April 5, 2013
• NCAA Tournament Central | Updated Bracket | Game Central
• Spike Albrecht Interview | Media Day/Practice Photo Gallery | Final Four Notes
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening statement ... "It's been a great week. The last 48 hours have been a lot of fun for everyone. Did not realize, usually a spectator at this event, how much went on behind the scenes. Really proud the way our kids are handling it. We're pretty focused when we get out on the court, when we're doing film, when we're doing our walkthroughs, they're right on it. So we've tried to make this as much of a business type of trip as you can, and I think our kids are focused, and we're ready to do our best."
On being a head coach his entire career ... "Well, I think in many ways it made it more difficult to become a better coach sometimes because I couldn't shortcut, I couldn't sit next to a great coach and say, 'You should never try that in a game.' I would try it in a game, we would get our butts kicked, I would learn by sleeping on the couch that night because I didn't sleep all night that night. You learn that it takes a step back, but it takes a step forward because the next time you get that opportunity, you're not going to make that same mistake again. It goes up and down, up and down. But it's well over one thousand games now, if you go way back to junior college as a coach. I think the losses have been much more valuable than the wins getting us to this point."
On Trey Burke being a coach on the court ... "It's been that way for most of his career here. I think in the first couple months, he was reading me. He was putting deposits in my trust bank more and more every time. That's really important. The more deposits he made, the more I knew I could trust him. One of the keys with our coaching staff is change and continue to grow as a staff in everything. So he's done things that I probably wouldn't have coached in the last couple years because I didn't think it could be done. Now I've seen him do it in practice. I said, 'I'm fine with that.' So there's been this mutual respect for each other, and I mean it. He's incredible at practice. I've never had him one time show any frustration in practice with a coach. I've probably at times coached him in different ways. At the same time, I've seen great growth by showing him a lot of patience and trust."
On the coaches importance to the Fab Five ... "I think the Fab Five was such a tremendous story, five tremendous players that did something special. But there were other guys on that team now. There's 10 other guys on that team, just like we have. Everybody makes a lot about our starting lineup, but there's other guys that are contributing every day, as well as the coaching staff. For Steve (Fisher) and his coaching staff to come in in that situation and direct a freshmen team to the Final Four was terrific. We don't talk about that enough. There was a lot of people behind the scenes in that one, as well as those five fabulous players. Let's embrace that whole team right now for what -- they went back-to-back Final Fours with some young players, but with some guys that really had to sacrifice and coaches that probably had to sacrifice during that time. They were very successful, but it was a team thing. That's what Michigan is: it's a team thing."
On how Burke compares to Chris Paul ... "I did get to see Chris Paul up close. That was his last game, against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. A great friend of mine Skip Prosser, and wonderful coach, the late Skip Prosser. I haven't watched Chris Paul. I watch him now, and I know how special he is. It's probably unfair to compare anyone to him. However, at that stage in their game, I know when we were preparing to play against Chris Paul, then watching Trey every day, there certainly are many similarities because he can hit the in-between jump shot, he's got a great pace to his game. Chris Paul has worked so hard at his game; he's elevated, like we hope that Trey can one day. This young man's got a fire in his belly to be the best player he can be and make his team win. I would sense if you checked Chris Paul, he's probably got that same fire."
On Nik Stauskas ... "He's been, from day one, a young man that came in with great confidence. You know what is really sensational about him, he has a great ability to move on to the next play or the next game. He had games he's rolling, getting open shots. All of a sudden, people are not letting him get the ball. In games at times that bothered him. Two days later, he's fine. So he's growing every day. I'll show you how much he's grown. After he won the NIT (Season Tip-Off), he said to one of my assistants, 'Man, this college basketball is a grind.' He'd been through four games. So now it's through 38. He's understanding. It was probably early to use the word 'grind' as far as our schedule. He's learning every day how hard you have to work. His future is extremely bright. That man is a gym rat. He'll find a gym anywhere and get his shots up. He's very right now interested in improving other parts of his game. His defense has taken a tremendous jump this year."
