MILWAUKEE — It’s a business trip, sure. But amidst the practicing and scouting and bathing and lifting and studying, it can’t all be about basketball.
Nik Stauskas, for one, likes to set the scouting reports down and flip on Friends re-runs.
“I watch it every night,” the sophomore guard said. “I used to see my parents watch Friends all the time, and I never liked it, and then like two years ago, I just watched one episode, and I just fell in love with it.”
The way he swaggers around the court, you might peg Stauskas as a Joey Tribbiani kind of guy, but no.
“Ross is my favorite character by far, I love him.”
Redshirt junior center Jon Horford’s choice activities at the team hotel include laundry, mingling with Wisconsin players and managers and ping pong.
Sophomore point guard Spike Albrecht has engaged in a little table tennis as well, but says that sophomore guard Brad Anlauf — formerly on the Michigan football team — is a multi-sport athlete in another sense. He’s the man to beat at the table.
“A lot of spin,” Anlauf said.
Mitch McGary, back injury and all, also plays ping pong. It doesn’t bother him, he says.
“I really don’t have to move much,” the sophomore forward said. “I have long arms, so it’s been pretty easy for me.”
His true passion lies elsewhere, though.
“I brought my GameCube with me, and I have a projector set up in my room. And I play Mario Kart.”
It’s the first time McGary has brought his GameCube on a road trip, but he knew that the team would be getting into Milwaukee on Tuesday and not leaving until Saturday (with a win over Wofford), so there’d be plenty of time to play.
“It’s probably one of my favorite games of all time,” McGary said. “I play it like every day.”
Thursday night after the game, he played with fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan, and according to McGary, Morgan’s already addicted.
The NCAA Tournament is unlike many other road trips in that the players have more free time. During the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines had games every day. During in-season road trips, the team arrives the evening before the game and heads home as soon as it’s over. March Madness has days between games.
McGary and redshirt sophomore forward Max Bielfeldt like to see the city they’re visiting when they can.
“For us, just getting away from it sometimes, it feels good for us just hanging out in the hotel, walking around town,” McGary said. “This is like traveling around the country, so whenever we get a chance to get a break, we go out to walk around and see some places we’ve never been before.”
Bielfeldt, though, is at his happiest watching the tournament games. In fact, he and freshman guard Andrew Dakich could hardly take their eyes off the Tennessee-UMass contest in the team locker room Friday afternoon — a 86-67 blowout.
“I’ve just been watching these games,” Bielfeldt said. “This is my favorite time of year. I love this — I’ve always lived for this.”
Bielfeldt enjoyed strolling around in Milwaukee, but it wasn’t quite like Indianapolis last weekend where it was warmer. And that was nothing like Dallas last year.
If the team gets back to Dallas this year, well, sounds like more time for ping pong.
“(Beilein) is giving us a little bit more off time than he has in the past, which has been nice,” Horford said. “Guys get a chance to relax and get their minds off practicing and the games and just get to hang out with family, mess around with the guys. It’s just the little stuff like that that makes all the difference.”