John Beilein joined the rest of the Big Ten coaches for a teleconference Monday morning. He touched on how his team has gotten back on track since struggling over the past month, the consequences for turnovers in practice and more. You can read notes and quotes below.
Opening statement: "I really like the way we played yesterday against a really good Illinois team. They’d been playing really well coming in here, and I thought they did so again, particularly in the first half. But probably since the Wisconsin game, that was the best we had looked overall. Just playing free, easy and playing the way we want Michigan basketball to play."
- On what Beilein has done to hone Michigan’s transition attack: "I can’t say that we do any more emphasis on fast break than we have in the past in practice, it’s just that we have more opportunities in games because we’re a much better defensive rebounding team. And the other thing, we’re a much better outlet passing team. Put those two together with Trey Burke and the ball skills of Tim Hardaway (Jr.) that have improved so much, I think that’s a big reason. Personnel has developed, we rebound the ball better, and when we see that we can do that effectively, we probably emphasize to do it more in practice and it carries over into games."
- On what Tim Hardaway Jr. provided on Sunday outside of offense: "Without question, he and Jordan Morgan did a tremendous job yesterday of being aggressive on the ball, and being ‘traffic cops’ away from the ball. It was easy to see, as you watch the video, how instrumental they were in what we call ‘zoning up’ after a ball screen, or if they were involved in a ball screen, trapping or hedging the ball screen and just recovering. Tim’s at his best when he’s playing really good defense, because that’s when we get him in the open court as much as we can, and that’s when we can also dial him up on a few plays here and there and he can just play his game."
- On how he works to avoid turnovers: "We love to recruit young men who really see the floor and have a great feel for pressure defense. When I watch a point guard in high school, I say, ‘was he ever guarded?’ The good ones are never guarded — they’re one step ahead, like a quarterback who feels the rush and knows when to step up in the pocket. It is a cardinal sin here to turn the ball over in practice at any time. If I look at the Big Ten overall, almost every team really takes care of the ball, and it’s essential to winning because just like rebounding is an extra possession … so is a lack of a turnover. It’s an extra possession for you."
- On what happens when players turn the ball over in practice: "When they turn it over in practice, there are times when they’ll take a trip to the top of Crisler. Or, they will run. When Trey Burke turns it over, he’s the first one to tell me, ‘boy, I made a bad decision there, coach.’ … We say, ‘take 50-50 shots, don’t make 50-50 plays.’ And that solves a lot of our issues."
- On the freshmen taking in the whole picture when they’re struggling to keep perspective: "We have separate conversations quite often during the year with everybody just because it’s absolutely important for the young kids to look at the whole picture, because they’ve probably been the leading scorer on their team. If they’re at Michigan, that’s probably been their role in high school. Then all of a sudden, they have tough nights and you have to pull them aside and say, ‘here’s why that’s happening, now let’s learn from it. … it’s not always you, it could be them and what they’re doing.’"
- On if there were times during the past few weeks when Michigan was playing "with a piano on their back": "We played like we had two pianos on our back at Michigan State. That was the one that was most glaring to us. After the Wisconsin loss, we weren’t acting — we were reacting too much. We needed to just go out and make the cuts that we make, look for each other … this is our style of play, let’s go back to it. The coaching staff may have been trying to dial people up too many times, maybe trying to change a bit at the wrong times. We’re just trying to get back to playing the way we play with the system that we run, that is, a read-and-react system."