U-M / Illinois Postgame

John Beilein, Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins, and Caris LeVert on UM's comeback 73-65 overtime victory.

Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "That game had the feel of a February game or with a Big Ten championship on the line or something. I'm really proud of the way our kids responded. We did not make shots early although we were pleased with some, but credit that to Illinois. If we had not messed up the last few seconds of the first half, I think we would have felt much better going into halftime. At the same time, we came out down 13 with 11 minutes to go and got a win. We have been working the last three days on what we are doing in the last eight minutes of a game. We were taking some shots and making defensive errors that you can't win tight games doing. So we might be around .500 right now, but the game was in the balance with eight minutes to go, and (getting a win) is the right direction because we certainly weren't (doing that) going into today's game."

On keeping the team believing after going down 13 ... "You show no sign of weakness as a coaching staff. You continue to tell them the good news and what we have to do and encourage the guys like Aubrey (Dawkins). He missed his first few shots, and they were right in and out. We told them, 'Keep shooting it, Zak (Irvin) keep shooting it.' When we had good looks, that's what we needed to get done. At the same time, we had to play good defense down the stretch, and we did it. We had to change defenses because they are so good at driving the ball."

On improving the team's shooting percentage in the second half ... "Besides really messing up the last few seconds of the first half, we felt really good going in because we had open shots. But we had missed four foul shots, and we blundered those last couple of minutes. As a result, we felt good going in that we could get good shots, and we had to make them. We came out in the second half, and we missed them, and we missed them again, so we put Aubrey in there because he was making shots. That was the key to the game."

On Aubrey Dawkins' performance today ... "We have worked really hard, and he has been getting a lot of extra shots up with our guys. (U-M Assistant Coach) Jeff Meyer has done a great job with him. He has been making shots in practice; not at this rate, but at the same time he has not been out there for an extended period of time. We always talk about outliers on our team and how important they are to our success. Spike (Albrecht) had been an outlier; Zak Irvin had been an outlier during their freshman years. All of the sudden, there was Aubrey, and he filled a huge void of shooting the ball that we had today."

On Ricky Doyle's performance in the paint ... "We try to have a good mix of being in the paint and finding guys on the outside. I'm really proud of the way our guys stepped up when they needed to step up and made the right plays. We only had one turnover in the second half. They played some zone; they played some man, just some good stuff that we need to do to win."

On the team's success rebounding... "We basically play two big guys, but Max (Bielfeldt) came in there, and he had a big offensive rebound as well. We try those two to keep them fresh and get them in there, but then we had enough from Zak (Irvin) and Aubrey (Dawkins) and different people who came in to help us out."

U-M Sophomore Guard Zak Irvin
On whether or not Aubrey Dawkins' performance was a surprise ?... "No, not at all. His nickname is actually Automatic, because whenever he shoots it, we (all) think it is going in. So it is nice to see that all of the hard work he has been putting in at practice and after practice is finally showing off in the game."

?On the Big Ten Conference and the tough games that come with it ?... "It is always a grind no matter who you play in the Big Ten. It is one of the best conferences we have in the country. It is just nice to see us being down 13 with 11 minutes to go and stay together and fight back for the win."

?On starting Big Ten play with a win ?... "That was huge for us. We learned so much in the non-conference (part of the season) and what to do when things do go wrong, with the adversity we had to fight through. It was just nice to see everyone stay unified and for us to get the win in overtime."

U-M Freshman Guard Aubrey Dawkins
On making the most of his opportunities ?... "It's exciting, it's exciting. I just came in and played my game. The coaches and the team had confidence in me, and with the excitement in the arena, I felt like we had a good chance to win the game."

?On how it felt to knock down those shots ?... "Really good; I felt relief. It gave me confidence throughout the game to keep shooting the ball."

?On if whether or not he is trying to find his role as an off-the-bench scorer like Zak Irvin was last year ?... "A little bit. He has given me some advice, and the coaches have given me advice as well. You don't have any warm-up time when you come off the bench, so you have to be ready to make your minutes count. The last few games it has been a little tough, but I think I am starting to figure it out."

U-M Junior Guard Caris LeVert
On completing the comeback win ... "It was huge for us. We wanted to start off the Big Ten right, at home especially. We showed great relentlessness and toughness and got the win."

On what was said in the huddle when U-M was down in the second half ... "Keep pushing. Don't stop fighting. We're getting good shots, and they're rimming out. Just keep defending, and things will go our way."

On Aubrey Dawkins' performance ... "We're very proud of him. Aubrey puts in the work. He does it in practice every day. It was just a matter of when he got the time in the game. We knew he was going to step up for us."

On his play in today's game ... "I think I was more aggressive. Also, we got a lot of rest during the break. I think that was a big thing for our guards as well."

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