Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer spoke with media on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Monday morning. He discussed the improvements the Wolverines made against Indiana, discovering their identity and how the team stays motivated after so many difficult losses.
Opening statement: “Obviously, yesterday was a difficult loss, a disappointing loss. Always feel like the amount of disappointment in losing is equivalent to the amount of energy expended in trying to win. Our kids prepared very well, they played very hard. … We played a little better offensively. We were more connected, we played with a little better purpose. And execution was better, so that’s a sign of growth for our team.”
On John Beilein’s coaching style this year: “I don’t know that there is much difference in terms of his approach. He has always been a, ‘Let’s get better today. This is who we are. This is how we want to play.’ He still imparts a vision, and he still gives great attention to detail. We as a staff continue to remind each other that we are in a growth process. Right now we’re starting three freshmen, two of which didn’t play very much in the pre-Big Ten season. We kinda go day-to-day, and Coach is tremendous at keeping the vision of getting better and trying to be more connected in our purpose in how we play the game. I don’t know that there’s been a big difference. It’s who he is.”
On using the 2-3 zone with this group of players: “We’ve obviously, over the past couple of years, been more man-to-man oriented. As we’ve gone down the path with this group, we’ve felt like a change in defenses might serve us well. We have played more 2-3 than the past couple of years, but you have a bench rotation that’s been limited, more so than in the past, and just one of the adjustments that we’ve made defensively speaking.”
On team psychology following near-misses: “When the calendar turns to February, in so many cases, we always felt you are who you are. It’s a great time of years for players because they get to play games. We just play. … We always say, in February, you have to coach your hearts anyhow. Depending on the season, you are who you are, and you have to coach your hearts. That’s a part of that when you have a team like we’ve got this year that competed very hard and is doing good things in terms of growing [but] falling short. Yeah, you have to be very aware of their hearts and very aware of just keep them in a good place, keep the vision in front of them, keep them connected.”
On figuring out team identity: “Most coaches would say that the challenges of coaching a younger team … is the battle for consistency. It’s just part of the territory. I don’t think you dwell on it; you just know it. I always say coaching is much more an art than it is a science and, right now, you are just at a point of your season where you’re trying to get kids to understand the importance of being consistent in their two things they control: their attitude and their effort. And our kids have been great with that. … The competitive nature of this group has been very reflective of who we are at Michigan and what we’ve endeavored to build here.”