Jan. 27, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein and select players addressed the media on Friday (Jan. 27) to talk about the Wolverines' first conference road win at Purdue on Tuesday (Jan. 24) and the team's Big Ten matchup at No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday (Jan. 29).
In Tuesday's conference tilt at Purdue, the Boilermaker's last second three-point attempt was no good and Michigan picked up its first road win, 66-64, at Mackey Arena. The Wolverines built up a 10-point lead in the second half after holding Purdue without a field goal during the first six minutes of the period. Purdue then used a 20-6 run to take a four-point advantage, but Michigan fought back and junior/sophomore forward Jordan Morgan's (Detroit, Mich.) dunk with 1:31 remaining gave the Wolverines the lead for good.
The Maize and Blue had been edged in its first two conference road games of the season but rebounded with a win at Purdue.
Michigan and Ohio State are currently knotted at 6-2 atop the Big Ten, along with Michigan State. The Wolverines will take on the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center for rights to the No. 1 spot. Both teams are coming off road wins, with the Buckeyes defeating Penn State, 78-54, on Wednesday (Jan. 25). Tipoff between U-M and OSU is set for 1 p.m. and the action can be seen live on CBS.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "This was unusual that we had four days in between games with the pace we've been going at. So we're able to get a good workout in after our Purdue game, take a day off, and now we have two days to prep for Ohio State. It feels good to be in that situation. Today is strictly a 'get better' day. We'll do some Ohio State preview, but mostly, how can we be better at Michigan. So as a result, we'll do that, we'll have a good practice tomorrow, head out for Columbus, and then do the best we can against a really remarkable, well-coached, very talented basketball team. As you've seen in their wins over teams like Duke and Indiana, they've had so much success."
On being competitive against Ohio State ... "We were watching the film and I thought we played with pretty good poise every time. Even in the (Big Ten Tournament) semifinal game, we missed a layup and two foul shots to end the first half, or it could have been tied at halftime. What they've been able to do is do things that only (Ohio State forward Jared) Sullinger can do. He gets traffic rebounds; there are four guys around him and somehow he ends up with the ball. He also gets to the rim and the foul line as well. The key to staying there is just keeping Sullinger in check somewhat, which is a big part of any attempts to beat them."
On the importance of Jordan Morgan's poise on defense ... "I think he's grown a lot in that area. If you look at him last year as a very young second-year player, but a redshirt freshman, I think he did a great job at times. But he's improved a lot, and so have many of the players at Ohio State."
On the advantage of having extra time to prepare ... "It's rest and a day for us to get better. Because Friday's a light day, Evan Smotrycz might have been over there making 100 threes today on his own and with a coach in a short session. We can't do that when you're playing every third day. You'll be a great practice player, but you won't be able to shoot in the game. The biggest thing is rest and getting back to doing things we do. We're going to do drills today in practice that we do October 15th and 16th because we need to get back to fundamentals. You can't work at that with an NBA schedule. To put that in perspective, if my math is right, we played seven games in 19 days, now we play 10 games in 40 days, so that math isn't equal. That's good for us now that hopefully we can get better, but you just never know."
On the focus of the team during close games ... "I think we're very focused at the end, and I think we realize that one play or a run, by us or by others, isn't going to determine the outcome. It's just play-by-play, keep going. Whether it was Arkansas or last week, it was almost the same scenarios and the shot goes in or it doesn't go in, and I think that's what we all love about it. I got a great question about what I'm thinking with 'here we go again.' I'm just thinking about how to guard the next ball screen and what we can do to improve, I'm not thinking about 'here we go again' at any time. But the fact is, that's the way it's going to be most of our games. We hope we never get blown out of the water and I don't think we're going to blow too many teams out of the water, it's just so competitive this year."
On talking to Trey Burke about going back to his hometown in Columbus ... "We've spoken just about this part of it; family, friends, and keeping a very tight circle. But he needs to stay focused on this game. I want him to embrace this experience -- this experience that he's going back home, embrace every minute of it. But it can't become a distraction."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423