On Burke being a young point guard ... "Trey Burke is a sophomore, but when he was a freshman, we put him right in. The Western Illinois game was his first game. The funny story is, there's a fifth-year player at Western Illinois that had a great game against Trey Burke. We're flying out to Hawaii to play in the Maui Invitational. I said, 'This is going to be tough having a freshman point guard.' We go to Maui, he's one of the best players on the board playing against Duke, UCLA and Memphis. I said, 'Maybe it won't be such a bad year after all.' As Trey reads the situation, he just improves. He'll get knocked down, and he's the first one back on his feet. We had no other choice last year because Darius Morris went pro early. Turned out to be a win-win for both. Darius with the (Los Angeles) Lakers, Trey got an opportunity to play early and jumped on it."
On C.J. Lee ... "There's a lot being made probably about this. There's so many people behind this renaissance at Michigan. C.J. Lee is one of those men that has been very important. I called him in my office when he first got there. He was a walk-on. I said, 'C.J., I want you to understand something. You will shag balls, you are going to be a manager/roster player. You will never play. You will never get a scholarship. You will never start.' He just said, 'Yes, sir, yes, sir, yes, sir.' By the end of it, he was on scholarship, he was a starting guard in the NCAA Tournament 2009 when we made our first break-in there. Right now day to day, he is one of the most important parts of our staff behind the scenes, with our players, in all kinds of ways. So I can't tell you enough. This young man is a superstar, and a Michigan man. His roots are in Saginaw, Michigan. he's a Michigan man through and through. Great representative of our university."
U-M Sophomore Guard Trey Burke
On if his idea of a smart shot is the same as Coach Beilein's ... "I definitely think that most of the time. Some shots he doesn't agree with. But we're pretty much always on the same page. You know, just playing for him for two years, I pretty much know what shots he want us to take or what shots he rather us not to take. That's just a read. As a player, you have to be able to read, understand what's a good shot for the better of the team."
On reaching the goal set months ago of reaching the Final Four ... "It's surreal. It's a dream come true. We understand we have unfinished business. Like you said, the first couple meetings, that was one of our goals, was to get to Atlanta and compete for a national championship. Now that we're here, we just have to take full advantage of it, just be focused."
On Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams ..."He's definitely a game changer. At 6' 6" at the point guard position, definitely tough to defend. He does a great job of getting his teammates involved and scoring when he can. He's also really good on the defensive end. I think he averages with 2.7 steals per game. As a point guard playing against him, you have to be careful, make the right plays, make the right passes, or they'll end up as dunks on the other end.
On winning Player of the Year awards ... "Great accomplishments. You know, but my teammates and coaching staff, you know, they put me in this position. I wouldn't be able to receive those awards without them. I wouldn't even be in that talk. It would be great to get a win on Saturday, to have the opportunity to play on Monday and cut down the nets would definitely be a great feeling. But we have unfinished business. We'll be ready for tomorrow."
On beating the zone ... "You know, we can't really get too greedy. We can't fall in love with the three-point line, start taking deep threes. We have to just try to find different ways to attack the zone. When we see areas where we could attack, we have to try to exploit it. Execution will be big tomorrow. If you're not confident in the Final Four, then you shouldn't be here. So I don't blame them (Syracuse) being confident. But we'll play them tomorrow, so we'll be ready."
On the reason for his increase in steals ... "Just my intensity on that end of the court. The assistant coaches, specifically Bacari Alexander, he got on me a lot this offseason about raising my energy on the defensive end. I definitely think that was an improvement in my game as well as improving my lower-body strength. It has just allowed me to be able to anticipate better. It's allowed me to be able to just get more steals; help the team get easy buckets."
On the Michigan plan of attack against the Syracuse defense ... "We are going to find different ways to attack the zone. They play a really good 2-3 zone, and it is tough playing against a long team like Syracuse. We have to knock down uncontested threes. We have put in some sets that will allow us to get different looks against their zone. It is just the guards' job to knock down big shots."
