Coach Beilein: "We get back home. I thought last year in our games with Minnesota, one of the big factors in those games were Al Nolan was missing in both games and he's really solidified the back court. They have a great senior backcourt with he and Blake Hoffarber and (Ralph) Sampson and (Colton) Iverson have been there for a while too. Now (Trevor) Mbakwe adds another dimension. So we got our work cut out for us again and we'll do everything that we can to get ready to play well at home."
Question: You guys have beaten them the last four times. Do you think you have their number a little bit?
Coach Beilein: "I think the teams have certainly changed within the last four times. No, I don't think (we've got) anybodies number and nobody has got our number. We just got to keep working. It has a lot to do with the personnel that you have at different times. Traditionally, we've played pretty well at home, better at home than on the road and that is like almost every team in the country. Hopefully, we'll shoot the ball, execute and defend their inside/outside game that they have now."
Question: What makes Hoffarber's shot so good?
Coach Beilein: "It is really amazing. He's left handed like Zach Novak. He really gets it off quickly. He gets his feet and hands set as quickly as anybody that I have seen. Define the seams and get into your step, it really is harder than people would think and he does it beautifully and very quickly. Now he has shown an ability to get his shot off one on one on somebody not just with space, but he makes them. Look at his assist numbers, he guards well. He's really a good player."
Coach Beilein: "We're on the road. They are home and part of our defense is our offense. If we do not score baskets than you're always in transition. You're always in transition. When they made their little run, it wasn't there half-court offense, it was there transition and then residual effect of them running a backcourt cut and us being there but then making the one pass out or being a step too late. They didn't get a backcourt layup the whole game. They didn't get a lot of open threes out of sets. They got them out of other action. The Indiana game, we just didn't guard the ball…I cannot tell you why we guarded the ball screen the way we did, but it was not good. We must have been tired. We must have lost our vocal cords. I don't know what we didn't have, but there wasn't great communication on that and that really set us down a little bit. Also, your defense is your offense. You've got to score points too so you are not always in transition."
Question: In that same vane, you've got an extra day from what you had in prep for this. Did you give them any extra time off?
Coach Beilein: "No, they had the one day off, but yesterday we did a lot of film work. We had to shore up some things from the Northwestern game. So we had a really good practice yesterday I thought and today we'll do the same. We get 20 hours a week and we're using every second of it right now. Thursday, despite getting back at 2:30 in the morning, I think all they had was study hall and their classes. We're going to have Sunday off as well. So three days here to get back to it."
Question: Minnesota is ranked 15th in the country and they are in sixth place in the conference. How impressive is the depth of the Big Ten?
Coach Beilein: "That's what we're facing. If you are not one of the top six teams, there is a 60% chance that you're playing a nationally ranked team. It is why it is a great league. It is why you have so many opportunities and I told my team the other day and I've told all of you this before. When you're a mid major or you're a low major coach, your only hope right now with a 11-7 record is to win the tournament. You have no other opportunity to get top 50 wins. We have opportunities for top 50 wins almost every game, a majority of the games we play. So seize that opportunity and go after it."
Question: After Northwestern, the whole team obviously seemed pretty down. How have they been?
Coach Beilein: "We had the day off. You don't see them. Our practice yesterday was very good. They will bounce back. They're a resilient group and they're learning. Sometimes it is a hard way because you don't like to lose games, but they just learn and then they absorb. They say okay and while the learning curve is always different with every player, you just keep going. It is the only way you are going to get better is to experience that adversity. You do not get that much better through success. You get it through adversity and that is what playing in the Big Ten does for young teams and that's what playing on the road does. I looked a couple right after the Indiana game, I saw North Carolina go to Georgia Tech and lose. Notre Dame went to…they lost by 20 and we saw Notre Dame go to St. John and lose by 20. It happens. We're not the only people in this. When you go on the road, you have to be exceptionally good and are league right now…Indiana is better than they were last year and Northwestern is better than they were last year. We lost to both those teams last year."
