Photo: Maui Invitational
John Beilein and his three leading scorers met with the media to discuss Michigan’s 79-63 drubbing of the UCLA Bruins. Zack Novak (22 points) and Jon Horford (12 points) both went for career highs while Tim Hardaway Jr. averaged 20 points per game over three games in Maui.
COACH BEILEIN: That was good for us to get out to the lead in this game, unlike last night. We could control some of the tempo. We didn’t take a lot of shots. A few too many, but we didn’t take a lot of shots, but we took quality shots over and over again. So you see 79 points.
We’re still learning that sweet spot a little bit. It’s not perfect. It never will be. But we keep working at that so we can put points on the board. Obviously, really proud of the 63 points when you play a team that’s talented. You need to find the things they need to do to win. They will. Ben’s a great coach, and they will find that. Down the road that will turn out to be a very impressive win.
Q. Can you talk about the breakout performance you got from Zack and Jon who haven’t had these types of games all season?
COACH BEILEIN: They’re so big. Jordan got in foul trouble. We tried to get them out of there after one, and make sure he didn’t get two. So there are still things he’s learning to understand better. So Jon went in there, and Jon just got to the right place at the right time.
Jon’s just taking baby steps every day. They’re in the right direction, but that was big for us to have him because he also got some rebounds.
And Zack, we see this in practice quite often what he’s added to his game right now is an in between game. So guys get to him. He’s going to take a dribble and jump it in. So big for him to be able to do that. He made all kinds of gutty plays out there just like normal.
Q. Zack, you were really fiery going into halftime, then you came out firing in the second half. What was the key to your offense?
ZACK NOVAK: I think we just worked our offense. We got good shots. Like coach said, 49 shots, I think, scored 70‑something points. That’s kind of how we want to play. Just tells me we were working the offense. We were getting good looks. When we do that, we’re pretty good shooters and we’re going to knock them down.
Q. Can you talk more about that start? Because it seemed like you guys were in control from the git‑go all the way through.
COACH BEILEIN: Looking at the team, even though we had a lot of minutes, we were in pretty good shape. I sensed the guys were really fresh for this game. Even after the three games, we do a good job with John (Indiscernible) and Jon Sanderson of getting them rehab after the game.
But I thought we were pretty fresh, and we played with a lot of energy to start. We asked them, if you win the Big Ten Championship or are in the Big Ten Championship game, you have to win three or four in a row. This is what you have to do.
So it’s no different than any other team that’s trying to win a Big Ten tournament, a championship ring tournament. They responded very well.
Q. Can you talk about the group you got into after being scoreless in that first half yesterday? You really got on the board early, but you seemed to get in the groove in the second half as well, being able to find your shot inside, outside. Talk about your all‑around game?
TIM HARDAWAY JR.: Coach Beilein and the staff do a great job of seeing how the defense is playing, myself and the other guards out there on the court. So they draw up plays and we go out there and execute them and they end up working. So we just have to trust the offense and take our open spots whatever the defense gives us.
Q. Before you came here, you said you’d come here and kind of figure out what you saw. What is your overall takeaway from this tournament and what you guys got out of it?
COACH BEILEIN: I liked, for the most part, how we competed in the bright lights. It doesn’t get any brighter than this time of the year. That’s big for us. You don’t know how people are going to do when all of a sudden, the teams and the coaches that you see on television every day and all of a sudden, it’s you. I really liked what we saw from there.
We also liked that the freshman quarterback, so to speak, coming out and really experienced things. Now I think the big thing is the learning curve will grow. We’ll be able to watch tape and say here’s what we mean.
Like I said yesterday, he’s getting a lot fed to him, and he’s responding. So I see some development. Jon Jon’s a great example. The three block, the rebound, the point, the development. Now we have to press on and improve from here.
Q. Jon, talk about was that as comfortable as you felt all season in the first half? Talk about what was going through you there?
JON HORFORD: Yeah, I just went in and I felt good. I just did what I had to do. Go in, try to grab some boards. Try to play some pretty decent defense. It’s kind of hard guarding a big fella, but just had to do it.
Q. Coach, UCLA’s got some size there, with Josh, Reeves, Nelson, the Wear twins. They got off to a tough start. What did you see there today? What were they not doing?
COACH BEILEIN: We didn’t think we could guard them very well in single coverage, so we tried to send a lot of different looks at them but they caught the ball. It was really hard. When you front Josh Smith, it’s another zip code to get on the other side of him. You’ve got to really work.
We said they’re going to get the ball inside at some point. They run single coverage. It could be in foul trouble, but we didn’t always do it. We did it sometimes off different sequences that we would see. Our kids made them score over people. Then we had one of the best offenses, which was the offensive rebounds. Down the stretch we really rebounded the ball very well and didn’t give them second opportunities.
Q. You guys played different styles against different teams. How much does that work, just judging on your experience moving forward? Obviously, you’re going to see some different things as you move forward too.
ZACK NOVAK: Yeah, I think the way they defended us each game, we were able to adapt to what we needed to do. Every game we never struggled to score points. If there’s one thing we’d like to change, it would be the defense in the second half yesterday.
But I think that’s one of the beautiful things about the way we play. We had a lot of really smart guys. So when we get in this tournament setting, Big Ten tournament, or NCAA Tournament, we have quick turnarounds, and we’re versatile. We can adapt to who we’re playing very quickly.
Q. How were you able to get so many open perimeter looks? What set that up?
ZACK NOVAK: We’ve got really good guys on the perimeter that are able to get in the lane and draw help. A lot of my looks I was wide open just off of what they were doing. Trey Burke got in there, Tim gets in there really well. I’ve got to give all the credit to them. My job’s easy. I’ve got to be there wide open and knock it down.
Q. How were you able to outrebound them considering their size? They had a lot of size or Josh.
TIM HARDAWAY JR.: That’s just effort, I guess. Some of it is luck in positioning, where it bounces off the rim, all that good stuff. But you got to just go after them.
Q. Zack obviously gives you a lot from a leadership standpoint in several areas. But what does it do when Zack has a night like that?
JON HORFORD: I think it gets everybody else open. He gets us offense. He gives us some easy looks out on our offense and allows us to run our offense. To have other guys knock down shots. Not only me, Trey or Jon, but to have that force of guys coming down and knocking down shots, it helps us out as a team, and gets us into the flow of things.
Q. With your offensive system, does it make your team more dangerous to play in a back‑to‑back tournament like this?
COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, I don’t know how people can choose. We just have to adapt quickly. But all of these teams we’ve played against before with the exception of Memphis who did have prep time, but we’ve got that same challenge as well. So we have to ask them.
Q. You guys after a little bit of struggling in the first three games, is the offense making progress so far?
COACH BEILEIN: I said before I thought that we have spent an awful lot of time on our defense thinking that we could transition baskets because of what we saw in our point guard. At the same time, the timing of what we do is really important. When you have your quarterback and you understand that timing, we see more and more of that. The other guys are getting more comfortable with it.
Q. What is your schedule going forward? You have a quick turnaround time in games.
COACH BEILEIN: We schedule the flights on this one. We elected not knowing about the late flight. We’re going to leave tomorrow. We’ll basically fly all Thanksgiving day. We’re going to land out of a red eye, and we’re going to end up having like three different practices during that day to keep them awake, but it won’t be demanding. I promise. It will not be demanding. It will be film, weights, it will be some light work. Then we’re going to give them Saturday off, and just try and help our guys beat Ohio just as much as everybody else and Michigan fans would like us to do.