Zach Novak talks about Kansas

Zach Novak talks about tomorrow's game at Kansas, about U-M having its tourney-backs to the wall, and more.

Question: Being an Indiana guy do you have an appreciation for tradition like they have at Kansas?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. It's kind of one of those big college basketball programs like North Carolina and Duke. There is a lot of history. That's where the game started. It is going to be a cool experience to play there."

Question: Did you regain some of the strength that you lost in these last few days of practice?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. Especially yesterday I felt a lot better, better than I had since last Wednesday."

Question: Could you sense that maybe the lift wasn't there on your jumper on Sunday?

Zach Novak: "A little bit. Just coming back from being that ill – it took a lot of out of me."

Question: UCONN you had the opportunity last year, do you kind of view this as the same type of opportunity a marquee game on the road?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. It'll be a good test to kind of see…I felt we had played a lot better than we had all season last week. We've been having a good week of practice so far. It'll give us an opportunity to see where we are at right now heading into the Big Ten. You don't get many opportunities to play the number one teams in the country. We just need to go in there and make the most of it."

Question: Do you put behind you or to the side that this is the number one team in the country?

Zach Novak: "We've been there before. We did last year in the middle of the Big Ten season. We're on the road at number one Connecticut. You know what to expect now going in. It's got to bring the best out of you. You know that you're going to have to play a really good game and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Question: Any vocal leaders developing on this team?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. We've got people out in practice – especially lately. There have been people starting to step up and talk a little bit more. It is definitely something that we're going to need as we go on."

Question: Is it you or someone else?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. I'm trying to be that guy a lot. Coach said, kind of being the glue while we're out there on the court, being the vocal guy kind of goes hand and hand, so trying to make a point."

Question: Do you sense a little more excitement this week going into this game?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. Like I said, so far the practices we've had so far this week have probably been our best of the year. Guys are really getting after it. You're on the road at number one. Like I said, it is going to be fun and we're looking forward to it."

Question: Obviously you and the younger guys really haven't had the season that maybe they would have hoped, the freshman, you guys played a lot of freshman, is it something you, Stu (Douglass) and Laval (Lucas-Perry) to help them or is it kind of you need to experience it?

Zach Novak: "Every freshman hits a wall. You don't know when their going to hit theirs. I hit mine last year right in the middle of the Big Ten. I had a really rough stretch. It is just something that you got to fight through. We've shared that with them. We're going to continue…they're going to help us a lot. There will be a point in this season where we are going to need them to come through and they're going to do it. Right now they just got to fight through it."

Question: You said you hit a wall; how did that show itself? What came out of that?

Zach Novak: "There was a stretch where I went 10 for 50 from three, which was not good. You almost feel overwhelmed a little bit. Your body is tired. You're not used to this. It is different than high school. It takes a lot more out of you. Like I said, you just got to fight through it. You just got to be tough."

Question: Did you get a second wind last year after you hit the wall?

Zach Novak: "Yeah. I want to say it was like late January or early February when I was going through it. When I got out of it, I don't remember in particular, but I just remember towards the end, we got the big Purdue win. When Minnesota came here, I was definitely out by then. I think going into the tournament any wall that anybody was having we were playing our best basketball then."

Question: You shot a lot of free throws in high school, does it make it a little bit harder when you have limited opportunities for free throws?

Zach Novak: "Yes and no. There freebies. You've got to knock them down. It is a difference. For me in high school, I was shooting probably three or four in the first quarter of the game most times. To not even get there every game, maybe get there once every other game. Yeah I guess it is a little tougher, but you still got to knock them down."

Question: On if too much was made of being ranked to start the season…

Zach Novak: "Coming into the year, we were all saying yeah it's nice to be ranked 15th or whatever, but we knew that it didn't mean anything that we still had a lot of work to do. We're a really young team. I mean that showed early on. As we go forward we just know that we've got to be tough and just keep working hard."

Question: Coach also said you've done more with defensive rebounding in recent practices than you probably had all year, did you see the need for that and how have you seen things get better?

Zach Novak: "Yeah there is definitely a need for that. We're one of the worst in the country. I think it is opponent's offensive rebounding and opponent's field goal percentage. We're not doing a good enough job to win. We definitely picked it up. In practice we've made it more of a focus on that and we get five guys on the same page, I think we'll be able to correct it."

Question: Earlier in the season when you guys were playing in the Old Spice Classic you guys were really expected to win those games. Is it almost better that you guys have nothing to lose now and are against the wall?

Zach Novak: "I think that is kind of our identity as a team. Last year that is what we were all year. We were kind of that team that is going to shock everybody. Going into a game like this it fits our persona and I think that it will be good for us. We'll be ready."

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