Video: John Beilein Previews Illinois

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John Beilein talks about the challenge of facing a very big Illinois team on the road, the NCAA Tournament picture and more. Notes and quotes, as usual, are after the jump.

  • Illinois “has always been a tough place for a lot of teams to play at … hopefully we’ll be able to battle them right to the end and if you’re in it at the end then you can win it.”
  • “I think our kids got a little taste of success now and they know it didn’t come easy.”
  • On Illinois’ recent struggles: “This league is all about who you’re playing and where you’re playing them.” Said that’s what happens when you play in a league with 7-8 really good teams.
  • The Illinois game is very important, but “they’re all important games.” But said it was a great chance for the program to make another jump and increase its chances for postseason play.
  • Excluding games at Northwestern and at Indiana, Beilein said he feels like his team has played pretty well on the road this year.
  • Said the coaches “had the big brooms out” during practice to force the big men to shoot over. Trying to prepare for the height of the Illini.
  • Will be either Evan Smotrycz or Stu Douglass starting against Illinois, will most likely decide today.
  • Said Michigan is playing its best basketball of the year, but “I think we still show our youth at times on defense and in our decision-making.”
  • On talking with his team about the NCAA Tournament: “I talked to them yesterday one time and I said this is the last time we’re going to talk about it.” Told them a of teams would love to have the opportunity to play four top-50 teams to close out the season.
  • JimC

    Sparty’s about to begin their next losing game. Good viewin’!

  • AG2

    Man, I was kinda hoping Jim Burr would have a live mic so we can hear him argue with Thad Matta and Tom Izzo.

    As nice as it would be to see OSU lose at home, we have a chance to finish ahead of MSU in the standings if Sparty loses.

    • JimC

      Musburger said they do have a wireless mic on Burr….so maybe you’ll get some good sound bites.

  • Alex

    Tough game. It is hard for me to root for either side. I suppose the negatives of MSU winning outweigh the positives. You may ask what those positives are. Any victories MSU gets will improve the value of a sweep Michigan can get. I guess the NCAA doesn’t work this way but I can’t imagine the Big Ten getting less than five teams in the Dance. This means we are competing for at least two spots. Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, and PSU are the competitors for those spots. In the final analysis Michigan just needs to win. It is nice to be thinking about the NCAA this late in the year.

  • MichBall2010

    Yea, it’s tough for me to decide who to root for. Firstly, I hate both teams so much that it’s tough to watch in general. But I guess it makes sense if OSU wins, so we can potentially finish ahead of MSU. But then I come back to the point that we really need some top 50 rpi wins (and even worse top 25) and MSU risks falling out of the top 50 if they lose tonight and then hopefully to us again.

  • Alex

    Whatever you think of them, MSU is battling.

  • JimC

    In a perfect world, they would both lose.

  • Tweeter

    The scary thing right now, is that this is the best I have seen MSU play so far this year and OSU is still out in front. Durrel Summers pisses me off so much, what a waste of talent. That guy could average twenty points if he wanted to, yet he is content to play like garbage every game and ride the pine. Makes me sick.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Eh… He’s just a jumpshooter that can dunk. Hasn’t developed the ability to put the ball on the floor and it limits his game.

      • Tweeter

        I think saying a “jumpshooter that can dunk” is selling him short a little bit. While I agree that those are his skills, he is pretty phenomenal at one of those and well above average at the other. There is no reason he shouldnt be scoring around twenty a game. If he demanded the ball like Green does (or maybe if Izzo loved him like he does Green), then he would be great at the college level. The fact that he hasnt developed his other skills is further reason for me to hate him. With his talent, this should be his primary job, work at and get better.

        • Dylan Burkhardt

          Still. You can’t run your offense through him because he can’t create. He’s deadly in transition or off kick outs but he just can’t create.

          There was a stat that something like 80% of his field goals are assisted and he assists something like 5% of his teammates’ makes.

          • Tweeter

            agree with you there, but still think that if he demanded the ball more, he would be pretty special at this level. That stat is crazy, didnt know that, but not overly surprised. Btw, Craft maybe just made the best play I have seen in college basketball this year. I want to punch that guy in the face every time I see him, but dang, kid plays his heart out.

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            It was your boy Durrell that didn’t run him down ;-)

          • Tweeter

            lol, true and fouled him to boot.

