Sam Webb: I want to talk about your team and look back at the last game. I want to start off on a positive note. You went into that game… and they talked about it in the broadcast… you said, ‘we need Aubrey to be more of a factor on the road.’ Was that a particular challenge that you issued to him heading into that game?
John Beilein: “I can’t recall actually challenging him. It was just important that he was confident against what we knew was going to be 100% zone. So he was shot ready, pass ready and that he was confident out there. We tried to sort of create that atmosphere going into that game he played terrific. He put the ball on the deck a couple of times, he had a runner, and we haven’t seen a runner from him all year long. He did some really good things and I’m really, really proud of how he has developed this year.”
Sam Webb: I think one of the more impressive plays was he wass driving to the rim and he dropped it off for a layup. He actually had his head up going to the basket looking for someone else.
John Beilein: “That’s right. Hopefully it progresses the way it has with Zak Irvin. It is really just hours and hours of watching video of being coachable in practice so that you can develop and that’s what we want to do with him. He has all this athleticism and he has got a great quick stroke but that will only take you so far. You’ve got to be able to use that athleticism, be able to set up that jump shot by also being able to drive by people.”
Sam Webb: You mentioned Zak. As far as aggression going to the rim, but also being cognizant of mid-range… we saw him hit a bank shot, pull up jumpers. He really had his all around game going in that contest.
John Beilein: “Yeah he had some Tim Hardaway type of rise up off the dribble in that game that was big. I actually love the way he went to the foul line and made nine out of ten. He was shooting about two weeks ago and we just kept working on it and working on it. He was our worst percentage foul shooter. Now you go into that crowd, it was a very loud atmosphere. We had Michigan people there in force, but the Northwestern people were there as well. It was a huge crowd, almost full and he had to make those shots right in front of student body. He did a great job.”
Sam Webb: Percentage wise where would you put Spike? Is Spike 75%, 80%, I ask that because Spike played 47 minutes, 16 points and eight assists. The guy just keeps on going out there and battling for you.
John Beilein: “I don’t want to put a percentage on that, but I know one thing he is not at 100%. In fact, in the second half, he made that running left hander or something and then I saw him limping down the court. He sort of looked at me, and I said, uh-oh, his injury is bothering him. I pulled him right out, and he said what did you take me out for. I said because I thought you wanted to come out. He said, no I’m fine. That’s his attitude that he is going to play through any pain that he has right now. As he gets rehabbed over this summer and he gets back to 100%, it is going to be a lot of fun to coach him next year because his confidence has grown so much because of the situation that he is right now that he has to play so many minutes.”
Sam Webb: One of the things we talked about last week… and you gave a great explanation and I’ve been repeating you, inbounder over action. There was an instance late in the game though in regulation, it wasn’t Spike that you had throwing the inbound pass, it was Max. It was a baseball pass and one of the things that I saw you say after the game was the instruction you gave was, ‘just don’t throw it out of bounds.’
John Beilein: “We have had, I don’t know if it is sort of today’s kid where they don’t play baseball or play catch with a football much any more. This was the darnest thing, it is very difficult for us to find a guy with any size that can throw a full court pass. We practice it. I’m telling you guys throw it anywhere but the target and I just think it is a matter of not playing a lot of catch with a baseball or not being baseball players. You should have seen Nik Stauskas try and throw a baseball pass. It was incredible. Blake McLimans would have thrown it for in the past years. Max is our best at it but not very accurate. So coming out of the huddle, Max whatever you do, do not throw that ball out of bounds, and he zoomed it right out of bounds. Those things are going to happen in games, but we were not going to say, okay we don’t have an inbounder that can throw a long pass. You want to get the ball to at least half court with 2-1/2 seconds. We went for it. We weren’t as anxious to go for it the next time.”
Sam Webb: Was that just an example of really good defense on their part when it was Spike and Zak trying to get the ball in?
