Amaker on Wisconsin, Horton

The U-M men's basketball team started their Cinderella Big Ten season with a key one-point victory at Crisler Arena over Wisconsin. Tomorrow, first place U-M travels to Madison for the return match against the 2nd place Badgers. U-M Head Coach Tommy Amaker talks about Wisconsin, and about his star frosh point guard Daniel Horton.

On the value of coming back against Wisconsin to start Big Ten play:

"Being the first conference game, a home game and certainly won that game in dramatic fashion, you can't probably put a value on how much that's meant for this team and for this season. To get off to a winning start in conference play, we kept our quote unquote streak alive, of winning games. And then coming back, knowing that we were down by a lot, and were able to come back. I think a lot of people look at the shots that we made, and we had to do that to win the game. But we had to get the stops at the other end defensively, get the turnovers, or the stops that we needed to be able to make the shots. I think our guys really took that to heart as much as anything. Defensively, that we were able to make the necessary plays orstops on the defensive end, to allow us to make the baskets to win. And then, our confidence was at an all time high right after that game."

On how the Wisconsin game built confidence for the team:

"I think that game allowed us to have even more belief in ourselves. I think we talked about prior to that game that any time you start in your conference, I mean it's imperative if you want to have a successful year, especially conference-wise, that winning home games, and I thought that ignited our students and our support here. I just think that was such a pivotal game for us to look back on, to say; you know, we're in first place today, and a lot of it started right there obviously."

On the difficulties that Wisconsin presents:

"Their offense really helps their defense. They don't turn the ball over, so they don't give you the opportunity to get easy baskets. Something we're concerned with, something that's helped us though out this year. To generate offense from our defense, they don't play into that. They don't turn it over. They're very careful with the ball. They execute their offense. They take good shots, and they have good players. So we're concerned with that, especially being on the road…in order for us, we think to have a shot at this, in terms of in Madison, we need to get off to an early start as we did in West Lafayette. That was one of the critical things that happened for us, that enabled us to come away with a victory there."

On having a full week between games:

"Well, we're on spring break, so there's no class right now. I think more than anything else, teams are very familiar with one another at this time of year. I think for us, with LaVell's (Blanchard) ankle being sprained, turned in a previous game, to allow more rest and the opportunity to get more treatment, that couldn't hurt us. On the other side of it, you come off a really good win for our team and our program, it's one of those things where you feel so good, and the players felt great, you want to play again. You want to play right away. You want to see if you can string it out or get on a roll. Those kind of things you wonder about, but I think for us at this time of year, especially with not being very deep, and with Chris Hunter's shoulder, and other players that were a little banged up, hopefully it will serve us well come Wednesday night."

On the possibility of Daniel Horton being named player of the year in the Big Ten:

"Well I've said before, I really think if we keep doing what we're doing as a team, obviously winning and giving ourselves an opportunity to be conference champs, and obviously if he's playing the way that he's playing, why not? I think he's put himself in position to get strong consideration for that. Not only for his play, but for our play. I think when you look at that for a freshman, I think that his impact that he's had, has probably been as significant maybe as any freshman in the country. What he's brought to our team, and given where we were before, and the impact that he's had on this program. But still, we still have a few games left to play, and those things play themselves out. I can't see why not, the way that we're playing, and the way that he's playing."

On Horton's competitiveness, leadership, and how he's remained grounded:

"He is that type of kid. I mean, he really wants to win. It's one of the things that drives him, as much as anything, for the team to win. And he's used to that, he's a part of that, and you know I think that's one of the challenges he saw coming here, was that we haven't won. And what type of impact could he make here. And I think that's why he has some unique qualities about himself. That he sees that, he likes that. Those are the challenges, and he thrives on that. But I do believe that his teammates, they have a way of keeping him grounded, and so does his dad."

On putting the team first:

"We always give our players a thought for the day, every day. One of the ones that we always give to them early in the year, and one of my favorite ones, and I think our players have adopted this greatly, is that ‘not everyone can be first team, but everyone can put the team first.' And they certainly have done that. Everyone on our team has put the team first."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories