Beilein's Roundtable (Week 12)

Michigan basketball coach John Beilein met with the media today to discuss his team as it prepares for tomorrow's match-up with Michigan State. The Wolverines third-year headman discussed lifting Manny Harris' suspension, Deshawn Sims' strong play, the return of Kelvin Grady, and more.

Coach Beilein:  "If this five games in less than two weeks again continues, doing our best to get prepared and ready for really I think a great Michigan State team.  They had a great win in Minnesota the other day.  There was a lot of adversity during the game being way down and just stayed calm and patient and found a way to win.  One of the biggest challenges in beating them…they are like Wisconsin, teams likes that they do not beat themselves.  Watching last year's game and watching them play this year, they haven't lost a step as far as their efficiency.  We are obviously going to have to play at a very high level, stick in the game and stick in the game, as I always say we can win it."

Question:  Did you guys practice yesterday?

Coach Beilein:  "We had sort of a light work out.  We walked through some things and we call our All Stars, the guys that rarely play get a full workout."

Question:  Did that include Manny (Harris)?

Coach Beilein:  "Yesterday, he did some work yesterday."

Question:  Obviously last year the Iowa game drew a lot of attention because Manny did not play in overtime and then he came back and now with the situation with Manny, are you concerned that they are related there is a pattern or anything?

Coach Beilein:  "There may be patterns, but he continues to grow in that area where they are less frequent."

Question:  When you say less frequent; what do you mean by less frequent?

Coach Beilein:  "Less frequent, does not happen as often as it used to happen.  That's all I'm going to say."

Question:  What about overall leadership on this team, because he's obviously one of the guys who would be a leader; has that been a disappointment?

Coach Beilein:  "No, but the only thing that is ever disappointing is inconsistency there and that's the major thing you want in leadership is consistency and we're getting more consistent with it.  We're finding the few people right now that are helping and then obviously the coaches have to do a great job too."

Question:  Was it a tough call to reinstate him or did Manny handle it the right way?

Coach Beilein:  "Did you get the press release? (Question: Yeah.)  That pretty much says it all does it not?"

Question:  Yeah but it sounds better than just having this statement.

Coach Beilein:  "That's exactly how he felt and how we feel.  We're glad he's back working out with us again today."

Question:  Can you talk about Draymond Green and what's he doing for them and maybe how he has developed.

Coach Beilein:  "He is such an incredible…they play through him so well.  He's such an incredible passer and then look at his rebounding numbers at 6'6".  He's like a (Charles) Barkley type of athlete, good, solid, a little bit of thickness to him but gets all 50/50 ones that come into his area."

Question:  You mentioned inconsistent leadership overall is that one thing for this team to go forward, is that one thing you really…?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah if we can just grow a little bit more every day in that area, but it has been up and down really and that's what…there is a lot of areas, having consistency in practice, consistency in the locker room, consistency in clutch situations.  As far as just the team leadership and that's what every team searches for and there are all kinds of teams across the country.  We have a team now that is searching for that.  We'll have teams in the future that will search for that and teams in the past that have searched for that.  When they find it, they are usually better.  Is it good enough in the end?  You do not know but at least they're all heading in the right direction and we're moving that way."

Question:  From that standpoint is it good timing that a rival like Michigan State shows up where it would seem that it would focus them a little more?

Coach Beilein:  "You know what, I haven't seen this team at any time against any team and just come in and not be ready to play.  You have to be careful with Michigan State is that we get juiced up too much and that is what you have to be careful of.  So it is very simple like a big crowd like the Connecticut game.  I thought we had tremendous poise in that game.  There is road poise and then there is home poise and home poise is when everybody wants to win so badly that you have a tendency that you could play above your abilities but you also could try to and really hurt the team.  There is that sweet spot mixed in there."

Question:  You've talked about leadership a lot these last three weeks; is this maybe the longest team you've gone where there hasn't really been…?

Coach Beilein:  "No, I've had…you talk about it as long as you are coach.  It comes from me too.  The coach is the leader and then he has to delegate and try to get his philosophy or the team philosophy to everyone.  This team is not like a team that does not get along or anything like that.  There is an intangible affect of just having a veteran, veteran team that we really do not have.  You may think so, but we have two 19-year-old sophs that are veterans for us.  They are 19-year-old sophomores and they provide a lot of the veteran leadership for us.  Then we got a senior and a junior that play major, major, major minutes.  There are only four guys.  Everybody else is sort of trying to find themselves."

Question:  You talk about DeShawn (Sims) and Manny; obviously it is hard for a college kid to change his personality but one of the things that maybe they can do to lead is…?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah and I'm not saying that they are bad leaders, I'm just saying that there are some people more comfortable in that situation and that really is the crux of what I'm saying that CJ Lee and Dave Merritt…CJ is already in politics and Dave Merritt owns his own company.  Who does that right out of college?  So they were just tremendous, so sometimes that is more of the element that we were used to that and now filling that void is hard for people who have never had to do it before.  So that's the biggest issue.  It's not that we got these guys in the locker room saying do not listen to the coach or I do not care.  It is just all of a sudden stepping up like that is hard.  You try to teach it.  You try to grown from it and that's what all teams battle every year and sometimes it is natural for people and other times they have to grow into it.  I do not think you ever…like you take a poor shooter, you do not make them a great shooter.  You make a guy who is not comfortable with a leadership become a leader very hard, but he can step up and give you a little bit more.  We are – we're getting that.  We're getting that."

