John Beilein met with the media after practice early this afternoon to discuss tomorrow’s game against Alabama A&M. Most importantly, he confirmed that Tim Hardaway Jr. is fine after bruising his tailbone last Tuesday. Hardaway will play at full capacity tomorrow against Alabama A&M and has been practicing all week. Here’s video of what the coach had to say, followed by notes and quotes after the jump.
- Had an early practice today because some of the players have a final exam later this afternoon. Thursday was “a great day just to get better as a team. Today was a lot about getting ready for Alabama A&M.”
- Alabama A&M is quick, similar to Arkansas Pine Bluff. A&M has had 15 days off heading into the game tomorrow, which “I don’t know if it’s good or bad. Our guys have been going pretty good right now. I’m sure they need a couple days off, but maybe not 15.”
- On Smotrycz’s recent success: “Sometimes less is so much more for him by just letting the game come to him. That way, he doesn’t press… When his offense is better, his defense is better. He plays smarter.” Sometimes Smotrycz like a “grenade guy,” where he feels like he has to do something with the ball right away or it’ll blow up. “He’s handling that grenade much better now.”
- Tim Hardaway Jr. is “fine” after falling hard on his back against Pine Bluff on Tuesday. He’s had two good practices since then.
- Horford has not practiced in the last two days due to an injured foot, which he has been nursing for over a week now. It is highly unlikely that he will play tomorrow.
- Beilein said that Pine Bluff’s quickness was a big reason Michigan had so many turnovers on Tuesday. “We just don’t see that in practice every day… I said this is why the SEC is so good in football. This is what all the defensive backs are like, they’re like jets. I think that’s part of it, and then we got very sloppy with the big lead.” It has to happen in the game for them to be able to say, “Okay, I get it.” Sometimes it’ll take many games for them to fully understand it.
- Carlton Brundidge didn’t practice today because he had an exam. “He’s progressing, he’s making good progress, but the biggest issue with Carlton right now is he’s got two seniors, combo guards, playing in front of him.” Still hoping that “he can help us as a back up point, but we just have to have time with him to do that, and it’s very limited right now.” Can’t put a time line on his progression.
- On Trey Burke playing 37 minutes against Pine Bluff: “I was hoping to pull him at any time there, and then they started making a run there…I thought we could just get away from them, but we kept giving it back to them.”
- On Matt Vogrich, who had his best game this season on Tuesday (11 pts, 3-for-5 from three-point range): “Matt’s got some tough exams, he just took one this morning. I think that’s more on his mind, but his next shot, there won’t be any pressure on it. He can just shoot.”
- Freshman Sai Tummala, who showed concussion-like symptoms a couple weeks ago and who recently sprained is ankle, is back practicing with the team. Beilein is still expecting both Tummala and freshman Max Bielfeldt to redshirt this year. “It would take a major movement to burn it on both those guys.”
- The bench players have shown progression in practice, but “the depth has to get better. I mean, they got to keep improving. Sometimes you get frustrated by the standstills they go through, and it’s probably confidence, it’s probably lack of playing time, but you gotta keep going. Seven, eight, nine, ten we need consistency from them. In order to do that they need playing time. It’s a difficult blend.”
- On Colton Christian and what he needs to do to get more playing time: “He’s just got to be able to perform in games and in practice every day. There will be windows for him…but once again, you have Novak and Smotrycz playing in front of him at a four/three type of thing. It’s difficult for him to get minutes. And you’ve got Tim and Matt… there’s not enough minutes for everybody.”
- If Trey Burke gets in foul trouble, Stu Douglass is still the first option as the backup point guard. “I just like Stu in a different capacity, but if he has to do it he can do it. And then obviously you have Eso and you have Carlton. We’re trying to train all of them.”