ROSEMONT, Ill. — John Beilein met with media in Chicago on Thursday as part of Big Ten Media Day. The Michigan coach discussed the state of other programs in the conference, the difficulties of sustaining success, and whether the Wolverines’ offense flows through Caris LeVert.
On Wisconsin … “They’re just really solid. They don’t trick you. They play great defense, and they can score in so many different ways. They post all five players, and all five players can shoot the three. That’s a difficult scheme to defend. You have so many things you have to get ready for with them and you hope you have an experienced team that understands that.”
On Nebraska’s surprising success … “I’m sure [Tim Miles] has got his handle on this. We talk about this all the time. Handling adversity is a very difficult thing to do, but handling prosperity may be even more difficult. I just like the energy with that team. … They were very close to even winning a Big Ten Championship in the tournament. Anything could go their way. He’s a really good coach, but a really talented, talented team that seems to know their roles. But if any team loses track of that, then they’ll find it’s very easy to go the other way.”
On who could win the Big Ten … “It’s pretty easy. If you look at who finished in the top 10 last year and how many players they have coming back. Figure it out. The league has been hit with some attrition, but I think it’s going to give the league a great opportunity to show the recruiting that has been going on the last couple of years.
“While Wisconsin is really good, and clearly because they’re experienced and their coach is out there, I think everyone respects that that experience is really going to be hard to match. But the rest of the league is not that far behind.”
On the unbalanced schedule in the Big Ten … “I think that that will always be an issue forever. When you have leagues of this size, unless you decide you’re going to play 26 league games, you’re never going to get to this point where it’s a fair schedule.”
On Rutgers and Maryland joining the Big Ten … “The league becomes so much broader in the scope of people that will follow the Big Ten Network, be appreciative of the Big Ten, wear the Big Ten logo. That’s really a positive. These two teams — I’ve played both at Maryland and at Rutgers — they give you a great atmosphere and college basketball.”
On sustaining success … “That’s a challenge. We hope that this team is growing, and our growth has to come a bit more quickly than probably we’ve had to have in past years. These freshmen, I really like them, and I think they have great potential, but we’re probably going to have to play more than we normally have. And that’s a good thing for them, but there’s going to be growing pains.”
On which games he has circled on the schedule … “I’ve never circled a game on the schedule ever. We try to really go day by day, and it’s such coach speak, and it’s so boring, but it’s really the only way you can coach. You can’t put one game as more important than others.”
On whether the offense flows through Caris LeVert … “I hope our team is never that predictable that you can just stop one guy. Our hope is that you have to stop all five guys, because we like to have five very versatile players on the court that can all score in a bunch of ways, can all defend in a bunch of ways.
“I would not doubt if Caris LeVert leads us in shots taken, foul shots taken, a lot of things. But we have to put him in those positions.”