GBW Talks w/ Hoops Asst. Jeff Meyer (w/video)

GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz sat down with Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer for an extensive and detailed preview of the 2012-13 season for the GoBlueWolverine the Magazine (October issue).

GBW Question: Thinking about this team, versatility is the word, for me, that comes to mind. Is that something the coaches have been trying to do as far as finding guys that can do so many different things?

Jeff Meyer: That's kind of a hallmark buzzword for Coach Beilein. We recruit and he has recruited over the years, players that have versatility. They have skill to make plays, finish plays. They have kind of a vision for the game, a feel for the game that multiplies their presence, their effect on the court and making their teammates better. They've got a competitive toughness that, we might be a little smaller but we're going to fight you. I think that's kind of been the path that coach has been on for a number of years and we've got it entrenched in our culture now. We are going to be versatile. Obviously when you add length with skill and you continue the whole mantra of we're going to be unselfish and play a game where parts are moving. I've always thought interchangeable parts are one of the hardest things to defend. If you take Zack Novak and now we've got two or three guys that can play multiple positions, but you put him at a two and now they're concerned about his shooting but you put him at a "power forward" position, that's a tough match-up. But now we've got two or three guys we can do that with. I know with our group this year, we feel like that can be a strength of ours. Our whole deal is we got to defend better because we have more length and then hopefully offensively we can continue to put pressure on the rim. We did that a lot last year with the drive but we'll be able to put some pressure on the rim by throwing the ball into the low post some this year and make people choose whether they're going to double us or they're going to give us the three. One of the two is going to happen, they're either going to play us straight up and those guys will be able to go to work down there or they're going to double us and we'll have some shots to look at.

Question: How vital is it to have guys that fit into the team dynamic but who also have the skill set to take advantage of teams in those one on one situations you alluded to?

Jeff Meyer: We have more of them and that's a good thing. The thing that Nick and Caris and Trey Rob and even Mitch as a big can do is play off the bounce and either finish a play or create a play and that's putting pressure on the rim. That's what we're about offensively is attack the rim.

Question: With such limited bodies available in the post last year, just talk about the big men right now and what you are able to do with so many of them?

Jeff Meyer: I don't want to say it's a luxury but certainly we feel like there are times where that's going to be a real advantage for us as a coaching staff and for our team. There are going to be times where that advantage is going to help us out in a competitive situation. We just got to make sure that we go through the building process in the right way that these guys, just like when you have two bigs out on the court at the same time one of them is going to guard a smaller guy. That means who's going to guard D.J. Byrd from Purdue? That's what people had with us with Zack Novak. We're mindful that there are some challenges with that but trust me we feel really good about the fact that we've got five kids that are 6'8 plus and it should give us depth.

Question: To some Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will be one of the best backcourts in the country, how does that help as far as Tim being able to play his natural position and also the comfort they have with one another?

Jeff Meyer: To this point, I don't know that I've seen, and I've had for better or worse a lot of experience, any two kids work harder in a practice scenario and that's really what we're focused on. Where's our attitude? Where's our effort? Are we being true to what we value and that is we work hard, we play smart, we compete with toughness. These two guys do that everyday. We're really not so much concerned with what people are saying, what we want is to make sure that in house we're working hard, playing smart, competing with toughness and staying together. These guys have had a really good summer and have been out on the circuit with some skill academies and have done well. They've come back and they work hard everyday. I will be the first to tell you the one thing that I've learned over the years and I just look back and say championship teams that I've been associated with, I think 11 NCAA teams right now, you have good point guard play to be able to maximize the talent that you have in that locker room. That is huge. Teams that under achieve by and large have fallen short with their point guard play or their backcourt play. In college basketball, guard play is huge. With our backcourt this year we've got a good blend of experience with Trey and Tim and then we've got a good group of freshmen in Spike who's a point guard that will run our team when we need him to run our team. Then Nick, Caris and Matt Vogrich, I mean we should be solid with guard play. That's a fair advantage but its only good if our minds are right, we have the right attitude, a team first attitude and to this point it's been great. I tell our guys, you want to go fast go alone. But if you want to go far with this group you got to go together and that's how you go far, you do it together.

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