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Question: You were at the pinnacle as a pro strength coach. You worked with pro guys. There were even pro guys that were seeking you out to maybe be a personal trainer? Why come back to the college ranks? Why come to Michigan?
Mike Curtis: "You know what… I missed having 15 guys walk into the weight room every day with a goal and a purpose. Point blank, that's it. The NBA is what it is. You get guys who like you said, have reached the pinnacle… and some days they forget that they can get better. I wasn't in the situation where I had too many of those guys, but for the most part I really missed having hungry guys… 15 hungry guys come in every day and that is why I came back."
Question: Can you touch on some of the other differences between working in the NBA and working in college?
Mike Curtis: "The NBA is a little bit different because there are so many games. You have to deal with more of a recovery aspect in the NBA than a building aspect that you do here. We have a little bit more structured in season that allows you to do a little bit more in terms of physical preparation and getting these guys stronger from week to week and month to month. The NBA is different because you're always on the go. You can play as many as four games in seven nights, five games in seven nights. So a majority of what you're trying to do is facilitate recovery and tweak little things that guys have that may end up being things that cause injuries or problems. The difference here is that you have a little bit more time to go through the building process, which has been fun for me. Because the last six years, I haven't had quite the ability to spend as much time on that. So it has been fun to have these 6 weeks to work on those things."
Question: How did you meet Coach Beilein?
Mike Curtis: "Coach Beilein and I have known each other for about three years now. I obviously was with the Memphis Grizzlies for quite some time and he was at West Virginia, which has a connection to Jerry West. Jerry West was the person who hired me in Memphis. It's that group of people where you never know who you'll meet along the line that will give you a connection to somebody else. When he was at West Virginia, he sent strength coaches just to consult with me and to talk about basketball training and we developed a relationship from that, just because he wanted to make sure that the person who was working with him had the opportunity to go out and learn something from somebody else who was in a professional setting, worked in a basketball setting. That formed our relationship."
Question: Let's just talk about some of the changes that have been put in place since you've come in. How has the weight room changed since Mike Curtis took over?
Mike Curtis: "Well we have cleared out a lot of machines. The basic philosophy has kind of gotten more to more body weight type stuff, understanding your body first and foremost before we start loading you. So it wasn't really a need for all the machines that were here in the past. So we have tried to refine their movement, try to help them acquire some of the movement qualities that they didn't have, so that we could build upon that. To make them bigger, faster and more explosive athletes, first and foremost, they've got to be able to move their own bodies before we can start loading them and doing other things. The machines for what I was trying to do, didn't really feed into that."
Question: Are you going to be handling all of the running that Coach Beilein saw over last year?
Mike Curtis: "The running as well and all of our training is structured so there is a little bit of a carryover, a little bit of a metabolic demand that similar to what they have to do. So even when they're in the weight room, if we're doing our strength training exercise, the recovery intervals and all those things are manipulated so that they maintain a certain heart rate. So all those things kind of play into their preparations for the specific demands of basketball. In addition to that, the conditioning and the running, all those things, are under my direction as well. We kind of implemented some of the things that Coach Beilein has used for years, but at the same time we put some more specific basketball things in to build in movement, to build in things that were more specific to what they have to do when they go out on the court."
For the rest of this interview with new strength & conditioning coach Mike Curtis, a national college basketball preview, non-conference opponent previews, the potential impact of the incoming frehsmen, an interview with strength coach Mike Curtis, an in-depth feature on quarterback Tate Forcier, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine