John Beilein was made available to speak with the media on Friday. The coach of the 8-0 Wolverines talked about what his team needs to do to limit turnovers against an up-tempo team like Arkansas on Saturday, as well as how his team is progressing in practice. Beilein said Max Bielfeldt, who suffered an ankle sprain during practice, is still not practicing and will likely not play against the Razorbacks.
Opening statement: “If you look at our schedule right now, just the lineup of games that we’ve had since we went to New York has been very challenging. Everyone’s got a very good record. Arkansas, you saw what they did to us last year, they’re going to bring quickness and an intensity to the game that is tough to match, tough to symbolize in practice. We’re going to have to be ready to play 40 minutes of basketball. There can be no let-up. We’ll have to take care of the ball, do a lot of good things and make shots. I think it’s what we love about college basketball. There are so many ways to be successful. One thing that coach (Mike) Anderson has done at Arkansas and Nolan Richardson and coach Anderson at Missouri is they take you out of everything you’re doing and say, ‘What’re you going to do?’ We need to have those answers.”
- On what he’s tried in practice to simulate the kind of pressure Arkansas brings. “Many times we’ll have a guy down on the court. As soon as the shot goes up, that guy is already down there… We did it yesterday, actually, four on five, where the defense has a fifth guy and there are only four guys on the court… It’s not a schematic thing as much as the length and the quickness that we noticed last year.”
- “Stu Douglass was really good last year,” as a secondary ballhandler in the back court against Arkansas last year, Beilein said. “We just didn’t make shots.” Said Michigan now has three guys who can handle the ball well to help Trey Burke and Spike Albrecht: Caris Levert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas.
- On the atmosphere at last year’s game in Fayetteville: “It was quite an environment… It certainly was not the most comfortable place to play, that’s for sure.”
- On playing from behind against Arkansas last year: “It hasn’t happened very often. … They made their first ten shots. Some of them were shots they made fr themselves and just did a great job, and other things were like, ‘I can’t believe how quick they are, going by us.’ It’s tough to simulate that. Once we got used to their quickness, we made some really good adjustments.”
- On stopping BJ Young and Marshawn Powell: “I think Powell is the best power forward we’ve seen all year, and we’ve seen some pretty good ones. Whether it was Kansas State, Pitt, or North Carolina State, I think he’s as good as anybody we’ve seen, if not better.”
- “Tim Hardaway Jr. is still shooting the ball well,” Beilein said. “He had two or three shots he hasn’t taken since last year, those runners that he took a little off-balance when other people were there. He may have pressed a little. He knows when he takes a shot and maybe he should wait for another opportunity. He’s handling it great. He understand it. I think what bothers him more is turning the ball over.”
- Hardaway has been doing a good job of cleaning the glass because he no longer needs to box out a “primary rebounder” at the two position like he did at the three.
- Caris Levert will see action as a secondary ballhandler because Arkansas will try their best to make someone other than Trey Burke handles the ball. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he does. … he’s one who’s as quick as their guys as well.”
- “We did only turn the ball over ten times last year (against Arkansas),” Beilein said. “If we get that number again, then we have a chance. We’ll have to wait and see how they play us.”
- On the crowds at Crisler Center so far this season: “It doesn’t surprise me, but it thrills me. It really is great to know that we have that type of interest. I’m sure that it’s about the people talking about the possibilities with this team. But I’m hoping it’s a lot that they like the way this team plays, they like the type of young men who represent Michigan, and they can identify with them along the way.”
- Max Bielfeldt was walking around today, but did not practice. He will not play against Arkansas. Other than Bielfeldt’s injury, “I think we’re pretty good.”