With Zack Novak gone, Michigan basketball team undecided on captains
ANN ARBOR -- Apart from the lack of loud music booming from his house every morning, Michigan basketball senior Josh Bartelstein has noticed one major difference in workouts this offseason.
Zack Novak, his former roommate, good friend and the heart and soul of the program for the past three seasons, isn't there any longer.
"He was someone that was always talking," Bartelstein said. "He could give a great perspective on things. I still talk to him all the time, I talked to him this morning and last night and he's doing great. But it's different (here).
"At the same time, though, it's part of college basketball."
Michigan didn't have any formal team captain announcements or selections last season, mainly, because it didn't have to.
Novak was a three-year captain, and fellow senior Stu Douglass served the same role for two seasons. Together, they were Michigan's coaches on the floor, leaders in the locker room, and role models for John Beilen's program.
Replacing the two captains is an unenviable task, to a degree, but someone has to do it.
Beilein says he and the team have made no decisions on who the captains will be in 2012-13, and over the next three weeks, they hope to have some answers in that department.
"I don't think there was any doubt last year, it was going to be Zack and Stu," Beilein said. "We're going to really watch the next three weeks, and see who the leaders are. I don't think we're in the type of position to name that yet.
"The players will have a say, the coaches will have a say, (but) we need more information."
Most players agree that no one individual will be able to replace what Novak brought to the table as a leader. But as a group, the Wolverines believe they have a shot.
Along with Bartelstein, Michigan has program-experienced veterans in Blake McLimans, Matt Vogrich, Eso Akunne and Corey Person -- players who understand college basketball, understand how Beilein runs things and understand what it takes to win.
On the court, players like Jordan Morgan, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will be forced to lead -- one way or another. And as a unit, Michigan believes it'll be just fine.
"Stu and Zack taught us a lot," Vogrich said. "They were leaders for three years. All 10 of us (returning players), we know how to be leaders, that's what they instilled in us. They taught us what it takes.
"I think all 10 of us can lead. When we see something we need to tell the freshmen, we all step up and talk to them. We have a bunch of leaders and a bunch of unified guys that are ready to go."
In terms of leadership, is there such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen?
Michigan hopes not.
"I don't know if we need one (definitive voice or not)," Vogrich said. "We could have it if we wanted it.
"We haven't had a game yet, we haven't started practice, we've just got a bunch of guys that are leading and it's great to see. I don't think leadership will be a problem this year."