Here’s Michigan’s press conference after Sunday afternoon’s win over Louisville.
COACH BEILEIN: A little damp right now, but our guys, we started a tradition of taking a shower, I guess, without going into the shower after good wins. It’s not stopping.
So proud of these guys. The end of the first half, I thought was a defining moment for our team in this particular game. We could have approached that differently. We were coming back, shot clock’s down, they nail a 3. I think they came back down again, nailed another 3. Then all of a sudden, we got a foul, and they get two more. We’re down eight at half.
A team that isn’t as experienced, that despite have the poise we have, would come back and try to win it all right away. We won every four-minute period until we got ahead in the game. And just by playing in those little increments made a big difference.
Coaches helping me, assistant coach is helping me, great game plan, Billy Donlon, 69 points. I can’t tell you how many plays Jeff and Saddi suggested that worked. It was a great team win for everybody.
Q. John, you had 40 points in the paint tonight. You obviously made a decision to take the ball inside when they were trying to take away your 3s.
COACH BEILEIN: You can’t do both with them. We work on it a lot. You won’t believe. People think we’re a 3-point shooting machine. You can’t do that anymore unless you can drive the ball or both D.J. and Mo. We’ve worked hard, Saddi Washington, to play one-on-one in the post. People are sticking with our shooters. We do that a little bit with Jordan Morgan during good years and Mitch McGary and DeShawn Sims. We haven’t been able to do that in many of our years now.
It’s a big game changer, as well as Derrick Walton and Muhammad not settling for jump shots. They can take the ball to the basket and finish. We’ve been working on it endlessly. We’ve been working on it for four years.
Q. D.J., you’re like a point guard now, as far as getting to the free throw line, knocking them down, second straight outing. Take us through the mental process with that kind of pressure, 18,000 people watching. What do you go through to nail them as you did?
D.J. WILSON: I don’t feel any really. Everybody is confident in my ability knocking down free throws down the stretch. I’m confident in myself. So that’s really all I need. I think yesterday when we played Oklahoma State, I think that really helped me. So when I went to the line, I just had to have confidence.
Q. Coach Beilein, are you surprised with the six turnovers and are you surprised that the University of Louisville did not extend its defense earlier?
COACH BEILEIN: We only average nine a game. So I didn’t know in short prep, you know, we were expecting anything. We try to prepare for all of it. But, again, you open up the floor, people don’t press much anymore because you know what it gives you? A wide open three at the other end, which we do at five positions. So that’s why John Wooden pressed for years. You can’t do that today.
I’m sure it’s something to do with that. And at the same time, they really played really good. We could not get used to their length on offense. A lot of screens. We had to settle down to realize we can take the ball to the basket.
Q. Mo, given the defense on Derrick, the switches that gave you those mismatches, what gave you the mindset to protect the basket?
MORITZ WAGNER: Like Coach B said, we’ve been working a lot on the switching defense, getting the ball in the post, being aggressive down there as well. I think I’m just very confident because of our practice because of the work we all put in, and it paid off today.
Q. Mo, did you have a sense going into the game, based on the way they might play you guys that you’d have to play a big role or did you develop as it happened?
MORITZ WAGNER: No. I just let the game come to me. Don’t force anything and see what happens. Today, I got a couple easy ones early. Therefore, my confidence level was high.
Q. For D.J. and Mo, there was a minute there when you guys kind of embraced near the basket and hugged each other. What did you say to each other there? What was going through your emotions?
D.J. WILSON: Me and Mo, we’re real close, especially off the court. We’re roommates. So I don’t know. We just got, like I keep saying, confidence with one another. I don’t know. We kind of — our play is kind of contagious out on the floor. I feed off his energy. He feeds off mine.
Down the stretch, when we pulled out the victory, I was as happy as I could have possibly be, and I seen Mo right there so I just embraced him.
MORITZ WAGNER: Like D.J. said, we’re very close, and we work so much together. We do similar things. So it’s beautiful to see each other being successful and very happy that the team, in general, could be successful today.
Q. Derrick, you’d been having a tough shooting night. Can you describe that last drive, the big play you made? Did you feel I’m taking this or did you feel like giving it up to somebody else?
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: No. I felt like every shot I shot today was a great shot, and I know Coach B would yell at me if I start to defer. So I just kept screening to my guys. After they made play after play after play, I just told them I could bring it home and hit the shot. I hit the jump shot, and I hit the layup. He looked at me. Like I said, I feed off those guys to give me so much confidence. I knew if I stopped shooting, they’d be mad at me.
