Michigan head coach John Beilein met with the media on Tuesday to preview Michigan’s Wednesday night match-up versus Northwestern. Beilein reported that Jon Horford received some good news on his foot after an X-ray on Monday and, depending on his progress, could be back as soon as late next week. Watch video of Beilein’s pre-game address followed by notes and quotes after the jump.
- Michigan will have a very short time to prepare for Northwestern, as “it seems like that’s always [the situation] when we play Northwestern.” Would love to have more time to prepare, but that’s how it goes.
- Northwestern poses some unique challenges – referencing Northwestern’s Princeton-style offense – “You don’t see this action more than once or twice a year. I think they probably are as innovative as anyone that runs this. It’s forever changing and we really have a challenge ahead of us.”
- Northwestern has two players with NBA-caliber talent in Drew Crawford and John Shurna, and they have the most-experienced big man in the Big Ten in Luka Mirkovic.
- Freshman point guard Dave Sobolewski has just “15 or 16 turnovers [on the season] and is playing huge minutes.” He’s done a very nice job taking over for the graduated Michael Thompson.
- On Northwestern’s defense: “They will mix up all kinds of things. They’ve played a lot of man this year, they’ve played 1-3-1, they’ve played their classic 2-3 matchup.” A couple years ago, NW came into Ann Arbor and won playing a 1-3-1, and then a few weeks later at their place they didn’t play 1-3-1 the whole game. “They’re ever-changing.”
- Offensive rebounding has been better now than it ever has in Beilein’s era. A lot of that credit goes to Jordan Morgan, Evan Smotrycz and Zack Novak, who has “always got the ones that any 6-foot-3 power forward can get.” Tim Hardaway Jr. is starting to improve in that area as well.
- On Morgan: “I think we’re seeing it right now that he realized that one of the ways he can really help us is being a high-energy player… that’s the way for him to be successful if he wants to play professionally at some level is high energy. When he plays with high energy out there and high IQ, he is really an assett for us.”
- On similarities between Smotrycz and John Shurna: “They’re both big, and they can really shoot, and they’re both shooting 50-some percent from three, or close to that. They’re both smart young men that work every day just to help their team win.”
- Morgan likes the challenges of competing with other high-profile big men. “There’s probably a lot of naysayers that never thought he could play here. If that is motivational for him, we ought to play that all the way.” Competing against big men like Zeller from Indiana is a way for Morgan to prove that he’s right where he belongs.
- Morgan is leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage, but “he could even be higher as we continue to work on his leveraging techniques and things that he has to do.. today with the ball screen, every time there’s a ball screen, that’s a play for him. If he’s open then we’re throwing him the ball, but when they cover up on him that’s when the 3-point shooters come into it.”
- More on Sobolewski: “He’s really done a great job of just fitting in before he tries to stand out. Last year, Thompson was so good, I mean you had to guard him forever. He was so talented. (Sobolewski) is not trying to do that. He’s just trying to get Crawford and Shurna and the other guys the ball where they want it. And there are other guys, they are very talented.”
- On Horford: “There is improvement in his foot. This week he’s going to be able to start shooting on his own. They’re going to do a lot of water therapy and therapy with him just to get him ready. This’ll be the week that they’re going to allow him to jump and do some things just a little bit. Next week, we’ll see how he feels. We’re trying to get him into practice by next week and see how he does and see how he feels, then we have a pretty big decision to make.”
- It’ll be “at least one week” until Horford can try to go full speed. “After one week, we’ll be able to really assess where he is.”
- It has been and ‘still is’ a concern that Horford may be out for the season. There’s also a ‘silver lining’ because if it turns out Horford can’t play this season, he will still be able to use a medical redshirt so he doesn’t waste the year with an injury.
- On avoiding a let-down following a big win over Wisconsin: “You would (worry) if it was a team that did not have Zack Novak and Stu Douglass in that locker room.” Northwestern has won three out of the last four match-ups, so there should be no lack in motivation for this one.
- Michigan will use its full four hours of practice today to prepare for Northwestern, including two separate film sessions. “We have to, because you don’t want them out on their feet going over and over it, but mentally hopefully they can see it and visualize it.”