Beilein's Roundtable (Week 6)

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein met with the media yesterday to discuss his team as it prepares to take on the #1 Kansas Jayhawks. The Wolverines third-year headman discussed Manny Harris' health, shoring up the defense, and more.

Question:  On Saturday's game vs. Kansas

Coach Beilein:  "I don't know if I've coached in that state before.  This is a great team.  This really has a chance to be a special team – Kansas.  We're going to do everything we can do to be up to that challenge, but between Allen Fieldhouse and the team that we are playing, it is going to be a daunting challenge."

Question:  On taking time to appreciate the environment Saturday

Coach Beilein:  "The one correlation that I always make to the historic arenas like Pauley Pavilion, The Palestra and Cameron.  Those are the three places that I probably looked around, smelled it, looked at it, just whether it is the pretzels in Philadelphia or the Cameron Crazies or John Wooden sitting over in the corner.  There are certain times when you go into some of these arenas and I would expect, I'll look around and say, ‘This is Kansas', because you've watched it so much on TV."

Question:  Will you take a different approach with your guys in a game where maybe folks outside the locker room don't expect you to win?

Coach Beilein:  "No.  I don't think…we do the same thing that we've done with every game that we every play really.  We don't go in there to do anything, expect to do our best.  Whether we're playing one of our early season games against a division II game or a guarantee game or whether we playing the number one team in the country, we just expect to try and play our best.  Winning and losing sort of takes care of that.  We are just going to expect to do our best."

Question:  On what the team has been working on this week…

Coach Beilein:  "We've been working on a lot of different things, but primarily some of the areas that we have not been able to shore up, a lot of basic man to man defense, a lot of boxing out.  We put the bubbles back on the basket.  All the things that…we have two or three guys that continually do a good job and then it is different ones every time but just one breakdown.  So we're really trying to expose ourselves to make sure that we don't have any breakdowns and a box out, no breakdown in our defensive stance and that's what…we probably worked harder on our defense the last two days than we probably have consecutively…we spend more time, I wouldn't say harder, we just spent more time on it."

Question:  What will Kansas do personnel wise that will just challenge your defense?

Coach Beilein:  "Any time you've got the great combination of inside outside threats, where you got (Sherron) Collins by himself who can win a game and then throw (Cole) Aldrich inside and he's just a mountain with really long arms.  You look at the length of these arms on him and how hard he plays and now (Xavier) Henry is shooting over 50%.  We have the capacity to be a good shooting team, we don't have too many over 30% and he's shooting 50%.  He's getting some pretty good looks because of the fact he's got a great point guard and a great center, but still they are tough to defend.  When you play these types of teams that have two or three really high levels on that team, many times it is the other guys that end up beating you because they're just filling in those spots and they rebound and they guard and they have assigned tasks that makes it very difficult to stop."

Question:  How do you guard against that, almost asking your players not putting too much stock in stopping a certain players?

Coach Beilein:  "It'll be a team defensive game for us.  We certainly have a plan that we tried to institute for what we do, but it won't be, we got to stop this guy, we got to stop this guy.  Our team has to stop Kansas, so everybody has an assignment that they need…you're not going to stop it.  There is going to be an offensive rebound that is above the rim for them that we can't get that Aldrich can get and he is going to lay it in.  You can't stop some of those things.  What you do have to do is keep him from getting the ones that are out of his area."

Question:  You struggled from three point range through the year, is that something where you are going to change rotations around or are you just going to let guys figure it out?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah.  We took 49 shots the other day against Detroit and we ended up scoring 75 points.  I think we took 60 some shots against Boston College and scored 50 some points.  That's the big stat that we showed them, the quality of shot is more important than quantity and what is your best shot.  With the games that we've been playing, whether it was at Utah, Boston College, maybe it was five or six stops, but you get a stop on defense where we're struggling and now you go down and give it right back to them on a quick bad shot and now you're back on defense again and now you got to stop them this next time too.  So that's what they are trying to learn right now."

Question:  Are you guys healthy?

Coach Beilein:  "I'm going to give Manny (Harris) (Wednesday) off.  We're going to take off (Thursday).  He is going to go back to back day offs and just see if we can…he did practice (Tuesday), a long practice and was fine throughout the whole thing.  Not going to push it right now.  Since probably Midnight Mania, Michigan Mania, he has not had enough reps to really be consistent because of this nagging injury."

Question:  The big trips; do you feel that wears on your team at all?

Coach Beilein:  "I don't know if wore on us or not.  It certainly is something that when we get in…if you look at our Big Ten schedule the way it fell out, I think we have at Wisconsin, at Purdue and then a Michigan State game at home.  That's what we're going to see later on.  I don't like it but that's what we are going to see later on, so this is a great prep for that.  They're difficult trips and all my teams in all my years have had difficult trips.  You got to put that past you and press through it.  Because it could be extremely…bonding times for your team."

Question:  Kansas is shooting 44% from three, is that a result of those guys you mentioned opening things up or just great shooters?

Coach Beilein:  "I think it is a combination.  They pass the ball well.  They see each other well.  When you have an inside presence like that, obviously people…you have to have that head turned a lot to see what Aldrich, and the (Marcus and Markieff) Morris brothers are doing and so you've always got that head turned looking, in the meanwhile, Henry is out there floating around and Collins is so good.  Now (Brady) Morningstar is ready to play as well.  So they have a lot of weapons right now that have made them the number one team in the country."

Question:  Do you think you guys have struggled with expectations?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah I don't think they've struggled with expectations.  I think we probably, it wasn't like, oh we were expected to do so much, how can we handle this pressure.  I just think that expectations probably were too high and now reality has set in.  We have a chance to still be a good team, but like I told the guys before, we finish seventh or eight in the Big Ten and we're eight and eight.  We won 19 regular Division I games last year, didn't win 25 or 26 and didn't finish in the top three in the Big Ten.  That's where expectations would be 14th or 15th in the country when you have those type of people coming back.  We went to the Elite 8 one year with everybody back and expectations were high.  We lost three in a row to start the season, expectations went away, but we came back at the end."

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