On Wednesday, John Beilein met with the media to preview Western Illinois, the Wolverines’ last test before they head to Maui. We don’t have video today, but we do have audio as well as the standard notes and quotes.
Audio from MGoBlue.com.
- These three early season games have been a good experience. Western Illinois, who Michigan plays tomorrow, is a “really well-coached team” and will be the final test before heading to Maui.
- On Monday against Towson, the first 25 minutes were “exceptional” mainly because Michigan scored points off defense and moved the ball well (Smotrycz’s points were not pretty but were great).
- Everyone is now seeing the new-and-improved Evan Smotrycz. Beilien has seen it since day one of practice this year. Loves his pursuit of rebounds and the way he’s finding ways to score.
- Starting lineup will “probably” be the same as it was on Monday – Burke, Novak, Hardaway Jr., Smotrycz and Morgan.
- On starting Morgan over Horford: “I would just say it’s been a very tight race, and they’re both playing…it isn’t a big difference right now.” Hoping one will emerge over the other, but more than anything just want to win games.
- On what he would like to see Burke improve on the most: “Just understanding the pace that he needs to play with, the defensive end of it. In getting him so he really can withstand a long period of time on the court.” If Morris were still here, Burke would probably see little minutes, but now it’s 25-30 minutes a game. But he’s capable of it.
- Spent a lot of time in practice today on post defense, because that’s where Towson scored the most. Also working on finding ways to score out of the offense.
- On Stu, who was 0-for-7 on Monday: “He was so open, Stu sometimes can’t get too open. He may relax and just shoot trying not to miss. Every shot should be the same shot.”
- On signing Nick Stauskus: “The more we got to know Nick, the more we realized, what a perfect match for Michigan.” He’s really evolved as a player “with incredible passion” in the last two years. He can shoot, score and pass “at a very high level.” Can also handle the ball well, although he’s never played point guard. Could play a similar role to Douglass.
- Won’t play differently tomorrow than any other game, since they’ll have Friday to rest. Took yesterday off and crammed a four hour day in today.
- Players will have a little free time in Maui – “We’ll make sure they get their toes in the water.” It’s a cultural experience too.
- Bench play and rotations will be huge in Maui, as well as knowing how to respond to adversity. “You learn it all over again. It’s not a summer game. It’s real basketball.”
Additional Beilein quotes at MGoBlue. Here are some more player quotes from MGoBlue from Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr.:
U-M Sophomore Evan Smotrycz
On the team and individual performances thus far … “Things are going well from a team perspective. We’d like to put together a more complete game. We had some lapses at times on the offensive and defensive ends, but it’s still early. Personally, I’d like to shoot the ball a little better, but I’m just trying to do the little things — get on the floor, rebound and do whatever it takes to win.”
On how these early regular season games help prepare the team for what’s to come … “Right now we’re just focused on this game Thursday against Western Illinois. Like I said, we just want to put together a complete game. We played really well in stretches at times in both games, but I think if we can play 40 minutes on the offensive and defensive ends, that will really give us a confidence boost going to Maui.”
On what specifically the team needs to improve on … “I think offensively we need to not relay so much o the three-point shot. We have guys that can shoot it and it will always be there, but we need to work on getting it to the basket more because we have guys that can do that too. I think on the defensive end, we just need to stay focused and really commit to our principles.”
U-M Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.
On the balance of the offense through two games … “The balance of our offense is going alright right now, but I feel like we could do a little better at getting into the lane and creating for others. We’re relying too much on our three-point ball as you can see from our stats. I feel like if we can just get in the paint more and create for others and go to the foul like a little more, we should be fine. Coach has been focusing on that in practice, but he says that if the three is open, we have confidence in you to knock it down if you’ve been showing it in practice. We just have to turn down threes if they’re not open and stop forcing them with defenders in our face.”
On his increased leadership role this season … “It’s gone well so far. Zack (Novak) and Stu (Douglass) have been keeping a close eye on me. They keep saying I still have to learn little things here and there, but they said overall I’m doing really well with the guys and the freshmen and just keeping their heads up.”
On what the team needs to improve on before the Maui Invitational … “We’re just focused on ourselves and Michigan basketball. We’re focusing on what we could do to prepare better and what we need to do to put together a full 40 minutes game. If we can do that — boxing out and playing defense for 40 minutes straight, we should have a great chance of winning.”