January 2012 Archives

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Life in the Big Ten Conference is a ton of fun and it is also extremely taxing. Mental, physical and emotional toughness is tested in each training session preparing for games as well as in moments of competition. We constantly speak to our team about embracing the process of becoming a good team.

This past week, we took on a good Purdue team in West Lafayette and a strong Ohio State team in Columbus. The conference schedule is relentless and in order to be a good team, you are going to face some of the best teams in the country on the road.

Last Tuesday, Purdue made us work on both ends of the floor. Coach Painter always has a team that competes hard and plays tough. This Purdue team is no exception and we were pleased to come out of there with a victory.

I loved the way our seniors, Zack and Stu, carried themselves throughout the game. I believe their assured play rubbed off on our team and carried us to the eventual win.

Last Sunday in Columbus, we played an Ohio State team that was incredibly active on the boards and very good on the defensive end. They are a talented team and in order to beat them, we must play well and at the same time limit their easy baskets. I thought the difference in the game was their ability to convert second chance points and convert off our turnovers.

Indiana is our next conference opponent on Wednesday. We can't wait to put on the Michigan jerseys again in front of our home crowd in Crisler Center. We have to play well in order to beat Indiana. They are coming off a game where they scored over 100 points so we expect a confident and well prepared team to take the Crisler floor.

Look for a piece from me after the Indiana game later on this week.

Go Blue!

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Our team played a couple of thrilling basketball games last week. The win against Michigan State last Tuesday at Crisler was truly a battle.

After being down four late in the game, our guys stepped up on defense and really showed their toughness to get us back in the game. But most importantly, they played smart and as a team to come away with the win.

Our players are always driven to win. The stakes seem higher in a rivalry game because of the emotion but it still is just a basketball game. The emotion can only carry you so far. Execution wins in the end.

Michigan State is a tremendous team and our guys knows that the entire conference slate of games is important to earn a Big Ten championship.

The game at Arkansas on Saturday served as an opportunity to play an out of conference match up in January. Their speed, pressure, and the atmosphere in Bud Walton Arena were all good for us to experience.

Arkansas really came out strong and had the momentum on their side after making their first 11 shots. Winning on the road is tough and we certainly showed some toughness by climbing back and having a chance to win it at the end on Trey's three.

The trip to Fayetteville was a great test to prepare us for our Big Ten road games at Purdue and Ohio State this week. Right now our focus is all on beating the Boilermakers.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Last Wednesday, we won an overtime game versus a well coached Northwestern team. We made plays on both ends of the floor when we had to and that is encouraging to our staff. Northwestern puts a ton of pressure on a defense because they run their actions with great pace and precision. As evident by their win over Michigan State on Saturday, they are a challenge to game plan for and teams have to be locked in defensively.

We met another tough team in Iowa on the road on Saturday. Unfortunately, we did not play one of our better games. We must credit Iowa for protecting their home court and for executing the details of the game better than us. Playing from behind is never a good thing, especially on the road. These are lessons that are learned over the course of a season and we expect our team to learn from the Iowa loss.

The reality of conference play is rarely do you have much time to dwell on losses. You certainly learn from them but you must move on to the next opportunity. There is no time to dwell on the loss to Iowa because we have another tough opponent coming into Crisler tomorrow.

There's never a need to get our guys pumped up for the MSU game. The challenge will be to play with high levels of intensity and execution because that's what it takes to win rivalry games like this one.

Go Blue!
- John

The Dual is a Tradition Reborn

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We love tradition at the University of Michigan. A walk through the Diag, a visit to the Union, a quick peek in the UGLI or just wandering around campus brings back vivid memories.

For the sports fan, it could be a visit to Yost, and there's nothing better than an autumn football Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium.

Tradition and memories are important.

For the track and field programs at Michigan, one event is attempting to cement itself once again as a tradition. And to date, it has been successful.

It is called "The Dual."

Just as the title reads "The Dual" is a dual track meet between two schools. On Saturday (Jan. 14) the Michigan women's track and field team travels to Columbus, Ohio, to go against Ohio State for its second indoor "Dual" battle, while the men host the Buckeyes Saturday night at the Indoor Track Building (field events start at 6 p.m. and track events start at 7 p.m.).

For the student-athletes, the dual meet is one of those events that bring the team concept together. Each event has one team poised against the other. There are more individuals from each team that are able to participate in the dual meet, and because of that they have a bigger share in each other's outcome. The strategy changes completely as more individuals are working with one another to get their team any possible advantage. The emotions run higher too as teammates cheer for everyone on their team -- from first place to fifth place.

The emotional pull carries over to the fans. The cheers emanating from the crowd make the Indoor Track Building come to life as a hockey crowd takes to a game at Yost.

"The Dual" is run annually between the Michigan and Ohio State men's and women's track teams. Anytime those two schools get together in athletic competition, that in itself gets everyone fired up.

The first meet in "The Dual's" rebirth was a men's indoor meet run on Jan. 19, 2008 in Ann Arbor. The house was packed. It was the first Michigan-Ohio State dual meet since 1993. And the actual first dual meet between the schools was a men's competition in 1932.

Tomorrow night, another 1,400-plus crowd is expected to see an event that once ruled the collegiate landscape before almost becoming extinct.

Now with two schools hosting "The Dual" an athletic tradition has been born again. Track and field has bounced back with the same excitement found on the cinder tracks and in the bleachers that everyone enjoyed years ago.

This tradition has a great chance to continue.

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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I've said it before, but after last week I think it's worth repeating. The Big Ten Conference is extremely competitive and there are no nights off.

Playing at Assembly Hall will be one of the toughest atmospheres we will face all year. There's a reason why Indiana has stayed perfect, even against No. 1 and No. 2 ranked foes, at home.

Our staff was impressed with how hard our team played and that they never gave up in Bloomington. We were down by double digits late in the second half and our guys rallied to make it a one possession game and we had several shots to take the lead.

As impressed as I was on Thursday, I was even more proud of how the team used the loss as motivation to get the win at home against Wisconsin on Sunday, despite the short turnaround. It was special for the whole team to help our seniors get a win over the Badgers in Crisler.

The entire weekend was a treat because we had our Player Development Center dedication. Former players, former managers and donors were treated to a weekend of events and fellowship. It was great to see so many familiar faces and to interact with people who absolutely love Michigan and how it has impacted their lives.

We had several former players in attendance at the game, making the win over Wisconsin even more special. Cazzie Russell, Phil Hubbard and Rudy Tomjanovich all spoke to the team in the locker room before the game. The pride and passion these men spoke with about Michigan provided our guys with a boost going into the game.

Our next opponent is Northwestern on Wednesday in Crisler at 6:30. We then travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes on Saturday. It does not get any easier!

Go Blue!
- John