John Beilein, Tim Hardaway Jr., Darius Morris, and Zack Novak were all brought to the podium to discuss Michigan’s comeback victory over Illinois. Full transcript after the jump.
COACH BEILEIN: We are thrilled with that win. We had — the last ten minutes of the first half were not good for us. It was the first time I thought in almost a month where I really thought we had a really bad segment for five or six minutes, and we bounced back.
I mean, the second half just staying at nine points, it could have got to be 15 or 16. People will talk about the run that we made. It was that sustaining where we were the first ten minutes, 12 minutes of the second half that I thought were just as key so that we could be in position to be in position. We don’t get this win if we had to come back from 15.
Q. This is for Tim and Zach. Coach talked about staying in position to be able to come back. How tough is it to keep positive and keep focused on the game when it’s not going your way like that, and talk about responding in that way.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: You know, I think it’s just the will to win, and we just came out and just stayed hungry and just maintained our focus and poise on the defensive end and the offensive end.
ZACK NOVAK: Yeah, I mean, things definitely weren’t going our way there for a while. You know, for a little bit I think we did get down, but I think we did a good job kind of coming into the half and just kind of regrouping, and like you said, we didn’t let it get out of hand too bad. We were still within striking distance. We just reminded ourselves at Champaign we were down by about the same amount and also came back there, so neutral site, why not?
Q. Darius, just to follow up on what Zach just said, did having a very similar game the prior time you guys played Illinois kind of stay in the back of your minds and how did you draw on that to complete this comeback?
DARIUS MORRIS: Yeah, especially the Illinois game but also the rest of our season. We’ve been in a lot of games like that where we’ve fallen behind but we’ve stayed strong, stuck with it. Coach always talked about in the huddle keeping a yes face no matter what the score is. That means just positive energy. So I think when we do that, we’re always in the game no matter what the score is, and then we just start focusing on stops, and then possession by possession we get back in the game.
Q. Tim and Zach, you guys struggled so much shooting from the perimeter in the last game against Illinois, so what was the reason for the increased success this time around?
ZACK NOVAK: Ball in the basket this time. I mean, I don’t really have an explanation for it. We got wide-open shots there, too. It was just one of those nights. But tonight I thought we just had guys just step up and make big shots, especially early in that second half, got some open looks and knocked them down because we needed to to get some momentum going, and then obviously Tim had the huge one at the end to put us up three. Definitely a big difference.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Yeah, just like Zach said, we were just getting wide open looks and we were just running the offense, and everybody was just saying, good screens, Jordan Morgan and Evan, they were saying good screens for us, and they got us open, and Darius and the point guards were doing a great job of just finding us wings.
Q. Tim, when you’re not having the best offensive game, to take a shot like that, can you take us through that, what was going through your mind when you hit the three and pulling the trigger from that distance?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Well, I mean, I saw Darius just dribbling down, and he handed off to me, and I saw Cole just behind him, Darius and whoever was guarding on Darius, so I was open him behind, so I said, let’s just me shoot it, and I just held my follow-through, and it went in.
Q. You played Ohio State in Ann Arbor down to the wire, I think in the game at Columbus you also played them pretty well for about 35 minutes before they kind of took it out a little bit there at the end. Just your belief and your thought in playing against them tomorrow and what you’ll really look for there.
DARIUS MORRIS: I think we definitely have to watch the film, learn from our mistakes from the first two games, see what happened where those games kind of — we lost control of them in the last couple of minutes and see what we can fix and see what we can adjust and come here on a neutral site and try to get it done.
ZACK NOVAK: Just as far as to kind of build off D, we’ve got some confidence going into the game. We’ve played them really close at home, like you said, for most of the game at their place we were right there with them. They’re having a great year, got a really good team, but we feel like we’re playing pretty good right now, and we’re going to enjoy this win for a few hours and then go get ready and get ready to come in tomorrow and play as well as we can.
