Hardaway ready to do whatever it takes

Veteran Michigan swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. met with the media to share his thoughts on what he expects from himself, from Trey, and from the new, highly versatile, 2012-13 team.

Question: How different are things this year?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Oh, it's no different. No difference at all. You know, it's just two guys are gone now, and it's something that we have to overcome. A lot of the people are saying who's going to be the captain? Who's going to be the leaders? I think everybody here is great enough, or good enough, to be a captain or a leader. And just getting Corey Person back on the team, it really helps us out a lot."

Question: With the freshmen, have you seen flashes already of things where you say ‘wow, this is something we're missing, something we need.'?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah… a lot of guys… Nick Stauskas is not really just a shooter. He can attack the basketball as well as anybody I've seen coming into college. And Trey-Rob, he's one athletic kid. He can touch 11' 11" off two feet. It's ridiculous. And you see Mitch with flashes just like from him being in high school, pushing the break and being so versatile. Spike and Caris, they're just trying to fill in, and just find their spots, and they're doing a great job of it, just being humble and just learning from us veterans."

Question: You guys knew and heard about those kids coming in. You knew a little bit of what they could do from what you heard. What was it like the first day everyone was here, and you really saw some of that talent? What was that like, when you finally saw all those guys mesh?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "It was very exciting, very fun, and you now, a lot of flashes that we can use. And just seeing them out there in practice, and, you know, they're just humble – they're just humble guys when it all comes down to it, and they want to learn. They don't talk back. They want to do whatever it takes to win, and I think coming into their freshmen year, that's very good. They're (not) still trying to just make a big impact on the offensive end, and not showing on defensive end. They're doing hustle plays, and doing what it really takes to get on the floor."

Question: Any surprises so far about these guys? Anybody exceed your expectations, or are they what you thought they would be?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "I think coming in, they're great students. Not only in the game, but in the classroom. They're taking their time; they're managing their time wisely, and you can see that nobody's making mistakes. It really gets that off the coaches' backs and our backs so we don't worry about them coming in and messing up, or anything like that. They're getting their work done; they're preparing for the real school year in the fall and winter semesters, and I think that's a very good job for a freshman to come in and do that."

Question: You guys play the other five against you guys?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, the first two or three games, they destroyed us (laughter)."

Question: Really?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yes. I think they were very excited. I don't want to say destroyed, but they – games to eleven, they were beating us 11-6, 11-7, and then there was one game where me and J-Mo were just looking at each other, and we were like, ‘We have to show them Big Ten basketball is all about'. And then we ended up beating them 11-1, 11-2. So you know, they got their time, but it won't happen again (Laughter)."

Question: Was Trey playing?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Me and Trey were on different teams at the time, and Trey would lose, and then I would lose. And then when I got back on the Court it was me, J-Mo, Vogie, Blake, and I think it was Max Biefeldt or something like that, and I think we just went on a rampage from there. We were just not going to lose anymore."

Question: Does it hit you that you've turned from being one of the younger guys to being one the elder-stateman?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, I turned the corner tremendously, and like I see it now, the coaches expect a lot from myself and the seniors, and especially Trey after the wonderful season he had least year. So we're all – I mean, it's just everybody's back is against the wall right now, and everybody's just trying to prepare for the season the correct way, and not rush anything, and just try to focus on what they can do to get better."

Question: Which camps have you been to? Heard you've been playing well… you and Trey both.

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Kevin Durant Skills Academy, and LeBron James Skills Academy were the two I've been to, and I didn't do a tremendous job. I know I could have done a little bit better in some areas of my game, but, you know, I was just trying to focus on rebounding, defending, on learning how to come of screens instead of watching the ball, watch my man, and just being able to handle the ball and run the point a little bit at some of the camps, to see where I can fit when I get back here, at the point, or if they need me to bring the ball at any case, any time."

Question: You've been around a lot of NBA players, obviously, in your life. You know, you've been exposed to these things. Is it different when you're around Lebron James. Is that a different feeling because he's on a different level?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, it's very different. You see how his work ethic – how serious it is once you're around him. And it's so different from college level because they take it so serious and it's a job for them. You have fun and everything, but it's really a job. They do whatever they can to get their bodies prepared for the upcoming season, and you just see it in front of your eyes. It's incredible."

Question: How has Trey's game evolved recently?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Trey, you know, he's using the pick and roll very well… talking, communicating… just fitting into that veteran mindset. That's good for a point guard, because what we all can do as a team, and he puts the team first. He never thinks about himself. He just wants to do a good job of distributing the ball, making great shots, and just trying to make the team better."

