Beilein Says Team is Finding Identity

John Beilein reflects on his squads 64-49 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes yesterday. Michigan's headman discusses the concerted effort the Wolverines made to go inside, the hustle they played with, the success of the 1-3-1, and more.

Coach Beilein opening statement:  "None of (the media) have probably been here for an 11:30 game in our life (laughing).  So it was very different and lets not lose track of the fact that Cyrus Tate was a huge player in the Iowa program and he gets hurt with two days prep time.  That is very difficult for any coach to adjust to.  We don't get that lead that we get when Cyrus is in there – he's a heck of a player.  These things happen and you got to take advantage of them when they do happen.  So I am really proud of the way we defended tonight and defended well enough that we actually could get into some transition baskets.  I thought that was the separating.  You're not going to score a lot on them in a half court offense.  You're not going to out tweak them, they're just too solid.  That is uncharacteristic for them to have the 18 turnovers.  We were able to take advantage of that."

Question: Did you feel that (the Michigan players) were a little more patient on offense?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah.  I would think so.  People are just trusting a little bit more of their teammates that this guy is going to be open and our execution is getting better.  Every time we play someone, they play differently against us.  They guard something…they did a couple of things here tonight that no one had done.  We got to keep adjusting, keep adjusting and hope we can make shots.  I thought we had good balance tonight too between inside and outside."

Question:  Peedi (DeShawn Sims) really tried to establish himself down low.  Is that something that you want more from him?

Coach Beilein:  "Oh yeah, absolutely.  He's got a big body and they were either very young inside or very small inside.  If Tate's on him, we probably still would have had had a similar approach.  You got to try it there, but if not then we got to mix things up a little bit.  Between him and Zack (Gibson), the dream program for us would always have that inside-outside presence, but if you don't have it – the inside or you don't have the outside then you can't do it.  We're really happy the way he was very aggressive."

Question:  How big were these last two wins (over Indiana and Iowa) as far as the development of this team and this program?

Coach Beilein:  "I think Iowa, I don't know how long Tate is out for and if Tucker can get healthy, just watch what they'll be able to do.  I think the Minnesota game was a close game.  Indiana is obviously where we were last year and they'll get better.  It's just big for us.  We had a fortitude schedule at the beginning.  Three of first four Big Ten (games) are at home.  Only one of them – Wisconsin was one of the ones that would be picked in the top right now.  It's just good that we can get things.  Because when we go to Illinois, last year we were probably 0-4 or something to start the season."

Question:  These are two wins that you guys are supposed to get… in the past you might not have gotten the wins.

Coach Beilein:  "I don't know if we were supposed to get them."

Question:  I mean on paper.

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah, you take the paper. (Laughter)  We're pleased that we got wins, no matter who they're over.  Like we said, we'll worry about who beat when get into March and if we're still fortunate enough to still be hanging around in March then you worry about who you beat."

Question:  The last three or four games you guys have struggled in the first half; what was different about this game?

Coach Beilein:  "I think we're getting more experienced of playing college basketball.  We have three freshmen out there a lot and we are getting more experience.  DeShawn is getting more experience here he is playing.  I think that was a huge difference tonight.  Of course, we came out and I think we shot the ball pretty well at the beginning, so that allows us to play better defense."

Question:  Did you emphasis the fast start?

Coach Beilein:  "I don't think you ever do that.  I don't think you ever say lets' get off to a fast start, let's get off to a slow start.  You just say, let's get this game going and then you adjust."

Question:  Coach there was that one sequence with 10 minutes to go in the second half with bodies flying all over the court, you heard the crowd respond; what does that do…?

Coach Beilein:  "Like I told the team, if we're smart, that should be our identity.  That is who we should be…. this team that is just all out hustle all the time. We had the '74 team in there and that's huge for them.  Two of them came up and said that's the way we want you to play.  I can't imagine, would Steve Grote would have just done that?  You know Steve Grote would have done that with Campy (Russell) and CJ (Kupec) and all of those guys.  They would have done those same things.  It's just huge.  Some of you don't even know who Steve Grote – I know who Steve Grote is!  I talked to Johnny Orr last night and Johnny Orr said (Grote) never committed a foul in his life, which he believes and somehow made everybody afraid to play against him – tough guy.  They are great people.  That's the identity that we want to have is what CJ (Lee) gave us there in that time."

Question:  Have you noticed a greater intensity in your players in practices?

Coach Beilein:  "I think they know…as long as we're going to be here in the hour and 45 minutes…I mean yesterday we went an hour and 55 minutes the day before a game – hard.  They said as long as were going to be here and as long as he is going to stay on our butts, we might as well do it right because it's not any fun running sprints or doing whatever because you don't do it right.  Our intensity is not going to change, we just got to have that focus in practice and that is intensity."

Question:  What is about the 1-3-1 that so disruptive?  Obviously Iowa knows that you're going to play it.

Coach Beilein:  "You don't see it very often is one of the things.  Northwestern plays it.  Northwestern plays it different than we do, but you jus don't see it very often.  So it is hard for people to prepare for.  Wisconsin, they scored the first six times they had it.  Sometimes it is not even abouta schematic thing, it is about sometimes they will just get the ball in the right area or the ball will bounce their way.  Other times you get deflection on it and anything can happen."

Question:  CJ (Lee) was saying it's that people are coming at you from different angles.

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah it could be.  I can't explain it.  When it works, we like it a lot, when it doesn't, we get the hell out of it."

Question:  Coach talking to the players in the locker room, they still say they are nobodies in the Big Ten; do you prefer that they have that attitude?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah we have to play with a chip.  Whenever our teams had any success that was my biggest worry that that chip would disappear from the shoulder.  So it is really important.  We got a couple of high profile players out there, but there are a lot of guys that the Big Ten didn't recruit and they should be playing with a chip on their shoulder out there every single minute.  Or guys like CJ and David Merritt, right, who paid good money to go to this school.  Those are the teams that we like to play and it is a great mix that we got out there for team chemistry."

Question:  Laval Lucas-Perry said that he is not sure that this team has created its identity yet; would you agree with that or do you think this team has an identity?

Coach Beilein:  "That's what we try to say.  That should be our identity right there.  Teamwork and hard play that's really what is important for us."

Question:  Did the team play better defense today than they had (in previous games)?

Coach Beilein:  "Oh absolutely.  We gave up 40 here.  We could take Sam Webb and a few of his crew here and they would have scored 25 against us.  So we were not good defensively the first three games that we played in the Big Ten, but we were much better today.  Once again, they were adjusting to Cyrus Tate being out – huge timing thing with what they do.  Last time, he got a bunch of offensive rebounds.  He gets four of them and put them in, eight points, so it is a 10 point game and it is a tie game, big difference, big difference."

Question:  The identity thing, the fact that they were playing that way even though you were up 20 and had the game, they were still diving out for loose balls.

Coach Beilein:  "Well as we found out the other day, if you're up 20 it doesn't mean a whole lot until there is five minutes to go in the game.  We're up 17 and I'm thinking, those guys can score in a hurry so quickly.  We were very pleased to get the win and we got to play like that whether we are down five, 10 or 20 or up by the same margin."


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