While John Beilein would’ve liked for Michigan to play better in a 59-55 win over Western Illinois, he admitted that it was good for the Wolverines to play in a tough, close game like this before heading to Maui. Here’s video of what the coach had to say, followed by notes and quotes after the jump:
- Very impressed with how Western Illinois played. A very good defensive team. Burke did a good job playing against Ceola Clark (21 pts), who is 4 or 5 years older than he is.
- Michigan’s four outside shooters went 3-15 from deep, which “is a thing we just gotta get better at and fight through. Maybe we just gotta get outside of Crisler for a couple games and we’ll make some shots and come back hot as can be.”
- Tried to get in the lane more in the second half in order to draw fouls and create some opportunities for “walk-in” 3’s. Hardaway’s big 3-pointer came off a nice pass from Burke, who drove in the lane and dished it out to him.
- Had too many silly turnovers.
- It was hard to scout Clark because he didn’t play at all last year due to injury. Not much was known about him, but “I thought Stu did a great job on him.”
- Tonight was a “big step” in the right direction for Morgan, who had 11 points (5-for-5 from the field) and five rebounds. Still has plenty of areas to work on though.
- Defensively, missed a couple of simple rotations due to lack of communication, which was a big reason why Western Illinois kept it close.
- Hoping that these issues are simply early-season issues. “We just gotta get in a grove, but…if we don’t shoot the ball well, we’re not going to be very good.” But can only make these improvements by getting back out on the court.
- On free throw issues (team was 14-22): “Morgan has really worked on this thing. I don’t have any doubt that Tim Hardaway will clean some of that up. I have no doubt that Evan Smotrycz will…We’ll be better than that.” Noted that Horford made 100-105 free throws in practice today. Just have to get used to shooting in the game.
- Doesn’t think that the team was looking too far ahead to Maui. Western Illinois was a good team, and Clark “controlled the pace of the game.”
- In Maui, “we’re gonna learn a lot, because we’re going to be playing incredible quickness and incredible length. In these games we’re gonna have to shoot the ball and not have careless turnovers. But it’s gonna be difficult to do.” No matter what, there will be tremendous growth in Hawaii.
- On Horford: “He’s just trying to work right now. He’s just going through some of the growing pains coming off this summer of playing basketball.” He needs real-game experience to continue to improve.
- It was a very average game overall, but “don’t take away from Western Illinois.” Clark is a really good player.
- On Burke: “He’s just getting better. He’s just learning Division-I basketball – how not to foul,” etc. Likes his progress and “I really think that down the stretch will go to the foul line and finish games for us as well.”
- Burke can get into the lane, but at this level, it’s very difficult to make the right decision when you get in the lane. It’s like playing pin the tail on the donkey – you have to pick the right spots.
- You’d prefer to beat teams by a wide margin, but playing a tough, close game like this will be beneficial in the long run. “We all can’t lose in the growth here of this team. This is still an extremely young team.”