Beilein Proud of Fight in his Team

After falling down by 20 to Savannah State by halftime yesterday, the Michigan basketball Wolverines battled back and won in overtime. Headman John Beilein reflects on how he handled a "rattled" team during the intermission, the slow starts his club hasgotten off to recently, potential lineup changes, how this experience will help them going forward, and more.

John Beilein Opening Statement:  "See this is why when you're coaching for a long time, you understand that anything can happen on any night.  I'm not pretending that we're a Duke or UCLA or anybody like that, North Carolina – yet.  I can't say that we didn't come to play.  Some nights you just have all kinds of things go wrong and you got to hang on there and deal with it.  It is key that we just came back.  We didn't deserve to win the first half; we deserved to win the game from the way we played in the second half.  A lot of teams could just quit on you.  I loved the way we stayed in there.  We still didn't have an awful lot of breaks go our way but we won and in the long run that's what it came down to."

Question:  Some of the guys said you went into halftime saying we're going to win.

John Beilein:  "You try to think about as much as you can about what you need to do.  Ranting and raving with this group, at that time they were clearly rattled – we were clearly rattled at halftime.  I felt that we didn't need a coach that was going to go in there and rattle them some more.  It wasn't like they weren't trying, they just got rattled.  I said, ‘I don't know if Michigan has ever come back at 20 at halftime, let's be the first ones. "

Question:  What did you say at the end of regulation to Zach Novak and then you kept him in there?

John Beilein:  "Same idea.  That is not the right time.  We'll talk about it and he'll have to deal with that for a long time.  Who knows he doesn't miss a layup.  Seriously, you are going full speed, 2.3, 1.3 seconds, you're trying to get it up there.  I think that's a more difficult play then you think.  When in doubt, I would rather have a kid go in there and miss that, if he is one on zero.  Now if he trying to dunk over somebody now that is a different deal.  Dunk and miss and then go up there and be afraid to miss."

Question:  What did you defensively to start out the second half so successfully?

John Beilein:  "They were doing a couple of things against the 1-3-1 zone, but stay solid Sam.  I didn't think we were solid.  We panicked defensively.  We weren't solid and all of a sudden everybody…they can't be scoring on us and we're shooting gaps and we're not playing the right angles defensively – just be solid."

Question:  What does this do for your team when playing a Maryland or Duke?

John Beilein:  "I know that they didn't want to deal with the coaching staff after a loss like this.  I know they're happier going into practice.  It is what it is.  We got to look at that thing and say we got a lot of areas to improve, bring you back to reality.  Men's basketball here, we are growing; we are growing.  We are not the fruit on the tree yet.  We are still just growing.  We got to understand that every game we have to come ready to play and we deal with whatever is given you.  Obviously the Maryland and Duke games are ones that are in a different level than the Savannah State game, can't worry about that, one at a time."

Question:  Can you talk about the bad and the good with Manny Harris; eight turnovers plus 14 for 14 at the line.

John Beilein:  "Yeah, I mean that is the thing that plagued him last year, but he's able to get to the foul line.  I think he could have gotten there a couple of more if he didn't try to draw fouls sometimes.  He just needs to go strong and let them foul him.  14 for 14 from the line is hard to do especially when you're fighting back at that time.  Yeah he gives us that a little bit.  He had eight turnovers and he didn't shoot the ball well, but he is still working every minute to try and win the game.  There are going to be times if he does less he will accomplish more.  In the second half, I thought he did a great job of trying to balance it, even though he had another four turnovers in the second half."

Question:  How often have you won games shooting 18% from three?

John Beilein:  "Not too often, not too often.  It's hard to do and like I said Zach Novak gives us some of that.  I noticed that and it didn't affect them today but all the shooting percentages seem to be down more than I thought they would, but we got to continue to shoot the ball better and play guys who shoot the ball better.  Obviously it was a huge three for him to know that one down, but 4-22 is not going to make it."

Question:  You talk about the NCAA and that's the goal of this team to make the NCAA tournament; was there any point where you thought ‘this is a potential loss that could hurt your tournament chances?

John Beilein:  "No not one time.  What you do think about this is how that will be a blip on the radar and you talk about this will be a blip on the radar and this is what we need.  This is part of the process.  You start thinking in that line, ‘Alright this is reality.  We got to continue to get better'.  No I never go into what's going to happen into March Madness, although it would get you.  Losing to a bottom 150 team if they turn out that is just as damaging as beating a top 50 team winning."

Question:  The start of the last two games, you got out of the blocks slow like that. Is there any concern there?

John Beilein:  "Yeah and I think it was fairly close for a minute.  So yeah we're going to examine everything right now.  We're trying to balance the two and like I said, we're holding on a little with to what we're doing with our rhythm until Laval Lucas-Perry becomes eligible.  Not that he is going to start but just to get a rhythm going, but we got to continue to look at that and we'll make decisions before Maryland."

Question:  It is a little bit fitting that DeShawn Sims hit the last shot given the way he played the whole game?

John Beilein:  "He played so hard and he wanted the ball inside and we got to get him the ball inside.  You got to be able to pass the ball in there very quickly with the way people cover up.  He's become a warrior and I just love…that shot was in from the get go.  It was a beautiful shot.  He has great lift on his shot and I'm really proud of him, because he's worked really, really hard."

Question:  On possible lineup changes as a result of the slow starts.

John Beilein:  "Anything's possible after that game.  Anything's possible.  We've given a lot of guys a lot of minutes over two years to do some things, so we got to continue to look at it and we'll look at it all year long.  All year long, until we can figure out what's a good blend.  Who starts, who comes off the bench, who gives us the most.  And it'll be different for every team too.  A team like this, the way they really get out and get after you, at the forward you need higher skill levels in order to be able to go after that, otherwise they will just up end blowing you away.  You'll never get the ball inside because you can't see inside."

Question:  How would last year's team done had it been down by 20 to Savannah State at halftime?

John Beilein:  "Oh I don't know.  Last year is last year.  I try to stay away from those comparisons, but I'm just happy with the way we did it this year."

Question:  From a coaching perspective you seem to think that there is a lot of things to work on, but a last second win, emotionally for the team…?

John Beilein:  "There is a bunch of young kids out there that had the time of their lives that they don't know that Savannah State is not supposed to play that game at Michigan.  They just had a great game and now they are little bit more of a Michigan fan.  I think for our crowd who came out on a Saturday afternoon to come to this game; they're going to like this team.  They're not always going to like them just because they win games.  They're going to like them just how they're going to develop."

Question:  Is it a boost for your kids emotionally?

John Beilein:  "Oh yeah, oh yeah, for them just because they'll look at what happened in the first half and they'll say, ‘Okay, we have to do this better if we expect to win the Big Ten."


The Michigan Insider Top Stories