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Michigan’s Big Ten Media Interviews

NCAA Basketball: Big 10 Media Day Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Players, coaches and media members flooded Madison Square Garden’s Theater on Thursday morning, as the Big Ten Media Day brought the road show to New York City. I was fortunate enough to ask Coach John Beilein a question about Michigan’s daunting schedule, which you can find below with his entire presser. I also interviewed the three Michigan players in attendance: Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Moritz Wagner, which have been condensed and edited.

Duncan Robinson

-On His Offseason into This Season at Michigan

“Just trying to use last year’s success as a springboard for this year. As older guys we’ve taken what we’ve learned and applied it right away. For myself, this is my last year playing college basketball. There’s a heightened sense of urgency in that regard and it gives me a greater appreciation for the opportunity and to make the most of it.”

-On Helping Isaiah Livers in Practice

“I started being in his ear as much as possible at practice. Made him do things he wasn’t as used to doing at practice. The little things, progressing in practice any way he can. In terms of what he’s taught me, he’s a super fun and high energy kid. I appreciate having him there and he’s been pushing me a lot.”

-On Michigan’s Forward Rotation

“ All that’s been mentioned where guys will be playing but nothing about the starting rotation, and guys will slide around into different spots.”

-On Being a Starter vs. Bench Player

“Doesn’t matter to me. Whatever this team needs for me I’ll do. It’s kind of a transition back and forth and it’s an example for the younger guys your value isn’t always determined by if you’re a starter.”

-On Being a Senior in Ann Arbor

“Continue to spend as much time around my teammates as possible. My last year in Michigan basketball to leave my mark on the program. I started driving Uber. I usually only do it at night when it’s surging, so I get my money’s worth in that regard.”

-On Team Expectations

“There’s nothing too specific in that regard. We have incredibly high expectations of ourselves. Right now it‘s win that first game and before that just competing every day in practice.”

-On Jaaron Simmons Transferring

“The fact that I transferred as well I’ve kinda been in his ear. But mine was a lot different. Obviously a big challenge for him, but I think he’s embraced it well and just competing and just trying to learn and grow. The reality is you can’t solve it in the first week or first month for him but he’s been doing well and he’ll be a lot of fun.

-On Most Impressive Freshman

“They’ve all had their moments. But I would say Eli Brooks. He’s really fun to play with it. He can play with and without the ball, and he’s a great athlete.”

Moritz Wagner

-On Playing at U20 Eurobasket in Greece This Summer

“It was good. It was kind of a flashback to go to Europe, playing in smaller gyms. The beautiful thing was it was just about the game of basketball. It was just you and your homies and it brought me back to where I came from and made me appreciate it a little more. I had a little trouble at the beginning of the tournament because the style is a little different and tough getting use to. For the tournament I felt a lot better and it was a great start for my confidence. Get to do the things I do on every level.”

-On Where He Can Improve

“This year I have to look to pass a lot more. I had 20 assists on the year which is horrible, but I didn’t really have to pass. I don’t feel bad about that, but I’ve been focusing on trying to pass more and find the open man. Passing obviously is something I’ve been trying to work on and rebounding has always been a thing.”

-On The New Point Guards

“Jaaron (Simmons) and Zavier Simpson have been really good. Both these guys are very competitive. Jaaron is a really good passer and it’s a lot of fun playing with him.”

-On NBA Draft Decision

“I don’t regret anything. It was really cool but it was stressful on everyone at home. It drives you nuts and you can’t sleep. I was very happy with my decision. I was kinda (thinking about returning to school) but I told myself I wasn’t sure. I owed it to myself to consider both options. I would say that I wasn’t leaning on way or the other.”

-On Jon Teske and Austin Davis

“Strides every day, man. We’re a good group together, we’re very close. Iron sharpens iron. We’ve been working a lot on being vocal and being the center field of the defense.”

-On Team Expectations

“For the team we have a lot of expectations, but we only focus on our goals. I don’t care about expectations because they don’t bring you anywhere. I just play and always compete in practice and have fun and we’ll see what that brings us.”

-On The Big Ten Tournament in New York

“I love that. It brings us closer to the east coast with Penn State, Maryland, and Rutgers. I can’t wait to be at MSG. I love Madison Square Garden and the city so I can’t wait for the tournament.”

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

-On Fourth Year at Michigan and How He’ll Help the Team

“I just try to grow every year. If you look at the stats and things like that I’ve gotten better every single year. I try to get better in every single category and just taking that ownership as a leader cause me and Duncan are the only seniors so we have to lead and teach (younger players) .”

-On New Leadership Role

“I still lead by example but I’m trying to take a more vocal approach. Not by yelling, I like to pull people to the side and have a more personal conversation because I feel people respond to that better.”

-On Freshman Class

“They’ve been coming along well, better then I’ve seen in a while. Probably better than our class. They’ve been learning fast. Still making little freshman mistakes. But we’ve been speeding them up in the process like every school in the country to help them mature.”

-On Defense Schemes Without D.J. Wilson

“I think there will be different schemes. But it’s still that man on man, ‘mano y mano’ mindset. We play a lot of 1-on-1 and we put people in tough situations in practice so they have to respond. But it comes down to stopping your man.”

-On Charles Matthews and Jaaron Simmons

“They bring a different aspect. Charles is very athletic, he’s a great scorer, and he’s a good defensive shot blocker. Jaaron adds that assist and playmaking ability and toughness. It’ll be good to have them out there and for them to get out and play games against other people.”

-On Tough Schedule and Conference vs. Nonconference Play

“I don’t think it’ll affect us that much. It’ll be different for sure but at the end of the day you gotta go out there and play your game and win. I’m looking forward to it. Coming back from Maui and playing all these tough teams and these conference teams, I think it’ll help out in the long run.”

-On Expectations

“For myself, leading my team to championships. I don’t care about the accolades, I think the accolades come with winning championships. For the team, winning championships as well.”