August 13, 2014
Opening Statement ... "It's been a really busy summer. We have been able to do a lot of things, but it's been busy. Now we're ready to get on the plane on Friday and head overseas and continue the growth that this team is really going to need all year long. I think things have been productive. We have been delayed by several injuries that have kept us from having a big enough group, so thank goodness LaVall Jordan is still in pretty good shape and can go with us. We're plowing through things and trying to give the players as much info as we can and as much conditioning as we can without overloading them. I expect us to go over there and play our best, but we could be overmatched in some games, just in experience and size, but it will be good for us."
On his excitement about the trip ... "We get to do this every four years and this will be my fifth trip, with different teams. I'm always excited to see what the game conditions look like, who performs in games and this also gives us something to come back and grow with as a team."
On injuries the team has suffered over the summer ... "The one we probably planned on the least was D.J. Wilson. Right from the beginning, his injury to his right pinkie kept him from doing almost everything. We've found that he can shuffle really well without anyone guarding him. That's been difficult because we were trying to experiment with him at a couple of positions but we never could do it. We were very hopeful that Max Bielfeldt could play when he's over there (Italy), but he's not going to be able to play. He's still not moving in the way we want him to move. Austin Hatch is continuing to do rehab; he's in some drills and he probably will play in some games over there, but he's not as ready as we hope he will be later on."
On the health of Caris LeVert ... "Caris started playing last week, but he's not himself yet. As you can imagine, he was pretty much dormant for 16 weeks and so you'll see some of those flashes today. It's just a matter of him getting back in game shape."
On his early observations of Kameron Chatman ... "His basketball IQ has been outstanding. He's picked up some of our concepts and some of our actions as quick as anybody we've ever had. He's been very productive as far as his talk and his knowledge of the game. We're still trying to find out the sweet spots of his game and (teach him) when it's time to make a play and be a player."
On the importance of this trip to helping the team find its identity ... "I think it's very important. We made this trip four years ago and I would imagine if we did a poll, we would have been picked to finish 11th out of 11 teams the last time we did this trip. We came back, after getting it handed to us a little bit, a better team and that team went on to make the NCAA Tournament. I don't know where this team measures to that team. There are some similarities, with how many young kids are playing. On and off the court, there are so many things going on that are important to us."
On the summer program for the freshmen ... "It's been a great adjustment for them. The summer program for our freshmen is very demanding and they have finished it. That's been a big part of growing. Now, they've been around the players. I think there are two more projects that are due, but now that the schoolwork is mostly done, I'm really looking forward to them playing over there (Italy) without the academic workload on their back."
On some of the players who will push for playing time on the trip ... "I think you have to look at the guys who played the most right away last year. In the backcourt, you have Derrick, Caris and Spike, so those three are going to play, and Muhammad is vying for time there as well. Zak has been playing both sides of the floor, Kam has been playing one side of the floor, and then our two big guys Ricky and Mark have been sharing that workload. I like what we've seen from Aubrey Dawkins; he shoots the ball well and he's athletic. There are some things like Hardaway and like Glenn in his game, but there's a lot of refinement to do. He will play a lot over there (Italy); probably the left side more, where Nik (Stauskas) and Tim (Hardaway) have played before. It's natural, with Kam being a lefty, for him to play on the right side."
On Derrick Walton Jr. having a bigger role on and off the floor ... "It's the same speech I gave Nik last year. With Nik, Mitch, Glenn, Jon, Jordan all gone there are a lot more minutes and a lot more shots out there and there's a lot more defense to be played. It's all right there in front of them. Guys have to be more aggressive. Derrick has been much more aggressive. I don't know if Zak can shoot it any better than he did; he made a three for every nine minutes that he played last year (in league play), so we expect similar type of shot selection from him. He's shooting the ball really well right now as well. As far as vocal leadership, it has to fall on the oldest players and Spike and Caris and Max have to be a big part of that. Those guys know almost nothing but Elite Eight and Final Four appearances, but they know the intangibles it took to get to that point."
On what Zak Irvin has added to his game ... "You'll see at practice, Zak is taking the ball to the basket better, he's rebounding more -- he did not rebound last year, and he's becoming a defensive stopper. He has some ability to do that. I don't think he's proven that in games yet, but most freshmen don't."
On Zak Irvin's preparedness this year for a bigger role as compared to his freshman year ... "Zak had a good freshman year. For him to come in and average five or six points a game as a freshman, with that team and that returning talent (was great). Now it's the next step. He'll be in at the end of games, he's going to have to make big foul shots, all natural things that come with that."
On when Caris will return to full form ... "He just needs repetition right now. He was not able to do a lot of work during that time, so he needs to just get his legs back to an endurance area where he can go longer. We're going to need a lot of minutes from him. Right now he needs to rep out shooting, shooting, scoring, shooting, defending, etc. All he needs is time right now, but this certainly helps. As you watch him out there right now, he's trying to find his spots and he's done very well in some practices, while at other times you can see the layoff."