Q. Coach talked about how important it was for you guys to stay within a striking distance, but how important was it to get that lead on Tim’s three-pointer?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: I mean, it was important, but at the same time, you know, I mean, I don’t know how to say it, but I was just open, so I just made sure I knocked it down. I hoped it went in, but it went in so I was happy. I mean, we were all happy. So just after that, I just think we just built confidence off of that, I think.
DARIUS MORRIS: You know, I think it was huge for us to be down by double digits and to just keep grinding at it and trying to finally get that lead. For us to finally get over the hump after he hit that three was really huge for us, a big boost in everybody’s face that we’re in this now, now we need to close it out, because when you’re fighting from behind you’re so occupied just trying to get it back possession by possession, but once you finally do it, it’s like, all right, now let’s go get this next stop and let’s extend the lead.
Q. You talked about treading water, how key was it to get it within five or seven?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Evan wasn’t real pleased with the way he played in the first half. He had a couple tough turnovers. It was really big for him. If we could make one, then we could stretch the big guy, stretch Tisdale out there and change the whole game. So he hit the first one, he sort of got it in sideways with Tisdale, and then the second one was clean. Now all of a sudden we couldn’t get over that. It was seven, it was nine, it was seven, it was ten, and all of a sudden it’s four, and that was big for us just to get within a — make it a two-possession game. We needed to do that to stay in there.
Q. What is the yes face?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Oh, the yes face, it’s a long story, and I don’t know if I’m as accurate in it, but it’s a story about a famous Army general helping people forward a screen. It’s a long story. It’s just showing that you believe and there’s power in it, that everybody — we have some frowners on the team, the coach can be a frowner. We need to stop frowning. We need to just play through and show that yes face all the time. Yes, I can do it. I’ll tell you later about the whole story.
Q. Talk about the defensive adjustments you made from the first to the second half.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Oh, you know, we had — we did some different things in fronting in the post than we had in the prior game, just to change the look a little bit of what they — they really hurt us the first game with their high-low game and we’ve got some great defensive teams.
Wisconsin and Purdue are great defensive teams. They hurt them with the high-low game, so we just had a different strategy, but I’d like to keep that in house for a little bit.
Q. You sat Jordan down with over eight minutes to go, and it seemed like that was a conscious decision. Was it just the fouls or did –
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Didn’t he get his fourth at that time? Yeah, that was just to stay in there. And then we liked the idea that we could spread the floor a little bit. When he’s in there, they don’t have to respect Evan and open the floor for Darius if he’s spacing out. It was the four fouls. We would have put him back in if he had three, but Darius — like I’ve told you guys, Evan has worked for the last month, six weeks on his interior play which he really didn’t know much about, and it’s paid off.
Q. You said one of the keys was your three-point shooting but also the free throws down the stretch, I think 6 for 7 or 5 for 6 in the last couple minutes there.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, if you watch, when we got into the lane, their length is such an asset to them, and so they do a great job of not letting you get to the rim. How many times did we get there? So what you have to do is you have to shrink the floor, get them in the middle, and then you’ve got to find the people that are out on the outside, and Darius did a great job of that, Evan did it, we all found people, and then obviously Darius — when they went ahead by two and then Darius makes those two foul shots, that was big for us just to have that so that we could come down, get the rebound, Tim could hit the three. Those are huge foul shots. Those are foul shots that advance you right there. And of course, Zach’s one to make it a two-possession game with nine or eight seconds to go was the biggest of all.
Q. During that run to get back and tie the game, it seemed like the aggressiveness really went up a notch on offense, especially with Darius. Is that something you were consciously trying to enforce?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No, you know, we were trying to — an action the first half and we had some success with it, we missed some shots, and then we went more to a passing type offense in the second half and tried to isolate him a little bit just so he could understand what they were trying to do. So we changed up but we change up all the time in games. Sometimes it’s by strategy and sometimes it’s just flying by the seat of your pants. But we’re trying to give Darius those opportunities where he can really read the floor, and he did very well on a couple of occasions. He had a big finish and that time he went to the foul line and nailed them both, four big points.