Question: How much more versatile has this team gotten with the type of guys that you guys have left where you might have a slashing line up, and a jump shooting lineup; you can do a lot more things than you could in previous years?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, I think this team is very versatile. Like you said, we can go big, go small. You can go slashing, you know, just all the guards, and Mitch, or whatever like that. We just have to wait and see. Coach Beilein has been talking to everybody about that on the team, and the coaches are going to do whatever they can to make us feel comfortable out there on the court. He's never going to put us in a bad position of where stuff might not work, so we're just going to see what happens."

Question: Do you consider yourself still primarily playing the three?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "I wouldn't say that. I would say more two, three. But if I had to, I would go to the three, but I see myself going back to my normal position, which is the two, so I can be in the back row with Trey."

Question: You more comfortable there, you think, overall?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "I played the three for the past two years, so I'm not really sure how the two is, but just being in open gym and running the point a little bit, running off screen and rolls; and with our bigs, I feel very comfortable there, and I think the two works for me."

Question: Has Coach Beilein told you what he expects from you this year?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Going into my junior year I hope he expects a lot from me, and I'm ready to take on the challenge, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. I'm trying to – I'm not going to say this…, but try to have a Draymond Green type of year, where he just does everything. Rebound, pass, steals, assist, post up, you know, run the point a little bit, makes his teammates better. I know the fans might not like that, but, you know, he's a dog out there."

Question: But he wants you to play the two as well. Coach Beilein's told you that?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, that's my normal position. That's my normal position, if you look at our team size-wise."

Question: Is it easier for you now to – I know at times it took a while – is it easier for you to play alongside Trey? Do you guys mesh better?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, it's very easy now. We're hanging out all the time now, and I think those two camps bonded us tremendously. Last year we didn't really know what to expect, because I was switching point guards. You know, I build that chemistry so well with Darius, and we were very happy and fortunate to have another guard that could come in and fill out that role, and you know, take on the challenge. So I think this year's going to be even better with us, knowing the chemistry, knowing where we want the ball in different areas, and I think that will help us out a lot."

Question: What's the limit for this team? Looking at the talent out there, do you have pretty high expectations?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, the sky's the limit. The sky's the limit. You know, I don't think we have a limit. We can do so many things with this team, and I think that's the beauty of it, is just being so versatile, and Coach Beilein having so many options to go to probably late in the game, early in the game, different combinations he can set up on the court to distract teams. I mean, it's just so versatile, it's going to be really fun out there."

Question: Is there one area of your game that's improved over some – you said you tried to work on everything, but is there one that you notice a marked difference in?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "I think rebounding. I think it really helped me out a lot on just boxing out, and just trying to be in that right spot at the right time when that shot goes up. Getting deflections on the defensive end. I think those are two things that really helped me out a lot this summer. And pushing the break, you know, getting the rebound, pushing it if – easiest offense in the game, and score the points the fastest."

Question: We just talked about expectations, and I know you just mentioned the sky's the limit. How do you handle all that? I mean, you have a lot of young kids, and you guys all hear, more now than ever, all the stuff we say. How do you guys handle that?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "We handle it the same way as we did last year. Staying humble. We already know that we had talked about being a top ten team out there. We're not really focused on that. I mean, we can hear, but it's better to go out there and show and prove to everybody, rather than hearing it and just going out there and laying a goose egg. I'd say, so just staying humble, working very hard; everybody's staying together and not worrying about what's out there on the TV or on the news."

Question: Has that tournament loss helped you in a way?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Yeah, it's really helped us out a lot. I know that our seniors are going to do whatever they can to have this last year, and make it a great one for the team."

Question: When you came here, you were talking about rebuilding. Is it rebuilt? You look at the way you're recruiting, and the guys that are here now, and the facilities and everything else.

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "I feel like it's rebuilt, but we still have a long way to go. We're trying to get to a national championship just like everybody else. So, until we get there, I think it's still rebuilding."

Question: As far as the college experience itself…out of the dorms now. It's a little bit more responsibility. How are you adjusting to being – I mean, more on your own, and having a lot more responsibility.

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "You know, it's a challenge. You know, I like the challenge, and I think it's going great. Roommates are fine, and we're just rolling. I think this is what summer's all about. Just to learn, and improve on your game, and not only your game, but life, so we're improving on that in the summer, and living on your own, and just seeing where life takes you."

Question: Are you more comfortable this year almost? Like, last season, you talked in the beginning of the year, and you had so many goals, so many things individually, and as the year went on, you had the slumps and everything. Are you more – is this part of you growing up, and are you more, just kind've focused on the present and not anything else?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Exactly. I'm focused on the present right now. I'm focused on getting myself better, and my teammates better. I'm not worried about the past; I'm not worried about the future; I'm worried about now. And I think having that mindset going into the season will help me out tremendously, and not only myself, but the team—and letting the team know that I'm here and I'm ready to go."

Question: Who are you rooming with?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "Jordan Morgan, John Horford, and Josh Bartlestein."


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