Feb. 24, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein and U-M's three seniors addressed the media on Friday (Feb. 24) as the Wolverines prepare to build on their four-game winning streak on Saturday (Feb. 25) when they host Purdue.
Saturday's regular-season home finale will be the final game at Crisler Center for U-M's three seniors, Zack Novak (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton), Stu Douglass (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and Corey Person (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central). Prior to Saturday's 6 p.m. matchup, the men's basketball program will honor the trio of seniors. Volunteer student coach Ben Cronin and senior manager Josh Mack will also be recognized for their dedication to the team over the past four years.
Michigan looks to lock up a perfect season at Crisler, having won all 15 previous home games, and also remains in the hunt for a Big Ten regular-season title. U-M is tied for second place with Ohio State at 11-4.
Michigan has recorded wins in its last four games, including its second overtime victory over Northwestern this season. After trailing much of the game on Tuesday (Feb. 21) in Evanston, Ill., Michigan clawed back to send the game to overtime. The Wolverines outscored the Wildcats, 43-24, in the second half and overtime combined to secure the road victory, including an 18-6 advantage in the extra period. Freshman guard Trey Burke (Columbus, Ohio/Northland HS) led Michigan in scoring for the second straight game with a game-high 19 points.
When Michigan traveled to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on Purdue earlier this season, the Wolverines edged the Boilermakers, 66-64, behind a game-high 19 points from sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (Miami, Fla./Palmetto Senior).
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "That was a bit of a heart-stopping win over Northwestern. When you watch the video, they made a lot of tough plays down the stretch and we were very fortunate to get it into overtime. But then in overtime, it really showed our toughness and our great conditioning. Northwestern was at the end of a five-game cluster and that always is difficult to get through, but we felt really good to get that win. We had a day off, and now we have a very NCAA Tournament-hungry Purdue team that is sitting in great position to get in the NCAA Tournament. I know they would love to get a road win over us to solidify their résumé."
On Purdue forward Robbie Hummel ... "He's really playing well -- he was rebounding like Dennis Rodman in the Nebraska game. After he's had to sit out a few years, he's really valued his experience and he's treasuring every moment he can play basketball. You don't want anyone to go through what he's gone through, but it certainly makes people really appreciate their health."
On being undefeated at home this season ... "That was a goal early in the year -- we set a bunch of goals and don't release all our goals, but that was one of them. Now that we're almost there, I don't know what the record books tell you with 16-0 at home. We're very fortunate to play 16 home games, but at the same time, to win every one of them against some of the teams that we've played, it means we've come to play every night."
On staying focused during Senior Night ... "I've had a lot of Senior Nights -- you realize it's special and that these kids are really special, but you just go through it because the most important thing is, even though it's Senior Night, their Senior Night they want to win. As a coach, I don't think too many of us get caught up in those festivities, other than what's the best way to send them out of here with a 'W.'"
On talking to the team about the last home game for Zack Novak and Stu Douglass ... "I have reminded them during the year that they only have five or six left, you only have two or three left -- I've reminded them of that. But we remind the other guys on the team that this is a special group, they have been the face of Michigan basketball for four years, they've had great success, and it's unique to have two seniors like that, and Corey Person and Ben Cronin too. We have four guys who have fought so hard to prove themselves. That's what really makes it special."
On the mindset of the team as it competes for a Big Ten regular-season championship ... "We had a really spirited film session yesterday with a lot of good vibes from everybody. They're asking questions -- we're all into this thing now of trying to be the best team we can be and really reaching our potential. Every coach, every player, and every manager realizes we had the ball bounce our way earlier and thank goodness we've been virtually injury-free with our starters. As a result, we've been able to fight through a lot of adversity and win enough games to be in this position."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423