It certainly wasn’t easy but Michigan eventually pulled away from visiting Bradley 77-66 tonight to head into Big Ten play with a 10-2 record. After the game, John Beilein was pleased with his team’s effort and even snuck in a couple of light-hearted jokes at the press conference. Here’s video of what the coach had to say, along with notes and quotes after the jump.
- Pleased to come away with an 11-point win, especially since the score was tied at half time and with the way Bradley controlled the boards in the first half.
- It was tough to simulate Bradley in practice because they’re so different from Michigan. “I think we’ve seen it in the last couple weeks with Pine Bluff and Alabama A&M, but not guys that were shotmakers from the outside as well as drivers.” Bradley’s Taylor Brown (17 points, 5 rebounds) caused Michigan some problems.
- At half time, Beilein wasn’t pleased “not because of our play as much as our frustration level on the team as individual players. This is a big thing that we just gotta keep working on, having ‘yes’ faces…you’re either giving energy or you’re draining it and we beat ourselves up. We just have got to keep working on that because we have guys that really want to win, and sometimes, want to win too much it gets in the way.” Frustration leads to lack of focus, which often leads to a big play for the other team.
- Bradley played a 3-2 zone for a good portion of the game, which Michigan was not expecting. “We had not seen that in any scouting report that I know of…we really weren’t prepared for that.” The coaches made up some plays in the huddles in order to combat the zone.
- The turnovers were much better tonight (six total), although some of that can be attributed to the fact that Bradley played mostly zone. At the same time, the zone also caused Michigan to turn the ball over a couple times. “It was more because of the shape of the zone, the angles that we took weren’t really good, and we threw it away.”
- On rebounding: “When we get a clean rebound and get out, that’s where we got those easy points. The momentum changed. We got stops and then could run the floor.”
- On Smotrycz, who’s been on fire lately (made 15 for his last 19 three-pointers and tied a career-high with 20 points tonight): “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. I think we all knew he could shoot coming in here – it’s the rebounds and it’s the rebounds below the rim. He’s got great hands, and he’s working down there, and it’s been a big difference for us.”
- Beilein has a new plan for when Smotrycz and Morgan pick up an early foul. “They get one, they need to come out for a little bit. Because next thing you know, they’ll get two and then they’re gone for 18 minutes. Just go on back in there and do your thing.” Another reason for doing that is because Horford is still out with a foot injury, so Beilein is extra careful that Morgan and Smotrycz stay out of foul trouble.
- On Michigan’s 25 assists: “I don’t know if we’ve had a better number than that. That was really good. But once again, that has to do a lot with zone defense…but that was a happy locker room, 1 through 16. I think they really loved the way we moved the ball at times…I loved the way we passed it today.”
- The crowd was “terrific,” especially since there were very few students in attendance because of the holiday break.
- On seeing his son Patrick (Bradley’s Director of Operations) on the other sidelines: “It wasn’t really that much different. I’m so focused in the game, my late mother could be on the other bench, bless her heart…And you know what, she’d be the same way. Your job is to win the game. You just let all that stuff go. He’s staying at the house tonight, and I’m sure we’ll have a better Christmas than we would have had if he had beaten us. And I mean it, my mother raised me to be a tough guy. Just win baby.”
- On three point shooting: “When we start shooting threes really well to start a game, which I think we did, you can fall in love with that. We’ve gotta have better shot selection there, and that sort of led to their transition game.”
- The team is going to lift weights, watch film and practice early tomorrow morning from 7:30-9:30, and then the players are off until late Monday.
- Jordan Morgan is “one of many that gets frustrated with themselves, and then it inhibits their progress. So I was really happy he had some success there.” His first two shots of the game were blocked, but he came back strong and finished with 15 points (13 in the second half) and 7 rebounds.