Feb. 3, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the Wolverines off to their best Big Ten start since the 2002-03 season at 7-3, University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein and select players addressed the media on Friday (Feb. 3). The Maize and Blue chalked up a win over Indiana on Wednesday night (Feb. 1) at Crisler Center and have turned focus to the rivalry matchup at No. 9 Michigan State on Sunday (Feb. 5).
The Wolverines' decisive 68-56 win over Indiana put them in a tie for second place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin. In front of a sellout crowd, Michigan jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and increased that advantage to 20 points, 28-8, at the 7:21 mark. However, the Wolverines' 11-point halftime lead was cut to two points with a little more than three minutes to play. Michigan held strong and went 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the final 1:23 to even the series between the Wolverines and the Hoosiers at 1-1 this season. Freshman Trey Burke (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) was 5-for-6 from the line down the stretch to finish with a team-high 18 points.
Sunday's meeting between Michigan and Michigan State will be the 169th between the two teams in program history. U-M holds a 94-74 (87-71*) advantage in the all-time series, including wins in the last three meetings. The Wolverines edged the Spartans, 60-59, on Jan. 17 at Crisler Center. Senior guard Stu Douglass (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) hit the go-ahead layup with 35 seconds left and the Wolverine defense thwarted Michigan State's last-second try to secure the win.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "We're pleased with our win the other day against Indiana. The team hasn't watched the video yet, they'll watch it in a matter of a half hour, but it was a good win. It's good to prep for the rest of our season because we were playing a team that was so talented and now going into the Michigan State game, we certainly have to guard great talent and really have great focus when we go into a game like that. It will be interesting to see how our guys respond to practice today with yesterday being an off day again. It was good because we needed that a little bit, and now we'll get back into the real world of another game and another challenge."
On the goal of a Big Ten championship versus an NCAA Tournament berth ... "We want to take the next step and I think it takes care of itself. We're trying to become champions -- that's the goal of every team that puts on the Maize and Blue. You're trying to be a champion in the Big Ten, and that's the ultimate goal of getting there. So we're shooting for that, knowing that if we come close enough to that, if we don't get that, we're still in the NCAA Tournament. We set our bar a little higher for the ultimate goal."
On the matchup of Zack Novak against MSU senior Draymond Green ... "What he gives us, and you give up a little bit because he's 6-foot-4, is that when he's guarding the Christian Wattford type of player, the Draymond Green type of player, they have to run around on defense and guard him too. As a result, that could tire the other person out. He's been doing it for four years. When we talk about some of the big men he's guarded, I think Blake Griffin was one of them way back when, he just takes it on and goes and guards who we tell him to guard. He does a great job despite his size. I think sometime he comes out with a wash or better than them."
On preparing for Michigan State's rebounding attack ... "We put the bubbles up. Today the scout team will not like it when they see the rim up that they can't score on, just to make sure we emphasize that we're going to box out every single time because they will send three, four, or five guys to the backboard. Yet they still play very good transition defense, that's why they're so good. So we're conscious of that."
On the importance of last year's win at East Lansing ... "It began a real belief in this team chemistry thing that has always been so important to our coaching staff. In order to get going, you have to have one moment at least. Is it a turning point? I don't know, but did it start there? And you remember that because everyone talks about it and you're reminded of it."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423