ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Last season it was perceived that Michigan’s on court playing style was seen as softer than its peers, simply put – they weren’t viewed as the tough guys on block.
When asked about his views on being called soft or not tough, senior Zak Irvin made his case that this season will be different for U-M’s men’s basketball team.
“I mean, no one likes to be called wimpy or soft,” Irvin said. “Personally I don’t think I am and I don’t want our team to be that. Definitely puts a chip on everyone’s shoulder. So we’re coming out this year with a whole new mentality and mindset to show we are a tough team, and I think that will show as the season goes on.”
And by getting tougher, Irvin said it starts with him and his fellow seniors like Derrick Walton Jr. and Andrew Dakich by leading by example for the underclassman.
“I think that does start with our senior leaders,” Irvin said. “We have the most experience out of everyone. I think it starts with us; we got to hold everyone accountable. We can’t be ‘soft’ or whatever other programs call us, we have to be mentally tough and physically tough. Because that also wins games, especially those last four minutes.”
Irvin said being tough not only helps the team psyche, but makes them tougher defensively as well.
“Let’s just say we are more focused on the defensive end,” Irvin said. “I think last year our mindset was ‘We’re just going to come back here on defense but we just want it back on offense.’
“I think it showed.”
Adding, when Michigan opens its exhibition opener against Armstrong State Nov. 4, defense will be its major focus.
“I think this year we’re really going to focus on defense, we want to play defense – defense wins championships.”