Michigan head coach John Beilein along with Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson and Moritz Wagner were all on the podium Thursday afternoon previewing Michigan-Notre Dame.
Read the full transcript from the head coach and players below.
JOHN BEILEIN: We’re really pleased to be in this situation. Not even 12 hours ago or so, or 24 hours ago, we were getting ready to play a game not knowing if we were going back to Ann Arbor or making this trip to Brooklyn.
So get in at 4:00 this morning and got some rest. We had the latest wakeup call ever at noon for our players, and just ate and walked through a few things that Notre Dame does. Look forward to getting a little shootaround and getting the kids sweating a little bit today and get prepared for Notre Dame.
Q. It’s a short amount of time for you to turn around and prepare your team. Does it help at all that you spent a bunch of time coaching in the Big East against Mike Brey’s teams?
JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, I guess it helps him as well that we know each other pretty well. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mike. Yeah, I know a little bit when I watched him play. I see a lot of similarities the way they played, but it was nine years ago when we did play.
We recruited many of their players. They recruited many of ours. There’s a lot of similarities between the programs. So in a short prep, whether it’s one or two days, you’ve just got to go play this time of year.
Q. Coach, you’ve been at this a long time. Just wondering, how has the tournament changed over the years, and how has your preparation for the tournament changed over the years?
JOHN BEILEIN: This has certainly been unique being in the first four and now moving forward. That was something brand new. But I don’t see a lot of differences right now. I think that you’re still going to have, as you saw with Yale and Baylor today, you’re going to have great games where people that Baylor was going to beat Yale, never watched Yale play. They don’t know how good they are. All us coaches see that. Chattanooga gave Duke a great run. That was still happening back when I was at Richmond and we upset South Carolina, or Valpo beat Mississippi that day on a miracle shot.
We just continue to have challenges in college athletics, but the end product is still very high quality as we continue to adapt. So the tournament is as good as ever, and thrilled to be in it again.
Q. Obviously, a lot of history between Michigan and Notre Dame. Not so much in the basketball arena, though. Does that rivalry aspect, especially given the football hiatus and the ten years it’s been since you played Notre Dame cross your mind at all?
JOHN BEILEIN: No, I think our guys, we have a lot of respect — I know I have a lot of respect for Notre Dame and the institution itself and the athletic teams that they have. So football’s been a great rivalry for years. Maybe it will be again. But I think if Mike and I, if we didn’t have schedules that were so fixed right now, it would be a great game in basketball as well. It probably will be in the ACC Big Ten challenge at some point.
So it’s two great schools. Our young men, they have a lot of Midwest kids. We have a lot of Midwest kids. They’ve all played against each other. I think those rivalries probably were formed way before anybody thought it would be a Notre Dame-Michigan game. It might have been eighth grade they played against each other. So it’s a great basketball game. I know that there will be a lot of people tuned in.
Q. More of a general question. One of the big themes recently in college basketball are the graduate senior transfers, kind of almost like a free agent type of deal. I was wondering your thoughts on that. Do you think it’s good for the game, bad for the game?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think we’re in a dangerous area there where you have the graduate transfer, and then where he can go afterwards and things like that, like we actually have one in our league. Those are difficult things, I think, that we have to look at in the future, and what is the real purpose that have? Is that young man going there just to play basketball? Is he going there to get his Masters degree? How many are getting their Masters degrees? There’s got to be some legitimacy to that rather than just another year of eligibility?
So the mid-majors that are getting to having their best players taken from them — you remember, a guy — there’s a reason a guy has a fifth year, that somewhere during that year he was injured, he had doctors, he had trainers, he had people looking after him at his home school. And now he’s going to take everything they did to another school, right? That’s not necessarily fair to anybody. Or fair to the home school that did all that work, the coaches that worked with them.
So we’ve got to be very careful of this area. I trust the NCAA is looking at it closely and hopefully will continue to make the right strides to make it a situation that really fits everyone much better.
Q. I was just wondering, how was the trip getting from Dayton to here? And what time did you get in? What did you have a chance to do today? Was it just sleeping and catching up?
ZAK IRVIN: Yeah, after the game, I think we got to the airport around 12:30. Then we got in Brooklyn in our hotel room around 4:00. So it was definitely a long trip for us. Got a lot of sleep this morning, which was nice. Got to catch up on some rest, just trying to fight fatigue.
DUNCAN ROBINSON: Yeah, Zak kind of said it. We got some sleep this morning, which was good, and now we’re ready to go today. So we’re looking forward to it.
MORITZ WAGNER: Yeah, obviously, a very exciting trip. Really nothing special to add.
Q. Hi, guys. Obviously, this is a big rivalry playing Notre Dame. You guys have a long history. The programs don’t play in football anymore, which I know was a big deal. Obviously, I know you guys are happy to be here after winning last night, but is there any added juice getting a chance to play a team like Notre Dame on this stage?
ZAK IRVIN: I think it will be a good game for us. Definitely happy that we were able to get the win last night. I just think we play every game with a chip on our shoulder. I know we’re getting ready for the game. We’re just excited for it.
DUNCAN ROBINSON: Obviously, winning last night was good, but we have a next game mentality. We’re really excited for this opportunity. Like Zak said, we always play with a chip on our shoulder.
MORITZ WAGNER: As both said already, very grateful to be in that position, to have that huge challenge in front of us, and very excited to play a great game tomorrow.
Q. For Zak and Duncan, in terms of turning things around in a very short period of time, I mean, you’ve only — you have the same amount of time that your opponent does to get ready, but it’s a short amount of time and less time than most of the teams that are in the tournament. How do you feel about dealing with that shortened time line?
ZAK IRVIN: We do have a quick turnaround. I think it kind of helped us, though, with the Big Ten Tournament, how we played three games in a row. That kind of got us ready for the NCAA Tournament. Tulsa was a great team. It was a hard fought game. We were able to win. And obviously, Notre Dame is really good as well. So it’s going to be really tough for us to learn everything they do. But at this time, it’s more about the players and their place.
DUNCAN ROBINSON: Playing in that first four game and now this first round of 64 is a unique challenge for sure. But like Zak said, we had short turnaround before. We played in Bahamas on a short turnaround and then recently in Indianapolis. Just got to stay locked in today and tomorrow leading up to the game.
Q. Coach Beilein and Coach Brey spent a lot of time going against one another as Big East coaches. Have you — in the one day of preparation that you’ve had, does it show that he is very familiar with what Notre Dame likes to do?
ZAK IRVIN: Yeah, with both of them being the Big East, you think Coach B kind of remembers some of the things that Notre Dame does, but that was quite some time ago. We’re just doing as much as we can to just learn about them in this short turnaround.
DUNCAN ROBINSON: Yeah, like he said, there’s definitely some history there, but at the same time, we’re also just very focused on ourselves, just trying to improve our own game. Not just how you stop them, but also how we can be effective on both ends of the floor.
MORITZ WAGNER: I think there’s really a different mindset going into that game, just going out there and competing and giving all you have to win the game.