Nov. 28, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the U-M men's basketball team owning a 5-1 record, including a 2-1 mark at the recent Maui Invitational, head coach John Beilein and senior guard Zack Novak (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) addressed the media on Monday (Nov. 28) to recap the tournament in Maui and preview the upcoming game with Virginia as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Michigan secured third place at the Maui Invitational, defeating UCLA, 79-63, in its final game. The squad opened with a 73-61 win over No. 8 Memphis to advance to the semifinals, where U-M suffered a 82-75 loss to No. 6 Duke.
The Wolverines will tip off against Virginia on Tuesday (Nov. 29) at 7 p.m. inside John Paul Jones Arena. The game can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
Opening Statement ... "The ACC/Big Ten Challenge -- Virginia is a young team like us. They have three seniors out there. I think I recruited (Virginia senior) Mike Scott when I was still coaching at West Virginia, so he's been around a little bit; he's a very experienced player. (Virginia senior Sammy) Zeglinski and the rest of the players I haven't seen before. They're going through a transition in their third year with Coach (Tony) Bennett and they are playing very much like Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Green Bay. They're a difficult team to play against, both offensively and defensively. We came back, and we had three different segments of practice after a redeye on Friday. The kids stayed up, we all slept really well that night, we took Saturday off, and yesterday we had a really good practice. So we'll try to do the same thing today, and then get to the game."
On representing the conference in the ACC/Big Ten challenge ... "I think it's really important. It's been a challenge with us having only 11 teams and them having 12 for a while. Now there are 12 great games that are going to go on. Somebody's got to win on the road for us to have a chance. We helped last year a little bit, and we have another big challenge in front of us this year."
On the difference between a natural road game and a neutral-site game ... "There's a big difference. I think that when we were in Hawaii, there were 2,400 people and probably 500 of each fan base there. This one will be different. It's hard, but it's something we have to do. We have to do it nine times in our league, and we still have to go to Oakland and Arkansas. Sometimes you just have to be able to do this, and it's part of the process."
On what he learned about the team in Maui ... "I liked how we played with great passion, energy, and confidence against some really good teams. The biggest question we always get is about Trey Burke, and I think that he performed fairly well. Zack Novak was like he was at Michigan State last year again. He was playing with great confidence and great leadership. Tim (Hardaway Jr.) had Tim-type games where we're finding ways to get someone there for him and once he gets something, he can do a lot of things just in one half. So I came out of there knowing where we are a little bit right now, and we have to figure out the ways to improve every day, because you have to get better from November."
On the key to success in road games ... "I think it's going to have a lot to do with the backcourt coming to play. I don't think Stu (Douglass) is really happy with his five turnovers in his last game, and nobody's happy about that. One thing I try to look for in success on the road is low turnover numbers. A turnover often leads to a fast-break layup or dunk, and it changes the energy of the game. But if you only turn it over eight or nine times a game, that limits those momentum swings. We've had success, and I think our teams over the long run have had a lot of success on the road, and I think that may be one of the reasons; the backcourt has got to value the ball. This will be a 50 possession game, I think we had 70 possessions in our last game, so if you throw a couple away that won't be good."
U-M Senior Guard Zack Novak
On how the team improved throughout three games in Maui ... "I saw a lot of improvement. The first game we were about to be down going into the half and we switched to a zone, which I thought really helped us. We got up to a little lead and really ended up playing a good second half there. We stumbled a little bit defensively the next game, but then the next game I think we were able to put both sides of the ball together."
On holding up their end of the deal in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ... "I think it is definitely a big RPI thing at the end of the year. It really helps us in the eyes of the committee -- seeing that the Big Ten went head-to-head with the ACC, which is always one of the best conferences in the country. If we can beat them it's really good for us in the end. And you do root for the other guys in the conference -- you want to hold up your end of the deal."
On what the team has been focusing on for the Virginia matchup ... "I think the big thing is that we're going to have to be solid with the way we cut and move on offense. We need to get good shots -- get good team shots and we should have a good result."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423