  • Tweeter

    OMG! Kebler’s layup to end the game was priceless. I dont think I have ever seen such an unathletic play. Best part/s, the fact that you could hear one random OSU fan laughing after it or Musberger’s reaction, “little awkward layup…”

    • gpsimms

      heard that laugh too. scary development was the way payne and nix played in the first half. seemed like they should have given them some more touches.

      i tend to agree with about summers, but that is a crazy state about the assists.

      • gpsimms

        *agree with you

      • Tweeter

        yea i was really impressed with both payne and nix. Both of them have looked lost for most of this season, yet tonight they both showed off tremendous post moves and court awareness. But like I said earlier, that was the best I have seen MSU play this year, especially their offensive execution, so before I start to get too worried about those guys, I need to see it again.

  • grandchamp

    It’s hilarious reading the msu boards and hearing them whine that the refs cost them the game. lolllllll

    • gpsimms

      in their defense, lucas was going to the hoop, had 14 shots or something, and no free throws i think.

      i actually thought the reffing was not great, but nothing osu hasn’t gotten all year (like against us, twice).

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Was just talking about this with my MSU friends (yes, I unfortunately have some)..

        OSU has the #1 free throw rate in the country and it’s 5% better than #2. #2’s free throw rate is 5% better than #40. So OSU isn’t just the best at not fouling, they are the best by an almost ridiculous margin.

        Having such great athletes like Lighty and Buford on the wings certainly helps and Craft, as annoying as he can be, is a tremendous defender (great lateral quickness) but sometimes it just feels like the refs almost think OSU is more athletic than they actually are and give the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt.

        Someone else also pointed out to me that they haven’t had to do the typical late game fouling, which also boosts their stats a bit.

        (Luke Winn pointed out a lot of this in a column a couple months ago, but I don’t have the link on hand.)

      • grandchamp

        The home teams always get the calls in the big 10 it seems.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Also.. Durrell Summers is trending on twitter after that game. That’s just harsh.

    • grandchamp

      hahaha, deserving.

  • Tweeter

    Re: OSu and refs. Those numbers are crazy, but they were also the last team to lose, so they were up late in a lot more games than most teams. But I also do think they are more athletic in terms of wing play than any team in the country. I know it probably seems like I have been on their balls all year, but from the start of the season, they have impressed more than any team in the country in terms of talent. I honestly think they have two lottery (talent level) picks on their team, and a handful of other guys that are borderline NBA players.

    I think most teams are shocked at the level of quickness that OSU has and it causes a lot of problems. Craft is a great example, the guy flops all the time, but he surprises almost every player he guards with his ability to beat them to a spot. Everyone thinks they have him beat and he somehow recovers to beat them to the spot. Appling’s late game turnover was a great example where Appling thought he had gotten past all the pressure but Craft somehow got back to reach around and knock the ball loose.

    Honestly, State fans should be the absolute last fans to complain about officiating in any game. Their team gets away with more hand checking, bumping of cutters, and illegal screens than any team in the country. They just get away with more of it because Izzo wines every play and they foul so often that officials just can’t call them all.

    • Tweeter

      *whines

      • steve

        or wisconsin fans for that matter

    • Kenny

      totally agree. the refs also tend to favor perceived “better” teams. I love to see State sink into mediocre and get called for things that they got away in the past, then it is totally a new ball game.

  • AG2

    Doesn’t ANYONE in the State of Ohio go to Cinci anymore? I mean I know Mick Cronin is circling the drain but you’d think they can find someone who can compete with OSU for recruits.

    • Tweeter

      cough, they need to get back to their roots of dirty recruiting recruiting, cough, Bob Huggins, cough.

    • bmorant

      They were VERY close to getting Trey Burke… Michigan came to the table a bit late so Cincy thought it was a done deal… Thankful that things worked out!!!

  • grandchamp

    Michigan getting 9.5 tomorrow. Accuscore has a losing by an average score of 73.8-61.4 for over 10,000 simulations. They give us a 16.3% chance of winning. Shock the world.

    • Mith

      If I were the betting type I think I’d take BLUE in this one with the points. The potential for a road blowout is there(ala UI and NW), but I have a feeling we hang in there and probably lose a close one.