Exit interview: Stu Douglass
All-time games leader in Michigan history discusses his successful career
Exit Interview is a feature at WolverineNation where we chat with departing seniors from the football and basketball programs about their time at Michigan and what's next for them.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Stu Douglass was never sure he was going to play in the Big Ten coming out of high school. It was close, and some breaks had to fall right, but Douglass ended up at Michigan.
He leaves having played more games (136) than any player in school history. Douglass averaged 6.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his career, shooting 38 percent from the field, 34 percent from the 3-point line and 69.7 percent from the free throw line, going 81-55 in his four-year career.
Besides games played, Douglass finishes his career sixth in minutes (3,901), fourth in 3-pointers attempted (603), fifth in 3-pointers made (205), 13th in 3-point percentage, tied for 15th in assists (290) and 16th in steals (111).
Douglass discussed his career, what's next and trash talk on Twitter over lunch last week.
Stuart Douglass: "I keep going back to playing at Madison Square Garden and playing well against UCLA and beating the No. 4 team. It didn't end up great for them, but that was my introduction to college basketball, and it reassured me of why I came to Michigan, why I took the risk of playing in the Big Ten when even I had personal doubts of it. It just reassured me why I came here, why I was doing it. College basketball, it's grueling sometimes. You picture it in a lot different ways than it really is. So when magical moments like that happen, you live off those type of moments to get through the low times."
WN: What was that first game like for you, that first start?
SD: "It was a personal victory. I had in my head that nobody believed I should be here, and I barely got here. There were a bunch of people who passed up scholarship offers for me to get here. For me to finally start and then beat UCLA, it was like, I wanted to scream a select few four-letter words at the haters. I had a huge chip on my shoulder, always have, but especially that year. To start like that, it was accomplishing one of my goals right off the bat. It was hard to think about. It was perfect, really."
WN: Flipping that, what was the toughest thing for you?
SD: "There's a few things. Dealing with finishing the year starting and coming back and having that spot taken away and having to work for it again, which is motivating. But junior year was rough for me at times -- beginning of junior year. I thought that I was going to start at point guard, and I actually slept in, showed up late for something and got in trouble. Darius (Morris) was put in the starting lineup, and ever since then he played fantastic. Dealing with that, getting taken out of the starting lineup and then not starting for a while. Being put in a leadership position, thrown into it when I wasn't comfortable leading from the bench. In high school I started, and I was comfortable with it, talking to young guys and teammates. I was in a position where I thought I could rightfully spread my authority in a just way, like I'm playing minutes and starting and doing my job. So it was hard for me to kind of lead from the bench.
"I didn't know how to handle it at times, and there was a lot of pressure from (John) Beilein to lead from the bench, and I didn't do a great job of leading. I did a lot better job at the end of the year. But a lot of that lack of leadership is why we had such a rough start in the Big Ten last year. It didn't affect me this year, coming off the bench and leading that way. I was really accepting of it."
WN: I know you've talked about it, but why do you think you were more accepting of it this year?
SD: "I don't know. I saw it as a competition with Darius. Whenever there is competition, there is always a strain in the relationship between friends, whoever. I played with my friend Daniel (Moore), my best friend Daniel plays for (Indiana), and we hated each other at times, were at each other's throats when we were playing basketball and couldn't stand each other. As soon as the season was over, we immediately were best friends again, and things were perfect and fine ever since. But when we were in competition with each other, it was kind of like that with Darius. When we were in competition, we were at odds and didn't always agree. At the end of the year I kind of lost that, and we had a lot of success. Coming into my senior year, for some reason I never saw that with Trey (Burke). I just wanted to win. And in all honesty, I wanted to play more 2-guard and be the defensive guard, the guy who guarded the other team's best player, whether it was the 1 or 2, and then worry about the 2-guard responsibilities and lead from that sense. A lot of times I would put too much pressure on myself to lead the team as a point guard and as a shooter and defender and all sorts of things. So if I simplified it, and if Trey could play point guard, it would make my job easier, especially from a leadership standpoint. So I was accepting of Trey coming in and starting and that was easier for me."
WN: When you look back at your sophomore year, that was probably the worst you've ever played. What happened when you look back on it?
SD: "It was just being comfortable. From the get-go. We just didn't have the same drive in practice. There wasn't any leadership. We lost C.J. (Lee) and Dave (Merritt) and the discipline was just kind of gone. The leadership wasn't there to help people come along. The lack of discipline was pretty contagious, and the motivation and hunger, all those cliche things, they all were absent. We just never had that competitive edge that you needed to be ranked and still win. This year we were in the top 25 all year, which would have been a remarkable feat looking at that sophomore season. Going in and out, it was tough sophomore year. You just wanted to be cemented in the top 25 and have that kind of success. Those fluctuations that year, when we had win, lose, win, lose, those were magnified even more just because of where we were at. When we were top 25, we were like, this is great, it's cool, haven't been there in a while. But it didn't motivate us. Then, after a while, everything started to get bad, because you weren't happy with the losing and the lack of success compared to the potential we had. We quote-unquote should be winning these games, with the talent we had, and it just got more frustrating and things piled on each other, and it only really spiraled from there."
WN: What about this year? How was this year for you?
"I don't know if we lost our edge, didn't quite have it for the last few games or the other teams just picked it up and the intensity wasn't matched by us in both those games. It's weird to think about that, the last game of the year was the only game we couldn't bounce back from a loss. Sometimes that happens."
WN: Not to magnify it, but what were the last two weeks like? Was there too much focus from you guys on the Big Ten?
SD: "I don't think so. It's not like we came into the locker room, no one even poked at it. It was fantastic we won the Big Ten title, the 13th in school history, and it was awesome. But the day after we came in and said, 'Let's move on. That's great but we have bigger goals.' There might have been a little hangover from it, accomplishing your goals and the intensity of it all, from the nail-biting end to playing Ohio State and Michigan State twice in a season and splitting the series. It was as intense a Big Ten season as I've ever experienced. I don't know if that drained us, mentally, subconsciously, without even knowing it. It wasn't like we were like, 'Oh, great, we accomplished this,' and relaxed. We didn't match the intensity in those games, but over and over and over we were saying, 'NCAA champions.' That's what we broke the huddle with after we won the Big Ten title. I don't know, it's hard to put a finger on what it was."
WN: You're leaving here the all-time games played leader. Now the shock of being done has passed, is that something you're like, 'Wow, I did that.'
SD: "I wish I could share it with Zack. But for an unfortunate elbow and sickness at Utah, Zack's right there. Zack has minutes played, so he has that, and I shouldn't be giving him too much. But yeah, it's another thing. Starting for the first time in college and how I wanted to stick it to all the doubters, there's still people who doubt and hate and some nasty people on Twitter. It's just funny to look at. I played that many games and set a record at a great university and won a Big Ten championship in my last year. I didn't score a lot of points, but there's a reason I played that many games, a reason Zack played that many minutes. There's a reason why this program has turned around since we got here. It's just kind of a physical thing I can show people if they start talking trash to me. I'm glad I have that. It's a nice thing to have."
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