The Big Ten Coach of the Year dropped by Jalen & Jacoby on ESPN to discuss a range of topics, including his recent dust-up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon, the loss of Isaiah Livers, what it means for Michigan to be a No. 1 seed in the tournament and the rumors about his NBA coaching ambitions.
On the pressure that comes with being a No. 1 seed
“Well you have to welcome the challenge night in and night out. Every team - all 64 - are under pressure to perform at this time of the year. But we have to take it one game at a time and we’re looking forward to that opponent - whoever we play. Each and every day we’ve been working hard in practice to prepare for that opponent on Saturday.”
On the loss of Isaiah Livers
"Isaiah Livers...you can’t just fill his shoes with one individual. We have to do it as a collective unit. Every guy needs to step up their play on the offensive end and defensive end. What we’re missing is a guy who’s an amazing talent, a big piece of our offense as far as what he provides on the floor with his leadership, his toughness, his shooting ability, his length and also his rebounding."
On Hunter Dickinson’s development
"It’s been great. It’s been a joy to coach him. He’s a guy that loves basketball, he’s a big sponge who wants to get better each and every day. My best day when I come into practice is Hunter reaching out to me saying, “coach can we watch some film?” You know, that’s the joy of coaching and that's my ‘why’ for why I’m doing this. And then some of the work that we get in on off days before practice - it's beautiful just to see his development and how he's growing game after game. The sky's the limit for him."
On his altercation with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon
"He turned around and looked at me and he basically was like, 'you don’t talk to me.' And the way he stormed towards my direction it was like all bets are off. I felt like a man is coming into my space and it’s time to defend myself. Yeah, I didn’t show the right leadership in front of my team...but at the sametime I’m not going to sit here and let no man just run up on me and not expect for me to say anything. I’ll be ready, whatever it takes."
On what it feels like to coach Michigan to a No. 1 seed
“My passion for Michigan runs deep. I’m truly Maize and Blue all the way, just like Jalen. That experience as a player when we played together during that run - during those three years - that was some of the best years of my life. I had a chance to grow with Jalen and others. And now to be in this position - if someone had said I would be the coach at the University of Michigan, I would say that they’re lying, they’re crazy, I’m not coaching. But then to have the opportunity to coach at my alma matter and to make the run that we did by getting uncomfortable, embracing whatever is thrown our way, not making excuses for it, each and every game competing from start to finish. I give all the credit to our players…”
On his coaching future in Ann Arbor and NBA rumors
"Man I’m in Ann Arbor to stay, baby. I love Michigan. I love my job, I’m enjoying this experience. I’m also looking forward to growing each and every year, and developing these young men into becoming the best version of themselves as a student athlete. This is a dream job for me, and I think my passion last year showed how much I appreciate being in this position. The NBA - it’s a beautiful game, they have great coaches there, amazing talented players, beautiful brand. I enjoyed that experience for 25 years - 19 as a player and six as a coach. But, with that, I’m going to continue growing with Michigan. Go Blue."