John Beilein, Trey Burke, Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr. were on the podium after Michigan’s narrow Final Four victory over Syracuse. Read the comments from all three players and their coach in the transcript below.
COACH BEILEIN: We’re so proud. I am so proud. But the university I know is so proud of these young men tonight. All our fans everywhere. Given the great first half they played, then hanging on in the second half with no timeouts was incredible show of character and unity and all the things that we preach all the time, the poise.
So really proud of them. It’s certainly a great moment for them and our university. I know everybody at Ann Arbor, the Michigan brand all over the world is very happy tonight.
Q. Tim, a lot of people figured y’all were struggling with Trey having the issues he had today. Even though Trey wasn’t at his greatest, what does it show?
MITCH McGARY: It shows our team is capable of having anybody score at any moment. I think Caris and Spike came in and played a big role in our team, had a great first half. I think we had 16 bench points the first half. Just shows how mature our team has grown throughout the season.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: It’s not a one‑man team. Everybody in the media has been talking about it. That’s why it’s a team. It’s a team win. That’s what we focus on.
We know Trey is our leader. He’s not going to have a game like he’s always been the whole season. That’s when our team steps up just tries to picks him up. He really doesn’t need it, but we try to pick it up anyway, try to go out there and do a great job of competing.
Q. Tim, you had a rough shooting weekend last weekend against Kansas and Florida. 4 of 16 tonight. What has happened to your game?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Nothing is happening. As long as we’re winning, I’m fine. I can’t focus on that right now. I can’t focus on the offensive end. All I can do is focus on the defensive end to help my team win.
My teammates do a great job of sticking behind me whatever decision I make while I’m out there on the court. The shots are not falling, but I can do more than that. I can rebound. I can pass. I can defend. That’s what it’s going to take to win the championship, that’s what I’ll do.
Q. Mitch, you’ve had a really good tournament so far. What has been the secret to your success?
MITCH McGARY: You know, just finding a role on the team. The guys need me to step up when the moment’s needed. Trey and Tim have done a good job of being the opponents’ key, keying on them a lot. I’m just getting a lot of open looks and make good decisions.
Q. Tim, can you walk through the two back‑to‑back plays with Michael Carter‑Williams about two minutes left where he got the charge.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Jordan Morgan came off the bench, did a fantastic job for us. That’s why he’s all Big Ten first team defense. He makes plays that a lot of us don’t see out there. He saw Carter‑Williams go to the basket, laid his body on the line, sacrificed himself for the team. Got us another possession.
Carter‑Williams, the last to get fouled off, I was trying to knock down the handoff he did. He got a piece of me. I mean, the ref called the foul. I don’t know what else to say.
Q. How close did that game actually feel for you in the final 10, 20 seconds?
TREY BURKE: It was a close game throughout the whole game. I kept telling the guys coming out of halftime that Syracuse is a talented team, they’re going to go on runs. This game is a game of runs. We just stuck together. Like coach said, we didn’t have any timeouts at the end of the game. A lot of people would crack under pressure when you’re in that type of situation.
We just continued to try to find ways to get the ball into our best foul shooter’s hands. At the end of the day it came down to defense. We got a lot of stops on the defensive end and it allowed us to get out in transition where we’re best at.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Just like Trey said, he basically said the whole thing, so I’m fine.
It’s incredible, just being in that situation, being on the defensive end for the last 20, 30 seconds of the game. We’ve been in that situation before all season long. We knew what it takes to get that last stop. It came down to getting that last rebound and we got it.
MITCH McGARY: For me, I could have probably made a little bit more free throws, probably sealed the deal, but that’s the game that happens. Just for us to be on that last 10 seconds, try to get a stop when we needed it, was big for our team. I knew we grew from that.
Q. You attacked the Syracuse zone efficiently in the first half. In the second half, it didn’t seem that way. What happened differently that it seemed a little disjointed?
