Sam Webb: What people are calling the biggest victory of the season for you, an upset victory of an archrival and it was really one of those games from the start, it was the kind of start you wanted to see your team have.
Coach Beilein: “Yeah, we really came out. The ball bounced our way and we made it bounce our way and really from the get go we were on our game. I just love the energy that came up. There was tremendous energy in the building and if everybody can see how we came out, the crowd just continued to help us through it and we were up by a lot and they closed it and closed it and closed it, and then we made big plays down the stretch. Veterans making huge plays down the stretch. That was the difference in the game. So as you could see last night, the way Ohio State beat Nebraska, they have a heck of a team. It was a really good win for us and hopefully we can carry it forward.”
Sam Webb: Couple of things that stuck out in route to the victory, #1, for all of the points that Spike and Zak scored, maybe the most glaring stat, 0 turnovers in all of the times that those guys handled the basketball, they didn’t turn it over one time.
Coach Beilein: “Zak is really growing and we know Spike can do that. Spike’s typical game is six assists and one turnover and I’m usually really mad at him for that one turnover. Zak as I’ve said publically as well, his game is growing where he is playing with his chin up, his eyes up. It’s not that he was selfish before in any way, it was just some guys who are shooters, they don’t look at the game as point guards look at the game. We try to teach everybody, even our big guys to look at the floor like they are a guard so that they can see everything and can get great shots. I knew it was going to be tough to score when I could see our assists totals at the beginning of the year that we didn’t see the openings that are out there. So we’ve been working on that and it is starting to pay off for Zak.”
Sam Webb: The other thing that really jumped out at me, you guys really got back defensively. I know transition defense is always a work in progress for any team, but in particular for a young team, but it really jumped out at me in this game. It really seemed like guys were doing much better at getting back and finding guys in transition much better on the defensive end.
Coach Beilein: “Yeah we work on it every day. Still a couple of times in the video that we’ll show, this makes no sense, why are you two running to the same guy when all you have to do is talk and talk it out. There was less of that in that game. Maryland is another opportunity to get better there because they’re going to push it at us and they have tremendous veterans and a great, Trey Burke like, freshman point guard. That’s going to be a challenge, but we are improving. You’re only as good as your last transition because that is a tough time getting back and we’ve had trouble doing it after scores. We even gave up a wide open three after Andrew Dakich hit a three that two guys ran at the same guy there too. So it is still a work in progress.”
Sam Webb: Rahk goes one for four in the game, he scores two points in 37 minutes, but I still think he had an outstanding game. I don’t know if I’m seeing too much, but I really feel like the job that he did on Deangelo Russell was worthy of mention in this contest.
Coach Beilein: “We don’t have a lot of answers at the guard position. We just got those two and bring Andrew off the bench. He’s had to guard somebody really good every day, every game and so I think he embraced that challenge and really did a good job of staying in front of him and making him go right. Making sure that he didn’t get easy shots. Our guys, particularly he and Aubrey, basically at the beginning of the year, they weren’t playing a great deal because they had so much to learn defensively and now they’re learning on the fly, tiny steps.”
Sam Webb: Another freshman getting a lot of time and he’s coming off the bench now, but it really seemed like he had a spark, a little hop in his step in that game, Kam Chatman, I’m curious coach if you’ve been seeing signs of that in practice that we saw in the game?
Coach Beilein: “Yes we do. We do see it and we’ll see the same thing, I think we’ve talked about doing less will be more for you and so he had some really good, he came up with a loose ball on the left wing and went in and finished at the basketball, had a nice move to the basket. So he’s trying to find out what is the best way for him to help the team and as he sort of looks at the game and realizes what he has to do to be efficient and effective.’
Sam Webb: You mentioned that efficiency coach, it’s not that he hasn’t been aggressive, it just seems that he was under control when he was aggressive this time.
Coach Beilein: “Yeah he’s seeing the floor differently as well. You’re not used to in high school or AAU help side defense and guys have reports on which way you go all the time. As a result, he’s had to adapt to that. There is another guy that you hear me say all the time, he’s only 18 years old. I think I’ve seen a couple of juniors in high school play during the last year that were 18 years old already and this kid is the same age and he’s playing in college. Everybody just has to be patient while he develops his game.”
Sam Webb: I’ve been getting peppered with one question in particular about you guys in the last couple of weeks and I’m curious what your thoughts are on it, about inbounding the ball. The way I’ve explained it, you’re certainly missing one of your best guys in Caris LeVert, he has length, great passer that certainly affects things. Do you see, is it more of an issue now, I saw you guys make a couple of adjustments, got the ball inbounds, is it more of an issue now or are people just noticing it more?
Coach Beilein: “Here’s what’s happening. There are three or four teams and Illinois is one and Ohio State is one, and Michigan State does it on occasion. We call it the monster defense, they put the big man on the ball and they jump around like crazy in front of you and of course you can’t move, it’s a dead ball. Depending on where you have the ball, it is very, very difficult to get the ball in and we choose to do an inbounder of action. In other words, you can run a great play and if you do not have a good passer, somebody could be open and you’re still going to throw it away. With Caris out, Kam would be another option to use to inbound, to throw it by that guy and around that guy, while you’re running a route is not that easy to do. I’m just telling you, people wouldn’t do it unless it was really effective. I think there are a couple of times in the Illinois game, that was a matter of young guys running the wrong routes and me not being clear in the huddle of what we were doing. Other than that, there is some struggle sometimes. You’re just not going to run pretty plays when you’ve got a 6’10” guy on you and you’re trying to inbound it. Remember the last year against Tennessee, we had to inbound it five times in a row from the same spot with a big guy on us and switching every screen. You only have so many out of bound plays and it is hard to do. Spike is really good at it and he’s been able to do it for us. The Illinois game we had Muhammad taking it out and that’s where we decided that we should go back to Spike.”
Sam Webb: Is it always the case coach that you always favor the better passer over the bigger guy?
Coach Beilein: “Inbounder over action, yeah we always do that. Now you’re also trying to get your foul shooters open. There is a lot more to it than run some schematic inbound play. If it is normal defense, it is not easy, but it is easier. When you’ve got the big man on you and you can’t throw over the top and you can’t move and he’s shading you up the court, it’s really hard to do. I think we’ve only had two or three times the last couple of games were we’ve thrown it away and sometimes you got to call a timeout. It doesn’t mean the play didn’t work, it means call a timeout and try and do it better.”
Sam Webb: You go from Ohio State to Maryland and watching Maryland and what they did to Wisconsin. Wisconsin couldn’t say in front of them, they were tremendous off the bounce getting to the basket. It is a tough, tough matchup going to Maryland’s place.
Coach Beilein: “It really will be. They have that mix like we had two years ago with a dynamic young guard and then some shooters around him and then a couple of seniors who really have a lot of experience. Dez Wells is a very good player, Xavier transfer, so he is obviously a little bit older Smotrycz a little bit older. This is his fifth year. Layman is a junior. They have some guys out there. Richaud Pack, a kid from Detroit, is a fifth year guy. So they have all this experience around this guiding this young very talented player. So it is going to be very difficult to stay in front, if Wisconsin can’t stay in front, then it’s hard to do. We’ve got a plan and we’ll work the best we can.”
Sam Webb: How has things gone for Evan over at Maryland?
Coach Beilein: “He’s had a good career. This is the end of the second year I guess, he comes off the bench. He plays both the four and five position. He hasn’t shot it and let’s hope he doesn’t shoot it as he used to shoot it for us. He’s really a key part of their team.”
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