Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "If I was just a spectator, that was a heck of a basketball game for December. We thought we had a good plan against Syracuse until you see how quick that zone is. You have these little windows to try and get open shots or open opportunities, and they close so quickly. It took us a while to get used to it, and they have a talented team also. Both of us had some seniors and some players leave for the NBA, so we're both regrouping to try and get the best out of our teams. We're really pleased we had such a great crowd to show Syracuse a great atmosphere and come away with a win."
?On the game plan with a minute remaining ... ?"It's really hard to go to one person against that zone; we tried to get an action that would allow us to get a ball screen. I urged them to move in; sometimes we attack the zone from too far out. Somebody is going to have to make a big shot, but it was a very simple scheme that worked well for us. The more complicated we got, the worse we were, so we got very simple during that time, and we were going to look for opportunities to get in the high post or swing it out, and if somebody could step in and knock it down, they had to shoot it."
?On Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton Jr.'s contributions against the zone defense ... ?"[Spike] is really good. Derrick is good as well. Spike is really good at attacking zones. He sees behind the zone; he makes that entry pass into the high-post area better than anybody. That's why we had him out there so much. Caris (LeVert) does it as well, but we wanted him to be in more of a scoring opportunity. He had runners, the big threes, and obviously the nine assists. He's 16 and zero (in turnovers) in the last two games. Derrick hadn't practiced in a week, so it was good that we could get him out there. At the same time, he didn't have the reps against the zone. We hadn't seen any zone except for a few minutes against Oregon, so Spike had all the reps this week."
?On Ricky Doyle and Kameron Chatman's contributions ... ?"The first half, I thought that it would have been an eight- or 10-point game at half if it weren't for Kam. He got some rebounds; he saw out of the post, made a few 15-footers. He's still learning, and he'll keep learning for four years. ?He's still learning all the time where he fits in what we're trying to do, and sometimes it's good, but sometimes we have to watch the video and get better. With Ricky, we saw it in Europe for like two games, and we didn't see it in the other two. We noticed that this kid can play above the rim and do some really good things, and he competes. Today, he competed. For us to get 17 offensive rebounds against Syracuse, most people would never believe that. He battled, and I don't know how many he got, but late he gave us some extra possessions, which you need against Syracuse."
?On when the decision to play Derrick was made ... ?"He and the doctors decided right before the game. We go out at 35 left on the clock for a formal warm up, and when he came in at the 10-minute mark, he said 'I can go.' Spike has been playing really well, but we wanted to let him play while he was warmed up instead of him sitting there. I thought he gave us great minutes. We needed to give Spike a rest a little bit. We didn't give Caris or Zak (Irvin) any rest, that's for sure. I felt that this was the type of game in which we needed as much experience out there as possible."
?On Spike stepping up and hitting big shots ... ?"We had Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke do that, and that was a big shot for him. There were other big shots in that game. Kam (Chatman) in the left corner, Ricky (Doyle) with a good finish inside, Zak Irvin made big shots for us. It is something that we believe he can do. That was my encouragement to him this year, 'Spike we need you to score. This team cannot score like last year if you are just setting people up. Shoot the ball when you are open; you're really good at it.'"
?On Spike having 16 assists and zero turnovers over the past two games ... ?"Against that zone defense, people think they're passers until they see that zone. You really have to be one step ahead to see people, so it's great for him and he deserves it. This young man has worked his whole life and really changed the minds of a lot of doubters that he can play at this level against a high-level back-court like Syracuse. It's good for him to have this game and now it's over and we have another game on Saturday and we'll see what we can do."
?On what this win means moving forward ... ?"I think December wins are really good for your résumé later on, but there's so much of the season left to go. For us, we feel good in the marathon at the five- or the eight-mile mark. For Syracuse with a loss, there's a little pebble in their sneake,r and they have to get rid of it and move forward. There's so much more to play, it's good, and I hope the Big Ten continues to do well throughout the whole match up."
U-M Junior Guard
On preparing in practice to face pressure situations ... "We try to put ourselves in those situations all the time in practice. Up by one with a couple of seconds to go; we do those kinds of situations in practice all of the time."
On Kam (Chatman's) performance ... "Kam played big for us tonight; he was knocking down those mid-range jump shots in the middle of the zone, passing the ball well and getting on the glass. He really played big for us."
On Spike (Albrecht's) performance ... "Spike is one of our captains so it is expected that he takes big shots and makes big shots. He did that tonight, and that was a huge lift for us on the bench."
U-M Freshman Forward
On the atmosphere at tonight's game ... "The fans really energized us. In high schoo,l I never really had the experience of people shouting my name. It's really exciting for me; it's a new experience."
On Syracuse's zone ... "In the first half, we had a hard time with it. Our shots weren't falling, and our three-point shots weren't falling. In the second half, we changed our plan and wanted to drive more, and that opened up the game. It gave Kam those shots at the free throw line and got us in the middle of the zone so we could get the three-point shots we wanted to or just the dump offs."
On Kam's performance ... "Kam has been working really hard. He is always in the gym shooting his jump shots, and we all believe in him, and we all know what he can do, and today he showed it"
On his behind-the-back pass to Spike ... "The pass? It was two-three zone, behind the gutter, waiting, I just saw Spike go, and then threw the behind-the-back. I just had one thought in my head, rule number one down here, dunk when you can dunk."
U-M Junior Guard
On halftime adjustments ... "Our offense was a little stagnant at times, just passing the ball around. We fell into the trap of the Syracuse zone. That was one of the things we talked about at halftime. We had to get two feet in the paint and be a little more aggressive against the zone."
On facing the Syracuse zone defense ... "You cannot mimic that in practice. In the first half, I was shooting, and they were all over me. You can't mimic that length and that size. They do a really, really good job with it. We made some adjustments at the half, and we played much better the second half."
On coming back strong after a loss last week ... "With the Villanova loss, that was a heartbreaker, and we did not want to go through that again. To be able to fight through that adversity and then make the clutch free throws and get the stops when we needed to, that was a big step for our team."