Question: What are you hoping to get out of tomorrow nights game?
Coach Beilein: “I think we very rarely have treated this as much as an exhibition as we will. I mean, we really have to treat this as a pure exhibition and even sometimes we will try to get 10 people in the game, maybe 11 or 12 and just work on some things that we are working on while we try to win it. But we have too far to go to worry about little things to win a game, as much as we just try to get better a team.”
Question: Have you settled on a starting five yet or a rotation?
Coach Beilein: “No. I am not sure. When in doubt, I have usually gone with the more experienced players. So you can probably do the math out there on who are the guys that have the most experience, we’ll probably start with. I always felt that it was good to go that way. Then I love to bring experience off the bench. But I do not know that is going to happen yet. It really does not make a difference to me who is starting tomorrow. I will have more concern about who starts against Radford.”
Question: You said at one point that the guys who are getting this the most are going to play. I mean is that a great motivational tool for them?
Coach Beilein: “Well I hope it is. There are some things that are not very complicated that we are still struggling with. I look back at this and I remember either when I went to Richmond or I went to West Virginia, you had three weeks of practice before you scrimmaged, four weeks of practice before an exhibition game, and five weeks before your first game. The time is cut in half and then the academic calendar at Michigan is September 4th, so we lose some preseason practice. We should be some things that we are just not getting right now that traditionally we have gotten by this time. We just have to be better teachers right now.”
Question: Between your scrimmage with Kent State on Saturda,y what kind of improvements can you expect this team to make in that short time?
Coach Beilein: “Unconfirmed scrimmage at Kent State (laughing). Usually the learning curve should be pretty good right now. The big things that we have found in our first three weeks of practice are just really simple things. About the passing and catching and pivoting that coaches take for granted that are going to be there and for many young players, it is not there. When you play very good defensive teams, it gets exposed. So I think we will see as a team, the public will not see it, improvement in that area. If they would have seen any of our scrimmages they would have said, ‘this team cannot pass and catch yet, let alone score.’ So they will see that gradually. We are seeing it.”
Question: Fundamentals, would you say that is the biggest thing so far?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah I think so. It is just defensively, offensively stance. When you are forced into these scrimmage situations, you are also trying to put the whole in at this time. Where I think when it was a five week preseason, you did more individual stuff and then put in the whole. Now you would be crushed if you did not put in the whole and come back and work on the individuals. So that is where we are at right now. We are not jack of all trades, master of none. We are not good at anything, but it is going to take time.”
Question: What do you think of the new lights?
Coach Beilein: “It is great. What do you guys think? Isn’t it a big difference? (Media: It kinds of hurts your eyes (laughing).) I walked out there the first day and I thought they were shooting a movie or something. I saw this bright light coming from there. It is really nice, much better.”
Question: You asked for it and Bill (Martin, AD University of Michigan)...
Coach Beilein: “Bill had said they were going to end up doing that. You sort of get used to that it is darker in there. You do not see it. Now you see a different look. Everything looks just newer in the entire place. It is really a great improvement.”
Question: Do you have any idea what the game day atmosphere is going to be like? I know there is talk of changing it and maybe making it more fun and that sort of thing.
Coach Beilein: “You know what. My staff has done a lot with that. I have very little input on purpose. They asked me several questions, but I would like to see what it is like. But then if I say that, I don’t know what it is like. One time we had those Bud Light daredevils and everybody was talking about them and what an unbelievable performance and I did not even know they were there. They were there during a time out, the place was going crazy and I asked what all the noise about there during that one time. I had no idea that there was anybody jumping off of trampolines. I don’t notice those things. I do think that creating the right atmosphere is the thing that we must do. But I do not know what it is like right now.”
Question: A lot of the fans have been talking about it is going to take time to get the offense and get grooved. Do you think from the fans, do you think they should be coming to appreciate the new brand of basketball as opposed to concentrating on wins and losses early on?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah. I think we are who we are right now. We are a very young team that will struggle against a tough schedule and will struggle against anybody right now. So we are who we are and so I think what people have to do is just sit back and watch the process and see it develop. As difficult as it is going to be, we all want to hurry it, there is no way to hurry it. There is no way to hurry it. You could see out there just simple things that we have to do. That is my job, but it takes a long time for people to get the skill development at this level that you have to have.”
Question: You talk a lot about what has been missing so far with the offense. What are the pleasant surprises so far?
Coach Beilein: “I think we have been able to see that we have maybe more outside shooting than people thought. I think a kid like Deshawn Sims looks like he can shoot the three ball better. He has never made a college three. Right now, he is certainly one of our better shooters. So that is good to know. I think that it looks like we can be a good foul shooting team right now. That is about it. That really is about it. I think we just have an awful lot of people who are feeling their way right now. As I said, the attitude, there has never been a negative attitude any day. There are complacent days that drives coaches crazy, but there has not been any negativity in the practices from the players.”
Question: You talk about the new atmosphere. You say you don’t really know what it is going to be like, but does a certain school stick out in your head of what you want it to be like?
Coach Beilein: “Once again, I do not notice it a great deal of what it looks like and I certainly have not been around the Big Ten to know it is like. I think most of the great teams have a tremendous home advantage and part of home advantage that people will come to even if you lose, they come to it because they are going to have a good time. That is something that we have got to work on.”
Question: You are a film guy. Do you film, evaluate these exhibition games?
Coach Beilein: “Oh yeah. This will be big. We film and evaluate every practice. So this will be big for us. From our scrimmage, we had 130 cuts and we showed them about 120 so far. So this one will have about 70, 80, 90 cuts in it. Before our first game, we have 8 days, so we will show them 20-30 a day.”
Question: Putting all the film and notes aside, just how excited are you to get back on the court?
Coach Beilein: “That was a quick off season for me. What Anthony
said to me one day and it made sense, ‘long days, equal quick weeks’
and it is true. These have been some very, very long days and the weeks have
just rolled by and all of a sudden there I am coaching a different team. I think
that is what I like the best, is the time when the season comes around and you
see what you got. You go to work and try to figure out what you need to fix.”