The Wolverine

August 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2019 THE WOLVERINE 25 We're only allowed four hours per week. That shows he's committed and wants to get better. "You've seen it each year how he's always added something to his game. Last year was more the running sky hook, he was shooting better from the free throw line. "This summer I had a meeting with him about you can have the best work ethic, work hard, but the key is work smart. Three-a-days are not what we're looking for or good for your body. He looked at me and gave me that look … I thought he was about to chew my head off — but he understood where I was coming from. We want to see him have a healthy, great year. "He's been phenomenal. I wish I had him more than one year, because he's a coach's dream." How do you see junior forward Isa- iah Livers factoring into the offense? "He has so much talent and is so skilled. He's a big guard with a great attitude and excellent work ethic. He's steady. I don't think you'll see any- thing changing with his attitude and how he approaches the game. We're going to lean on him a lot, and I trust he will produce." Can sophomore forward Brandon Johns make a leap this year after a quiet freshman year? "Brandon is a talent. Now it's my job to help Brandon trust Brandon … being able to have confidence and trust himself. "He's skilled and has a pretty stroke on his jump shot. He's athletic, a nice kid. Now I have to help him add some more grit. I love his passion." How have summer practices been going? "Workouts, not practices. … We have one [July 22]. "Four hours [that coaches are al- lowed to work with players] is not enough for a week. I'm all in for when- ever they put together a committee, the NCAA coaches' association, if they want to request can we have more hours in the gym in the summertime. I'll be the first one in line to say, 'Yes, can we have more hours?' "That's where I come from … player development, being in the gym, hav- ing access to work with your guys, if you want, 24/7. That's the NBA. You don't have any restrictions. "Now you're restricted to four hours [per week]. … We came in kind of late in the ball game, and you want to build that connection, that relationship with the players. The best way to do it is on the court. "I think the work we're putting in thus far has been good. I like what I see within the group. We have more days, more workouts planned for the future. "We're not there yet — and I don't expect us to be. But I love this group. It's a great group. Coach [John] Beilein, DeAndre [Haynes], Saddi [Washing- ton] as well as Luke [Yaklich] did a great job recruiting these players. "They're all hard workers, high- character, good kids. It makes me ex- cited every day to come to work be- cause I know I'm working with a great group of guys." How much have you leaned on for- mer head coach John Beilein for help? "We've had conversations before. I can't tell you what we discussed, but we've always had a really good rela- tionship — prior to me taking this job and Coach moving on to Cleveland. "Every summer I'd come down and learn from Coach, spend a day and a half picking his brain, and vice versa. I wanted to someday be a head coach in the league. … College was only going to be one job, and that's Michigan. "I always felt Coach Beilein was one of the best coaches I've seen from where he started and where he is now. He has so much basketball in him. We've seen it, his growth by being here at the school and what he's done the years he's been here has been awe- some. I'd be a fool not to come here and try to learn from Coach B." Some have said the coaching in the NBA is your ultimate goal. How long do you expect to be at Michigan? "I'm not even thinking about the NBA. I'm taking this one day at a time. My heart, my passion … I think I've shown you how much passion I have for this school with the tears. I still get killed for that, by the way. "I'm locked in here." What style of offense do you envi- sion playing? "I'd rather keep that to myself. I don't want to give everybody else out there our style of play. … We've got a lot of competition out there saying, 'This guy has never coached before' or 'This is their style, so do you want to go there?' "I'd rather bring recruits to campus, show them the film, maybe see a prac- tice or workout and then we'll go from there." How do you see the shooting guard position shaking out? "We can have some fun with that po- sition, but it's a competition out there too. It's a spot. It's open. I love to see in practice who is going to win it. That's how it will be determined. "[Sophomore] David DeJulius could possibly play two, [freshman] Cole Bajema, [freshman] Franz Wagner, [sophomore] Adrien Nunez, [junior] Eli Brooks. It's a lot of guys." What do you know about incoming freshman Franz Wagner? "I've been talking to him too. He is skilled, big, has guard skills and played professionally over in Europe. He has experience, is battle tested and has a high IQ. He comes from good stock. His brother, you can imagine them in the gym, what one on ones were like. "But he respects his older brother [former U-M star Moritz Wagner], and the older brother loves his younger brother." What kind of impact have assistant coach Phil Martelli and director of player personnel and development Jay Smith had? "Phil's a great addition; Saddi as well. [Assistant] Howard [Eisley] and I are like two little kids [learning]. "You'd be a fool not to sit and learn from Coach. He is the Godfather. I love Phil Martelli. "I am like, 'Thank you, God.' I chose wisely. I wanted a former head coach on my staff who had coached college basketball, not a former coach who coached in the NBA. "I reached out to four to five peo- ple who I trust for their opinion and that gave me a list. That name kept coming up — Phil Martelli. I reached out to two current coaches in college basketball, they gave me Phil Martelli and a few others. I went with Phil and haven't looked back. "Jay wanted to be a part of it, taking ego out of the equation. He wore many hats in college basketball, head coach, assistant coach, video guy. It just meant a lot to me for Jay to say yes." ❏

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