On getting into transition offense to stop Syracuse from setting up zone defense ... "It all starts on the defensive side of the ball. We have to get stops to get out in transition. I feel like we are at our best when we are running in transition. We just have to execute on the defensive end and keep them off the boards as much as possible and get out and run. I think we are really good and capable of doing that."
On not being a top recruit out of high school pushing him to be a better player ... "I wasn't really recruited hard coming out of high school, and it put a chip on my shoulder. It made me work harder. I obviously knew I needed to get better. That is what made me work hard each and every day. Once Darius [Morris] left for the [Los Angeles] Lakers, I was thrown in to the fire, so I had to grow up pretty quickly. It just allowed me to gain a lot of experience and confidence."
On the comparison between Syracuse and teams in the Big Ten ... "They are pretty similar because they do not have a fast-paced offense. You have a lot of off-ball screens. We have played against a lot of teams that are bigger than them. I feel like we do well against big teams because we can get out and run. I feel like we might be quicker than a team that has size advantages. It is going to be tough to try and guard them because they do have guys that are bigger at all positions, but it is the Final Four. If you are not playing with heart and desire, a matter of will, you should not be here, and that is what we will be trying to play with tomorrow."
On Coach Beilein saying Burke plays like a fifth-year senior ... "I really grew up last year. I played with two great seniors last year in Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. I was able to learn from them, learn certain leadership skills. Coming into this year, I tried to be more of the voice out there; be the Zack Novak that this team needs. It is my job to stay poised out there. I am pretty much the quarterback out there."
On point guards in the NBA that Burke's game is modeled after ... "Guys like Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Rajon Rando. When you watch those guys, they are more than just great basketball players out there, they are actually leaders. They are coaches on the court. You want to model yourself after guys like that because you have your teammates' respect. Instead of criticizing your teammates on the court, you can help them."
On having his family here to watch him play ... "It means a lot. It means the world to me. They are my No. 1 support system. They are at every game they are capable of making and that means a lot to have my family in the crowd cheering me on. Especially my mom, she has pretty much been to all my games throughout my career. I definitely go out there and play for God first, then my family and teammates and coaches. It is an honor and privilege to have them here."
On valuing every possession in a game of its magnitude tomorrow ... "It will be very critical for us to take care of the ball. They excel on turnovers and are very good in transition, especially with their length. They may be able to get a steal, take two dribbles, and it is either a lay-up or a dunk. It is my job to set the tone for the team, my job to make sure we are making the right pass. We just want to find ways to exploit the defense early on. I think we definitely will be able to."
U-M Junior Guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
On beating the zone ... "I think you just got to be patient with it. You can't rush anything. And you can't match their length when you're practicing against your scout team. Take great team shots and don't pass good looks for better looks because you might not get those. When you have a great open look, knock it down. If the zone was unbeatable, then they would be 39-0, whatever the case may be. We're just going to go out there, play our game, not worry about what they're going to do, and just play Michigan basketball."
On game film of Syracuse that Michigan has watched ... "Coach just shows us game film of their previous games -- Louisville, Pitt. We also watched game film against Eastern Michigan, whose coach came from Syracuse. They run a similar type of defense, and that helped us out a lot."
On how to win the mismatches on defense with pick and roll ... "Trey is going to be on the ball in the pick and roll most of the time. If I'm in, I've got to do a great job of getting over the top of screens and keep on doing what we've been doing all tournament long. We've got to make it uncomfortable for their offensive guys to find their bigs and find their shooters."
On comparing Syracuse and Northwestern's zone defense ... "You can definitely compare those two. They both play zone very, very well. The thing about Syracuse is that you can't match their length. Their length is unheard of. They've got guys on the wings that are 6-9, 6-10 and moving like guards. It's going to be tough. When we played against Northwestern we found opening and ways to beat them over the top because they are so much shorter than Syracuse. It's going to be very, very tough."
On matching up against Syracuse's size ... "I don't think it's going to come down to size difference. I think it's going to come down to whose playing with the most heart and the most passion. That's how we got here. We know what we have to do as a ball club to go out and get a win."
