Video, Notes & Quotes: John Beilein previews Michigan State


John Beilein met with the media today to discuss Michigan’s upcoming matchup at Michigan State, which will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. After beating the Spartans 60-59 on January 17th, the Wolverines now have a chance to earn their fourth straight win in the rivalry. Here’s video of Beilein, followed by notes and quotes after the jump:

  • Last season at this time, Michigan broke each huddle by referencing the NCAA Tournament. This year, they break the huddle mentioning the Big Ten title: “We want to take the next step. I think, sort of, it takes care of itself. We’re trying to become champions. That’s a goal I think with every team that puts on the Maize and Blue. We’re trying to be champions in the Big Ten, and that’s the ultimate goal of getting there. So we’re certainly shooting for that knowing that if we come close enough to that, if we don’t get that, we’re still in the NCAAs. We set our bar a little higher for the ultimate goal.”
  • On preparing as if Draymond Green will play: “Yeah, we don’t know anything. I feel bad for Draymond, but we’re assuming, unless they say that he is not playing, we’ll assume he’s playing and that’s what we’ll prepare for.”
  • On Trey Burke and his health at this point in the season: “He’s fine… He’s put in a lot of minutes, he’s a tough kid. It’s February now. I think he’s accustomed to the routine and he’s found a routine, which is important for a freshman.”
  • On Zack Novak guarding bigger players: “You give up a little bit, because he’s 6-foot-4. When he’s guarding a Draymond Green type of player, they’ve gotta run around on defense and guard him too. And as a result, that could tire another person out. And he’s used to it, he’s been doing it for four years… wasn’t Blake Griffin one of (the big men) he’s guarded? He has done, he just takes it on and just goes and guards who we tell him to guard. He does a great job, and despite his size, I think sometimes he comes out either with a wash or better than that.”
  • More on Burke: “He’s still a strong young man now. He’s not the biggest guy, but he is strong inch by inch. So if you can (body him up) sometimes, if not, he still turns the corner, uses his quickness, and when he has leverage, he’s very clever with it.”
  • On the importance of this game: “I think when you get down to this point in the season where there’s eight games left, each game becomes a little bit more important. No game is bigger than another. But they are certainly more important as far as where you’re going to end up at the end of the year… This is one you have gotta go through if you’re gonna be at the top of the Big Ten.”
  • Beilein will put bubbles on the rim during practice today so that the scout team can’t score and the starters will be forced to practice rebounding. “Just to make sure that we emphasize that we’re going to box out every time, because they will send three or four guys, five guys to the backboard and still play very good transition defense. That’s why they’re so good.”
  • On weathering Michigan State, who will no doubt be angry and hungry to win, especially having lost three straight: “We don’t worry about what they’re coming off of or whatever. I don’t worry about their history over the last couple games. It’s about us against them, for one day, at one time, at one o’clock.”
  • On whether Zack Novak’s rant during last year’s game will stick in Beilein’s mind for years: “I think down the road it may, just because of the fact that for whatever reason it began a real belief in just this team’s chemistry that’s always been so important to our coaching staff. In order to get going, you gotta have one point… Is it a turning point? I don’t know. Did it start there? You remember that because everybody talks about it and you’re reminded of it, but they’re all important. I don’t like to prioritize them.”
  • More on Novak’s rant: “I missed a lot of it. I was with my team. I saw it on tape. He was pretty adament, he was. At Purdue he did a similar thing last week. He wants to win very much, he’s passionate. He needs to make sure that he can use it effectively. Sometimes he wants to win very badly and just have to continue to work on being efficient.”
  • On what Beilein will miss the most when Novak and Douglass graduate this year: “We talk about that, because of the intangibles that even we don’t realize sometimes until you really watch the video or reflect on things. There’s gonna be a lot of things we’ll miss of Zack and Stu, and Corey Person, really, because Corey gives us so much in practice every day. I think right now it’s way too early to talk about it.”
  • On 3-point shooting: “It’s a combination of shot selection, it’s a combination of what people are giving us and taking away from us that has allowed us to sometimes score some layups. When was the last time Matt Vogrich had a really open shot? They’re not giving him that room. A lot of teams now just, they’re gonna say they’re gonna beat us with the two. So when we do take threes, maybe our shot selection could be a little bit better, or it’s a guy where, like Evan or Matt are getting one or two shots a game (from behind the arc). It’s difficult to come off the bench and make those.”
  • Jon Horford will practice half court today and continues to be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.