Q. Derrick and D.J., of all the things that Mo gave you guys out there today, what do you think he did best?
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: He’s got the mentality where he wants to make the play. We feed off him so much because he plays with so much energy. He just makes the right play at all times. He has the calls to make the big plays, so we feed off him because he’s not afraid of anything. So that’s pretty much his mentality.
D.J. WILSON: Mo just has the mentality of he’s not scared in the moment, and I think you definitely saw that today. Down the stretch, when he got the ball, he knew he was going to make a play, and we watched him. He executed well down the stretch. That was big, a big confidence boost.
Q. Coach, it seemed like during the regular season, there was a perception about the Big Ten maybe having a weak year, a down year. Three teams in the Sweet 16 now. Did you feel during the regular season that it was stronger than it had been given credit for?
COACH BEILEIN: I don’t know how they’d judge how teams were, but we’re all going to be judged a lot on what happens in November, December. We had a tremendous league last year with a lot of turnover. Guys going pro, great seniors in the league.
We had some injuries to some players as well. So you get judged by that. I thought we had a pretty good record, actually, as a league, but it didn’t measure up.
There’s always going to be a lot of hype about what teams are getting most hype early, and it just doesn’t go away. And so as a result, I just told everybody, just wait. The level of coaching in this league, the resources in this league, the level of talent in this league, it will come to the top at the end of the year.
Moritz, he averaged two points a game last year. He’s 19 years old. You got to watch this guy. D.J. averaged the same. There’s a process that people go through to develop their teams, and we had a lot of good seniors last year who graduated and a lot of guys waiting in the wings. It may have not showed in November, December. It’s showing in March.
Q. Derrick, I guess I’ll go back after the Ohio State game at home, Michigan State game, and I think you were quoted as saying you looked at yourself, why not me take this team, put this team on my back. Has your leadership skill, even though you’re a four-year starter, ramped up significantly from when you were a freshman?
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: Of course, since I was a freshman, my job was easy, run the team, and get guys involved. Now, at this stage, it’s a lot more. Credit to a lot of guys I work with that help me work on my leadership. At this point, I feel like why not have this team have my identity, just a determination and just a will to win. I’m happy I was able to have a thumbprint on this team so they want to keep going.
Q. John, you alluded to the decisions you guys made as a staff about how to make changes once the game started, whether it’s isolating Mo or D.J. Could you kind of walk through the process?
COACH BEILEIN: We run a bunch of action. Some of it is non-ball screen. Some of it is ball screen. You throw it out there, and you read how they’re doing. So now we’re training every four minutes. We get to huddle up, and we talk about it, and then we try to get the game to evolve in the way they’re playing us.
Now, Louisville could have changed in the middle and then we’d have to reevaluate, but there’s a process we go through to figure out how people are playing us, to then apply the right type of action. That was happening.
And we had expected they may switch ball screens because their big guys are long and they’re athletic and they’re going to try. As Derrick said, man, Coach, those guys are long and they’re shooting over. Once we knew that, there was some action we were going to delete, and we were going to go with other stuff. Part of that is just post-up action.
Q. For all the players, a couple days ago, Rick Pitino called you guys the Golden State Warriors after you bombarded Oklahoma State with those 3-pointers. Today, you beat Louisville missing 11 of 17 3-pointers. Do you think that short-changed what you guys are all about, just a free-throwing, shooting team?
MORITZ WAGNER: We always believed in ourselves, not only from a shooting respect, but also on the defensive end and in the paint as well. So, yeah, I’m very happy. I just said that to Coach B, we only shot six 3s today and we won. So it’s awesome. We played gritty basketball, and I think we can be proud of that.
D.J. WILSON: I think it just shows the versatility of this team. Our offense, it’s kind of like pick your poison. Today, we didn’t knock down the 3. We worked, and we did other things to put the ball in the hole, and it was effective.
I also think just on the other end, they had ten offensive rebounds in the first half and limiting them to five in the second half was key for us to pull out the victory.
DERRICK WALTON, JR.: Pretty much what that those guys said, found another way to win. That’s been our identity in the last month and a half, finding different ways to win. Whether it’s the 3-ball or not, it’s finding multiple different ways to win and taking what the game gives us.