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November 9, 2012

Josh Bartelstein embraces his role as captain

Coaches, players and athletic departments across the country struggle to find a balance on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. But when former Michigan basketball player Zack Novak tweeted something he shouldn't have three hours before tipoff of the Wolverines' first exhibition game of the season, everyone in the program just smiled.

"Congrats to [Josh Bartelstein] for being named captain of @umichbball this year. No one deserves it more. He will do great," Novak tweeted.

The Wolverines had planned to keep Bartelstein's captainship under wraps and announce it to the 10,524 fans at their 83-47 win over Northern Michigan. But Novak breaking the news to the Michigan faithful was good, too.

"No one was supposed to know yet, but he is really happy for me," said Bartelstein, a senior guard. "He knows that it was kind of a goal I had set for myself, to be a captain of this team. He just said, 'Do what you do and enjoy it.' He definitely still wishes he was playing at Michigan, so he's kind of living vicariously through me."

Last year, Bartelstein lived with Novak and fellow captain Stu Douglass, which he said was an invaluable experience.

He studied their leadership styles, and now incorporates some of what he learned from them, blending aspects of their philosophy into his own style and personality.

"We would talk all the time about different team stuff, while we were living together," Bartelstein said. "I've learned a lot from them, and I've used some of the same things that Zack and Stu used. At the same time, I do things that are unique to myself. I'm just trying to be the best leader I can. There's no doubt that when you're around two really great leaders like those two that you're going to pick up on things."

Michigan coach John Beilein said that the decision was so clear that Bartelstein should be a captain, he didn't feel the need for the team to vote on it.

Just as the coaches unanimously decided Novak and Douglass should be captains a year before, this was a no-brainer.

"One thing is for certain: he is the most selfless, team guy that I may have ever coached," Beilein said. And that's high praise, considering he has been a head coach for 34 years. "That young man has the ear of this locker room, and he has the ear of the coaching staff, as well."

Bartelstein's new roommate, redshirt junior Jordan Morgan, couldn't agree more.

"He's a great guy, and he has embodied selflessness for his four years here, putting the team first, working hard and doing his job," he said. "His voice is a big contribution to this team, so it was definitely well-deserved.

"He sincerely cares about people and their well-being. He's a great guy, honestly."

For Bartelstein, taking the 'C' is a dream realized - and while he may not contribute much on the box score, his role on the team is invaluable, if the Wolverines hope to live up to the hype surrounding the 2012-13 season.

"It has been great getting emails from my grandparents, aunts and uncles about it, "Bartelstein said. "My mom was probably the happiest one about it. It's been a really cool thing, but I haven't changed anything. Keep talking and doing what I've done.

"It's an unbelievable honor, but nothing has really changed. We have a team full of really good leaders, and I think they wanted to have someone out front to kind of be the face of it."


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