Beilein Challenged Team to Make it a Rivalry

Coach Beilein reflects on his squad's 70-63 victory over Michigan State. Michigan's headman discussed MSU's dominance in the rivalry in recent years, the resolve his team showed at the end of the game, Michigan NCAA Tournament hopes, and more. **The full postgame transcript.**

Coach Beilein:  "I thought it was really important today if we get off the rust that we all talk about when you have a week off, you're hoping you get off to a good start and your guys are ready.  I think that was very important.  The good start held up.  Kalin Lucas and Draymond Green, I can't say enough about how difficult it was to stop.  The other thing is that they are just a great rebounding team.  You can see by that number there, you can see by their 16 rebounds.  There are times I'm sure we would like to box out a little bit more but there are just times that (Zach) Novak is doing everything he can -- but Draymond Green has his seven foot wing-span, I believe, and just get it over the top.  We made just enough to win.  We made just enough foul shots to win and we beat a very good team."

Question:  How proud are of you of your guys?

Coach Beilein:  "All year long, my pride has been pretty much the same whether we lost to Wisconsin at the buzzer or this one.  We've loved these kids through the recruiting process, the trip overseas, which I really think you're seeing the bonding really took off during that time.  They're in it for each other and that makes a big difference."

Question:  You mention the Wisconsin game, so it doesn't surprise you that they were able to win the next two after losing that one?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah.  It is the coaches job to get them to move on but you have to have young men that are willing to move on.  They just did.  We've had so many close games just like this one…now we've won a lot of games that were just like this, so maybe we are .500, but the ones you remember are the Kansas game and the game with Wisconsin.  You can't let them hang in there.  You got 31 games, you got to move on."

Question:  Those two that you mentioned were a combined 10/33 today.  Can you talk about the overall defensive effort?

Coach Beilein:  "I really love what we had from Stu (Douglass) and Darius (Morris). They both are not well right now.  There is a cold going around that Stu has had for two days and hit Darius yesterday with the throat.  You could see by their body language, they were tired.  I was trying to say ‘fake your body language' because the team looks at the guards, but both of them were very sick.  Now they need to lay down and rest a little bit."

Question:  Can you talk about winning both games and how it affects in recruiting?

Coach Beilein:  "I don't know.  Michigan State does a wonderful job in recruiting and I feel in our future we'll be doing a wonderful job recruiting.  We certainly recruit against the same guys sometimes and sometimes we don't.  We want the guys running through the doors to the University of Michigan.  If we find young men that want to do that, fine.  If they choose to go to Michigan State or anywhere else, we say, okay, he was not the right guy."

Question:  Talk about the contribution that Evan (Smotrycz) gave you in the first half until Tim (Hardaway) was able to…?

Coach Beilein:  "Like a team like this, where they are so physical.  They threw that ball into the post and they threw it in a lot.  Jordan (Morgan) got into foul trouble.  It was essential that we started playing him more at a five.  Evan did almost no post defense and no post moves in September and October, because there was just so much to learn if he was going to play a perimeter four.  Starting in January, we've really worked hard with him both post defensive and post offense and the last couple of weeks, he's sort of attached himself to that a little bit knowing that people were taking away his three game how else he can help us."

Question:  Yesterday at practice, you were talking about the implications of this game being a possible indication for a tournament, do you consider yourself now a tournament team?

Coach Beilein:  "We got a chance to go to the Big Ten Tournament right now and continue to prove it.  I've been in this for a long time and you never want to say one game is until it is all said and done.  There are a lot of games to be played today, tomorrow.  The first rounds of the tournaments, the mid majors with some really good teams and we'll find out.  We won't hurry that.  We're in the four/five game, which I like…I'm not crazy about having a game where the other team played the night before and you go in there cold.  I like the idea of whoever we play will also being going in and playing their first game.  Let us throw it up."

Question:  A few of the players mentioned that they don't consider the team to be young any more; do you agree with that?

Coach Beilein:  "Obviously, you look at the minutes played.  Certainly, Timmy does not play young.  Evan has really shown some growth through this.  Jon Horford has a little bit of a knee bruise so he couldn't play today.  Blake (McLimans) came in and made a good shot.  We're just evolving as a team because they are so young and that's our job now.  There is a lot made about recruiting and talent and things like that. There is developing talent.  You see it all the time, the ones that are projected to do one thing and they may do that, but there are also ones where they just get better because of their focus, their body type, their age."

Question:   Talk about the way your team responded after they cut it to two.

Coach Beilein:  "They really came out and started getting after Timmy and wouldn't let him turn the corner or get his jump shot off.  So the call was to look for Jordan on the slip and Tim has made that pass over and over again.  So he trusted it and that gave us four.  I don't know what the score with a six point lead, they had the ball like for four minutes and we never got it. They had four out of bound plays.  We're not perfect, Stu's foul at the end, we'll blame the cold on that one.  It is things that we just have to continue to learn as you are going to win in March, you have to be more perfect than that."

Question:  You guys are the four seed now.  Could you have seen the fourth seed after starting off one and six?

