Michigan Ready to ‘Prove Themselves' Again

Michigan coach John Beilein takes questions during a conference call Wednesday as he and the Wolverines prep for the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. Despite already claiming the regular season crown, Beilein says they have plenty to play for.

Big Ten regular season championship? Check.

After winning the conference outright by a three game margin the Michigan basketball team now shifts its focus to the Big Ten tournament, set to get underway Thursday in Indianapolis.

Locking up the No. 1 seed, the Wolverines await the winner of Indiana/Illinois, a date with Michigan for the winner is Friday at noon.

With the added time off since Saturday’s home win over the Hoosiers, the Wolverines have taken the time to rest, recover and revamp themselves for what they hope to be a significant run in March.

“We are excited to have had a couple days here to rest and to have practice,” Beilein said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “We will leave tomorrow around noon to head down to Indianapolis and try and prepare in these last few days for either option in the tournament.”

Picking up wins over Indiana and Illinois last week, Michigan tallied 84-points in both contests, actually knocking down 16-of-23 three-point attempts in the victory in Champagne.

Now tasked with preparing for both teams once again until the result is finalized, Michigan is splitting time and priority to clean up some errors they’ve seen down the stretch.

“We focused on Illinois and Indiana really,” Beilein added. “One day was an Illinois practice, today is an Indiana practice and just the things that didn’t go well in those particular games. That’s probably been a half hour of each practice has been on the next game.

“But the other things we try to get a lot of reps shooting. We got a really good, strong lift in Sunday night where the guys were sore on Monday. And we’re always working at our defense, trying to get a little better, in particular our transition defense.”

Defensive issues stood out to sophomore guard and Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas as Michigan looked back at both wins over the Hoosiers and the Illini noting the Wolverines were fortunate to win the way they did.

“When we were watching film the other day Coach Beilein made a great point, they got a lot of open shots that they just missed,” Stauskas said. “So the fact that we won the game by 30 or whatever it was wasn’t really telling of how they played so.

“We know they’re going to come, whether it’s Illinois or Indiana, both of them are going to come out really hard and we’re just trying to play our game, do what we can.”

Michigan will wait to practice Thursday until they know exactly who their opponent will be Friday afternoon, planning to stop at an undisclosed location on the way down to Indianapolis.

Despite wearing the No. 1 seed next to their name for this conference tournament, Michigan still feels a bit disrespected, ready to once again show why they finished as the best team in the conference.

“Well I mean we’re the number one seed but I don’t think we’re favored to win this tournament,” Stauskas said. “I don’t think anyone really thinks we’re going to win so we have a chip on our shoulder and we’re excited to prove ourselves again.”

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