John Beilein faced the media after Michigan’s 14 point win at Illinois. Beilein addressed his team’s strong play, shared minor details on Jordan Morgan’s ankle sprain and gave his thoughts on a potential No. 1 ranking. Watch Beilein’s press conference in the embedded media player below or find selected quotes after the jump.
“I’m really pleased about that win. I think that Illinois really has great quickness, plays good defense. We are very fortunate that they dried up a little bit from three. I think we guarded them better once Richardson, Paul and even Abrams hit some pretty good threes against us. The big thing with us tonight was just hanging in there, taking care of the ball, not turning the ball over and making sure we get good shots. I was really pleased that we were able to do that. I loved how many young kids got out there and played with Jordan Morgan getting the ankle injury early, that gave three guys the opportunity to play that haven’t been getting as many minutes as they’d like. Really impressed with how our big men filled in there and then the other four perimeter guys played a good game. Both offensive and defensively, the numbers that Illinois hit had a lot to do with a great tough attitude by our defense.
- On Morgan’s status: “I don’t know. I know he has a sprained ankle and he could not put weight on it.
- On whether Morgan could have played in the second half: “No – or we would have [played him].”
- On the Illinois three point shooting struggles: “A lot of my teams have been based on three point shooting [so I understand]. Sometimes it’s as simple as one guy getting out there and hitting a big shot. My teams have had some incredible dry spells at times and when you play that way it can get difficult at times. You try to tell your guys not to settle for threes but at the same time maybe that’s what got you to be so good. They’ll shoot the way out of it.”
- On Michigan not relying on the three: “Well [Illinois] was switching every ball screen. We were anticipating that but only practiced it for about 15 minutes. They had a lot of things they could do, even back at Ohio University when John was coaching there. That took us some time to adjust to that because Trey was shooting over a long guy.”
- On Jon Horford’s play: “He was really, for him to get to where he needs to be he needs reps in practice and games. He sat out almost all of last year, he needs high volume of reps and when we’re playing for Big Ten Championships, you aren’t experimenting in games with him. He played really well against Purdue, practiced really well the last few days and he’s got enough volume now where we thought he could play and of course Jordan getting hurt expedited that. “
- On whether Michigan is developing a ‘road mentality’: “I don’t know. We finished the season last year strong on the road. Any time you can hang in games, don’t turn it over or let the crowd get involved and you have a chance.”
- On opponents hanging around in the first half before Michigan pulls away: “I think that’s common with most teams. If most games were over at halftime, everybody would say ‘wow that’s a close game’. It’s going to be single digits if a team is going to win a game in the first half. Very rarely do you see a team blow a team out in the first half. We pride ourselves on being in good shape and having a togetherness, taking quality shot sand defending.”
- On No. 1: “We’ve sort of been anticipating that question [laughs]. Here’s where it is guys. It’s January 27th and not one of you in here can remember who was No. 1 last January 27th. To our team that doesn’t make a big difference. I’m sure to our fans, and water coolers and coffee shops and people that love Michigan and hate Michigan that’s probably something they hate or they love right now. Our big thing is let’s keeping getting better every day while we focus on a Big Ten Championship. “
- On Max Bielfeldt’s homecoming: “I’m thrilled for him right now. It wasn’t a great initial debut with the airball. That was one of the first things we made fun of – all his teammates were on him in the locker-room. It certainly ended well. His team won, he made a couple of really gutty plays and I’m really pleased for him. He red-shirted last year and worked on his game and many times in practice he plays as well as anyone we have. We just don’t have enough minutes to go around”
- On building a program and John Groce: “I think we had incredible patience and support by our administration – incredible. They wanted Michigan basketball to compete for Big Ten Championships and as your young men get used to your culture and expectations, it just – Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke out there are really playing Michigan basketball the right way. They didn’t learn it from the coaches – Stu Douglass and Zack Novak were in their ear every day and you have to have that overtime to get that done. I have no question that will get done (at Illinois). They have good talent and good recruiting, it’s the University of Illinois.”
- On using Ohio game as motivation: “No, we showed some video because of the options they ran and defensive options they ran. I’m sure they saw it and they really played a great game against us last year – actually they almost went to the Elite Eight.”
Transcript by Dylan Burkhardt, video by Dustin Johnston.