John Beilein, Darius Morris, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak and Matt Vogrich were all on the podium to discuss Michigna’s 30 point win over Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the full transcript and we’ll have video later.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think it’s an understatement to say that we’re thrilled with our performance today. We had a lot of respect for Tennessee’s defense, for the way they were going to come after us with pressure and we see that somewhat in the Big Ten, but it’s not a day-to-day. It was a bit of a concern. At the same time, these young men and the ones — other ones that came off the bench hung in there during a tough period in the first half and got away from it early enough in the second half to get a good win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes first.
Q. I guess, Coach, for you and then maybe if any of the players can comment as well.
THE MODERATOR: Student athletes first.
Q. Zack, of all ever things that you guys did and you beat them on the glass, you shoot 64 percent in the second half, a lot of energy plays, which of those are you most proud?
ZACK NOVAK: Looking at their offensive rebounds, I think that’s the biggest thing. Going into the game, we knew that that was a strength of theirs and just a recurring theme that we kept seeing on film, they put a shot up and then their big boys were going to get it. We just really did a good job team rebounding tonight. That was the biggest thing, saw a lot of them where that ball is 50/50, but we’re first guys getting a hand on it, tipping it to a teammate. We were off and running. I think that was a big key in the game.
Q. What happened there at the start of the second half? What got into you guys? Was it something coach said at halftime or just execution? What was it?
STU DOUGLASS: We thought we played well in the first half. We were pleased with that, but we knew we had to come out and, you know, take it to a whole other level in the second half. We executed the game plan and stuck to what we know we did best and worked out.
Q. Darius, talk about how key it was for some of your reserves like Matt to step up when you’re down 6 and you have to keep it together just before the half there?
DARIUS MORRIS: You know, it was huge, whenever you can get an offensive spark coming off the bench, that’s kind of the advantage of having players that can come in and that can score, you know, any given time and get hot, and, you know, Matt Vogrich did a great job of that — knocking down the 3 but also mixes it up, going to the hole. Just a huge spark for us.
Q. For Zack exact Stu, with the way your offense struggled for much of the first half and the fact you still had a lead with Jordan not even playing much of the half, was there a sense the second half was kind of yours to take?
ZACK NOVAK: I think like you said, we went through some adversity in the first half, but we were happy that going in with the lead at the half in a NCAA Tournament game against a team like Tennessee, that’s a good thing. But I think it’s just a tribute to guys stepping up like you guys already mentioned Vogrich, Colton Christian comes in and gives us three good minutes of defense. Blake McLimans coming in, tough finish at the basket, rebounds. It’s just — we’re a much better team when we can get that kind of production off the bench.
Q. Zack or Stu, there’s been a lot made about Duke and Michigan this week and have an opportunity to potentially play Duke on Sunday. Just your take on playing them. How much have you been following all that’s been said over the last week?
STU DOUGLASS: We’re excited for any opportunity, whether it’s Hampton or Duke. All that stuff coming out, we’ve got a lot of questions about that, but we’re looking forward to playing the Duke team now, you know, it was a great rivalry in the past, great history, and it’s a new day.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student athletes?
Q. Maybe each of you can kind of address this. I’m sure maybe Zack and Stu have a little more perspective, but just in the scheme of wins that you’ve had with this program, where does this one rank?
ZACK NOVAK: You know, anytime you can win in the NCAA Tournament, that’s a big thing, but right now we’re just having so much fun, we want to keep this going. I mean, I don’t think really right now is the time to be getting nostalgic about it, thinking where it lies. Right now it’s a great win, we’re going to go back like we do after every game and learn from it and see what we can do better and get ready to go for whoever we’re playing next.
STU DOUGLASS: It feels good. Like Zack said, we’re looking forward to keep it going. It’s definitely up there in terms of how good it feels to get a win like that in that kind of fashion. I think it just shows how well we stuck together. When other people don’t believe, we don’t listen to that and just come to go and play Michigan basketball the way we want to. We just want to keep it going.
Q. Matt, your teammates talked about how important the first half stretch was. Right after the 3-pointer you had the steal and the layup. What was kind of going through your mind?
MATT VOGRICH: I mean, I was just excited before the game, really excited to play, and it was my first tournament game and we executed the game plan, and Zack threaded a few passes on back cuts and Darius found me wide open for my shot, so just — we just went on a run and played great.
