Coach Beilein: "This was just a gutty performance by us. Last week when Northwestern came in here and they were so gutty and they worked, and worked, and worked until they could win the game and I thought today with Connecticut – I do not think we even played as well as we are capable of playing, but we worked so hard the entire game. I'm very proud of our guys. The biggest thing I singled out in the locker room was Anthony (Wright) and Zach Gibson, as really we tried to shorten the bench and get a better flow to our game and those guys' minutes reduced but with their practice time and practice demands in practice increased. We were running them extra just to get ready for this opportunity if they were giving a chance. It's not fair to bench them…not bench them that's the wrong word. Reduce their minutes and then not keep them in shape. They probably curse that when I'm making them run extra sprints, making them jump rope, get in the weight room more. They had to be ready for this and they certainly responded."
Question: Was it size with them because you needed some bodies?
Coach Beilein: "No it was foul trouble today. They've just got to be ready for the opportunities and so we ended up just using them. It was we were in foul trouble with both Zach (Novak) and DeShawn (Sims)."
Question: Obviously you guys got 20 points off offensive rebounds for you guys going against a team like that, it seemed like you guys really hit the boards?
Coach Beilein: "We really scrapped. Like I said on the radio interview, Novak has no business getting a couple of those offensive put backs. I think he has two of them. He just gets there and you're not going to get a rebound unless you get that. They are so long and obviously they get so many rebounds because they are just so long around the basket. We know that we are going to give up some of those. You can't box out some parts of height, but at the same time we just scrapped. I told them a lot of the time we won't get the rebound, it is the rebound that is down on the floor that we got to get because of their length. We just got to keep it alive."
Question: It seemed like you had really good defensive intensity; was it hard to get?
Coach Beilein: "Yeah. This was one time where I did not see any lapses other than a little bit where are offensive frustrations. We had some really good looks today that did not go that we did not carry to the defensive end. I think that is one of the reasons we pick to play these games because I think it gives a different element to play a top team – a team that has the ability to go to the NCAA tournament, another league at this time. It adds some energy to it. We certainly had it."
Question: When your team wins a game like this, against a big athletic team and with the stretch coming up; do you think your team feels differently about this stretch coming up?
Coach Beilein: "Yeah. That's the point that I tried to make with them going into the Indiana game. I said a couple of decisions or bounce of the ball in the Northwestern, we'd be in the first or second in the Big Ten and I said you could be on a streak. Now a win over UCONN, I think they are starting to understand that yes, we can play with a lot of people and that the margin of error is slimmer than they thought. Your only as good as that last game and if you los it, I think it is tough to get that out of them. We have this demanding schedule and actually have to take tomorrow off to be NCAA compliant, so we only have one day for Wisconsin, but maybe it is good. We can rest – we can rest."
Question: Building on that, what does this maybe mean for you beating a team like this confidence wise?
Coach Beilein: "I watch as UCONN will get better and better as the year goes on. Jim (Calhoun) has a young team too. It's got to help us, especially from a defensive standpoint right now. We're really learning a lot more of what it takes to do this. It's pretty simple, just guarding your man, whether you switch or not, guarding your man and not letting them get an easy shot."
Question: It is going to be hard to get some of these nonconference teams to come in here.
Coach Beilein: "Yeah that was good for us. It is not as hard to get CBS to come in here, so they'll find somebody for us."
Question: Midway through the second half, Novak stole or swatted an alley-oop pass and then hustled down to get an offensive rebound; how huge is that sequence?
Coach Beilein: "That's what he does. That's why he's out there. You look at his three point shooter where he is in a bit of a sophomore slump with the three point shooting, but he does not come out of the game because he does those little things. We got to continue to…we show those in films and make sure that he is rewarded for those little things. We do not just show the great baskets. We show the play that led to the play."
Question: You had Laval Lucas-Perry step up, Zach (Gibson) step up, Anthony Wright step up when they had to step up.
Coach Beilein: "Yeah our bench has not been a strength all year long and we've been working at it and last year there were times when certainly Zach and Anthony have really given us great minutes off the bench. So whatever reason we haven't but maybe this is the confidence that those two need right now. Laval getting us out in front there with hitting the two long threes was big for us. He's improving and getting a better feel every day for what he needs to do to help us win."
Question: With the bench do you see that in practice from them or has it just been…?
Coach Beilein: "Naw. There are times when you go out on the floor and some kids just…they haven't been in a comfort level, the guys off the bench yet. Where they really either had the minutes or we had time to give them the minutes. Maybe if we had a different schedule that wouldn't have happened but in the big game where we had to shorten the bench to try and win, they did not perform as well as they would – this is a big boost for them."
Question: You guys only shot 37%; does it say more about y our team when you win shooting that?
Coach Beilein: "Yeah. There are very few times when we shoot like that. There are very few times…well we did get nine threes, 10 is usually a pretty good number for us. I still think we are a better shooting team. We really had some good looks. Manny's last pass, drive and kick, just shows his maturity, when Zach hit the three. Manny as he has grown as a player that was going to be a power play, I'm going to go up and I'm going to draw a foul and bang he found Zach and Zach hit the three and that gave us some separation."
Question: (Too far from mic) is that a good sign going forward?
Coach Beilein: "We've played no one but good opponents since probably Christmastime. So I think our guys, I think we are understanding how short the season is. How can you not get excited about today's game with national television and a great crowd and our students like that. That's a big thing that makes me happy too. Our students have come out and we do not want to send many times home, we want to them to keep coming back and that was great."
Question: Coach Calhoun in his press conference how impressed he was with the shorter guys like Zach Novak, (Darius) Morris sometimes on switches how they defended his bigs; how do you prepare them for that?
Coach Beilein: "What you try to do is you try and make them put good pressure on the ball so that they can't see in there and then make sure that you have backside help if you're fronting. So the switching pattern was helpful today. Sometimes it's not so helpful, today it was."
Question: What is it about your defense that seems to be getting better?
Coach Beilein: "I do not know. We're just getting better at understanding where the help side is, how to guard our man. Young teams really have trouble defensively. Very few walk on the court. All the action, really there is two or three actions going on, most of them when they are just learning defense, there is one action, guard my man or look at the ball. There is all kind of action going on out there and they are getting better at that."
Question: On what this game means for the season…
Coach Beilein: "I do not know. I'll tell you at the end of the year. We got to continue to win right now and everybody…I do not even want to look at the schedule. Everybody knows what's coming up. We just got to get some rest and take it one day at a time."
Coach Beilein talks about the Big Win
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