped up for this and I think guys are going to be ready to play come Friday.”
  • On continuing to feel disrespected despite winning the conference by three games: “I don’t think it’s disrespect. I think sometimes we just fly under the radar. I think Michigan basketball has been flying under the radar for this whole season regardless of how well we’re doing. We’re perfectly fine with that — we’re not upset about it. We’re excited to prove ourselves again. We love to be in this position.”
  • On preparing for both Illinois and Indiana: “The prep is a little bit easier just because the scouting reports are fresh in our minds at this point. So we obviously still go through our film. We’ll probably watch a lot of clips from those games over again. As far as remembering their plays and stuff like that, it’ll probably be easier just because we went over it in the last couple of weeks.”