Michigan’s seniors took the podium with John Beilein after the Wolverines fell to Oregon. Here’s what they had to say.
JOHN BEILEIN: Congratulations to Oregon. They have a great team. They gave us trouble with their changing defenses and put us in delay a few times. The kids fought their hearts out this whole season but particularly this last six weeks to be more than a story. It was a great team. They were becoming a great team before the story, so really proud of ’em. We weren’t sharp as we would have liked to have been today, but you have to credit Oregon with that.
Q. Derrick, were you surprised they didn’t foul you on that last play? They had a couple to give. Did you think you had a good look and that it was going in once you let it go?
DERRICK WALTON JR.: I wasn’t thinking about the foul. I just knew time was winding down, and I wanted to get the best shot possible with time winding down. I had a good look at the basket and it just didn’t drop for me.
Q. Coach, you talked about their switching defense. Looked like they played good perimeter defense switching on the ball screens and shutting off those lanes. Was that key in your mind?
JOHN BEILEIN: That’s all we’ve seen, but part of it is zone as well. There will be a match-up zone and they will switch off the ball and send cutters through and you saw we got some burn layups and some things and it seemed to give us a little bit of doubt in some areas. In the first half we had seven turnovers and we had eight in the game. We took two or three bad shots in the first half. We took shots our kids would like to have back. We haven’t been shooting that ball. They just rattled us just enough to make a difference in this game.
Q. If you guys could both talk about how special this team has been to you?
DERRICK WALTON JR.: It’s the tightest bunch I’ve been around in all my years of playing basketball. Just a very selfless group. I had the joy of being a part of it and being one of the leaders. Like I said, I wish we could have more games to play together because I think a couple minutes throughout the game we didn’t show the type of team we were becoming and overall just thank them for allowing me to be part of such a great team.
ZAK IRVIN: Like Derrick said, this is a very selfless team. We’re very close-knit, playing our best basketball and didn’t want the season to end. This team had a lot of great memories. We battled through adversity and just a team that I will always remember.
Q. Coach, I can’t remember how many threes you guys shot in the first half, but I think you were at 23 or 25%. Would you like to have maybe taken the ball inside a bit more? You didn’t shoot your normal high percentage from beyond the arc tonight.
JOHN BEILEIN: We shot 14 the first half. It’s difficult in that defense to do that. Jordan Bell is a great defensive player. We tried to do that a little earlier with Mo. Didn’t work out so well.
It’s really hard to get that type of look that you would like to get. While we are growing in that area. I didn’t think that was a strength against certain defenses, didn’t feel it was today. Those 31 threes we took, about five or six of them we would like to have back. I don’t know why we did it, but we did it and that’s part of these guys growing as a team and growing as players.
Q. Zak, I was curious on your thoughts, what you saw on the final possession, when you saw Derrick with the ball, did you think it was going in?
ZAK IRVIN: I thought he had a great match-up. He had a lot of separation on his move. I’ve seen him make that shot thousands of times, so I had confidence in him knocking it down. It looked good from my angle. No one else on this team that we wanted taking that shot. He’s been on a run and such a great player. I’m proud of him.
Q. John, were you expecting them to foul on that last possession because they had a couple of fouls to give?
JOHN BEILEIN: That’s why I thought I would probably have another time to call a timeout because I expected a foul but when I saw him with the match-up, because if he takes the ball to the basket they might foul him. So I was proud he got a good shot. We have watched him for the last six weeks make those. They still had two to give.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Coach, guys, we will let you go back to the locker room. Congratulations on a terrific season.