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Posted on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

A look inside Michigan basketball's new crown jewel: The Player Development Center

By Nick Baumgardner

When Zack Novak first arrived at Michigan for an official visit, facility quality wasn't exactly a key selling point.

Not that it mattered, though.

"I was so happy to be here, I didn't care," Novak recalled Tuesday. "They could've put us in a shed.

"I was still coming."

Novak turned out to be an easy sell for Michigan basketball coach John Beilein, but now, with the new $23.2 million Player Development Center near completion, the Wolverines have a much better shot at a few of those harder-to-get targets.

The facility, which was opened up for a media tour on Tuesday, is still without a few of its bells and whistles. From a functionality standpoint, however, it's officially become the new home for both the men's and women's teams and coaching staffs.

And it serves as a wonderful recruiting tool for all involved.

"Before you'd bring a recruit in and you'd take them through Crisler with the dusty yellow seats up top, then you'd take them into a locker room that wasn't too kind on the eyes," Novak said. "We didn't have a practice court, we just practiced in Crisler every day.

"Going from that to this, it makes coaches' jobs much easier."

In terms of recruiting, the Wolverines' future has already began to see benefits, as Michigan's three-man class of five-star power forward Mitch McGary, four-star guard Nik Stauskas and four-star wing Glenn Robinson III is rated as a consensus top 10 national haul for 2012.

In 2013, Michigan is also received notoriety from recruiting analysts, already receiving verbal pledges from four-star point guard Derrick Walton, four-star guard Zak Irvin, three-star forward Mark Donnal and three-star guard Austin Hatch.

But the PDC hasn't just changed the future of Michigan basketball, it's impacted the present as well.

"It just makes everything a lot easier on all of us," Michigan senior guard Stu Douglass said. "You can get shots up after a game if you don't like the way you played or shot. It gives guys just another space to get better.

"This summer was terrible, we had two hours in the (intramural center) and now here, we get more time than we've ever even really needed. It's nice and it helps the team out in ways I never really thought about (before)."

From the Crisler Center court, players enter the PDC through the new "Blavin Tunnel," which connects the two buildings together at the southeast corner of the arena. The tunnel is also Michigan's new entry onto the floor before games, featuring signage of former Wolverine greats and an overhead camera to broadcast the team's reaction prior to heading onto the floor before a game.

The tunnel leads directly into the new multi-level facility, which features various amenities for coaches and players.

The practice area itself features two full-length courts with 10 separate hoops, and is open to players throughout the day and night.

The new practice court area also features four overhead cameras that allow coaches to record practice. In addition, coaches are equipped with a hand-held remote to track various in-practice moments on film, and monitors inside the facility allow for instant teaching moments during practice.

After practice, players are offered a chance to unwind inside the player's lounge, a recreation area featuring lounge chairs, video game systems and an 84-inch television screen that also has the ability to be split into four separate 42-inch monitors.

The lounge is adjacent to the Michigan locker room, a circular high-technology facility featuring individual iPads for each player. Players have the ability to watch game film and go over other team material from their individual iPads, and coaches have the opportunity to cue up film from a large flat screen monitor inside the locker room itself.

Both the men's and women's teams both have individual lounges and locker room areas.

The program's new training room features five individual training tables, a hot tub, a cold tub and an indoor performance pool for underwater rehabilitation. The area also features a private doctor's office and another large flat screen television monitor.

The second level of the facility is highlighted by a new weight room facility, featuring full-service free weight equipment, a separate cardio training room with treadmills, exercise bikes, an elliptical and stair-step climbing machine.

The entire weight facility features nine large flat screen television monitors, and is complete with overhead cameras, allowing basketball strength and conditioning coordinator Jon Sanderson to monitor progress from his office.

Also on the second level are two wings for men's and women's basketball offices. The men's wing features nine coaching offices, a large conference room and a film room with stadium-style seating and an oversized high-definition television monitor.

Michigan men's coach John Beilein has the largest office in the wing, complete with a personal restroom and shower facility.

The outdoor entrance to the facility leads into a cathedral-ceiling atrium, which will eventually house several bits of signage, trophies and other memorabilia from Michigan's basketball history.

Presently, the men's 1989 NCAA Championship trophy rests inside the atrium, as does the game ball. In addition, anyone entering the facility is greeted by three built-in touch-screen monitors resting below a large block "M." The monitors will eventually feature game footage of memorable Michigan basketball contests, and nearly all of the Wolverines NCAA Tournament games throughout the years.

When various basketball alums were welcomed into the facility last month for a building dedication, ex-Wolverine great Cazzie Russell was able to watch NCAA Tournament game film of himself playing at Michigan for the first time.

Over time, more additions will be made to the 57,000-gross square foot facility.

But for now, the new home to Michigan basketball -- past and present -- is plenty good enough.

"I don't know what else I could possibly ask for," Novak said. "It's more than I deserve."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Great photos. I think they were taken "during a tour on Tuesday".


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

A bit excessive? Even if it is the norm for top of the line programs

Landon Fisher

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

I also like the Facebook Timeline Covers on this site very much! - <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

and KUDOS to ms maxwell for the pics. wish that it were possible for the public to witness what the media enjoyed on the tour--------but this helps.

jeff blue

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

Totally agree with the first two comments; quality is quality and Zack is very high quality. I know that we did NOT start well against Illinios, but overall it was a dominating performance. I don't think that Mr Weber cannot survive this off season, but he is a good guy. The Illini are collapsing in both Basketball &amp; Football -- not really a good thing. We are on our way back in basketball. This next game against OSU will be a &quot;barn burner&quot;. JEFF


Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

Novak, its exactly what players like you deserve!! Michigan is lucky to have you.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : midnight

Amen! I would take a whole team of Zacks over a team of lebrons.