Beilein covers all the bases

Coach Beilein starts on tonight's Oklahoma matchup, and moves on to all sorts of other related topics in this long pregame interview. Television: 5:50 EDT, CBS.

Coach Beilein: "Playing a great team [tonight]. I've had a chance to spend most of [Friday morning] watching video on Oklahoma. Jeff (Capel) does a great job. They really…both the Griffins (Blake and Taylor) are tremendous players. There is obviously so much made about them but their not the only guys there. They got a quality team and a quality bench. Now I understand why they are a #2 seed."

Question: Coach could you talk about the key factors behind your team's turnaround this season as compared to last season?

Coach Beilein: "Experience is a big then. Because of attrition…Tommy Amaker had that great last season, they won 22 games and just missed the NCAA tournament but there is four seniors on that team. When they were gone, they did most of the scoring and then the starting point guard on that team in December decided that it was best if he moved forward. I think our leading player averaged three or four points the year before. So we just went through it last year and now they got another year of experience. The three freshmen that are now there. The two young guys from Indiana and Laval Lucas-Perry, each one of them has had at least 19 points in one game, when we've needed them the most. A lot of our big wins have been those guys. The combination of experience and the influx of three new players."

Question: What's the hardest part of these day and half turnaround in terms of preparation for your second game?

Coach Beilein: "It is better than a half day turnaround that's for sure. I think for the players, we just put them through a pretty good regimen. If you think they were back at Michigan right now, we had two games, they got to go to classes and there are a whole lot of other things that they can do. I think the coaches, we pour ourselves into it for virtually of the 24 hours, 18 hours we pour ourselves into everything that we can know about an opponent. My assistants did all the work as far as the Oklahoma scout ahead of time and now this day I've got to do a good blend of keeping our team fresh at the same time giving them as much knowledge as I can about he opponent. And we watched a lot of clips of last night to make sure that our kids understand why you're winning and also got to understand what can cost you if you don't correct it."

Question: On Sunday, you got your first NCAA bid in Michigan in 10 seasons, now you're 40 minutes away from the sweet 16. What would a win against Oklahoma tomorrow mean for this program?

Coach Beilein: "There was a day when Michigan was a fixture in the sweet 16 and that's what you like…if you can be a fixture in the sweet 16 then you have a great chance to get to the final four where we've been several times. It's just another great step in the right direction. We have so many great alumnus and so many loyal student athletes and students at the University and boosters. I think we were second in the Director's Cup last year, so all our sports are doing so well, and I know because of the media attention to our major sports, it's great when we can have good seasons."

Question: Other than a wrestling style takedown, how do you slow down Blake Griffin?

Coach Beilein: "Oh boy, it's really hard. The individual on him has got to be a very tough and then you have to play great team defense around him. You just strike the scoreboard and say okay, start 8-0 Oklahoma, he's already got four offensive rebounds and put them back in. Then tell Blake he can't go to the boards the rest of the night. Because he's going to get eight points, just because he's so…his timing, his instinct for the ball is terrific. You know that's going to happen. Now you got to find ways that you play him such, he's such a good passer, you don't give up free shots to other people, but you don't allow him to just get your big guys in foul trouble or score at will in the post."

Question: Coach, you talked about the maturity of your freshmen. Are there areas in particular, what areas most are they different today than they were when they walked into your first practice?

Coach Beilein: "What they're accomplishing more by doing less in some areas. In other words, for example Stu Douglass sort of came in with the mentality that if I can see the rim it's a good shot. So his shooting percentage has climbed, as he has been more patient. Zach Novak, he's played guard and he's played forward, similar idea with him. He's become a really great defensive player for us. Yet he's playing people and he will tomorrow, he's playing guys that are 6'8" and 240. Then Laval Lucas-Perry, the game is slowing down little by little for him. He could end up doing what he did for us in that Minnesota game. He's just sort of waiting for the right opportunity and to get it going. His defense is getting better every day."

Question: John, can you take a minute and talk about the root of your offense that you call two guard and where that came from?