On Caris keeping his weight on with all the down time ... "I think he looks good right now, he's not a guy that naturally puts on weight with ease. Zak, Ricky and Mark have done that much more easily (than Caris). I think he's wiry-strong; he may be one of our best rebounders right now from the standpoint of he'll just in go and get it. He's usually been back on defense and that's been a thought, maybe he should be crashing the boards as an off guard and somebody else should be back."
On the difference between having all these freshmen enter a traditional camp vs. entering camp with the Italy experience ... "What we're trying to do right now is just throw things at them. We talked about switching patterns and some different double-teams that we might be forced into doing because of their age. We're throwing the whole game at them, so when we come back in September they'll have a whole different understanding. When they watch film, they'll understand why they have to come out with high hands, or why they have to be in a stance. It's just this test before the test. It's a practice test, almost, for our practices in the future. They will understand how important these things we do in practice to their success."
On what questions he hopes to have answered during the trip ... "I have a lot of questions and they'll be answered over time. We have three or possibly four young men who'll be playing in the post that have had very limited post opportunities, or post touches. How much can we throw it in to them? How much can we play off of them? We're still working in all those areas. Our post defense -- Jordan Morgan was so good at that -- and now we have to replace all that, so that's one of the bigger areas. We are experienced in areas all around the perimeter; we have no experience, except for Max a little bit, but no genuine game experience in any type of big man position."
On his personal relationship with Austin Hatch ... "It's been extremely rewarding thus far, watching him. He has not been in all the action yet, but he is working his tail off to get his motor skills back up and do all the things that he used to do so easily. Being a part of this thing is an incredible blessing to all of us, with what he's doing for the team right now. Our relationship is pretty close. Between he and I and Jeff, who was big in the early recruiting process, and his family, we're very close with everybody. We're all in this together to help him really live his dream, playing in the Michigan basketball program and getting a degree from the University of Michigan."
More on Austin Hatch ... "The unfortunate circumstances of his last plane accident led me to be in situations where I saw him come out of his coma, and I've seen a progression that others may not appreciate. It's amazing what he's done so far, so there's genuine care, going both ways. I know he is very appreciative of this opportunity he has."
On the importance of Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton's experience in the backcourt ... "They're going to be out there a lot. They're two of our cagey veterans. They were out there in every game last year, they've played in big games. In the Elite Eight game, we called Zak's number for maybe the first time all year and he just knocks down a three as soon as he comes off the bench. He has to have some great qualities to do that, and you can see Derrick continues to grow all year long. We're depending on them."
On Max Bielfeldt's status as a senior ... "That's my prerogative, when someone goes into their fifth year. We thought it was best right now that he complete his degree and graduate in four years, and that gives him an option to do something like Blake McLimans did that fifth year, so it's one that the head coach can exercise and we thought it was a good thing and he understands it."
On Zak Irvin's growth this summer ... "He's over on the left side of the floor and he's going to have a lot of opportunities to either pass or score and he's embracing that. He's worked really hard. I like the way he looks right now. Because he didn't get an incredible amount of time as a freshman and we had so many good players, now being that go-to guy again is going to be a big question. Between Caris and him and Derrick, those are the natural veterans who have been go-to guys in the past on their high school teams but never at the University of Michigan."
On Derrick Walton's growth this summer ... "He's another youngster; he just turned 20 and he really understands his role is so important on this team, and that he does have to score more, and we're asking him to do that. At the same time, he's got to do that in a fashion that's helpful to the team, he's got to keep the other guys involved."
On keeping his staff intact from a season ago ... "These guys love coaching here. We have a great staff and I encouraged them, and told them that if they were interested in other opportunities elsewhere, I would certainly assist them. But they're interested in making the Michigan basketball program the best program that it can be. If they were out applying for other jobs every other week and something opened up, you would have seen. There was nothing, they liked Michigan and they're trying to all grow so that when they do get their opportunity they're going to be ready."
On filling C.J. Lee's position ... "We're in the process of it. In the last month we've talked with several people at different times. The position is very important, program personnel, because we have to make sure we have someone that can identify with these young men."
On Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle ... "Neither one is afraid of physical contact, that's what has really been impressive so far. I see them banging with each other legally inside; they don't back off that at all. I love the idea that they are embracing that. Both of them can shoot the ball, and we haven't had our big men shoot a lot from the outside in the past. We expect them to see 15-footers, which really opens the floor up for us."
On using all of the available scholarships ... "In today's age of transfers and guys going pro, you have to look at it differently. There was a time in my career where I would have 10 or 11 guys, then save a couple (of scholarships). Then you'd be down if guys were going pro, so we're trying to use all our scholarships when we think it makes sense, so we're looking forward to getting back in September and rolling with this team, continuing to recruit to our needs and the people who fit the Michigan program."