The freshmen, new uniforms, and oh my god what in the hell
Today's basketball media day was perfectly described by another reporter as "not a newsmaking event*," which seems a tad ironic but that's Michigan athletics these days. You can tell the freshmen have already been coached not to say anything interesting, and I'm not even going to bother transcribing the player roundtables as a result. Just imagine the football pressers and replace "football" with "basketball" and you have a good idea of what you missed.
I will, however, post some highlights from John Beilein's press conference.
- The team has had 16 hours of summer workouts in addition to the usual weight training, plus 12 hours of recent skill training. Starting Friday they practice 20 hours a week.
- The William Davidson Player Development Center is almost complete. It's a "sensational venue" to practice in while Crisler is being redone.
- Beilein's had one look at Crisler about a month ago, and says "it looks like a brand new building, like we built a $200 million building." Calls it a tremendous asset for recruiting and very fan-friendly.
- Mitch McGary is helping replace the energy void left by Zack Novak, who he says was "really instrumental in everyone's life."
- It's too early to name a starting five. During the first two weeks of practice he'll put two or three freshmen on one team, two or three on the other, and watch how they adjust. The last few weeks were much more for skill development than team development. Probably won't name a lineup in the next 2-3 weeks.
- Trey Burke is up to 190 pounds, and it's a good 190. Praises strength coach Jon Sanderson for his work with the whole team (I can say from seeing him up close that Tim Hardaway Jr. looks very impressive physically right now, definitely bigger than last year).
- Tim Hardaway Jr. has "taken a little bit of Novak," in that you can hear his presence on the court.
- "This is a good rebounding team." Has more of an inside presence than past Beilein squads, McGary and Jordan Morgan in particular. The offense may be more predicated around offensive rebounding as a result.
- The freshmen are very coachable, and have been getting help from both the coaching staff and their fellow players. He says the team is as intelligent as any he's had. Cited Glenn Robinson III specifically as a player who's picked up new information and put it to use on the court ten minutes later. At the end of a recent practice, Josh Bartlestein, Corey Person, and Eso Akunne each had pulled freshmen aside to teach them something.
- When he got here, the question in the Big Ten was who was going to be the sixth or seventh team into the NCAA tournament. Now the fight may be over who will be the eighth or ninth team in.
- When asked about how he'll handle high expectations and preseason rankings: "I think John Beilein is always going to have a chip on his shoulder."
- As for if he thinks they're a top five team: "I don't pay any attention to that." Says he doesn't watch other teams practice, so how could he know? [Good point, coach.]
- There's four, five, maybe even six players who could see time at the four or the five. Loves having the versatility, notes the importance of the four—Kevin Durant and LeBron James were playing the four in the NBA playoffs last year. Last year he didn't feel he had a choice at the four after Jon Horford got hurt.
- The goal is to win the Big Ten title. [Of course it is. Fergodsakes.]
- Nik Stauskas has "a natural ability to find the bottom of the basket," but what makes him a difficult guard is that he can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. Also showing the ability to keep his head up and find the open man, and he's putting in effort on defense because he knows that's how he'll see the floor.
- Last year there wasn't a player who felt comfortable spelling Trey Burke as the primary ballhandler. There's a lot more confidence in Spike Albrecht being able to come in and run the point to give Burke a rest. Stauskas and Caris Levert can also put the ball on the floor.
- Beilein used most of the 16 hours of summer workouts on offense. The staff watched the NBA much closer than ever before and cut more NBA film than in the past to see how they utilize two post players.
- The team hasn't spoken about the loss to OHIO in the NCAA tournament. They're very proud of the Big Ten championship and will talk about the tourney loss if they get back there this year.
- The only injury is a "foot stress issue" for Corey Person. Otherwise there are a few nagging issues but nothing major.
- No captains have been named yet.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. will split time between the two and the three. Lots of options on the roster, so they'll wait and see how things shake out during practice.
That about covers it. Here's a shoe:
*said unnamed reporter even preceded that with "as expected"; we're not bitter!