Team 99

Video: John Beilein ready to start practice

John Beilein met with the media this afternoon to discuss the upcoming start of practice and the offseason that was. Beilein shared his thoughts on Athletic Director David Brandon, the incoming freshmen and who he’s expecting to step up this season.

Selected quotes after the jump. 
Opening Statement … “If my sons were high school football players right now, I would love for them to play for Brady Hoke and this staff. I have watched them and I am certain that every day they have the best intentions and care deeply for their players, both on and off the field. I know I am speaking for all the head coaches — and I am certain of their agreement with me on this — when I say Dave Brandon has had an incredibly positive impact on this athletic department. He has been a great leader and mentor to so many of us in his transition here. What I think is best about what Dave has done is how he has championed the student-athlete, their experience and their welfare. When Dave steps down one day, and I hope it is later rather than sooner, that is going to be a tremendous loss for this university and athletic program. I feel strongly about that, everyone, and I’ve been hundreds and thousands of miles away watching this. I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s practice and watching us beat Rutgers in football on Saturday.”

On replacing last year’s contributors … “There are five key pieces that we are replacing; the three that are in the NBA right now and the two graduates, and I’m going to call Jon Horford a graduate. Those are two guys who have been here four or five years, have worked so hard, and who know our culture. That is going to be really difficult to replace and I know it’s the same thing I said last year. When you have young players — we refer to them as growing players — we don’t want to get into using that as an excuse. They’re growing. I like what I’ve seen and we had the great advantage of going over to Europe.”

On Zak Irvin’s growth from just a shooter to a more complete player … “He has shown that in practice. He rebounded well at times during our foreign trip, and showed what he can do being a defender and a rebounder. He’s making a lot of the same strides that we saw Caris make from his freshman to his sophomore year. He made big baskets for us as a freshman; so did Caris. Now, what’s the next progression? Getting in the lane, finding people and playing off the dribble. We love the way he played this summer.”

On his take on everything surrounding the athletic department at this time … “Believe it or not, it makes me value where I’m coaching so much, because the passion for Michigan Athletics is incredible, and people care so deeply about it. You can see that, and that’s where I want to be. You have to take the good with the bad, but at the same time this doesn’t happen at a lot of places. They don’t have the passion for how the two fit together and how they must fit together in the right ways.”

On his words of encouragement to Coach Hoke … “I text him a couple of times a week, at least, and we’ve been very supportive of each other. I can go back 40 years (with memories) of times like this and how persistence will pay off. Just to keep your head up and stay positive is the general message.”

On his versatility at the guard position … “We have guards, we have forwards and we have a guy that plays in the middle. Sometimes we will have four guys out there at one time that are guards. Because of Kam’s ballhandling ability, I think he can play a lot of positions. This may be one of our more versatile teams, and hopefully we have enough injury-free depth that Max gets back and everybody else is healthy at the center position to really be able to do some things. I expect Caris to play a lot of positions; obviously Derrick and Spike will play together at times. I think we’ll have great flexibility. I can’t say enough about the way Muhammad and Aubrey played over the summer, a little bit beyond their years.”

On the mix of veteran and young presence … “We are balancing the two, that we’ve already been together. I’ve spoken before on how this is a five-month season once you start, and that we must balance this thing. We’re going to work between the X’s and O’s with a young team, trying to keep things simple. At the same time we will be trying to build the fundamentals. And I’m talking about fundamentals in terms of a stance, catching the ball with two hands; all those things. Collectively, this is a very high-IQ group. We’ve spoken before about high-IQ players, but collectively this group’s sense of application has been very quick and easy.”

On freshman D.J. Wilson … “We have 40 minutes left in this week before we start Saturday. He was cleared right at the beginning, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He’s another guy who can multi-position at any of the three front-line spots. He has gained significant weight, good weight. We have been working on Sundays and Fridays and there’s a big gap in-between, so I look forward to getting some more consistency with what he’s doing, but he’s picked things up quickly as well.”

On transfer Duncan Robinson … “He has really been a pleasure to coach, even when he first got here. When we recruited him and he was on his official visit here, he looked every bit of 6-7, 6-8. He shoots and runs and plays and he’s a great teammate. He’s never had an individual workout in college, and now he’s going to have a lot of them. He’s lifting weights consistently, he’s added 10 pounds already, and we really like what we’ve seen from him. He can shoot it, too; that is a given.”

On the possibility of freshman D.J. Wilson playing center … “I think there is a chance that he can play any position. We are a long way from determining that, but his length, his shot-blocking ability, his skill level mean that he could be (a center). His down-the-road position is a forward. It’s like Zak Irvin last year; he wasn’t a swingman, but he did okay and now he’s migrated that way.”

On which players are still battling injuries and who has been cleared … “Max has been cleared and he’s going full speed now. We just have a few little nagging things that I don’t think are even worth mentioning, but hopefully we’ll be full-go, 15 guys, two-and-a-half hour practice on Saturday.”

