It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.
The Michigan basketball team survived Northwestern, 56-54, on Saturday night at the Crisler Center. John Beilein praised Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman for filling in nicely as a starter, discussed what the Wolverines did to slow down Alex Olah and spoke on ailments to Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert.
Opening statement: “We got a ‘W.’ I don’t know how, but we ended up getting it, and we’ll take it. I’m really proud of how our kids played through some adversity. Obviously, Spike’s upper respiratory infection really bothered him. He couldn’t practice the last couple of days; we held him out. Ricky Doyle, second half, said he can’t go. Similar symptoms. So we held him out. I thought everyone, Max, Muhammad, they came up big for us.”
On Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s three: “We put the ball is Caris’ hands several times today just to make the final decision. He had freshmen on him, so we tried to use that a little bit. They stay with Zak, obviously, in the corner. Muhammad was the guy — they were going to leave him open all day. You look at his shooting, he has been working so hard in practice, and you can see it’s getting closer and getting closer. I’m not that surprised, knowing the volume of shots and the big shots he hit in high school, but we haven’t seen it here yet.”
On 18-0 run in the first half: “Who did that?” [You did that.] “We did that? You guys keep track of all that stuff. I just know, ‘Man, it’s really going bad,’ or ‘It’s really going good.’ That’s what I know.”
On sick players: “We gotta go Tuesday to Rutgers. I’m hoping everyone is going to be better. But you could see, Ricky was gassed in two or three minutes. He couldn’t go up and down.”
On whether Abdur-Rahkman was an outlier: “It’s still an outlier, wouldn’t you say? No one went in there today saying, ‘Man, I can’t wait to see Muhammad hit a big shot tonight,’ right? Nobody thought that.”
On performances by Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert: “I see some things in Derrick right now where he’s gaining his confidence that he had before his injury. He’ll be real sore tomorrow, and we’ll have to nurse through that. At the same time, we as a coaching staff have to use our imagination a little more to see how to get Derrick involved even more, getting more shots.”
On defending Alex Olah in the second half: “Well, we changed defenses. We played almost exclusively ‘3’ zone, so we got a man down, and then we had a backside guy. We could have more pressure on the ball.
“We couldn’t stop him down low. You just think about this kid, really good player out of Romania, playing a lot of European basketball, now he’s got two freshman — Ricky and Mark — he’s picking on, and an undersized center.”
On production off the bench: “I think the development of our depth is a huge piece of the puzzle right now. And it’s not there. But that was a step today.”
On Zak Irvin’s health: “I hate to play this card again, but he’s been on medication for three days too. We have something that was going through the team. I don’t think he was himself. He was really laboring out there.”
On Caris LeVert’s health: “He may have done something, sprained his ankle or something. We don’t know. We’re having it looked at right now.”