John Beilein, Mitch McGary, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III were all on the podium after Michigan’s NCAA tournament trouncing of VCU on Saturday afternoon. Read their comments in the transcript below. (Photo: Bryan Fuller)
COACH BEILEIN: We’re so pleased with this W today because we knew we were playing a team — you look at the scores, you see who they’ve played. They’re very efficient team and they have a unique style that, you know, one-day prep concerned us.
However, these guys — this is a very high IQ team that can pick up things very quickly, and really responded. I mean, responded — you know, for everybody that played in the game, even the guys that did not play, just responded beautifully in the way we want Michigan to respond in these situations.
Q. Trey, can you talk about the job your teammates did in dealing with the havoc?
TREY BURKE: They did a really good job.
Like Coach said, we responded to the one-day prep and we knew that VCU was a really good team and that they were going to give us everything they had.
They just came to the ball. Once I hit them, they attacked it, and we had numbers and they did a really good of finishing and hitting the open jump shot.
Q. Trey, I want you to describe that pick that Mitch set for you in that first half when you knocked the guy to the floor. Also how much you fed off his energy today?
TREY BURKE: That’s Mitch McGary. That’s what he does.
You know, when we’re in transition, sometimes he stops and sets screens, and I seen him stopping, so I’m used it. I heard the crowd say oh and I didn’t know what happened really. But I see my man on the floor and I had the 7-foot jump shot, so I just shot it and knocked it down.
Like I said, that’s Mitch McGary. He brings intensity to this game and he’s kind of like our X factor. He’s the guy that gives us the spark and makes our engine run in the front court.
Q. Mitch, at what point or was there a point in the first half where you realized that they really didn’t have an answer for you?
MITCH MCGARY: I mean, it didn’t really happen. I was just able to get open looks when they would attack the ball they would double team the ball. Trey and Tim would find the open man and we would attack the basket.
Q. Mitch, can you describe that screen for us? Was that the way it was designed and did the guy say anything to you afterward?
MITCH MCGARY: I mean, Coach usually wants us to set drag screens in transition, and I seen Trey coming off. So I set him a good, hard screen, and the man happened to run into my chest. (Laughter).
It was a legal screen. I didn’t mean intentionally for him to fall down, but it happened like that.
Q. How much of that is feel and how much of that — because you had been running to the rim, running to the rim, and then that time you stopped?
MITCH MCGARY: Usually I look and see where Trey is. If he’s pushing the ball, maybe go set him a drag screen. If not, maybe a slip screen and slip to the basket. Usually just run to the front of the rim.
But if I see him, make eye contact with him, I’ll go set a drag screen for him.
Q. Glenn, how long did it take you to realize that your jersey had been torn?
GLENN ROBINSON: I actually didn’t notice it. I guess when I passed the ball to Trey and he knocked down a three and I’m running back down the court. He actually told me my jersey was ripped and he told the ref and I looked down and it looked like a cutoff shirt. (Laughter)
I’m just like wow. So I went back to the bench and had to change jerseys.
Q. There was so much of a focus on turnovers coming into this game with the havoc defense. Rebounding was a big factor in this game. Was this emphasized during prep?
TREY BURKE: Yeah, defensively. I think, like you said, their havoc defense is, you know, a defense that we haven’t really seen this year.
I think Arkansas was familiar to that, but they did a really good job of making us work and making us get the ball up the court and, you know, forcing us to turn the ball over at different times.
But like you said, rebounding was definitely the game plan. You know, trying to hold them to one-and-done shots. You know, trying to get extra possessions on offense, and I think we did a really good job and it all started with Mitch.
Q. Mitch, you had career highs in points and rebounds. Can you talk, one, about the shots and the points you made? Talk about starting and how it makes — it changes the flow your game or your feel for being in the game?
MITCH MCGARY: Mainly the shots around the basket and I was just getting open looks. Trey and Tim and Glenn, they were all feeding me and everybody was just feeding off the energy. So it built.
And starting, I’m honored to be starting, but at the same time I know I have to start — or come off the bench and bring the same energy.
Q. Tim and Glenn, just curious how you feel now unleashed, so to speak, from the Big Ten, and we talked about how you guys maybe would find a new energy with that. Was that found here this weekend?
GLENN ROBINSON: You know, I believe new energy was found within our play, and I think that we experienced some new things with this team.
And we still run the floor and we did all the little things to help us win and I thought that we had a great team effort from everybody today and we brought energy from the tip and I think that’s something that we need to continue to do.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Just like Glenn said, if it wasn’t for our fan base here, a lot of the energy wouldn’t have been possible. We were feeding off of them probably the whole entire game and it just felt good to just go out there playing as hard as you can knowing that you had a crowd behind you.
