Transcript: John Beilein previews Minnesota


Michigan vs Houston Baptist_7John Beilein addressed the media this morning on a conference call to preview Michigan’s upcoming match-up with Minnesota (Thursday, 7 p.m.). The Wolverine head coach discussed the Golden Gophers, Mitch McGary’s injury and the point guard situation. (Photo: Scott Mapes)

On Mitch McGary’s surgery: “They have it scheduled.”

On which date the surgery is scheduled: “Why don’t we just keep those things personal on things like that. I think it’s important that when people have surgery we don’t have to make a national — he’s going to have surgery, it’s going to be shortly. Let’s not talk about dates and things like that. I don’t think that’s anybody’s business. But it will be shortly.”

On what he’s seen from Minnesota: “They’re an 11-2 team. Again, we see a lot of veterans or they’ve been able to boost their roster through transfers. As a result, they’ve got a bunch of fourth-year players who are redshirts playing up front. And then the Hollins tandem that we’ve seen now for three or four years. They’re just excellent guards. But really I think the difference has been Deandre Mathieu. I’m not even still sure where he came from, but he is a heck of a player. He’s that lead guard that everybody needs to really be successful. It makes both Hollins better each time he’s out on the floor.”

On which player he would compare Mathieu to: “I don’t know. What I love about him is he gets elevation on his jumpshot. His assist-to-turnover ratio is incredible. He doesn’t shoot threes much but when he does they’re really good shots because he’s shooting such a high percentage. He just seems to be in control and running the team. It’s been really really helpful for them. I can’t think of anyone to compare him to right now.”

On figuring out the rotation for Big Ten play: “It’s actually simpler than you’d think. There’s only nine guys who we’ll be playing before we go into — Andrew Dakich is number 10 right now. We only have nine guys, so I anticipate nine guys playing in games, especially if there’s any foul trouble at all. Sean Lonergan is number 11. If we have to go there, they’re working hard in practice, but it’s going to be eight or nine every single game.”

On sticking with the current point guard situation: “That seems to be what has been successful for us so far. We get a good spark off the bench from both Spike (Albrecht) and Zak Irvin. And Jon Horford. He likes that role. It doesn’t bother him one bit. Jordan’s been a starter for a long time. It’s good for Jon to maybe watch the game for a second to keep him out of foul trouble.”

On knowing Mitch McGary is out: “It’s the only advantage of this situation. At least we know right now and now we can move forward. While he has the surgery and goes through rehab, all these things, we’re going to be right with him. But at the same time, it’s definitive right now. This is what we have going forward, and now let’s build it as we continue. He’s a unique talent. I wouldn’t say we had completely different plans, but there are some different things that he does that we were working towards. It does help to know what you have.”

On the diminishing possibility of Glenn Robinson III playing the three: “We never really got to that point. If we would have been able to been successful in that plan, we would have needed a whole September and October with Mitch playing in that situation and get him so we could at least get him some time over there. But we never really got to that because when he came back, the one position he really knew was the five. Those differences in position can be night and day in terms of our sets. So we never really got to that point other than him running a few things. We have been playing the way we played before all year long, virtually.”

On imparting a Big Ten mentality to players who are about to play their first season in-conference: “The last two days of practice have been intense. Of course, anybody who watched those four games yesterday could see the intensity. We practiced for a while yesterday. We had film, we had weights, we had a lot of things going on yesterday. But you watch, you can see that there’s another gear that everyone’s in. It’s not unlike what you see when you’re getting ready to play Duke or go to Iowa State or playing Arizona at home. It’s a similar type of thing. But now you know the opponent better now than you knew any of those teams. So there’s certainly a renewed interest in playing hard. Now, you have to play hard or you won’t survive.”

On whether or not he’s familiar with Richard Pitino: “Not really. Whatever’s on film. I’m sure he has a lot of similarities to the way his father coaches, but at the same time, he’s his own coach. They’re going to play multiple defenses, they shoot as many threes as we do. You got great guard play, and that’s really key for the way he’s playing. Never coached against, obviously, Florida International or him personally, so we begin that process of scouting what he likes to do and what his staff likes to do.”

On the emergence of Glenn Robinson III: “He had a full-court drive the other day against Holy Cross, that we’ve been urging him to do all year long. He’s got this other gear, and he’s getting closer and closer to using it more and more. All we’re going to do is continue to encourage him to play a north-south game whether he has an open shot and he shoots it in or driving the ball under control full-court, and then defense, being a north-south player on defense. Guard your man and get in there and rebound. All those things. He’s got these great gifts. He knows he has them, and it’s up to him and our coaching staff to make sure he uses them even more.”

On the importance of starting strong in the Big Ten given non-conference record: “I look at it differently. I look at it as, you have to win some road games, and you have to win almost all of them at home, if not all of them. I don’t look at someone and say, okay, we’re not opening up with the third, fourth, fifth-ranked teams in the country, I don’t look at it like that at all. You’ve got to find ways to win on the road, and you’re not going to be at the top of the Big Ten if you don’t do that. And then you’ve got to win at home. That’s all we really care about at this time and this is one opportunity, the first of nine opportunities to get one of these road wins. You get nine times to do it. And the successful teams are going to win between four and six on the road. If we get one, then we’re closer to that. As long as you win at home, four to six wins on the road puts you on a championship level. Again, this year, when the parity is probably the best it’s been.”

On replacing McGary’s energy: “There are very few that will be like Mitch. Mitch really has that fire. On the other hand, I’ve seen between Jordan and Jon, our two captains, I’ve seen that a bit. Glenn is more of a quieter leader, but he can say things. Your primary guys who have to be involved in this are your point guards. They have to be involved in being an asset verbally on the floor for you. We’re looking at all those areas every day. That is a big replacement, because Mitch brought a lot of energy to our team.”

On the roles of Nik Stauskas, Zak Irvin: “Zak Irvin, he’s got to get to the foul line more. I don’t know if he’s got five or six foul shots, he doesn’t have many, but one of those was him getting fouled on a 3-point shot. That’s an emphasis and that’s with most freshmen — you’ve got to get in there. Nik was like that. nik did get there a little bit more last year. But Nik’s on course for 200 foul shots right now and Glenn’s on course for 150. That would be really good years. We have to continue to emphasize that. People are going to play him more as a shooter, and we love his shooting. But he’s got to get to foul line by driving, by getting 50-50 balls, by going after rebounds harder than he is right now. It’s all part of the process.”