Sam Webb: Let’s talk about identity, because you guys had a certain identity offensive, but one of the things we’ve really noted about the John Beilein offense is that it adapts to the personnel, so how, if at all, will things look different on paper for you guys next year?
lavall jordan: “You know, that’s an interesting question at this point, Sam, just because you don’t know what improvements a guy’s going to make over the summer. You kind of have an idea, and we’ll give them some things to take home over the summer to work on, because of what we would like to do, but when they come back, you know, I think playing bigger is definitely an option. Mitch has shown that he can play on the perimeter some and guard up there, and handle and pass, as he did in the Syracuse game. Glenn’s going to become a better ball handler, that’s one of the things we want him to work on, and get his shot more consistent so he can play more on the wing. We have a better rebounding lineup, so – but all that is obviously Caris and Nik and Spike, and everybody has to improve, and the freshmen have to come in and pick up, so you kind of have an idea, and once they come back and you see who’s put in the work, then you kind of start formulating the real shake of things.”
Sam Webb: Obviously, part of the reason why Trey was able to transition so easily as a freshman is his exceptional talent. But are there things that you guys did offensively that kind of ease that transition for him, kind of systemically?
LaVall Jordan: “You know, it was just kind of taking their strengths as they were on the way in, because you’re starting, you know what you have in Timmy and Trey, and (Jordan Morgan), and guys who are returning, and you’ve seen what the freshmen can do, and you don’t want to put them in positions – you want to put them in positions where they’re successful. Glenn was great in space, and got better as we went. He’s been more confident off the bounce and creating the shot. He’ll have to do better; you know, you’re losing two guys in Trey and Tim that can create their own shot, so you’re talking shot clock’s running down, ball’s in their hands, two guys that can get a good look for you, so now you need more guys showing that ability coming back, so I think Glenn has the ability to do that, Nik and Caris have the ability to do that. They all have to work on it over the summer. Spike has to be able to make a shot and create it too. The freshmen have to come in and we’ll see what they’re capable of.”
Sam Webb: Do you think that because you guys are such a ball-screen heavy offense that that kind of caters to the talents of a guy like Derrick Walton. Do you think that’s one of the things to kind of help ease his transition is that you guys do that a lot?
LaVall Jordan: “You know, I think it’s all about the adjustment to the length and speed of the defense. I think Trey did a good job coming in as a freshman. Spike got more and more comfortable as he went on. Nik, we put in the ball screen, and Tim got more comfortable over the course of his career, at being able to make those reads, so Coach has been adaptable since I’ve known him. During my three years here, just looking at what guys are capable of, trying to put them in spots where they’re comfortable, and it works for us too, and it all works out at the end, so a lot of it, the ball’s in God’s court, you know, that’s the best part as a player, taking on the challenge of ‘hey coach, what do you want me to do? Here’s the vision I see’, and then getting that summer plan together and getting after it.”
Sam Webb: One of the biggest things for you guys since you’ve been here… chemistry. First of all, the leadership base that is kind of passed on from class to class, but then, your freshmen, especially this last group of freshmen. They came in and they were outstanding followers. How big was that, and how big is that going to be for this group of freshmen?
LaVall Jordan: “That was huge, that was huge, especially, you know, they got a lot of attention on the way in, and for them to come in and just be as humble as they were – and we knew when we recruited them what type of kids they were, but you’re in that stormy stage where you’re trying to put five new guys with ten old guys, and give them time to adapt and learn each other, so the freshmen just kind of came in with a mindset of learning, and the upperclassmen and returnees did a great job of teaching, so it’s when you know you have a program. I’ve been telling people we don’t want to have good teams, we want to have a good program, and I think building Michigan back up to where it’s a good program year in and year out, it has to be the old teaching the young, and the young have to be receptive to being taught.”
Sam Webb: We have an idea, most people do, from watching this team, of the guys on this team and what they’re capable of. Obviously, they have some improvements to make, but from a coaching perspective, give us kind of the coaching breakdown of what the newcomers, the freshmen, bring to the table talent-wise, starting of course with Derek Walton.
LaVall Jordan: “I think with Derek you have a terrific lead guard with the ability to make others better. That’s really a strength of his. He can find the open guy, similar to Spike and Trey, you know, and that’s one of the things we look for, but he was great vision, and he can make those around him better, and when you have guys on the wings, like Caris and Nik and Zack and Glenn, and your bigs that can finish inside, his job will be maybe easier, because he won’t be asked to do a whole lot other than find guys in the right position, and that’s what he does by instinct anyway. And then you look at Zack, who’s a terrific wing scorer, a guy that wants to play defense on the perimeter, now doing it at the college level, is the adjustment that they’ll all have to make. And then Mark is a skilled big that brings a lot to the table in terms of passing, scoring inside, and being able to shoot the perimeter shots too, so we’re excited about that group. We’re excited about the 11 guys coming back together, and can’t wait to – you know, they get home and these guys get a break, and then get them all back at the end of June here for summer.”
Sam Webb: From a recruiting standpoint, you added Spike and Caris late last year. Does that possibility still exist, or are you kind of looking past 2013 and 2014?
LaVall Jordan: “We don’t ever shut the door, Sam, and when we have availabilities, it’s all about fit, so those guys were the right guys, the right type of people. If we find guys that are the right type of guys for our locker room, that’s most important, and then obviously they have to have ability, and we have to believe in them, they have to believe in us, but more importantly is protecting the locker room. So they have to be the right guys. It’s all about fit in terms of that, but the door’s never shut, you’re always looking. That’s what we do as coaches, and on the recruiting trail, you’re still flipping over every stone just to make sure.”