Coach Beilein: "It come from way back in the ‘80s. I have a great mentor who is also my uncle that coached Lemoyne College for years and I also became the coach at Lemoyne College. We were running a point guard offense like everybody was playing. He played in the ‘40s, Battle of the Bulge guy, 101st Airborne and he ends up, we just can't run the offense, because we're not really good at the point guard position that year. So he just said why don't you play like we used to play back in the day, back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, get two guards, put your two forwards in the corner, put a high post and run some scissor cuts off the post and just spread the floor. Sure enough, we began doing it at Lemoyne back in the ‘80s and once it started to work and the pressure was off, we decided that even if we got…we weren't very athletic, even when we got athletic this is the way we were going to play. We got to both Canisius and in particularly West Virginia, when you have a five man that can shoot the ball, the (Kevin) Pittsnogle type than it really opened things up."

Question: Coach, how much do you use the tradition of the Fab Five, Glen Rice, the title in recruiting is that an advantage?

Coach Beilein: "Glen wasn't in the Fab Five."

Question: I know, I know, his national title.

Coach Beilein: "Oh ok. Obviously when you come into our place, you see the banners and we had Glen come back this year with the '89 team. The Fab Five, people usually mention it to us, we have some restrictions there and some issues. I think if you think about the kids right now, they were born in 1991 and 1992. So they were watching Sportscenter when they were seven or eight, some of them don't know about that. It would be like when I was growing up, my dad tell me how good the Brooklyn Dodgers or New York Giants were, some of the kids don't understand that. You really have to coach them in that. It is much different than if we had been there just a couple of years ago. When I looked at Michigan, I didn't see it as some people may have seen it as a football school or anything. That's all I thought about it. When I first began going to the final fours in the ‘80s as a young coach at Lemoyne, it was the Michigan fight song, it was the Michigan teams. We go back to when I first started following college basketball. It was Cazzie Russell and Bill Bradley. I got sort of hooked on college basketball as a very young man, so Rudy Tomjanovich. There are so many great players and then if you go all the way through to the Fab Five…Jimmy King works with us, as an announcer and Jalen Rose is in contact quite often and Terry Mills, guys like that."

Question: I take it as good as Griffin is and as a unique a challenge that he presents, you've game planned against his like in the past; I am asking if there is an example that you can give me of facing a guy like that?

Coach Beilein: "He has an impact on the game. When I think about the guys you try to game plan, the impact. Now he's not the same player because he's…like Carmelo Anthony is the guy that I'm thinking about at Syracuse and I was at West Virginia and he was more of a small forward than a power forward. We devised a great game plan and then he just basically destroyed our game plan, because he would get himself into leverage positions and then all of a sudden it is just difficult to stop when it gets into those one on one situations. He's the first name that comes to my mind when you say what do you? You can't stop some young men when they really are that talented. We're going to try though. We're certainly going to try though."

Question: To follow-up on that Morgan State choose not to double him, not many teams have. Whether or not you feel like sharing with us whether you plan to or not, can you just evaluate that decision making process as a coach whether or not to send two guys?

Coach Beilein: "One of the things with Blake is that he's such a great passer. That's what I've noticed in the tape, not only is he a good player and the guys on the Oklahoma team, they know he's a good player, so they are not looking for their own when he's open and at the same time he looks for them. So it does complicate things a little bit. But no I will not tell you what we plan on doing tomorrow."

Question: In going back to a previous question, I guess whether a school is a football school or a basketball school is a matter of perception, but you've spent the last seven years at schools that people think are football first schools, are there some unique challenges…

Coach Beilein: "I never thought West Virginia was but that's okay. If you did that's fine. You've never been in the Coliseum with 14,000 people going crazy."

Question: I've been to the football stadium with 70,000 people. There are some challenges for being a coach at a perceived football school.

Coach Beilein: "Yep, yep. Oh the challenge of it. It's not a challenge it's a highlight. Are you kidding me, when we have recruits come in and you have that. I've always wanted to coach in a situation like that that football and basketball was hand-in-hand, whether it is recruiting or whether it is fan interest all over the country…you walk anywhere with this block M right here and there are a lot of people saying ‘Go Blue' to you and whether their initial loyalties to the program came through football or came through the Fab Five days or the Cazzie Russell or Rudy days, they're loyal to us. I always look at that. That was never a challenge. I assume Oklahoma may have that similar type of situation. We say it's only an advantage to have that right in your backyard."

