B1G Tourney: U-M / Wisconsin Postgame

John Beilein and players reflect upon Michigan's 71-60 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament.

Opening statement ... "If anybody watched this game you saw how talented Wisconsin is. They've got a great game plan, but their size, their age, their strength, it was a huge part in the game. They got so many second-chance points that it's really a 50/50 ball many times around the rim, and they're just longer and stronger and more experienced than us in some of those situations, and that was really a key to their victory today was getting extra opportunities. I'm proud of our kids, however, because we shoot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the three point line but can't get a W. They played their tails off and lost to certainly today, a better team."

On if the team would go to a tournament if invited ... "To the NIT. We would go to the NIT. We're not interested in any other tournament. It's an NCAA Tournament. It's one that I've fortunately been involved with several times. Two of our teams went to Madison Square Garden, one won the national championship, won the NIT championship, and Bob Huggins then took that same team and took them to the Final Four. Many times this type of opportunity is a precursor to future games, and if we could get that opportunity in the NIT, we would gladly accept it."

On Zak Irvin's performance today ... "We were all watching what we've been -- he's been working at. Our coaches have been coaching him, and he's such a really -- coaches are only as good as their students, and he's a tremendous student of the game. He's learning more and more about it, and it's showing every day for us. So the 11 rebounds, I'll tell you a story. Last spring we were done, and we were just playing pickup, and I was just saying, just go get a rebound. He didn't have hardly any rebounds last year, just go get a rebound in that scrimmage. He got one. Go get another one. He got another one. Go in there. I said all you've got to do is just go in there. You've got nose for it, you can do it, and 11 rebounds for him today, a double-double in that area with the assists he's had; this is a big step for him."

On if there had been a possibility of Derrick Walton Jr. playing today ... "If he was available, he would have played, yeah. We've been waiting for him to come into the locker room and say, Coach, I'm at 100 percent, and he couldn't do that. He's still in some pain. We're not going to play him with pain just from the standpoint that we don't think he's going to be as effective with the pain. And that's the way it's been for at least the last couple of weeks. The first three or four weeks we didn't do anything with him, but he's been trying to practice with us. He can't go through a full practice."

On the adversity of the year and growth of the young players ... "We sort of try to roll with the cards that are dealt to us, so it's not disappointing, it's just the job to just get better. You have to formulate a plan, and then you just grow from it. We didn't wallow in this. We just continued to just work really hard, and if you try to -- as hard as it is, it's hard for me personally, to see that silver lining, and it's great to see these type of things. Those small victories, they may not be in a win but in a particular action that they read or do, those are the victories we've been looking for, as well."

On field goal droughts during conference games ... "I think that our kids are getting more and more comfortable with making shots in difficult situations, just watching Zak Irvin grow here, to have an in between game and not just be a three-point shooter. Aubrey Dawkins -- Spike in the first half was really good, and then we just -- we seemed to find an answer, we just couldn't stop them. That was the big issue today. You can be on the other end of some of these teams like Wisconsin where the final score is like 70-40 because they just get away from you with their defense. So really proud that we were able to score that many points, shoot 50 percent and get some threes to go down, as well."

U-M Junior Guard Spike Albrecht
On thoughts after the tough loss ... "They're a really good team, extremely experienced, senior-laden. But I think the one thing we do well against them is we take care of the ball and we can make shots because they force you to hit toughs two and wild layups, and those are things we work on every day in practice. I think we executed our offense extremely well today and made shots when we needed to. We just didn't get the stops."

On the season to come ... "I think we're really starting to kind of gel out it. It took us a while, it's been a process with so many young guys, but I think the past couple of weeks we're really starting to figure it out, and I definitely don't want the season to end, and I'd like to finish with a winning record for sure."

U-M Sophomore Forward Zak Irvin
On thoughts about the outcome of the game ... "I would love to keep playing with these guys. I think especially these last five games we're really starting to come together. We've had to fight through a lot of adversity this year. I'm just proud of how we've stayed connected and hope we can keep it going through the rest of their season."

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