Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement? ... "I was proud of the way the team responded today. They had great preparation for this game, and from the very beginning they responded to the things that we had to change in our game plan. We still had to make some shots, but nobody shot the ball very well, so credit good defense or poor shooting. We kept hanging in there. I thought when they made their run they had an opportunity to go up nine and missed, and we came back and hit a three to cut (their lead) back to three and we made a few threes after that. It was a great energy boost for our guys. We have a game with Wisconsin (Jan. 24), and if they win tonight that will be two teams with five (Big Ten) wins. Having five wins right now puts us in a good place in the league."
?On just trying to make it through the first half with limited depth? ... "I have been watching our players all year, and I've seen the way Spike (Albrecht) and Derrick (Walton Jr.) come off the court. Andrew (Dakich) came to me a couple of weeks ago and said he wanted to burn his redshirt because he thought it would help the team. We double-checked with him over and over again and he was sure he wanted to do it; we feel there are going to be minutes where those guys have to get off the court because of normal wear and tear throughout the season. We survived the first half, and in the second half we started strong, which I thought was important."
?On trying several lineup combinations? ... "Zak (Irvin) certainly did not help us by picking up two early fouls. That was not the plan, but we learn through all that. Sometimes, Sean Lonergan can be like a Spike Albrecht. It may not seem like he does a whole lot, but he gets the ball to the right people. Kam (Chatman) was not able to practice the last two days so we knew he would not be able to give us much more than a couple of minutes and Sean was great. He knows every position; he's a jack of all trades."
?On Derrick Walton Jr.'s late-game scoring touch? ... "Derrick played 40 minutes in a knock-down, drag-out game with Northwestern and he could not practice more than a little bit over the last few days. He looked fatigued, but we told him 'Keep shooting'. I thought he was shooting not to miss instead of shooting to make, so when he had a look off of a play where he did not shoot it, we directed him to take that shot the next time and it went in. Then he made another one after that."
?On switching up zone defenses? ... "We have not played a lot of that zone. We have played some three-zone, but Caris (LeVert) is the key to that thing. Everyone has positions and we have had that in, but we probably worked more on it yesterday than we had overall. We have been using it more. Just like we have been challenged to shoot it, Rutgers has been challenged to shoot it. With Bishop (Daniels) and (Myles) Mack, those are both tremendous players. We wanted to keep five guys in front of Mack as often as we could."
?On the significance of a league win on the road after losing Caris LeVert to injury? ... "Before the game, these guys heard a lot of coach-speak, saying, 'You can win this game.' I don't know if anyone on this team, looking forward, thought we had a chance. It's natural. They are young and they just lost their leader; you have to convince them. Now, with this win, it gives credence to that idea. Sure, you can get blown out, but you can win again. You just have to stay together, play together and play smart basketball."