Recently, isportsweb.com had the chance to interview Stu Douglass and Zack Novak to get an update on their pro careers, some reflection on their time at Michigan, and their thoughts on this year’s Wolverines. Read below for the full transcript of Zack Novak’s interview:
Can you update us on the start of your pro career? Where are you living? Who are you playing for? What’s the makeup of the team? What is your expected role?
I’m living in downtown Zwolle, Netherlands. I’m playing for Landstede Basketbal. We have four Americans on the team, four veteran Dutch players and four young Dutch players. As for my role, I will have to bring leadership to the team and play my game. I will have to score a little more than I did in college.
What has been the most difficult adjustment to living in a foreign country?
The hardest part for me has been using cash everywhere. Nobody takes credit cards here. I hate carrying cash and coins, but I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it.
How much time did you spend with the Michigan basketball program this past summer? What was your role?
I was working out at the facility on my own. I’d get in some open runs with them every now and then. Other then that, I just hung out with some of the guys off the court. It is their team now. We left everything to them after our season ended last year.
What are you going to miss the most about the college game?
I’m going to miss the people at Michigan the most. My teammates, the coaches and our staff. We had a lot of fun behind the scenes that people don’t get to see. If we’re talking about actually playing college basketball though, I’d say I’ll miss playing those “big” games the most. Packed house. High stakes. That was fun.
How satisfied are you with the body of work you produced for the Wolverines?
Over the last four years, we did one heck of a job bringing the program back to where it belongs. Obviously, you’d like to have done a few things differently, but realistically I am more than pleased with how the time went.
Can you compare the talent level on the court for this year’s team to what you had while you wore the Maize and Blue?
This team is very talented. I believe they have the people in place to turn that individual talent into a great team. Our teams were never going to beat many people on paper, but we always played well together. If this year’s team can do that, they can achieve whatever they want to.
What areas of the game will this team instantly succeed in? Please explain.
I hear they have an okay point guard. I’d say that will be a green light from game 1 throughout the year.
What do you see as being their biggest struggle? Please explain.
Just like every year, teams need to gel together as the season unfolds and they need to stay healthy. They have people who have done it. They will face challenges, but I know they can handle whatever comes at them.
Who from the remaining roster will fill your leadership void, and why?
Its always tough when you have 2 guys that were the voices of the team for most of these guys entire careers and then all of the sudden they’re gone. We went through that. People will step up in their own way. Its important for them to lead in a way that feels right for them and not just try to copy Stu and I. I think a few people will pleasantly surprise in this department in the upcoming season.
With Trey Burke returning and some of the top 100 recruits in the mix now, some people see this team making a deep run into March, do you agree? Explain.
As a fan, I would certainly love to see that.
What’s the most lasting advice you took away from your time with John Beilein and his staff?
For me to only point out one thing I learned from those guys would be a disservice to all that they taught me. Throughout the last 4 years, they’ve been a major part in shaping me to be the person I will be for the rest of my life. You don’t become a Michigan Man just by stepping into some class rooms and gyms. It takes having the right people around you, constantly mentoring and helping you learn. Those guys taught me the qualities it will take for me to be successful for whatever I want to do in life. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the people I got to work with on a daily basis over the last four years.
If you could pass one ongoing message on to the team you’ve left behind in Ann Arbor, what would it be?
Take some time to sit back and take in the moment every now and then. Its so easy to get caught up in the middle of a long season and lose sight of the fact you get to play basketball for Michigan in front of sold out stadiums and national television audiences. Embrace the experience and make the most of it. You only get to do it once.