Q. Tim, talk about these two games and starting to gain some momentum. After finishing the regular season that way in the Big Ten tournament, now you have a lot of momentum going into the next round of the tournament. Talk about what that feels like.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: It feels great, especially when you have a group of guys out here that are playing — just playing mindless basketball and just going out there and having fun.
We know we got to be poised and we got to make smart plays while we’re out there, but Coach Beilein always trusts us to just go out there and have fun, and if you keep doing that, then we go a long way.
Q. Trey, a lot of people talked about VCU as a matchup problem for you, but when you saw them, were you pretty excited about the matchup for you guys?
TREY BURKE: Yeah, I was excited. You know, VCU’s, they’re a heck of a team. They’re coached by a really good coach.
And I knew that they were going to bring it. I knew that they were going to run and jump and turn me over. I knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect game for any of us. So I just tried to find different ways to attack it, find different ways to get the ball in the middle, you know, get out of transitions to try to get numbers.
Q. Trey, what did you think of Spike’s contributions today? Second, Tim, on that transition dunk that you had, walk us through that?
TREY BURKE: Spike is, you know, a guy that comes off the bench and, you know, we have so much faith in him because we see him every day in practice. You know, we know what he’s really capable of doing out there. Once he gets his shot, he gets it done. He comes out and, you know, he penetrates really well. He can knock down the open shot and.
One thing that he’s really special — that’s really special about him is he finds the open man. He sees things that, you know, some players won’t see, most players won’t see. And I definitely think he’s a guy that can come in, you know, spell me time or even play the off guard with me. You know, as long as he can come in and do what he did today, then Spike’s going to be fine.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: On that dunk, I think Glenn got the rebound and pitched it up to Nik — I mean to Trey and then Trey pitched it up to Nik, and I knew I was ahead of Nik. So, I mean, Coach Beilein always said if you’re going to do something flashy, it better work.
(Laughter) You know, I just tried to do the easiest dunk that I knew how to do or how to do it, so it ended up being that.
Q. Trey, talk about the feeling of getting to a Sweet 16, how big is that for you? Mitch, talk about having such a big game at such a big time during the tournament?
TREY BURKE: It feels really good. We’re definitely proud, honored to be able to play in the Sweet 16.
At the same time, we still know that we have work to do. It feels so good just because last year, it was so devastating, you know, how bad the locker room was after we lost in the first game to Ohio. So just to have the opportunity to go to Dallas and to play in the Sweet 16, in this tournament, that’s filled with the best teams in the country is definitely an honor.
MITCH MCGARY: Going off the good game, I mean, everybody’s capable on our team to have any game — a good game at any time, and I think the guys are just finding me in transition and easy baskets.
I think going off of that, that our team realizes that anybody can score any time. So some people don’t really — we don’t have to rely on Trey always to score whenever we’re down or something.
Q. Trey, how would you compare this crowd to Thursday, and how much of an importance was that and how much will it be missed as you move on to the Sweet 16?
TREY BURKE: Oh, it was very similar to Thursday. The crowd was behind us on Thursday and they were behind us tonight.
Like Tim said, I definitely think that was a boost.
As far as the crowd being missed, I’m not sure if it will be missed. I know we have a lot of alumni around the world. I’m sure that we’ll have a pretty nice fan base in Texas. So I’m looking forward to it. We’re all looking forward to it.
Q. Mitch, when somebody asks you about that pick, you got a big grin on your face. Are you kind of a football player at heart? And after two months of physical play in the big at the point, what was it like to be the biggest guy out on the floor today?
MITCH MCGARY: I mean, I feel like, I guess it was easy to grab rebounds. I just wanted it more, and I felt like just going after loose balls, it was easy for me to grab them and throw them up to Trey for transition.
I think the screen, I guess I kind of have a football mentality. I played it growing up, but that’s just my mentality, just hard-nosed, blue collar guy who likes to do the nitty-gritty stuff.
MODERATOR: Thank you, student-athletes.
Coach Beilein will now be available for questions to the general media.
Q. I asked you earlier in the week — I don’t think you liked it, but what getting through this first weekend would mean for your program. Now that it’s happened, how big of a step really was this or was it at all?
COACH BEILEIN: You know, our philosophy is always going to be we’re just trying to get better every day. We’re just trying to do the right things, and there’s going to be times that we will play this well as we did today and we’ll advance.
You know, with this, given the — as I said that day, given the makeup of this roster, you don’t know what to expect. And the way they played today, that was terrific. I mean, there wasn’t this scientific game plan to get things done. They reacted and played against pressure like they’ve worked so hard to be able to do.