On contrasting styles between Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal … “Both Ricky and Mark have had interesting games, where, one time Ricky didn’t get a rebound (in Italy) and Mark had a double-double all of the sudden. Both of them are making really good progress, and we’d like to see more of that. I like what I’ve seen, but as I mentioned with DJ, after 20 hours of practice and another 20 hours I’ll be able to answer that better. Both of them are going to play a lot at this juncture. Max is going to be competing, too. We haven’t seen enough of him and obviously we have DJ as an extra option.”

On Mark Donnal’s ability to shoot … “He’s tested very well in that, and now we have to do it on the court. I remember back to our exhibition game when he hit a three the first time he touched the ball. He’s not in the (Kevin) Pittsnoggle mold, where he’s a three-point shooter, or even DeShaun Sims, who shot it very well from there. He can shoot from outside, though.”

On where MAAR and Aubrey could end up position-wise … “Right now we have Muhammad playing either guard position, and Aubrey probably playing either forward position, so we have some good depth there, but both of them have had bright spots. When a guy walks on that court for the first time and they make shots for the first time, they usually turn out to be pretty good players and both of them have done that. They were very poised going into their first college type of game. Very poised. I think you’ll like their progression.”

On having Spike Albrecht … “He has had as good a fall as anybody that we’ve had. I’d encourage him to shoot more. If anyone saw him at Crown Pointe, he was a scorer who could play point, not a point guard who could score. We need him to shoot from deep and have that mentality that he had in that NCAA Championship game a little more, because we’re going to have to get scoring from different spots. He has really done a great job, and he’s playing every day against a young man in Derrick Walton who has made a great leap in his physical talent, his shooting ability and his understanding of college basketball.”

On Spike Albrecht’s embracing of his leadership role … “The leadership right now of Caris and Spike has really been tremendous. Max wasn’t as involved in the summer because he has been out the whole time, but on the court those two have shown as good of leadership as we’ve had to this point. We’ve got a long season (ahead), but there is no question that they are in charge of this team right now.”

On Derrick Walton Jr. taking a more offensive role … “He has had a few moments where he looked like No. 3 out there, pulling up for a jump shot and just playing a nice in-between game, so we do need him to be more aggressive and go after the basket, then make decisions. We need that instead of going for the pass and then figuring out what you’re going to do. Think ‘score’ and then ‘pass’ more often than he did last year. What you will enjoy watching is he has a new level of quickness and strength that is Jon Sanderson. It’s really been reflected in his play thus far. His endurance is much better than it has been.”

On Kameron Chatman’s versatility … “He’s going to play both forward positions, and if we ever got stuck he could play in the backcourt. He has done some really good things and all of the freshmen are okay. What happens when we string two or three weeks together? This summer, even though we did get to practice, it was at like seven o’clock at night after a day of classes and study hall. When we can put practices back-to-back it’s going to be really exciting to see his development.”

On how he will use the pair of Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal … “I need to watch both of them more, but at the end of the preseason here, when we get into November, one will probably have the upper hand on the other, but I can’t make that call yet. We may get situational some times, but I wouldn’t discount Mark’s inside game or Ricky’s outside game. The perception would be that one is one thing and the other is the other thing, but I think both have the ability to play the other’s game and that’s what we’re working on, so they can be really versatile.”

On the team chemistry built in Italy carrying over … “This group right now is very connected for this age. It has a lot to do with the personality of Spike and Caris and Zak and Derrick, who are extremely outgoing. Now you are going to enjoy conversations with Cam and Muhammad and Aubrey. They’re outgoing, charismatic, fun-loving kids. These guys are as connected as we’ve been. At this stage, for freshmen, it’s really been fun to go to practice. It starts with the leadership of those young men who have experienced success here but now feel that it’s their time to be the talkers and leaders.”

On leadership personalities … “Caris is extremely humble as he goes about his work, and that has brought tremendous respect from those younger guys. He is talking quite often to them and despite his humble personality, he has a charismatic personality as well that people are just drawn to.”

On the gains from the Italy trip … “Just playing against someone else was good, but we obviously didn’t get better in last-second situations over there. There weren’t many, but in the last game we played a really good team and we had to make adjustments. I could see that we can do some things. We went with a rotation every game and it was the same; people played half the game. The trip was well worth it from that standpoint. I probably wish we would have gotten beat at some time along the line, but it didn’t happen. At the same time the growth that we were able to make, playing All-Star teams that were talented but out of shape, it didn’t lead to quite the type of experience I wanted. But if we hadn’t been in shape and if we weren’t together, the other games would have been closer. The last game we would have lost if we weren’t in shape and didn’t have the guys perform really well. There was always somebody doing something. Whether it was Muhammad or Aubrey off the bench, just a lot of really good roles being filled off the bench and great leadership from the top.”

Quotes via Michigan Basketball.

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