Q & A with Jerret Smith

Michigan junior PG Jerret Smith discusses adapting to a new coach, a new system, and the difficulties that he has weathered through early in the process. He also breaks down many of the changes that have been implemented already and some of the positive dividends he and his teammates are already realizing.

Question: Last year it really seemed like you were hitting your stride and doing your thing. You got into the starting lineup and really started shooting the basketball well. How much did the change disrupt you? Now that you look back on it, you were in a groove, did that sort of disrupt things, the coaching change or did you just really pick up right where you left off when Coach Beilein got here?

Jerret Smith: “It did both. It disrupted me a lot, because obviously it took me a year and a half to get to the point I was at… and all that stuff got erased because obviously the system felt that it was right for them to make that move. It was tough. It was real tough. It is still tough to this day, but at the same time, I’ve got to keep faith that the Lord has put Coach Beilein in my life for a reason. Coaches are coaches and you got to play for them and I think that he is going to open up my game. But at that same time you never know. You just wait for the season. I keep faith in him because he has done a lot. So it disrupted me a little bit, but at the same time it did not kill me. It probably made me stronger from where I was at, so it was not too bad.”

Question: You where one of those guys last year that when the lights were on and it was game time, you were hitting those three-pointers. In practice, has it really translated? I mean are you more of a game time shooter as opposed to a practice shooter? How has that worked out?

Jerret Smith: “To be honest with you, I just work hard and am in the gym as much as I can be. It just shows in the game. To say that I just like to be in front of the lights cannot be the statement that I make because I know that I have to work on my game. Sometimes you are in slumps and you have to keep working. You never know when a slump is going to end. You can dictate how long that slump lasts by how hard you work. So every day you just got to continue to work hard. I like it when the lights are on, but at the same time, I like when they are off, because I know I’ve got to get better for the next game.”

Question: Has Coach Beilein done anything with your shot mechanics or he has just left that alone and let you just work through it. As long you can make the 50 threes in five minutes, does he care what the shot looks like?

Jerret Smith: “He preached hard about the rotation on the ball, but as far as switching our shot, he knows how late this in, in our careers to really switch our game. He really did not complain too much about mine. He wants this team to be as good as they can be. So I mean he is trying to take little things and make them great. We just believe and know there is a reason he has got us doing what we are doing.”

Question: Some of the guys talked about this “Beilein bal” and how it helps their shots.. Talk about the ball and how does it help you with the rotation and your shot?

Jerret Smith: “I mean it is just a ball. It has a line on it that once you shoot and look at the line, you see if the line is moving one side of the path. It is not a ball that is weighted in the middle or weighted on the outside or anything. It is just a regular ball that has a line on it to show you shoot. Basically, it just shows you the rotation on your ball. To say it is a ball of greatness, I cannot say that (laughing). Obviously, there is not a magnetic in the ball attracting it to the rim, but at the same time, it does help you because it gives you a better view point of how you are really shooting.”

Question: One of the other changes that a lot of other guys have been talking about is the conditioning. I know you did a lot of work with that last summer. This year, apparently the conditioning methods are much different. How much of a difference is there? Can you quantify that for us? Was it a big change for you?

Jerret Smith: “It was a different style of lifting and that is why it was such a big change for most guys. There is a difference from lifting for football and basketball.”

Question: Do you think guys were doing football exercises before?

Jerret Smith: “I could not really say. We were definitely gaining weight by how we were lifting. I think that this time it is more repetition to make us tough and lean. It is just a different style of workout for most guys. When you switch a workout on guys, they are so used to working our body one way, your body has to slow down and say, ‘you are working me a whole different way.’ It was not a big change for me because I have seen different weight styles and weight programs and stuff. At the same time, I understand what he is trying to do. He wants us to be versatile. He does not want us to just be bulky athletes.”

Question: One of the things that Tommy (Amaker) he used to talk to you about was the assist-to-turnover ratio. Has Coach Beilein talked about hammered you on that as well?

Jerret Smith: “He has, but we really have not had any episodes where I just got onto a streak where I had a lot of turnovers. Last year there was just times where it seemed like teams knew our plays. Sometimes you pick up the ball too early because you just want to run through the motion and I was doing that a lot. Last year I would rather have the turnover than get a travel call, but they are both the same thing. Our game became predictable and that is when we started having problems. In your own mind, you don’t even know they know what you are about to do, so you make a move, and they know what you are going to do. I have to make sure that I take care of the ball more, but at the same time, I cannot become a predictable athlete. I have to make sure that I stay versatile. Keep defenders on their toes, keep help side defenders on their toes… I think the turnover-to-assist ratio goes up. I mean I get more assists than I get turnovers. That can only help my future.”

Question: One of the guys that Coach Beilein talked about was Shep (Jevohn Shepherd). He said that he was a kid that based on what he saw on tape and what he has seen so far, looks like a different player. Have you noticed that for him as well?

Jerret Smith: “Yeah man. I noticed that last year. I’ve always thought Shep was a great player. He did not get Mr. Canada for no reason. I think that he is a great player. I just think that the offense was just a little bit of a shakeup for him. Maybe the offense did not fit his offense last year. Maybe something just did not work out. You never know. All I know is that Shep is a great player. He has an NBA body and the sky is the limit for him because he continues to get better. It just might have been that the system was a little bit different, where Jevohn feels better with the system now than he did last year. There is no telling. I just know he is a great athlete and from what I have seen in open gym, he can be the best guy on this team easily, hands down. He has just got to continue work hard. This season is going to show a lot more progression than what he has shown in the last two years.”

“It is a confidence thing with Jevohn. When the coaches aren’t playing you, it gets hard. You lose confidence and think it is your game or think it is something. Jevohn is a great player, but for some reason there was a conflict between the system and Jevohn’s game. That does not knock the system or a knock on Jevohn’s game, but it just needed a meeting point. It seems like Coach Beilein’s offense met with Jevohn and now Jevohn’s game is sky-rocketing. I mean that everyone in here has been to open gym and see how great of a player Jevohn is. It is just to the point where he feels more comfortable.”

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