Question: You've talked about over the course of the year that DeShawn sometimes has mental lapses. You went a couple of times yesterday on the bench. Was yesterday a game where he had a couple of mental lapses and if so, how do you change that in such a short term?

Coach Beilein: "I don't want to mean this in a negative tone, I have mental lapses all the time. It is part of things. Our biggest thing with him is just pull him out for a second and get him back. He is very caring and he wants the team to win so badly that sometimes he will try to carry a little too much on his shoulders and that's what I mean by that. That it's okay. The belly didn't just fall down because you missed that shot or because your man scored on you, let's go back out there. That's basically what it is doing, is being positive with him, any time that he loses his focus for a bit just like when you see me, you know discussing something with the official, I'm probably losing my focus for the next play but everybody does that and every member of our team does that. He is just an outstanding player, people might notice it more."

Question: John, what are the guidelines for shooting a three and how do you technically help a player when they go into a three point shooting slump; how much film do you go over or do you let them get out of it?

Coach Beilein: "What we try to do. All of our shooting drills in practice are timed. There are a certain number that you have to make, so we are trying to make it in a game like situation. So that they know whether they are shooting the ball well in practice and if they are shooting the ball well in practice, they basically have a pretty green light when they have time and space. No different guys, their time and space will vary as a guy like the Pittsnogle's didn't need much time or space. Let's say we are watching practice. We film every practice, we filmed today's practice. We'll go over today's practice. If one of our guys has been struggling, I'll make a point today when we watch the film together of him shooting that jump shot and I might just replay it five or six times, talking to him about other things, but I know what he's looking at, the ball going in, the ball going in, the ball going in. He might have only made one shot today, but I'm going to show it to him five or six times. You got to keep him believing. As having a very good player for a son, who was a streaky shooter, I know how sensitive on the psyche is on that and you really have to be positive with it. That's my belief."

Question: You mentioned Carmelo Anthony in terms of a dominant player ruining a game plan. A coach mentioned yesterday, a Len Bias in terms of style, is there a style of player that you think through all your days of atching basketball that Blake Griffin reminds you of?

Coach Beilein: "Leonard ‘The Truck' Robinson, how about that? You probably never heard of him. I'm probably lost for who would be there. I don't know…Shane Battier I think was a player that was such a great team player and really he saw the court and he hustled so much. I don't know…certainly whatever team he goes on right now in the NBA, they seem to start winning as soon as he gets there. I'm just thinking about a 6'8" to 6'10" guy who is really athletic and runs and has guard like skills, yet rebounds so well. I don't know if those are good comparisons or not and I probably haven't though a lot about it, but probably when I'm watching a lot of great players in the future, I will probably say more and know more in the future who he compares to. All I know is that he is good – real good."

Question: Coach, how serious where you in the Oklahoma job when Kelvin Sampson left and how far did the discussion get with them?

Coach Beilein: "I'm not going to talk about that. I'm not going to talk about that. They've done a great job and made a great choice. Thank you." Question: Coach, when you have a player that is getting as much hype or attention as Blake, how do you tell your team to focus not just on him but there are other players on the court that can score too?

Coach Beilein: "We see that in the Big Ten every day. You got a guy like Jason Cornley who they are going to throw the ball to at Penn State and then you got Talor Battle, a guard on the outside or you got the Robbie Hummel's running around but E'Twaun Moore is running around too and DeJuan Johnson is inside. So you have to pay attention to him, but I said this team is not a one man show, this team is very, very talented. It's an every day occurrence for us really to guard two actions. Guard two actions, there is the main action that is happening on and what's their next plan that is happening at the same time. Obviously one of our actions always has to be where is Griffin, where is Griffin, both Griffin, but in particular where is #23."

Question: Coach can you tell us a little bit about your detail today? I assume you woke up a pretty happy man and it sounds like you've been…

Coach Beilein: "I had trouble sleeping…I can't imagine why I had trouble sleeping last night but it took a long time to go to sleep. I had an early morning and watched a lot of tape and did a couple of personal things that I always like to do. We watched some more tape and met with the team and now we'll go back and watch some more tape and meet with the team again. This has been a great place to host this thing. The arena is tremendous. The hotel is tremendous. It has been a great stay for us so far. We would like to do this again next week if we can."


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