On preparing Saturday for the game ... "I know we've got some shooting time tomorrow in the dome. I just want to come here and get some extra reps up; get a look at the basket one last time before we go out there and play, and see the ball go in. We might work on some zone shots where we might end up getting the ball in the zone or outside of the zone, so we can make them."
U-M Freshman Guard Glenn Robinson III
On what he has taken from his father in terms of preparation ... "Just seeing how he prepared for games really helps a player like myself, and I can give some of that advice to my teammates. Just the preparation on how he watched film, studied film and studied his opponents. That's something he has shared with me and something I think that really helps."
On having teammates whose fathers play in the NBA ... "It's great to have other people on the team who are going through the same things you're going through or understand the things that are going on in your life because of them not being around as much or them having played in the league. It's great to share those things. I think that's really what bonded me and Tim on my official visit to the University of Michigan. I knew that's when I'd really like this team and how we kind of bonded from that moment."
On his dad's biggest advice ... "We play back-to-back games, so trying to stay healthy, eating right and preparation for the game. My coaches will get us ready for the game. He just tried to give me tips off the court on how to get your mind and body right."
On when the team truly believed they would make it to Atlanta ... "I'll say right after the Kansas game. If we could play every minute like those last three minutes we played of defense against Kansas I think we knew we'd have a great shot at getting here"
On the final 30 seconds of regulation against Kansas ... "We just kept going to the huddles saying 'we got to believe,' 'we have to be ready' and 'we have to be determined to win this game.' Those last 30 seconds, I believe I got a loose ball and a reverse layup to cut it to three, and Trey hit that big shot. Once we went into overtime, we just knew we had to grind it out and play those last five minutes as hard as we could and not want to go home. I think we did a great job of that. Going into the Florida game, we still had that mentality that we wanted to play defense. I think that really helped us."
On what his team is seeing in Burke ... "I think that we're seeing a guy who is a great point guard, can attack you off the dribble and make shots. He knows when to pass to his teammates. Overall, he's a great point guard, and I think he handles all the adversity we've been through as a team very well."
On Coach Beilein's message to the team ... "The constant message has been that you have to believe and understand what he's trying to teach us. And defense. Since day one, defense has been the key to this team. As long as we continue to keep playing defense the way we have been the last couple of games, I think we'll have a great chance at doing what we want to do."
On what stands out about Syracuse ... "Definitely their zone defense. I think that's the first thing everyone knows about Syracuse. It's a tough matchup, they play that zone well. It's hard to find open gaps and how to attack it. We have great coaches, and we just have to stick to our game plan."
Freshman Forward Mitch McGary
On matching up against Syracuse at each position with potential size differences ... "I think going into this game, we are an evenly matched team. They are a great defensive team. They are in the zone, but they also have a great offensive team. They are a very long and athletic team that can shoot from the perimeter but also get good layups and dunks. From our aspect, our team has just as many athletes. We have long guards and long forwards who are just as defensively equipped as them. I think it is going to be a good matchup."
On defending Syracuse zone play ... "If they zone up, then we are going to try to find the gaps. On the pick and roll, if I flash in the middle and Trey (Burke) kicks to the wing then they might be able to hit me on the high-low. We are just going to try to get good looks. I'm going to try to create the defense to collapse down on me so my guys can get more looks. I'm hoping for a lot of step-across lay-ups and dunks, getting in the lane with some easy stuffs or kick out for some threes. I need to try to get a lot of offensive rebounds. In the zone, there are a lot of gaps to go grab the offensive rebound to give this team some second chances."
On how playing with Burke has helped his play ... "He has helped me tremendously. He is one of the best point guards in the country. He does it all for his team. Being on the court with him, he sees a lot of things that other guards don't see, and he knows when it's time to score or pass it and finds easy drop-offs. That's why I've been playing so well in the tournament. It is purely off his play. Everyone keys in on him and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) so well, that I'm getting the easy drop-offs. The credit should go to them. I'm just putting the ball in the basket. They are doing all the work by penetrating in the lane and kicking it to me."