TREY BURKE: Well, I just think they’re magnificent in that zone. They have a lot of length. It’s tough to try to get the ball into the middle. You think something’s open, it may not be. They pride theirselfs in deflection. We just tried to be as careful as possible. We know they strive off of turnovers. They do a good job of turning turnovers into touchdowns. We gave up some good looks, sometimes we shot some looks that weren’t necessarily there.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t offense. A lot of us didn’t have good shooting nights. But it was defense that allowed us to advance.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Yeah, like Trey said, second half they were very, very, very active. They pushed their zone out a little bit further. It’s kind of tough when you have shooters trying to shoot closer to the three‑point line, when they push you out to the NBA three‑point line. They were way more active and aggressive and tried to do a great job of containing us.
MITCH McGARY: Just like Tim said, they lengthened the zone a lot. Pressured the ball a lot more. Once we got in the high post, we got some good looks. Shots weren’t falling the way we wanted them. Once we got second looks, they started falling.
Q. Looks like you guys got rolling in the first half a little bit when Caris hit a couple of shots and Albrecht as well. Can you just talk about their contributions.
TREY BURKE: We have guys that can come off the bench and give us sparks any given night. We don’t necessarily know who it’s going to be. Sometimes it may be Spike, sometimes it may be Caris on the defensive end. They both played their tails off tonight. They both knocked down shots that were there, that were given to them. They played defense.
It kind of allowed the veterans to play with more confidence.
Q. Trey, it wasn’t your typical offensive night out there. Tell us about how you felt.
TREY BURKE: Like you say, it was an off night for me. I try not to force things, though. I took two or three shots that were kind of forced. But I tried to just get guys involved. I knew that their whole game plan was to try to make me shoot tough, contested threes. I tried to get the ball into the middle as much as possible, tried to hit the open man, tried to contribute in different ways other than scoring.
Q. Mitch, it seems like each game your game keeps expanding. Have you always had those pieces in your game, like the no‑look passes?
MITCH McGARY: You know, yeah, I mean, I consider myself a good passer. Sometimes too crazy for Coach Beilein. Sometimes I turn the ball over. Open gym and stuff during the summer, I was doing no‑look passes.
Just the time and the moment, just trying to make the right play.
Q. Could you talk about your thoughts on playing for the title on Monday night.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: I mean, playing for the title is what we’ve been working for all season long. This team made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. We’re just going to try to do a great job of containing Louisville and make sure we play Michigan basketball.
Q. C.J. Fair was dominant in the game. How did you shut him down at the end of the game?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Just tried to do a great job containing him. He has a great first step going to the basket. He has a lot of jab series, pump fakes in his game. You have to be careful with what he does. We just tried to do a great job containing him, not give him anything easy in the last three minutes because we know he was their go‑to guy.
Q. Trey, Monday night might be your last game at Michigan depending what you decide to do next year. Can you talk about what it’s like to get to the last game of a season, what might be the last game of your career, how you think about that?
TREY BURKE: Well, that’s something that I’ll talk to my coaches and my family about after the season. You know, it feels great to just be playing on Monday night. A lot of teams aren’t playing Monday night. Just to be able to have the opportunity to play here in Atlanta for a national championship, it’s a dream come true.
That’s where my mindset is at right now. It’s kind of surreal. Growing up as a kid, watching March Madness, you always wanted to see yourself playing in the Final Four, playing in the national championship. Now that we’re here, we’re one step away from accomplishing a goal that we’ve set at the beginning of the year.
So I’m just excited for the opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll dismiss the student‑athletes at this time and continue with questions for Coach Beilein.
Q. Wonder about using Mitch in the middle of that zone. Is that something that was a no‑brainer at the beginning of the week?
COACH BEILEIN: We studied so many of their games. They got a great coaching staff. We knew that was an area that we might be able to exploit if we could pass out of there. We did so many passing drills this year with Mitch pivoting. We say, catch, pivot, peek, make a pass. He did a great job. That six assists is a big number for him. He’s a big target in there, as well. We can throw it to Glenn as well. Their guards are so long, it’s hard to see Glenn in there, but you could certainly see the big fella.
Q. When did the light go on for Mitch McGary?
COACH BEILEIN: I could never probably find a point. The fire’s always been burning. There’s always been something there. He’s made these incremental steps all year long.
Sometimes you look at him and there’s really some brilliant things he does in there, then there’s other times you can see he has a lot to learn.