So it’s great for the program. At the University of Michigan, right, we want to be champions, and we’re trying for Big Ten championships. And when you get in the NCAA tournament, you’re trying to do the exact same thing. At the same time, it wasn’t going to make or break us knowing the new facilities, the recruits, the guys coming back, I feel were really in a good place.
Q. Coach, is it safe to say Mitch has locked up a starting position going forward in the Sweet 16? How do you keep a freshman bring that same intensity every game?
COACH BEILEIN: With the CBS games and the extra timeout, we could give him more time, but he has been — you know, we’ve watched his growth. He’s at his lowest of his weight all year long. This is his lowest body weight that he’s had. So he can play longer than he was earlier.
What I love is he’s got — he did a couple things yesterday or two days ago in a game that — reads that only really bright players can figure out. And he has all those things, but the processing through it, like every freshman, it takes him time. He’s doing a wonderful job right now. So it’s not just, you know, he’s big and he’s got talent. Figuring out the college game takes some time too, and every day he gets closer to it.
Q. Coach, you still smile every time somebody says Spike’s name. Can you talk about the job he did?
COACH BEILEIN: That was the one outlier we knew we had in here against the press. With the one day’s rest, with the attention, I mean, those guards are really good at turning people over, and just stealing the ball from you. So we knew that Trey could not handle that the whole day. Sometimes we kept — I think he played all 39 minutes, but just if he plays off the ball, he can stand there for a second. Anybody’s who’s ever played basketball, when you’re dribbling and people are doubling you and people are doing all kinds of things, it is tiring. So that was huge for Spike to be able to come in and just give him some rest, and he was standing on the chair singing the Victors because our team loves him. They love playing with him, and he did a wonderful job.
Q. Coach, how important has Tim Hardaway, Jr. been in this tournament run for you?
COACH BEILEIN: Tim Hardaway has not only been important in this game; he’s been important for all three years.
You remember when he decided to come here, we were coming off a disappointing year. He started, you know, as a freshman he was coming in at 170 pounds and he started every game since then. So when he has had opportunities like he’s had the last couple days to pass, to bring the ball up against the pressure, that wouldn’t have happened last year, right. So make the right — the smart plays, to defend.
I just watched this young man’s game, and it grows every day. Others may not see it that way. I see it just growing. I think his ceiling is very high, and today he played to that.
Q. How long did you really have to prepare for this type of — were you doing it all week before?
COACH BEILEIN: No.
Q. You just had this one day basically?
COACH BEILEIN: You know, I would think that people probably think that we can do all those things. You know, I thought South Dakota State gave us challenges we needed to win this one. And knowing that our team is — I consider them to have a very high IQ, that they could handle whatever we saw from either Akron or VCU.
I will admit I did watch — I did not watch Akron on video. I did watch one VCU game thinking they would be the favorite because Akron had some losses through attrition.
So it was one day, but Mitch, what we try and do, I mean, every day we are practicing ball possession. Don’t turn the ball over. Flow it to the outside hand. Boring stuff that would put you all to sleep. To catch it on two feet, pivot strong. So when we do see it we don’t have to talk about it. It’s somewhat natural to them.
Q. Did you figure and plan that Mitch would be an option because he’s not likely to be dribbling the ball up or get swung that way? Did he surprise you with his production today?
COACH BEILEIN: No. What we’re trying to do is really make sure that he can play both in the high post and the low post, and he can do some things out on the perimeter that guards can do. Channeling it to do it the right way, we see this huge spike in him understanding why — to make a whole lot of good plays and don’t focus on great plays. Just make good plays. Finish.
Because he might have brought the ball down and tried to dunk three of those today, right, and he’s just learning what winners and champions do.
He’s got a great family. He’s really worked very hard to get to where he is right now, and we love coaching him, because he’s a team guy through and through.
Q. You’ve obviously emphasized defense, but talk about the way you guys have played in these first games and the emphasis on that?
COACH BEILEIN: I think we’ve played two of the best — let’s talk about Nik Stauskas for a second playing. We played two of the best three-point shooters, shooting teams that we’ve played, and with volume.
VCU shoots more threes than us. So we had to shut that down on the perimeter, and they all did a good job on it. And then defensively we did not give up the offensive rebound that has plagued us at times this year.
They’re not as big as some of the teams they’ve played, but they could still go — I was very concerned about that, that they’d have the quickness to just get the loose ones. We really kept them off from getting second opportunities through two ways: Offensive rebounds and then turning the ball over. With 12 turnovers against this team, I think that was as big a factor as our rebounding difference.