Michigan coach John Beilein spoke with the media after his team completed the season sweep of Michigan State with a 79-70 win over the Spartans at the Crisler Center Sunday afternoon. Beilein addressed Nik Stauskas’s hot shooting, Caris LeVert’s scoring in the first half and how this win sets up Michigan in the context of the Big Ten title. You can watch the full press conference using the embedded media player below and read notes and quotes after the jump.
Opening statement: “It’s a little echo of what I think I mentioned up in East Lansing. It’s a great win because of who we just beat. Michigan State has been such a tremendous program for so long — I mean, decades. They got a great coach, they got great players and for us to be able to beat them when we’re both at the top of the Big Ten conference — just to be able to beat them is a terrific accomplishment. From here, I’m sure they will pick up and just keep on winning, and we’ve got to try and do the same thing. Our kids are thrilled with the win and our coaching staff is thrilled. But it has a lot to do with, when you measure yourself against a program like that, it’s a great step in the right direction. We’ll move on from here. We’ll enjoy this moment, we have four games in 10 days, so we have to get ready for the next game. But we’ll enjoy this the rest of today.”
- On Michigan not turning the ball over: “Given the opponent — they were averaging about eight steals a game, they were turning people over at about 12 and we had had some turnover problems. … No, it was good. Our kids were focused. They looked really fresh out there today. So the week off maybe gave us some time to think a little quicker and a little smarter.”
- On Nik Stauskas: “His switch is, he’s looking for a perfect play all the time, and shooters gotta shoot it. I mean, he’s a tremendous shooter. Whether he’s turning down ones off the dribble lately because he’s maybe looking for something else. We want him to shoot the ball. (Matt) Costello and (Adreian) Payne are long, when they hedge out they’re still there but you can still shoot over them because you have space. We just encourage him to be more aggressive. Aggressive usually means drive the ball. But shooters shoot when they’re open. Sometimes what’s a bad shot for others is a really good shot for him.”
- On Stauskas’s and Caris LeVert’s role in the second half run: “There’s a lot of other people in that run that were doing things, like Spike Albrecht, who were consuming guys so they could get stuff done. But those two, that’s been the big story of this year is Caris LeVert. He’s been able to get over 20 more than a few times now. Now when they have to put (Gary) Harris on him, now Nik has a different matchup. So it’s been good to have those two, and Glenn (Robinson III) is doing his thing, and great leadership at point guard. I can’t say enough about Jon (Horford) and Jordan (Morgan). Adreian Payne is a load in every way. And they were there. … We got nine fouls out of them. They just did a great job on him. So it wasn’t just those two, but yeah, they scored the points.”
- On this being the game that wins Michigan the Big Ten championship: “Well, it’s part of the formula. You have to beat Michigan State. I’ve been here for seven years. Michigan State is in the mix. No, it doesn’t win us a championship, it doesn’t put us in position for it — we got four games to play. What it does do right now is put us in position to be in position. That’s all it does.”
- On switching up the defense at times and going to the 1-3-1 zone: “Credit my assistants big time on that one, because it is hard to get me to go zone sometimes. We do practice it and we’re improving in it. But I have gone from using it so much to hating giving up a three ball. … We had to change. They’re so good at running what they do, that we just wanted a change. Tom’s great at coming out of a timeout and running a play where they either fouled or they get an open shot. So we thought maybe some of those times we’d go zone out of a timeout. Now he’s got two plays to talk about and he won’t so damn good in either one of them. But they usually are.”
- On whether or not he was telling LeVert to attack more in the first half: “We were trying to score baskets any way we could. They were in some gaps, they had a great defensive plan and they got the length and the quickness to do that. We had to change our scheme a bit at halftime to do some things. Nik had to be more involved. Caris has, as you can see, an ability to get in the paint. They can’t guard everybody, so if you put him and Nik on the same side, they’re not going to leave Nik. That got him to the rim.”