Question: Are you guys better than you were last year?
Coach Beilein: "I don't think so, not yet, but we'll keep working at it. The whole idea is to get better and better as the year goes on. We'll find out right now. We're improving."
Question: Is there a point that you're sorry about a sort of freefall where the losses take their toll especially with a young group. It is hard to recover from because you get into such a funk where you're shooting well and you're not playing defense well. If you are not doing very many things well that it is just hard to come out of.
Coach Beilein: "The answer would be that I don't worry about it, but I know it is a fact that teams will fall into those things and that is my job just to try and keep them going. Every day, there is a different lesson to be learned. There is a different quote on the board. It is all a great educational experience. We need to teach, but education is really what we're trying to get done here as far as this is what it takes to make winning plays, to have winning teams. You just look at it. This is what your experience is right now is a clear message of what it takes to win in the Big Ten or anywhere at this level."
Question: For all the strides that Darius Morris has made this year from last year, what would you still like to see him do better the rest of the season?
Coach Beilein: "I really think without question that if he focuses right now on just assisting the ball and getting the ball to the rim, I think we…I think he immediately becomes a very, very highly valuable player to us and everyone. He gets to the rim, starting to get to the rim like Manny (Harris) gets to the rim. It is very good. His vision is incredible. Concentrate on those two things right now and work on the other areas that you are still working on. He is immediately a better player and we work like crazy on the other areas that we need to work on."
Question: You talked about keeping the team on a game-to-game, day-to-day improvement, but what is the point in the season where you kind of sit back and look at a big picture? Do you normally do that when it gets to mid February?
Coach Beilein: "I think if it is a veteran team and you have his master plan. Okay maybe I got to change the starting lineup, maybe I got to do something it might be different. I think with a group like this, it is still day-to-day. I don't think there is any time…(Question: For you too?)…for me, oh yeah. I think every day we're trying to say okay. This is what Evan (Smotrycz) can do or he is almost able to do and here is how we can use it. Every day it is like putting the puzzle together, putting the puzzle together. You go from a Northwestern scout to a Minnesota scout, it couldn't be more different than night and day. You cannot think big picture, you just really got to stay there where you are. We have a three day gap here before Michigan State where we would like to get back and do a couple of things that we haven't been doing but right now, yesterday was get better ourselves. Today is all Minnesota. I don't know about the big picture thing other than there just is no time for it, believe it or not. The big picture will prove itself, as long as you take care of these little things every day."
Question: The second part of the Crisler renovations were approved. What do you want to see? Because now this is more like the cosmetic stuff, what do you want to see them do?
Coach Beilein: "Exactly like you said, have it really look like a modern classy arena that everybody will love to come too, they love the experience to come too. I do not mind if we do take down a number of seasons. I've told Dave (Brandon) to (go down to) 12,000 or something like that, make it more comfortable. Make it really nicer. We have challenges here in this area with so many sport teams that I think a 12-13,000 seat arena is great. I just want it to be a place where can be efficient as a basketball team and is very fan friendly. All these additions are wonderful. I've seen all the different images of them and it is wonderful. It is great."
Question: How much say are you going to have in maybe certain things?
Coach Beilein: "Things with the Crisler Arena, they will ask me on certain things, but I'm not in there saying this is the type of seat that you can have or things like that. They'll ask me things that are important to basketball. Like what type of basketball goals do you want, what do you think of the scoreboard, things like that, but they are not going to go into those fan friendly things. Like what concessions we should be selling or something like that. We're just picking out the locker right now and I spent half an hour yesterday talking about the lockers. It is just going to be tremendous. There are some innovative things that I'll share with you later on that will just help us to really be both recruiting and efficiency that will really help us."
Question: Is there an arena that you've seen that you've kind of pulled things from?
