March 21, 2013
Jordan: There are no freshmen now
After 33 games, Michigan's freshmen aren't rookies, according to U-M assistant coach LaVall Jordan. There's still been some guidance from older to younger as the week progressed.
For instance, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht weren't around one year ago, when Ohio University stunned the Wolverines and sent them home in their NCAA Tournament opener. While the college basketball world got a chuckle out of seeing one of the big boys sent packing, the Bobcats made sure the humor wasn't directed at them.
They went on to beat South Florida and take No. 1 seed North Carolina to overtime, coming within one regulation free throw of advancing to the Elite Eight. The message for the freshmen: don't even think about looking past South Dakoka State, its 24-9 record, its potential NBA point guard in 6-4 Nate Wolters, and the anything-can-happen nature of The Big Dance.
The freshmen have been put on notice, Jordan assured.
"The older, core group of guys have done that," he said. "They've been through it, obviously. They've educated the freshmen that everybody is good at this point. Don't think just because it's not a team from a BCS conference that they can't play or they don't have good players.
"They've done more of that in the locker room than we've had to do as coaches. They've been through it before."
Other veteran teaching points involved the different nature of tournament time - schedules, expanded media obligations, open practice. U-M leaders such as sophomore guard Trey Burke and junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. didn't want any surprises for the younger players, Jordan noted.
Other than those narrowly defined areas, the freshmen aren't freshmen on March 21, he offered.
"At this point, no," Jordan said. "We're 33-some games in. Maybe earlier in the year, we were trying to see how much they could absorb, but at this point, the freshmen have seen a lot, and they've heard us - we're pretty much redundant. It's about having good habits."
There is a bigger stage involved, he conceded.
"You know what? That's what you come here for," Jordan pointed out. "They all anticipated it. Early on, there might be some butterflies, because they're so excited, some of them in their first NCAA Tournament. But a couple of minutes into the game, you settle in.
"We've just been trying to emphasize the game plan, so that's more prevalent in their minds than any of the other stuff."
He'll be closely scrutinizing one particular part of the game plan very early, and by the players' response to it know whether or not the Wolverines are set to take care of business against the Jackrabbits.
"Defensively, on early shots," he mused. "Who knows if the shots will fall, but it's being connected on the defensive end of the floor, getting our assignments and sticking to our game plan early on in the game."
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