THE MODERATOR: Two more questions for student athletes.
Q. Matt, I think it’s probably pretty obvious that Tennessee prepared a lot for guys like Darius and Tim. Do you think it’s possible that you just slipped through the cracks, or how do you think you were able to penetrate throughout the first half?
MATT VOGRICH: I mean, we just — we worked a lot during the week on their pressure defense and they’re long, very athletic team and just — everyone cut hard and we were all getting open looks. Had a lot to do with our execution.
THE MODERATOR: Last question up front.
Q. Darius, why did the offense sort of stagnate so much at the beginning of the game and how were you able to work through that?
DARIUS MORRIS: I just say, you know, it’s the first four minutes or eight minutes you get used to each other’s style of play. Couple of times where we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to, you know, in terms of making them hard cuts because they were really pressuring up on us and sometimes overdribbling. Once we got into the flow and didn’t let the pressure affect us, we able to run the stuff. Our stuff is designed to pressure up, try to get some good looks.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Questions for Coach Beilein.
Q. John, first half, second chance opportunities, big for you guys shooting 36 shots to their 20?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: That was a little bit unexpected. We were going to send two guys to the glass the whole time. We really thought it was important to have three back, but those two had to go knowing we had protection. We kept a couple alive. Some balls bounced our way. That with a was big for us to have second opportunities.
Q. John, what aspect of this victory is most satisfying for you as a coach?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think probably I would agree with what Zack said, that we worked so hard. I made the joke that we were boxing out everybody that came around us for the last four, five days. Seeing that was a big part of their offense. We were more physical with our backs than probably we had been all year long. Then team rebounding. That’s an area that, you know, lot of people aren’t comfortable with that with guys, especially when you got guys like Williams and Harris, 225, 270 and you’re a buck ninety. It’s difficult to do that. They put their body on people and allowed us to run and allowed us to limit — four of the five did not get an offensive rebound. They were all averaging a couple a game.
Q. John, how encouraging was it going forward that it was such a complete, you got contributions from so many people and so many rebounding, running fast break, but also hitting the 3s. How encouraging was that?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: This has been a team, Bob, all year long. You don’t always get that type of thing where Blake McLimans — we’re in foul trouble and he made a tough catch and finish. That wouldn’t have happened two months ago. He’s worked very hard.
So it puts a lot of merit to — when we’re talking to him everyday. Because every practice we’re working everybody. The bench guys, they work a lot more than the starters because we feel their legs are fresher, and they put in time while the other guys are shooting foul shots. So we rewarded them a little bit. Matt Vogrich has worked very hard all year long. For him to do what did he was very good as well. When you’re a coach, you’re selling this team, team, team thing. When it comes forward like that, it means a lot.
Q. From a recruiting standpoint, you guys are coming off a season sweep of Michigan State. Spartans just lost in the first round yesterday. You guys take a 30-point victory in the first round today. Does this tip the scale in your favor a little bit for heading into the future?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: You know, I said this before. We’re going to get our guys and other teams will get their guys and we just work at it. And anybody that has been around recruiting all times, it’s not always somebody gets somebody over you or either way. There’s a lot that goes into that.
Michigan is going to get the guys that we want at Michigan, and if we don’t, we’ll find another one that wants to be at Michigan. And that’s a big part of how we recruit. You don’t worry about the ones you don’t get, you worry about the ones you get. How does that sound?
Q. John, can you talk about what you did on Harris in the second half after he was so dominant?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: We had to play more zone. It was two-fold. We were in foul trouble. I didn’t want to see Tim Hardaway and Jordan sitting next to me and the assistant coaching staff in the second half. We wanted to go zone in it just to maybe make them probe a little bit more, but when you’re playing zone defense, we could surround Harris much more.
Q. Could you have foreseen Matt Vogrich as being the hero the first half of this game?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: He hasn’t had a game like that, certainly. One of the things he does do well is in the 1-3-1 zone he touches the ball well. Then he is a good back cutter, and he can back cut because I’m sure their scouting report was don’t let him get the ball because he’s got a quick shot.
So they extended their defense and we were able to get those two back doors with him and then it was a great pass, I don’t know who threw it, they went into — little bit of a scramble. He spotted up. He’s worked very hard and it’s hard to be that guy that comes off the bench after — for ten, 15 minutes of sitting and make a 3. That was big for him.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else? Okay. Thank you.