The Highland Park, Ill., native saw limited playing time in his previous season with the Wolverines but continues to work hard in practice, making not only himself a better player but also his surrounding teammates. Bartelstein can be considered, without hesitation, a leader of this Michigan basketball squad, understanding what it will take for this team to reach the next step.
In an exclusive interview, MGoBlue.com caught up with Bartelstein to discuss everything from the renovation of Crisler Arena and the building of their new practice facility to his Michigan basketball blog that he maintained all last season.
On summer preparations for next season … “I spent the first part of the summer in Chicago working out for basketball — strength, speed and stuff — a lot of times with Matt Vogrich. We got a lot of shots up and played a lot of one-on-one just to get better. Then we came back to Ann Arbor as a whole team. We’ve been lifting and doing some conditioning and a lot of open gym, so I think it’s been going really well so far.”
On practicing in Intramural Building with Crisler Arena renovations taking place … “It’s actually been very hard, especially since Michigan has so many camps. Right now, there’s a volleyball camp in the IM building, which has been our main practice court, so it’s hard finding times. We’ve done a good job of telling freshmen when to come. Pretty much every day we have an hour-and-a-half timeslot to get some stuff in, but we are definitely looking forward to Crisler and the practice facility being done so we can get back to our normal hours of always being able to get shots up.”
On players’ anticipation for new practice facility … “It’s huge. There are rumors now — it seems like everything is going to be in that place. Every day there is something else that’s getting leaked — like there’s going to be a hot tub and underwater treadmill — so guys just can’t wait to get in it. We drive past it every day and it’s amazing. A year ago they broke ground with a big hole in the ground and kept digging deep, and now you see resemblance that it is going to look like a really cool structure. The guys are excited to have a place to call home because we really do spend so much time there — four, five, six hours a day — so we can’t wait to get back to our spot.”
On personal goals for next season … “As a team we obviously want to get back to the NCAA Tournament and advance farther, but you have to take it in steps. Each day you try to get better and at the end of the year you can look at the big picture. As an individual, I need to be a leader on and off the court. With Darius (Morris) leaving, there are going to be minutes at the guard position to take, so just work hard every day and hopefully take some of those minutes and just help this team win as many games as possible. At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.”
On being a part of the 2011 NCAA Tournament … “The more you think about it, the more it sets in, from day one when we went to Europe to the end of the season and that heartbreaking loss to Duke. Everything that was in it is what makes it so special. People always talk about the Duke game and ask about the Euro trip, but it’s the journey that takes you through the entire season that makes it special. We were 1-6 in the Big Ten and everyone was down on us and then we finished fourth. You appreciate how much work you put in every day, you see everyone get better little by little, and the outside people can’t see how much is being done but when you work that hard and it pays off its rewarding. That’s what makes people work harder and harder and that’s why I know this team this year is going to get even better because we’ve seen what hard work and focus does. We need to take that next step, but we’ll be ready for it.”
On confidence that last season’s NCAA Tournament bid provides … “It’s been huge. Guys who were on the team will never forget that shot by Darius (Morris). You never know what possession it can be — it can be a possession with five minutes left in the first half or the last possession of the game. It’s just getting better every day and getting in the best shape as possible so we can get every loose ball and every possession. We did have a great game, but we wanted to win the national championship. When we bring it in every day after lifting or after open gym we say, ‘one, two, three, national championship!’ That’s our goal, and until we achieve that, we have to keep working hard.”
Growing up surrounded by sports … “It’s been my entire life. Ever since I can remember I’ve been hooked to the TV watching the NBA and the NFL. While a lot guys like certain teams — (Zack) Novak loves the Packers and (Matt) Vogrich loves the Bears — I’ve always cheered for my dad’s clients, whether that’s Kurt Warner in the NFL or Danny Granger in the NBA. Everyone has a team, but I root for players more. I love basketball and I love watching football, but it’s been cool to see the other sides of the business, not just players but what goes into making them — their contracts and all the small things that make a team.”
On the Michigan basketball blog last season … “We went to Europe and everyone wrote a blog. Tom (Wywrot) was joking and said he wanted someone to write one for the whole year. I kind of volunteered at first, and it ended up being a great thing. Michigan fans love the inside scoop. We set up an email and we got hundreds and hundreds of emails about it, so it was really cool. It was kind of a perk to be able to look back on the year and look back on all my different blog entries. Some of them were the highest of highs, like beating Michigan State in East Lansing, and some of them were the lowest of lows, like losing to Minnesota at home. For me, and some of the other guys on the team I showed, it was cool to look at what happened through the year and how you were feeling. But it was great writing it and I’m going to do it again this year, and hopefully it will be even better.”
On roommate Zack Novak … “We roomed together last year for the first time, so this will be our second year together. It seems like every day there’s a new story. Zack may be the most competitive person I’ve ever met, so there are times when we’ll be playing a video game and it’s a close game and you know you’re either going to have a broken controller or you’re going to have a loss. Sometimes I’d rather have the broken controller, but sometimes I just let Zack win so there’s not an absolute meltdown in our house. A funny story was when the Packers played the Steelers in the Super Bowl. I was rooting for the Steelers because Rashard Mendenhall is one of my dad’s clients, and he was having a great game. Zack was getting mad every time he ran the ball, but then he fumbled, which was the worst thing that could have happened. It was probably the happiest I saw Novak since I met him. He was so happy and rubbing it in my face, and he couldn’t stop smiling the whole night when the Packers won. He likes winning. If you think he likes winning on the court, you should see him in video games and watching his favorite sports teams. He is borderline crazy for some of those things.”