John Beilein: “Yeah. We got it in bounds, but I don’t know how many times we had to take it out of there, seven or eight times we got it in bounds every time and we went with similar action, different look. The pass was just a little bit too hard. We had been throwing the bounce pass there all the time, I think Zak might have been surprised by a bounce pass, you never know. If we had to do it again, we would probably run a similar action and just make sure the pass is a little bit more accurate, but it went right off his wrist. It was probably a little harder than he was expecting and the angle was, he just could have taken two more steps. He was afraid of a five count, but we had another time out. It’s just too bad because that obviously set up the last play.”
Sam Webb: The other thing that is being bandied about after that game is your philosophy when you’re up three in the waning moments of a contest. Do you foul or not foul? What is your general philosophy on that and what was the thought process in this game in particular?
John Beilein: “Been doing this a long time and never chose to foul and the three point shot came in about 700 games ago, I can’t recall two or three times that a guy made a three to tie a game. There is three or four maybe. It is sort of been our way, we practice that’s what we try to do. We do not practice not fouling the three pointer. We practice fouling guys when we have 1-on-1s to go. This team has really been challenged at coming out of a timeout and executing. We’re afraid of a bunch of things. Number one, we’re afraid that we’re going to foul the guy just as he starts shooting it, which would really be a crazy thing to do. You have to be in our huddle in our practices to know sometimes that the game needs to slow down for some guys. Second thing, they were getting 50% of their rebounds back. We don’t have anyone that can box out Olah. Now you could lose the game or he could get the rebound and put it back in. You could foul too early and give them two times to win and now you have to inbound it twice. The stats tell you, 90-something % of winning if you foul them and it is 80-something % if you don’t foul them. We went with the percentage that we’ve always used and it didn’t work. Do it again, maybe you do that. It was tough. I’m more concerned that we were suppose to switch some screens at the end and we didn’t and gave them an open shot, that would have alleviated a lot of things. I don’t know what the percentages are of the coaches in the country and that’s not a reason…that choose to foul or don’t to foul, but I think more choose not to foul than choose to foul. Now obviously this is another thing I got to rethink after seeing it twice in one game, when you probably only seen it three or four times in the last ten years.”
Sam Webb: It is one of those things, that guy (Demps), you look at the shots he hit in that game. He was in the zone.
John Beilein: “The most impressive one was when we were up six. We missed a foul shot and he dribbled to the right corner, turned and did a 180 in the air and just jumped it in and made it a three point game. It’s a tough thing and it is hard for everybody and I think every coach in the country…I saw Pat Chambers foul this year and then the guy missed the foul shot and they got the offensive rebound and won the game. It’s just a tough thing to do and you’ve got to know what your team can do, what your team is accustomed to. That’s why I watched *** the team. Guys, he just hit one, we’ve got to stay man and we got to do it and then we missed a switch. That has more to do with it, but our team did not want to foul, they wanted to guard him. That’s the way it goes, a really tough one.”
Sam Webb: You have to put it behind you. Rutgers comes to town, a team that you beat already, but when you’re coming off a game like that from a minutes standpoint… it was a double overtime game, an emotional game… that’s one that is not as easy always to put that game behind you.
John Beilein: “No absolutely not. Rutgers is a much better team than their record would suggest. I don’t care without Kaminsky, they beat Wisconsin and I don’t care if Wisconsin was missing two or three players and you beat Wisconsin, you can have any type of great night. They played Maryland the same way we played Maryland. We’re going to have to play well. They’ve got several older players, seniors again that this is their last regular season games and we’ve got to play well. We have to make shots. We were about to go down by nine at their place with less than ten minutes to go and Aubrey hit a three and we ended up winning by six. It is going to be a really tough one for us and we’re going to do our best.”
Sam Webb: There was a kid many years ago that you recruited by the name of Robin Benzing who was a foreigner, there are hoops that you have to jump through to qualify, as foreigner, very very tough. Has that process for qualifying for college basketball, has it become easier to navigate, is it an easier process to go through now?
John Beilein: “Any time when a young man is over and he does not do his education in the United States there is more to it. It is not as difficult as it probably was 20 or 30 years ago and now they have the eligibility centers ready to make sure that a young man is an amateur. They’ve done a good job with that. Any time that happens, you really have to be on it to make sure that you check off all the boxes, even in Canada or some of the institutions, not pop up schools but ones that are new to the recruiting environment, making sure all the courses are aligned.”
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