Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 1/26/12

After Michigan knocked off Minnesota at home, we asked Tim Hardaway Jr. if he was entered into an awesomeness contest against Josh Bartelstein who would win. Without hesitating he replied, “J-Bart”. Some casual fans might not be familiar with Bartelstein, but he is a key component for the Michigan Basketball team.

Stu Douglass referred to Bartelstein as an unsung hero and explained all the little things he does for the team in practice and how hard he works to make everybody better. “I don’t know if I always tell him or if he ever knows,” Douglass said. “I think we all appreciate everything he does.”

“He puts everybody before him,” said Hardaway Jr. “That’s what makes him a great teammate and makes him a great friend to everybody.”

The last few years during postgame we always had access to the locker room and that afforded us the chance to talk to all the players. This year with the renovations still underway we only have access to 3-5 players after the games. During those visits to the locker room, we discovered that Bartelstein was a great guy to talk to. He always had great insight on the game and was able to point out little intricacies that we might not have noticed. Needless to say, we miss not being able to speak with him as much this season.

At media day this year, Josh talked about his role on the team. “Being an upperclassman, I think part of my role is being a leader — helping the old teach the young,” Bartelstein said. “We have a really good freshmen class, but you have to show them the Michigan way. Another part is being a point guard, being there for coach Beilein whenever he needs me, proving that I can help this team on the court.”

Bartelstein is in his second year of authoring a blog on MGoBlue.com. If you haven’t been following it you should be. Check it out here, The Bartelstein Blog. He rooms with Zack Novak and Stu Douglass and always has some good stories to tell about the team.

Watch the Michigan team huddle during a timeout and you will most certainly see Bartelstein doing his thing. He is always clapping his hands and being positive, no matter what the score is. Tim Hardaway Jr. shed some insight on to what exactly Josh is doing during those moments. “Today [the Minnesota game] I had a really off day,” he said. “He [Bartelstein] saw that in me. He came up to me and said, ‘Hey Tim don’t worry about that, go out there and make the next shot. We see you in practice killing it, you know balling, having a good time out there and making the right plays. We know you’re a good player.’ That’s what he brings, he brings that confidence and that energy to our team. He does that for everyone else. That’s him being that type of guy and not worrying about playing time or anything like that.”

Those contributions to the team are critical and his teammates truly appreciate what he does. “He’s always talking to people, picking people up,” explained Jordan Morgan. “He’s a big supporter, he wants everyone to be their best and he’s a big part of the team, definitely.”

Talking with J-Bart in the locker room last year

 

If you’re not familiar with CBS Sports College Basketball writer Jeff Goodman, he updates his Twitter avatar daily to pay tribute to somebody that has had a big game the night before. He has told Josh that when he knocks down a basket this year, he will make him his avatar for that day. Goodman isn’t the only one who is eager to see Josh score. Watch the bench when Bartelstein is in the game and launches a shot. The entire team rises to their feet and is ready to explode the moment the ball swishes through the net. “If you look, whenever he shoots I’m up on my feet ready for it to go in,” said Jordan Morgan. “I want to see it, because in practice he drills ‘em.”

“Bart is an important part of the team,” Zack Novak explained. “He’s sort of like the team psychologist.  He has a good pulse on where everyone’s mind is at and knows how to get people going.”

The contributions Bartelstein makes to the Michigan Basketball team can’t be tracked on a stat sheet. He works tirelessly in practice to help prepare the team for the next opponent. He is a constant source of encouragement and support during the tense moments of a game. He’s there to pick Tim Hardaway Jr. up during a rough outing. He’s there for his brothers in Maize and Blue. Maybe as Stu Douglass said, they don’t always tell him, but they do appreciate what he does which is operate behind the scenes as an unsung hero.

Stick with our Michigan Basketball coverage throughout the season. You can connect with us on Twitter @isportsRob and @isportsJoe

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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