Coach Beilein: "You see so many great ones, but no not really. I do like the ones that appear to be smaller than they are. Let's say they seat 12,000 or 13,000 but it doesn't seem like it, it is like that. When you go to Duke or something like that, I don't know what they seat. It doesn't seem like they seat that many. What is it?"
Coach Beilein: "I think it is nine but it looks like six and it feels like six. The crowd is on top of you, they're alive. They are going. I think that is a thing that you would like to see."
Question: When you talk about playing at Crisler with the way the team has struggled recently especially at Indiana, at Northwestern, how big is this game at home?
Coach Beilein: "Here is my standard to question to that because is always a very good question. When people ask me, two years ago, you are going to Minnesota, it is an away game, your on the bubble, is this a big game? Yeah it was a big game. Other games during the year don't have any more significance to it."
Question: I'm just saying how good is it that you get to play this one at home?
Coach Beilein: "It's good, but I mean if we were on the road right now, we wouldn't have a different approach, where I would say, ‘hey this one is in the bag, because we're home or we're away.' You have the same approach. The travel and things like that. I don't think we leave the state here for the next two weeks, which is good. The next ten days or so, we don't go anywhere, that's good. Those 2:30, three o'clock in the mornings, things are tough for. We understand that it is all part of it. We like playing at home."
Question: You've talked about phases before and it seems like the games where you guys have played well in the first half have been the games where you have been most successful. Have you broken and tried to shrink the game down to let's play well in segments in the first half before we worry about….?
Coach Beilein: "Good starts have been very good to us. It is not like we didn't sort of shore some things up when we got down early, but I think most teams are going to play better from ahead. We take care of the ball. It is tough to come back on us maybe, so you want to play that way. Then catching up is difficult, but it is not like we say, you really have to play well at the beginning. They're trying to play well at the beginning every time. They're trying to play well and we try to separate things in the four minutes. When I look at it, we were down three with eight minutes to go with Northwestern. We threw the ball to the announcers. The ball went off somebody's hands. They ended up hitting a three after we converged on it and all of a sudden it was ten points. Those are the types of things that you look at, but it is tough to say don't do that again during that sequence. The whole idea is to take care of those little things and you won't have those things clumped together."
Question: Or maybe if you manage it different with time outs, because you don't want something to get out of hand.
Coach Beilein: "Yeah, and it is tough and I've probably called more timeouts this year early than I have in the past. It is one thing you see that timeout coming and there is 8:23 on their clock and you know a TV timeout is coming up in 23 seconds. I think that is when you got to roll the dice sometimes. Say we're going to score a bucket right now and now I'll save one for later on. So you're trying to roll that dice all the time and sometimes you roll it right and sometimes you didn't make the right choice."
Question: Jordan Dumars has not traveled the past couple of days, is that jus the knee?
Coach Beilein: "Yeah he actually had another surgery and I believe they found some more damage. It looks like he will not be playing at all right now. I think he is in a brace right now actually."
Question: When did he have the surgery?
Coach Beilein: "Thursday. So he won't be at he game and he'll probably be in a brace for the next, I thought I heard four weeks. I think Jon (Sanderson) told me that. He had another tear. He said it didn't feel right the whole time he was back and obviously he was right."
Question: He'll be back for the summer though? When will he back in full basketball activities?
Coach Beilein: "Hopefully within four weeks or so, but the season is pretty much shot by that point. As far as him getting better, it is just what conditioning can do to hang in there."
Question: Have you talked to Johnny Orr much?
Coach Beilein: "I've talked to Johnny Orr on two or three occasions. I tried to get him in two summers ago and he has had some difficulties because of some family issues, traveling. So (a representative) is going to be here tomorrow in place of Johnny. I've talked to Johnny probably once or twice a year since I've been here. Some of his two guard action is some of the things we do. Dana Altman has been running the same thing at Creighton and now at Oregon, the same things he does. I think Grand Valley State runs his offense. It is good stuff. He's had a great effect on a lot of coaches."