Michigan assistant coach Saddi Washington met with the media on Saturday to discuss Sunday’s competition against a fiery northwestern team. For all Washington had to say, read the full minutes below.
You brought this group with you phenomenally. They have a really balanced team with young players, older people. Boo Buie plays really well, the Transfer Chase Audige has brought some level of toughness and boasting to this group in my opinion. Obviously, Kopp and Nance are playing at a high level. Your defending, really long wingspan, activity level, whether you’re man to man or playing a zone. Definitely reminiscent of their teams a few years ago when they got their NCAA up and running. What’s new in this league? Everyone gets a little older and a little better. It’s gonna be a tough challenge for us (Sunday).
The more we can really defend the three-point line. We gave up nine threes in the first half against Maryland. We managed to get it under control in the second half. Overall, I think I’m still guarding the ball in space. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of scouting and trying to take away the actions of the team. At the end of the Shot Clock or Iso situation, only the guys really band together, narrowing our gaps and making it difficult to fend off shots, shots contested for sure.
I think Brandon more than enjoyed playing this position. He’s really masked himself for us between the four and five throughout his career. Obviously, when Zay was out last year, Zay played most of his time with the four. He performed for us with the five. Frankly, this is the trend where basketball is going. These hybrid guys who can play multiple positions, whether it’s the four or the five. Brandon is really the perfect profile for it with his size and his sportiness and his ability. We’re very happy with its development and would like to try to improve its consistency from one game to the next. He’s done a great job and taken on every role we ask of him.
I think I play with confidence. In terms of manager Juwan’s offensive and defensive expectations, he now feels pretty good about the second year. Probably more so, I think the biggest difference for him is probably on the defensive side of the ball because you no longer bump into the five other teams and then run around with the four chasing guys and navigate the screens. Many teams in our league have four who can play on the ball screen and play in space. I think that was the biggest adjustment for him. In terms of his ability to score marginally, I think he has grown in that area. He was a consistent three-point shooter on the sidelines. He’s definitely been an all-rounder for us over the past few years. We’ll need his engine, his sportiness and his presence on the ground to keep up in this league.
I think a lot has to do with the players. In many cases, coaches get a lot of press or whatever to develop plans. We all try to develop an offensive and defensive scheme. At the end of the day, it’s all about the guys on the floor. Coach Juwan made it very important to only persist on the ground at both ends. I think with the addition of Chaundee on the sidelines, Franz has evolved into an elite-level two-way guy. Isaiah was stable throughout his career. Eli, he’s just an elite on-ball-off-ball guy. He really is the orchestrator of our defenses and he knows his place and he knows where everyone else should be. Just remember, guys who are really in tune with the scouting report were a big part of our success at the start of our season with our defensive state of mind.
Not really, from a defensive side of the ball we’re just talking about being in line with the scouting report. Trying to take away actions and then limit second chance opportunities. On the other hand, I think Hunter did a tremendous job of establishing our inner presence deep down in the post. He’s a burden to guard down there, and he attracts a lot of attention, which gives the fringe guys the option of either looking for open catch and shooting threes or going downhill and attacking their melee attacks. We will only take what the defense gives us. So far we have had some success with it.
The fact that they have a ton of people who can attack not only the dribbling in Boo Buie and Chas, but Pete Nance as well. He’s doing a great job. They do a really good job playing it through. If he plays the five, that five-on-five offensive where they clear the ground. Every time you attack the paint from the droplet it will lower your defense. They are only loaded on the edge with shooters. We have to do a really good job to be in our gap early to try to avoid getting into the Downhill as much as possible. In this way we can close shooters at the edge a little faster.
We just took it day after day, week after week. Austin did an excellent job with Alex Wong, our trainer, in his rehab. We can’t get it back fast enough. He’s like any other trainer out there, especially to our post guys in terms of what he sees on the floor. He always talks to Hunter, Brandon and Jaron and trains these guys. His presence was felt even when he was unable to participate on the ground.
I think you just have to play each game individually. It’s a blessing in and of itself to be playing games right now. We don’t become too preoccupied with the past or focus too much on the future. We try to stay in the present. We have a great task ahead of us in the northwest. The team was hot all season. Has taken some great wins in the league game. Our focus right now is on winning and cherishing the current day. We have Northwestern ahead of us (Sunday). We know again that this will be a challenge and we have to increase with all our energy, concentration and enthusiasm in order to stay ahead.
I thought Mike did a really good job and really integrated himself into our system. It can be difficult to make a transfer at times knowing they have a year to do it. That process started back in May and June with how we’re trying to build our culture and how coach Juwan was really careful to make sure this year’s team identity always came first. I think Mike who is a veteran helped because he had gone through the steps before. Although he didn’t play in the Big Ten, he enjoyed great success in Columbia and played against other major programs. When he and Eli are paired together in the background and you match up with Franz and Chaundee, that’s a really solid core to lead your team. We were very happy with Mike. He’s growing as a defender we’ll need as we get deeper into the league game. We think he is very capable of taking the next steps with the other guys. We are happy about his growth.
It’s the new norm, but it’s the same problem. In terms of tests, everyone goes through the same thing. At first it was like, oh man, we have to get our noses wiped. How that felt and how it did the first few times. Now it’s just part of our daily routine. I think, as the coach always says, our boys really embraced sucking. Again, just cherishing the day because we are sitting at home and there is nothing we can do. The fact that we have the opportunity to play and do with our brothers is nothing like it. Our boys are just out there, having fun, competing, and enjoying the competition. They know this Big Ten is the best league in the country. We know we’re battle tested night after night. That’s why you come to a place like Michigan.
I think you really need to take another step back and see where Coach Juwan is from. On the next level, when you talk about the NBA, a lot of people rave about the Miami Heat culture. Coach Juwan is a very meticulous thinker so you can see that a lot of the philosophy, the idea of successes and the things that worked in Miami is what he wants to bring to the University of Michigan here. He’s been very deliberate about things we’re trying to establish from the program standpoint to the recruitment standpoint. He’s always huge, huge, big in terms of family, and that’s especially popular with our young men now. We are all that we have to lean on right now as our players are largely separated from their immediate families. Now this basketball family is making a big splash. If that’s not right, it won’t be right on the pitch. I think Coach Juwan, along with the rest of our staff, did an excellent job of understanding the challenges our young men are going through. I’m just trying to really do what we can to maintain this family culture. So far it has worked out very well in our favor. Not only on the pitch, but also in terms of recruiting and from a program perspective.
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Michigan Wolverines Men’s Basketball, Northwestern Wildcats Men’s Basketball, Northwestern University, Basketball, Michigan, Head Coach, Juwan Howard
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