Beilein Encouraged by Team's Growth

After Michigan's win over Penn State, Michigan headman John Beilein discussed the significance of the win over the Nittany Lions, Zack Novak's leadership, Matt Vogrich's growth, and more.

Coach Beilein:  "They are a very good team.  They have some veterans.  They have really nice size along the frontline and then a point guard, unless you coach, you don't realize how difficult it is….because he can score in so many ways.  He gets to the basket and many times he's the smallest guy on the court, but he finds these little places to get to that other people cannot get to.  So you got all that going on, defend him from three, defend him going to the basket and then he has great vision.  We just had to play better defense on him and then we had to run better offense.  You are not going to shut down Talor Battle and all those veteran players, but we felt a home game like this, if we really ran our offense well that we could get open shots.  We had to make it and we had to have a good mix of driving the ball and shooting the ball well.  To score what we did in the second half, what was it 45 points.  It's great for us, as we develop our defense, we're going to have to score points."

Question:  Talk about Zach Novak in the second half…

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah that was huge.  I was thinking back…I don't know if he even had one of those last year or had the opportunity for one.  He probably did, but I remember the Clemson game and the Oakland game the year before and I think…the Duke game he hit some daggers.  It was a while…it really felt good for him.  You could see that smile on his face, he felt real good about that and of course we do.  He's such a leader on this team."

Question:  Do you think that second half is the best this year?

Coach Beilein:  "Given the opponent, it might be.  We played a really good half against Clemson.  I would think it would be comparable to the Clemson, Utah half, Oakland half.  I think it is comparable to that.  That team will win a lot of games this year because they have some great length and a great guard.  To get a win over there would be good for us."

Question:  How has Matt Vogrich has grown?

Coach Beilein:  "In practice, he's been very good shooting the ball really well and just getting better.  Our hope is that he'll take the ball to the basket.  He hasn't had a three point play that way since high school, I can guarantee you.  His defense is getting better.  Even when they were posting him, he worked very hard.  He is growing as well.  The added strength helps a little but the game slowed down."

Question:  Was there a defensive adjustment that you made on (David) Jackson in the second half?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah we tried to stick with him more and we had a strategy…I would rather not give it away what we were doing, but we did make an adjustment.  We really just tried to keep Novak and (Evan) Smotrycz as much as we could and not get any guards posted up by him."

Question:  On Michigan's offensive aggressiveness…

Coach Beilein:  "The fast breaks were really big.  In order to be aggressive offensively you got to get a stop.  We were getting the ball out on the goal line the whole time and we got to get the ball so we are in a fast break, we run the floor, run the floor and run the floor.  We're good at running the floor because we can spread people out.  We can get to the basket, we can see threes.  You get the ball in Darius' hands and some good things can happen."

Question:  Can you talk a little bit about the fouls?

Coach Beilein:  "We have an issue where our guys, natural reaction when people are dribbling…lifetime I guess.  Most people don't go like this and say hit me.  You put your hands out when somebody is coming at you.  It takes a time to get that broken because as soon as you put your hands out it is going to be a foul.  We have a couple…we watch it on film.  I have a feeling we might do an extra conditioning for those hands coming up.  It is the thing that we really emphasis from day one but it is really hard for some young men to break."

Question:  Is Smotrycz becoming more of an option at the five?

Coach Beilein:  "We played him there today just because defensively they do so many things.  He's shown in practice the last ten days more than anybody but Jordan Morgan a really good awareness of a lot of the screens that they were setting.  While Jon Horford is working on that and getting there, but we also want to score some points.  Really happy with Jon's outside shot today, but at the same time we wanted to make sure that we had other options on offense and continue to teach them to do that.  I think it would be challenging for some teams to play us when we have five shooters on the floor."

Question:  You've got to be happy with the free throw percentage.

Coach Beilein:  "I just said on the radio show and we go 10-14.  Nobody would be talking about poor foul shooting, but 10-14, now Battle has the ball down three late in the game instead of down seven.  He can do a lot of different things.  They've won a ton of games that way.  We keep working on it and working on it.  We would like to get there more.  I think we only went there two times in the first half, maybe if at all.  We got to get there more."

Question:  How big was this game in terms of growth where you almost got to have it….

Coach Beilein:  "I don't think our guys are looking ahead of the schedule and I try not to, it would scare the hell out of me to look at the next part of the schedule.  But as far as growth and just take these 40 minutes together.  We saw that today that's why assistant coaches were talking about.  You are in Big Ten games, let us face it most of them are going to be decided in the last eight minutes.  We were fortunate enough to win those last eight minutes today, particularly the last four.  You lose that today and now the coaches have a lot of work to do to get that back.  They did the same thing Indiana.  It was a one point game with four minutes to go, they made the plays and Indiana didn't.  They'll now regroup and we have to regroup and understand what got us that lead again."

Question:  That just as important as a win?

Coach Beilein:  "Without question, without question and especially as you alluded to with the games that are all coming up.  This is the Big Ten.  This is what is going to be.  You're going to have nationally ranked teams all over the place on your schedule."

Question:  What did you say at halftime?  Some of the guys were talking about how maybe you were more focused than they had seen you.

Coach Beilein:  "I'm trying to think…we usually have five or six points but it was probably what we were going to do defensively as Jeff mentioned, change in defense.  It was about running our offense to continue to be a player but really run that offense, look at all the different options.  We got a little bit of feed back from them, but when we went in, they were doing a lot of talking – not yelling at each other.  They were talking trying to figure out the best way to do things."

Question:  Is that maybe the biggest step and growth that…

Coach Beilein:  "That is big, especially with Tim, Evan and Jon, the freshman that are in there.  Then Matt has not been a participant in that last year a great deal.  That is all important.  It looks like we're playing eight or nine, we don't know if that is going to continue on, but those eight or nine certainly were talking.  Our scout team right now has been giving us really great rehearsals and playing really hard and I can't wait to work with them.  We'll go with them for two or three hours tomorrow that scout team to get them ready so they are ready."

Question:  Were you trying to get the ball inside more in the second half?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah.  We try to.  They blew up a couple of those, but we're still trying to get him in a certain position where he is at his best, but he sets such good screens at times and I think we got a couple of pick and roles on him, but we tried two plays to screen him to get him underneath the basket and I think he blew up one of his plays and the other one they guarded very well."

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