Question:  With DeShawn in particular have you seen that on the court?

Coach Beilein:  "Yeah.  We see the growth every day.  That's one of the reason he's played his best basketball that he's played is right now.  He's really been a great influence on a lot of our guys but it is more about example right now."

Question:  With the exception of Michigan State, there really is very little separation between these teams; do you still preach that you guys are kind of in control of you own destiny?

Coach Beilein:  "We have to start playing well every night.  After this schedule, I haven't looked much beyond this – we need to get a little rest and it is almost like the old time days, in the mid major, you really have to play and go with a big string at the end of the year or you have to peak at tournament time and win the tournament.  Those are our two options right now.  Every day you work in practice so that you're going to be your best at tournament, but while at work, you may get into a run where we do get to play top quality teams where you can get some momentum going towards a bubble team and beyond that."

Question:  Michigan State has played both tempos fast and slow this year; how do you prepare for of those tempos?

Coach Beilein:  "Just going where we were going from Wisconsin, which is a team like I said you can pass it 25 times and not get a good shot to Purdue, which will not let you make one pass.  Now we go back where sort of a mix between the two.  We are going to prepare hard…they get easy baskets two ways, 1) through transition, 2) great offense rebounding.  So that's a big focus today.  It's hard to prepare for that and what do you do in the transition game.  Do we become a great transition team today so that we're too tired tomorrow; that's a tough mix for us.  We tried to rest yesterday as much as we could."

Question:  When you brought Kelvin (Grady) in, you talked about having a guy who can simulate more; do you feel like you have enough to even try and simulate?

Coach Beilein:  "We're trying.  The issue is that we just realized with this great idea that our practice time is different than Kelvin's class schedule.  He's going to be available for 35 minutes today.  We're going to do what we can in those 35 minutes.  He's got a class at two and a class at four and our practice slow is now."

Question:  He'll be Kalin (Lucas) I'm guessing for 35 minutes?

Coach Beilein:  "For 35 minutes or so and then he'll go back to class."

Question:  Other than using him for simulation; how are you preparing for someone like Kalin?

Coach Beilein:  "Kalin's a tremendous player.  There's a lot of preparation involved with Michigan State.  He's got that rare combination of blinding speed and the pull up jump shot.  A lot of guys can take you to the basket, shoot standstill, but they do not have that in between game that he has.  It's hard to prepare and we'll do our best, but I can't tell you that there is any great secret and we certainly can't duplicate that with a guy that has practiced one day.  We'll just do our best."

Question:  The Connecticut game was viewed as building a resume; do you view this game the same way?

Coach Beilein:  "I think it would be wonderful to put in the right direction to get a win.  It would really help us because you've beaten a team that was in the Final Four last year and has some of the components that I'm sure Tom (Izzo) thinks can get there again if the ball bounces right.  Yeah it would be great for us.  It's not the end of the season if we do not.  I do not think you can say at any time in any time of your career that this is a must win.  There are important wins and this one would be good."

Question:  Other than lack of leadership and your struggles in that department; what do you think are some of the key reason why this team is about .500?

Coach Beilein:  "I think we played a really difficult schedule and the schedule itself in the Big Ten has not been kind at this time as well.  So you just look at who we've played and we have four games where we had a lead in the last minute or two or four minutes and we did not win any of those and that would be a big difference.  If you look at last year…at this point when we went through a run like this, we were probably only two or three games better last year at this time, I believe we were.  We were somewhere 3 and 4 or 3 and 3 in the league.  I think we played Connecticut in February.  So the lack of leadership bothers me…I do not want to say lack, but it is not as strong as it has been and this team needs it.  Because when you are young this team needs that and it is growing every day.  So lack is a tremendous void – it's a void compared to last year, but our kids are working every day at this – different people."

Question:  Do you feel like your team has taken the required steps after you got a big win in the last three weeks, on the road at Penn State as well against UCONN, do you feel like they've been able to build or what do you think…?

Coach Beilein:  "We played at Wisconsin and we played at Purdue.  That would be the answer that I can give you.  There are not a whole lot of teams that are going to go into either one of those places and win.  Against Wisconsin, we had our opportunities and Purdue obvious was pretty adverse situations.  We had no time to prepare.  It was virtually five minutes to go in practice that we had the situation with Manny that I had to make a decision at that time…or within five minutes after practice, but we hadn't practiced without Manny up until that point – it was tough."

Question:  Do you think that is going to be a similar situation against a team like Michigan State tomorrow or night or do you think there are things…?

Coach Beilein:  "They're good.  They're good.  They are very good so we will have to play very well.  Sometimes it is not how you're playing, but who you're playing, where you're playing them.  Those are very important elements as to whether you win or not."

Question:  Unrelated to the suspension, moving forward do you think you will see a difference Manny Harris?

Coach Beilein:  "He wouldn't be practicing with us today if I did not feel strongly that way."


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