Michigan Basketball held their annual media day on Wednesday afternoon. It was a chance for us to talk with the players and start to get to know the freshmen. Joe White and I came away very impressed with everything we saw and heard. As usual we asked some compelling questions including who will break a backboard first, what is your favorite Bacari’ism, who would win a 40 yard dash between Trey Burke and Corey Person and which assistant coach is it that loves to ride the elevator. For the answers to those questions and more you will have to stay tuned to isportsweb.com as we release the videos over the next few days. It will be worth the wait.
Here are some of the things we saw and heard that made an impression on us.
We knew Mitch McGary was big, but when he sat down across from us I was surprised to see just how big he was. He is a mountain of a young man and is going to be a force in the paint with his relentless effort. We also had the chance to see Mitch shoot some jumpers and his shot looks really good, effortless as Joe put it.
Trey Burke was noticeably bigger and in a good way. “Trey has really worked his body stronger,”John Beilein explained. “If you watch the game right now, he is involved in so many ball screens and he has the ball so much. The point guard has to be in a similar type of shape as a middle linebacker (or) a running back that is running it 40 times a game. That is the type of shape and strength that a point guard needs today.”
Jordan Morgan looks to be in great shape and sounded very focused. We’ve been trumpeting for some time now that Morgan is an explosive dunker who changes momentum when he throws down one of his thunderous dunks. Based on what we saw, he is going to be even more explosive this season.
Bringing back Corey Person for a 5th season was a stroke of genius. We’ve talked about his leadership abilities before and he is also one of the team funny guys. It’s always a pleasure talking to him and he is clearly somebody the other players love having around.
Tim Hardaway Jr. seemed relaxed and confident. It’s his time to step into a leadership role and he appears to be up to the task. “I think he has had a tremendous summer and even a better fall from what I see,” Beilein said. “I just like his attitude. He’s taken a little bit of Novak as far as you can hear his presence. A different type of presence, but you can hear it. That was pretty much left up to Zack in years before.”
With McGary, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford and an overall longer and athletic team, the days of Michigan being routinely dominated on the boards are over. “I have to make sure that is part of our offense, offensive rebounding,” Beilein said. “Because we do have talent there, Mitch (McGary) in particular and Jordan (Morgan).”
Josh Bartelstein is not ready to become a Detroit Tigers fan as he is partial to the White Sox. He looked to be in great shape and is going to be a good mentor to some of the younger players. He also received a lot of votes in one of our categories in the video series.
Max Bielfeldt is an impressive fellow. He is well-spoken, confident and has a good sense of humor. Max goes by the nickname Moose and we thought he was big, then we saw McGary.
Caris LeVert is long and lanky and had no qualms with the fact that Jordan Morgan would beat him in an arm wrestling match. Like Bielfeldt, he is another example of the polite, high character players that John Beilein and his staff covet.
Glenn Robinson III just has that look of an elite athlete. He even came up in the 40 yard dash question as a guy who might beat both Burke and Person. He wouldn’t mind having something to do with being the first player to break a backboard either. He seems to have a good personality and looks great in the #1 jersey.
Nik Stauskus is a legit 6-foot-6 and has a confident yet humble attitude. He talked about his passing ability being an attribute that might surprise some folks. He can flat out shoot, but said he hadn’t heard the rumor that they were going to rename the 50 threes in 5 minutes drill, The Stauskus. “He’s just got a natural ability to find the bottom of the basket,” said John Beilein. “What separates Nik is, what we hope will make him a very difficult guard, that where some guys are just shooters, Nik, if you come out on Nik, he can put the ball down on the floor and get to where he wants to go to. Some guys can do that and then can’t throw drop-off passes and see the court. He has been able to do that thus far. Like most shooters, they love shooting the ball. I would sense that if he continues doing what he has been doing so far, he among some others will have a pretty green light to let it ride.”
This team appears to be very tight-knit which is impressive when you consider they are adding 5 freshmen into the mix.
That is an overview of our observations. Stay tuned over the next few days as we roll out the videos. You will have some laughs and come away liking the players that comprise this edition of Michigan Basketball. You can stay connected with our coverage by following us on Twitter, I’m @isportsRob and Joe is @isportsJoe