On Coach Bacari Alexander's pre-game speech titled "chip on shoulder" ... "He is always coming up with clever schemes to lighten the mood. He is very cool about lightening the mood. Coach Beilein and others are so serious before games, and he comes in and gives us in a sense a motivational speech, but he always has a funny aspect to it. So it is always cool to lighten the mood and loosen us up before the games. That speech was one of the funniest ones of the season."
On how he shed 20 pounds since the beginning of the season ... "I stopped eating not as much sweets. I have a sweet tooth. I've never had any cavities, but I love eating candy. I use to eat a lot of junk food, and my metabolism kind of slowed down now. I started making changes to my diet and appetite. I can't eat pizza, hamburgers, fatty foods, and not a lot of junk foods. I laid low on those things and ended up losing about 20 pounds throughout the season. Right now, I'm at about 255, and I want to keep losing weight and build muscle and just lean up even more. It has helped my motor even more. I'm a high motor guy who likes to get going and stay active. Now with less weight, I think I have more endurance and am able to stay on the court longer periods of time. "
U-M Freshman Guard Nik Stauskas
On initial impressions of Syracuse and the 2-3 zone ... "Their 2-3 is very impressive. They've been using it all year, and they've been doing really well. We've been practicing really hard on some new sets and some new offensive plays. We feel like if we move the ball well and do what we're supposed to do, we'll be alright."
On what the week has been like after his performance against Florida ... "It's been great. I've been getting a lot of support from family, friends and fans, but that was last week. We're here in the Final Four and our focus is on Syracuse right now."
On taking his favored corner shots against the Syracuse zone defense ... "When I get a lot of my corner shots, it's usually against a man defense. Against the 2-3, I might have to choose the spots where I'm shooting from. It's all going to be in-game adjustments based on how they are playing me. I'm just going to have to roam around and pick my spots."
On impressions of Syracuse's James Southerland ... "He's a really good player. He's got some size to him, he's 6-foot-8, and I might be matched up on him a little bit. I just have to make sure he just doesn't get any open shots."
On influx of Canadian players competing on NCAA teams ... "Especially in Toronto, the level of competition has gone way up over the last 10 years. A lot of the kids playing in the NCAA Tournament that are from Canada I've grown up playing with. I've been playing against them since I was eight or nine years old. We all kind of pushed each other to get to this level, and I'm real proud of all of them. I can't really pinpoint any one thing that has influenced Canada basketball to be what it is now. I think we're just lucky to have a few talented kids who have come up and been successful. I always looked up to Steve Nash, and he's actually a good friend of mine now. He's a great guy and obviously a talented basketball player."
On his current confidence level and carrying personal momentum from game to game ... "Well, after last game, my confidence is real good. I went 6-for-6, so just seeing that ball go through the hoop after struggling for a couple games felt really good. Really, my confidence comes from just taking reps in practice. I just need to get a lot of shots up, and this week I've been shooting the ball really well. Keeping that up in the game would be real nice."
On his role in breaking up the Syracuse zone ... "If I'm hitting shots that will be a great way of breaking the zone. That's really just the most effective way to break the zone is for guys to just go out there and hit shots. I've just been putting a lot of reps up in practice and making sure I'm staying confident and getting that same release off and if I can carry that into the game it would really help our team out."
On experience against the 2-3 zone ... "We haven't really faced a lot of 2-3 zone all year. We had a couple of teams that switch to it for a couple of minutes maybe, but every time a team has ran a 2-3 zone against us, I feel like we've done pretty well against it. We got to have a full week to prepare for Syracuse and in practice we got to see a lot of zone defense. We're pretty well prepared right now. We know what we're going to do."
On the development of Mitch McGary ... "I think you saw a lot against Florida. A lot of the reasons I was able to get those open looks was because of Mitch. The last couple games you see how effective Mitch is just rolling to the rim. The wings have to decide on whether they're going to help down on Mitch who is rolling or stay out on me on the perimeter. Mitch coming on late in the tournament like he has, it's been great."