Notes & Quotes: John Beilein talks Big Ten Tournament


Michigan B1G Championship-16Given the weather conditions, John Beilein joined the Michigan beat writers on a conference call on Wednesday instead of the usual availability a the Crisler Center. The coach talked about preparing for Illinois and Indiana, how his team is approaching the Big Ten tournament and much more. You can read notes and quotes from the call below. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

Opening statement: “We are excited to have had a couple days here to rest and to have practice. We will leave tomorrow around noon to head down to Indianapolis and try to prepare in these last couple days for either option in the tournament. We generally just look at one game at a time, we don’t look forward at all. Fortunately for all three teams, we all know each other pretty well because we played recently — at least we have. There’s work to do, but it’s not like you’re playing a brand new opponent like the NCAA tournament would be. We’re going to be as prepared as our opponent will be, and we’ll have to play well.”

  • On what the team has been working on: “Just again, we focused on Illinois and Indiana, really. One day was an Illinois practice, today’s an Indiana practice. Just the things that didn’t go well in those particular games. Other than that, that’s probably been a half hour of each practice has been on just the next game. But the other thing is we try to get a lot of reps shooting. We got a good, strong lift in on Sunday night where the guys were sore on Monday. As always, we’re always working on our defense, trying to get a little bit better, particularly in transition defense.”

  • On the offensively focused teams winning in the tournament: “I hope that comes true because our offense has been good many times this year. I keep thinking defensively how we can get better, not offensively as much; we sort of have a plan offensively and we change it according to the opponent or the time of the season or how many times we’ve played that opponent. But that would be good if we can score the ball, we’ve got to be able to do that. I think sometimes it’s good to play early, to play in this first round, to get used to things. But then sometimes you get tired as well. I don’t know which is better.”
  • On how his team has progressed defensively: “I don’t think we’ve ever had a team that gave up the 45 percentage points that we gave up this year. We gave up 55 and 59 percent a couple games and won. But I think the whole country, the percentages are up offensively. We have gotten better, but still obviously we’re not good enough to shut people down enough. We better play well offensively, or we’ll have a tough time winning.”
  • On how strength coach John Sanderson has helped Caris LeVert: “He’ll probably get mad at me for saying this, but (LeVert) was not a poster child for vertical jump and dunking when he first got here. He was light as a feather, but he was not way up above the rim like he gets several times this year. And I think that’s the thing — he’s been able to play off contact, he’s been able to rebound in a crowd and he is way above the rim on some finishes, particularly in transition. So that’s been a great thing. Not just his strength — he’s gotten quicker and his vertical is much better.”
  • On Michigan’s Big Ten Tournament history: “In the Big Ten Tournament, I don’t think we’ve ever gone into it as a favorite. We’ve gone into it as a 10 seed, a seven seed, I think one time we weren’t in the play-in game. And we’re probably .500 in the tournament. It’s not something we’re trying to shake off, it’s something we’re trying to survive and advance. I think if we went into it as a one, two, three seed every time and only played one game, then there’s an issue.”
  • On the possible downside of being a top seed: “What we’re planning on doing, because it’s a noon game, we’re not going to practice until the game is over. It’ll be very short. We hope we have enough planned. It’s a little bit more work. But Indiana, Illinois and ourselves are all blessed with the idea that we just played each other the last two weeks.”
  • On practicing on the way to the Big Ten Tournament: “The Big Ten rules say you cannot leave your campus until 24 hours before the game. So rather than practice here — we’d be practicing while the Illinois-Indiana game would be going on — so we wouldn’t be practicing to who we’d be playing. So while the game is going on, we’re going to travel and practice halfway there. And then we will know by the time we hit the practice floor at 2:30 who we’ll be playing.”
  • On staying motivated as the top seed in the conference tournament: “This will be my first time I’ll be in this situation. We’ve won league championships before at Canisius and at Richmond, but we weren’t guaranteed an NCAA tournament bid yet so we had to go in and win, and neither time did that happen. I’ve never been in this situation so I can’t tell you. We’re going to find out as we go into this. But that’s our job as coaches, to be sure that we provide motivation that would therefore provide a lot of incentive to win. It is new territory for me.”
  • Mattski

    Somebody asked him that same obnoxious question about flame-outs in the tournament last year. I swear some journos really just travel on autopilot.

  • Chezaroo

    No earthshaking revelations, but it’s nice to see we “are working on transition defense.” Coach B acknowledges ” we better play well offensively or we’ll have a tough time winning.” I’m routing hard for Illinois because IMO they don’t have enough offensive firepower to take advantage of our weak D. Indiana on the other hand just shot 60% against us in the last outing! and was tied with us at home with under two minutes to go. Factor in a favorable “home” crowd environ, a game played in the arena, and an earlier victory against us, and IMO that translates into a dogfight. Go Illinois!

  • rlcBlue

    “So while the game is going on, we’re going to travel and practice halfway there.”

    Dang. I’m lucky if I can find a rest area with a working hand dryer, but he knows where there’s one with an empty regulation gym? That’s what I call preparation.