He embraces all that. That’s what has made it most impressive. But the best is yet to come. He continues to practice hard. He continues to study the game. He’s got, as I’ve said several times, a high ceiling to his overall game. By the way, his personality and leadership is terrific.
Q. Coach Boeheim said he had Caris circled as a guy he was worried about shooting the ball a little bit. Can you talk about the lift.
COACH BEILEIN: The 21 points off the bench I think we had is incredible. But Caris is a good shooter. Caris shows us that in practice. He’s an incredible worker. I always talk about the outliers that are out there. You just never know who it’s going to be, whether it’s Jordan Morgan, Caris or Spike hitting them. That’s been a key to our season, so, so many times, somebody else stepped up when somebody is in foul trouble or whatever.
I’m really proud. This team loves Caris LeVert. Everybody is his friend. Really happy for him.
Q. Just a bit of what this means. It’s the pinnacle of your profession to be in this game. What does it mean to you? Talk about facing Louisville.
COACH BEILEIN: I think it means so much for our university, for all our fans, for all the players that we have, students. It’s just tremendous.
For me, this is what I’m paid to do, is go out and coach young men and try to make them just good basketball players, but good student‑athletes, men of high character, all the things that parents of these kids have tried to do over the years and have done such a great job.
I’m thrilled for everybody else. Right now I just think about the next game. And Louisville is going to be a difficult game. We played against Rick’s teams at Kentucky one time, when I was at Canisius, and West Virginia a few times. He’s a brilliant coach with great schemes. It’s going to be very difficult.
But I need to study him a little bit more before I know exactly what to expect.
Q. I know this is your first Final Four. When you look at the size of the stadium, the noise, I’d like your thoughts about that. But also you have so many young kids playing out there. It just seems astounding they can hold their nerves. Do you, as a coach, have to allow for youth? Are you thinking this is just part of the noise, you have to build it in?
COACH BEILEIN: I think what really helps us, the arenas we play in all year long aren’t that big, but they’re big, 18,000, 17,000, 15,000, noisy. You’ve been to some of those places. So we’re used to that a lot.
I think the crowd was terrific. Michigan crowd was terrific. It really helped that we just came from Dallas, playing in that big arena. I think our kids felt very comfortable.
What I try to do is focus in as a coach and not even look around. That basket is 10 feet, that basket is 10 feet, the floor is 94, let’s go play. I think we actually had that mentality. You start looking around that place, I did for a minute, I’m not even going to look, this is incredible what I’m seeing in front of me.
Q. Jordan has been through a lot these last few weeks. How gratifying was it for you?
COACH BEILEIN: Jordan Morgan was up on the chair leading us in the end. He’s on the all defensive team. He was going to be in there at the end when we needed stops, especially when we were going into some switching patterns, things like that, much like he did in a similar slide later in the Kansas game.
So really happy for him. Fitting that he finishes it with a dunk at the end.
Q. You will be playing in your final game this season on Monday against Louisville. Just that finality in mind, the excitement that revolves around the game, does the preparation change at all for that game?
COACH BEILEIN: Based on the fact that it’s already tomorrow, we’re going to have to have a quick, quick prep. It’s a difficult one, too. Louisville throws so many things at you.
But the big thing right now is get rest. You got to prep the best that you can. It’s a 9:00 game, so you do have some time. But you’ve been prepping for this all year long. Different things that you’re going to face during the year. I’m sure there will be some unique things we’ll address tomorrow. But for the most part, the coaching is done everyday in practice, in the weight room. So much of that’s already been done. Not all the hay is in the barn. We’ve got so much more to do.
I know both teams are in that mode where they have to tweak a little bit, maybe 20%. But we’ll both be up early tomorrow and working all day.
Q. Understanding that Louisville and VCU do some different things, how might it help your team you’ve already played a pressing type of team in this tournament?
COACH BEILEIN: We thought about that already just when we played Florida, because Shaka Smart had been on the Florida staff at one time.
Rick has a tremendous tree of coaches out there, so now we’re playing the man himself who invented a lot of this jump and run, different types of traps, changing defenses.
So there’s been some preparation involved along the line. But seeing it firsthand the way Rick does it, there will be some uniqueness to it. We just got to get ready the best we can, but still make sure we’re fresh.