Coach Beilein:  "No.  I couldn't have seen that one.  I did like what I saw.  Minnesota had beaten us and we didn't know the extent of (Al) Nolan's injury.  Penn State had really played well.  I felt strongly.  I didn't know anything, but I felt strongly that our team could compete with anybody in the league and if the ball bounced your way a few times, who knows, who knows."

Question:  With what Tim did in the second half, are you at this point almost expecting him to have that type of start?

Coach Beilein:  "That was a tremendous second half.  He had a pretty good ding in the head there and he ended up…we had some confusion on some fouls there if it was one or two on a couple of guys.  Our bench had one thing, the book had one thing, and the official had another… we were just confused.  We just gave Tim some time off, but that is the way he's been.  He is ready to roll coming back out there and he hit a huge…Coach Meyer had an out-of-bound play set for their defense and we throw it over the top and Tim knocked it down and gave us great separation."

Question:  Do you see more confidence in this team than maybe at that point where the meeting happened and you guys were struggling some?

Coach Beilein:  "Oh yeah.  I think they all understood that they were in it together.  After the Minnesota game, there is a lot of things that go into team chemistry and everybody has got to do their little part.  That was very helpful for us.  It has not been perfect since then Mark, just like all your families, it is not perfect.  You are going to have up and down days.  Heck, I'm even grouchy at practice some days.  You are going to have those types of days.  You got to fight through them and you're going to have them things.  I like our chemistry right now.  As we see things, we'll make adjustments."

Question:  What does this do for the rivalry?

Coach Beilein:  "I did this stat.  The first stat I showed the team.  What does this mean, 4 and 18 and that was the record since the last ‘90s.  The only thing I told them was that we won up there, that's great.  There is a lot of evening up to go.  I remember Dugan Fife telling me that he was eight or nine and one against Michigan State and Travis Conlan had done that and I listed to those guys.  So 4-18 over the last couple of years, if that is a correct stat.  It was giving to me by our sport information…actually from my managers.  There is a rivalry there that is a long time that they've been in control of it and we're just trying to do our job every day and just getting better every day.  That's all we're doing.  We're not going to talk a lot about it but just try to get better."

Question:  How big was the Colton Christian tap out to Matt Vogrich?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah that was big.  He tipped the ball out.  He's been getting better every day in practice.  You guys don't get to see what I see, but what really has been good is that the guys who do not play a lot, we've been working them so hard.  This week, they worked a lot extra and I know he feels really good about that.  He can do some things eventually, he just has to learn how to play on the perimeter."

Question:  What went on with the exchange between Lucas and Morris?

Coach Beilein:  "I heard about it.  I'll look into it.  I don't know much about it right now.  I was going down to shake Tom's (Izzo) hand."

Question:  Zach said in the locker room after the game, giving your staff a week to prepare for an opponent, he thinks that makes you guys hard to beat.

Coach Beilein:  "Zach wants to play a lot of minutes, huh (laughter).  He is going to play his minutes no matter what."

Question:  What were you able to accomplish with the extra time?

Coach Beilein:  "The extra time has helped, but to be honest with you, the first three days were rest and reshaping what we want to do as a team.  On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, we had the week off so we could do some things because of spring break.  It wasn't about Michigan State on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so little things.  It was more about us but Thursday and Friday, we were able to focus.  They were playing a game Wednesday night.  That's tough to come back, they had played Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, that's a tough cluster.  The rest helps but it never really determines the outcome."

Question:  Can you comment on the atmosphere in Crisler tonight?

Coach Beilein:  "It was great.  When I walked in there, I was jacked up when I walked in there.  When the crowd was going, I sort of had a…I love the feeling I had when I walked onto the floor."

Question:  Do you think consistent winning can result in that?

Coach Beilein:  "I would hope so.  But we have to do that, because we still have to get that crowd back to…I don't know what it was like when Rudy played or other times through all the championship team, the Fab 5, I have no idea what it was like.  I was coaching Lemoyne or I was coaching Richmond, I had no idea, but I do know that was special out there for our kids."

Question:  Where does signing the fight song after beating Michigan State a second time during the season rank for you?

Coach Beilein:  "For me personally, it is good.  I don't want to demean any of my other teams because whether it was at Canisius or Lemoyne, they are wonderful thing for me to experience, but there is so many good experience to coach like I have been able to coach.  I've had the opportunity to coach."

Question:  I mean at Michigan?

Coach Beilein:  "It was great.  I had them visualize that a little bit.  We did some visualization this week.  Visualize winning this game.  Visualize you being on center court and singing The Victors.  I know I was trying to do it and as difficult as the opponent was, we did it and it was special and I love the crowd.  That's going to be a tradition I think every final home game that we play with a win.  We're going to celebrate the season with everybody."

Question:  Does this feel like an NCAA tournament team with the way that you have played the last couple of weeks?

Coach Beilein:  "When we've looked at the teams that we have played.  When I watch Kansas warm up, I'm like going, whoa, this could get ugly.  All of a sudden, there is Novak putting us by three and said that this team has a chance to play with a lot of people.  I think if you look at who we've played and how we've played them.  Take Purdue out, we didn't play as well in that one.  Even the ones we lost by 12 or 14, it was tied at half or something.  It feels like my other teams, but I'll let the committee take care of that."

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