Video: John Beilein praises rising stars in win over Syracuse

Alejandro Zúñiga

Behind a late three-pointer by Spike Albrecht and some sloppy play by Syracuse, the Michigan basketball team held on to beat the Orange, 68-65, at the Crisler Center. Coach John Beilein pointed to the performances of Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle and Albrecht as key to the big non-conference win.

Watch Beilein’s post-game press conference in the embedded media player below, with select quotes after the jump.

Opening statement: “If I was just a spectator, that was a heck of a basketball game for December. We thought we had a good plan against Syracuse, until you see that zone and how quick it is. You’ll have these little windows to try and get open shots or open opportunities, and they close so quickly. It took us a while to get used to it.”

On getting the ball to Albrecht for the key three-pointer: “It is really hard to go to somebody against that zone. We tried to get into action that would allow them to either we’d get a ball screen or I urged them to move in. Sometimes we attacked the zone from too far out. Somebody’s going to have to make a big shot. It was a very simple scheme. It worked well for us today. The more complicated we got, the worse we were, so we got very simple during that time. We were going to look for opportunities to get it in the high post or swing it out, and if somebody had to just step in and knock it down, knock it down.”

On running the offense through Albrecht: “He’s really good — Derrick is good as well at it — but Spike is really good at attacking zones. He sees behind the zone, he makes that entry pass into the high-post area better than anybody. That’s why we had him out there so much.

“Derrick hadn’t practiced in a week. It’s good news we can get him out there. At the same time, he didn’t have the reps against the zone.”

On shooting better in the second half: “It was a simple adjustment, really. … The whole message at halftime was, I didn’t even say ‘3-for-17.’ I didn’t want to put them into shock. But I said, ‘We’ve got some open shots. Not a lot of them, but we’re going to make them in the second half.’ That was the only thing that we did differently. You get a little bit more accustomed to the speed that you have to move the ball, the way you have to ball fake to get people open.”

On closing out defensively: “It was good. We almost didn’t close, though, but that had a lot to do with [Syracuse’s] three-point shooting. Cooney really can shoot. … We lost him a couple times, and he made big shots for them. To stop Christmas or McCullough, they’re just really good with that first step and can get by some of our guys. I didn’t like the way that we closed defensively, but I don’t know if frankly we can do something about it because Cooney made such good shots.”

On Kameron Chatman: “That would’ve been about an eight-point, 10-point game at half if it wasn’t for Kam. He got rebounds, he saw out of the post, made a couple 15-footers. He’s still learning. He’s going to learn for four years.”

On Ricky Doyle: “We’d been watching this. We saw it in Europe like two games, but we didn’t see it in the other two. But we saw, ‘Oh my goodness, this kid can play above the rim and do some really good things, and he competes.’ Today, obviously, he competed. For us to get 17 [offensive] rebounds against Syracuse, people would never believe that.”

On when Derrick Walton was cleared to play: “When he came in at the 10-minute mark [before the game], he said, ‘I can go.’ Spike’s been playing really well, but we wanted to let him play while he was warmed up.”

On the quick improvement from the freshmen: “I don’t think we’re there yet. But it is good to have those three [Albrecht, Doyle and Chatman] have those types of contributions today because [Irvin, LeVert and Walton] are going to have off nights. We don’t want those guys to just be residual players.”