John Beilein was on hand to speak with the media following Michigan’s 66-56 victory over Minnesota at the Crisler Center on Saturday. The win clinched a share of the Big Ten title for the Wolverines, who now have a chance for their first outright conference crown since 1986. You can watch the full press conference using the embedded media player below and read notes and quotes after the jump.
Opening statement: “Every day you hope you’re team is going to win a game but you don’t know which way you’re going to win, and that was a very different way. I really like Minnesota and I still think they should be a NCAA tournament team. I think they are a very good basketball team. But today, it was like the stuff, the intangibles that aren’t measured in this stat sheet right now. Jordan Morgan has 10 rebounds or something, but the 50-50 balls that he got, what Spike did, the charges Jordan took — while all those other things are coming out that you’ll see in the stat sheet, terrific job by guys just getting things done. That was going to be a tough one. I don’t even know if our guys knew about the State loss today. Somebody spoiled it and told me about it on my way out there, which really ruined my day. Seriously, because I didn’t want to know what was happening in that game. We played with a sense of urgency when we needed to to get the victory. Concerns would be the fast break. We threw the ball to them way too many times. They have really good quickness, good length, but we’re not going to win many games where we work hard, play good defense and then give it right back to them. At the same time, it was enough to get a victory.”
- On the 50-50 sequence where Spike Albrecht tipped the ball back to Morgan for the bank: “It was huge. You could see — that one was going to come down to someone was going to make big shots for either us or them and whoever did was going to win the game. When you can keep possession, you keep them from hitting that huge shot. And then Spike hit a huge one to give us some separation.”
- On winning a share of the Big Ten title: “I’m not good at that. I’m not good at looking back at that and trying to embrace all that. I’m sort of focused on, let’s just beat Illinois. I know we talk about it all the time. And when it sort of happens, you don’t really know how to act. That’s who I am, I guess. This is incredible at Michigan, what we do about prizing a championship in the regular season. I’ve never seen it like this before and we’re all embracing it. What’s rewarding is that these guys have talked about it and talked about and now they’ve done — they’re almost all the way there. That’s what’s really rewarding.”
- On the team staying focused in the midst of winning big games: “This is a quiet group. They do have a lot of fun. But Jordan has seen so many things. As we talked about the other day, he’s been to the bottom and also to the top. Having a basket to beat Syracuse and taking a charge against Syracuse to put us in the final game. I think that’s how the team is, but I think that’s a reflection of the coach’s personality, the coaching staff. We’re a focused group. We probably need to relax a little more at times. I know my assistants do. I wasn’t relaxed going into this game. This was a team that has a lot of weapons, they scored 95 or something the other night and defense hasn’t been a great asset to us at times this year. I thought we really played well today.”
- On the contributions from bench players: “I think it was last year. The outliers, the guys nobody’s talking about who just sort of get out there and make plays. We talked about going back with Derrick (Walton) at the 4-minute mark just because Derrick was playing well. but I just had this feel — Spike really sees some things really well, that a veteran should. I asked him how he felt going into the final minutes and he said, ‘coach, I’m great.’ So we just left him in there. That’s what you need. At Minnesota, we don’t get that win — I man, Zak Irvin hit five threes at Minnesota. We don’t get the win without that. We talk about the other guys, but those guys are the ones who are making a big difference, as well.”
- On how his team has been so clutch in close games: “I think we have really high character kids on the team who sort of have a sense of responsibility for the team and their teammates. We practice a lot, and we practice hard in these areas, but if you don’t have the right people who are really connected, it’s hard to do that. I think our staff has done a great job of recruiting the right kids who, as we watch and evaluate, we look for those qualities. You get in this environment, or you go to Michigan State or Ohio State, it’s a little different. They’ve really been good at just handling pressure and handling all that comes with playing at this level.”
- On maintaining focus through the regular season: “We have two remaining games, one away and one at home. We’re going to have to really stay focused. Everyone’s patting you on the back, that can be your enemy. We cannot let that — we have to handle this really well because we want that outright championship. Go to Illinois, which is a tough place. That was a huge win today — no one would have thought that would happen. They obviously played well and they went up to Minnesota and won, as well. They’re really hitting their stride at a pretty good time.”