John Beilein, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak took to the podium and addressed the media after Michigan’s gutwrenching loss to Duke. We’ll have video later.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Great basketball game. So many ups and downs in the game and really proud of our team. I felt we spent a lot of time convincing them this year that they could win, no matter who they were playing against. They believed it and almost came through again today against another top, top team.
We’d like to have some plays back earlier in the game. I can’t even recall any of them, but there were a few. That’s part of coaching. Down the last few minutes, really proud of how hard — if you ever played the wing of a 1-3-1 zone, you are running for, you know, like crazy. The bottom guy is running from corner to corner. They did not show any fatigue in that and that was a great obviously thing for us to be able to go to that zone.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for student-athletes and raise your hand.
Q. Stu could you just talk about the effective that zone did have late in the game?
STU DOUGLASS: It was very effective. When we threw it out there, you know, it kind of, you know, made them stumble a little bit on the offensive end They were get some good looks. Nolan had it going there in the second half. When we went into it, it was very effective. I thought we rebounded pretty well for it being a zone.
Q. This is for Zack. Zack, what was it like, you were giving up 4 to 6 inches every man that was guarding you. You burned those three early and then they brought Ryan Kelly in to guard you at 6-10. How much more difficult was that?
ZACK NOVAK: You know, he did a good job. They had other guys — we had other guys started to make plays little bit there in the first half, you know, couldn’t get much to go down. I just got going a little bit. Once we got other guys start to get it going, we spread it out a little bit.
Q. Stu, it looked like you — were you pretty open there for a potential maybe even game winner there from the corner on that last possession?
STU DOUGLASS: Yeah. Ran the court. May have been open a little bit, but Darius got a great shot off, shot he hits a lot in practice. We’ve seen over and over. To be honest, when it was in the air, I thought it was going down.
Q. Zack, another game that you guys came back. Talk about the resilience you showed today, not just today but all year long at this point.
ZACK NOVAK: Yeah. It’s a group that never gave up the whole year. We started 1-6, Big Ten season, come back, inch away from the Sweet 16, defeated the defending National Champion. Going to need that same resilience going into next year after this one, though. No doubt this group will get it done.
Q. For both you, but Zack first, you were a freshman on the team that made the tournament and had high expectations the next year and obviously struggled. What will each of you as seniors next year maybe do between now and November to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
ZACK NOVAK: I think the fact that it happened should be enough to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. You know, we’ve already started to make the guys fully aware of exactly like what transpired and how disappointed we were at that season, as long a season as I’ve ever been through. And, you know, it’s just going to take our leadership. After that year, we had our two leaders, they graduated, they left and we were kind of searching for that. Stu and I are both back now. So, you know, we’re going to make sure these guys are staying on the right path.
STU DOUGLASS: We get back to workouts, got to keep the intensity up. Keep reminding the guys. I don’t think we have to remind them to stay hungry. I think they want it real bad, and, you know, we’ve been talking about us being leaders and we’ve been in the Tournament, but these guys have got a taste for it. You don’t have to tell them much to get them motivated.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for the student-athletes? Okay. Thanks, guys. Congratulations on a great year. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, talk about when it looked like that Duke was about to break the game open and how your kids came back.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: We had — Nolan is so explosive and so good off the dribble. He has that one-on-one ability. You can play great team defense and he was so good. We had to change defenses a little bit. That’s all we needed to do was make a shot. I think Zack might have made a deep three just to get that baby under ten so that we could have a chance. And this has been pretty common thread with us this year, that we’ve been able to get back because we play pretty sound defense and we can hit a couple 3s back to back and change a game.
Q. John, did you sense — early on you talked about some of the plays you’d like to have back. Was that nerves? Was that just —
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Those first five minutes were not pretty. We were down 6-4 the first four minutes. It was a tough start for us. Very emotional. And you get caught up in that, and it probably should be expected. I’m glad we got it — I’m glad it lasted only four minutes and we were only down by 2.
It’s a thing you battle with young players all the time and you talk about it and talk about it again, and they just get so anxious and so hyped up and it’s mistakes that you want to have. You don’t want somebody coming into any game and not ready to play.
Q. Coach, how big of a deal was Morgan and Evan both getting into foul trouble late in a the game?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Very big. Although we got Blake and John and we got 3 points outs of John and that was big for us. We were able the use all those guys. They’re very good at it. I said in most of my previews, I said one of the big things with our team, Coach K’s teams have always got to the foul line like that. Two things happen, we’re very good foul shooters, and they put your better guys on the bench at times. So they did that. They do the — shouldn’t say better guys. Your top eight guys will get two, three on the bench. We sure had them there.
I don’t think that was as big an issue, because we were able to stay where we were because we went four deep at the center position. Certainly haven’t had a great first half. We would like to have been able to play a little more time. Morgan will learn how to play hard without fouling.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Tim Hardaway’s play. He struggled a little bit from 3-point rank then he had that clutch shot.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: He had great shots. Every one that he took, when he took a shot it looked like it was going in just barely on the front rim. And last one was like the Illinois shot. I thought it would be the one that might get us up over the top here.
We had to stop to, rebound, Zack did everything he could to get it, went into the corner, and I believe they scored coming out of that. And so I know Tim would like to have shot better. I’ll tell you what, he made some big, big plays despite not being from — from 3. He made some nice in-between shots, and that’s a quality a lot of good players don’t have.
Q. Coach, if you had one time out left at the end of the game, would you have used it, and if so, what would you have called?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Depends in that time. Yeah, if they would have — we were going to run something out of there if he made it. We had a 3-point shot ready to come out of that. If he made that second one and with the 2 — 2-point game, because the ball bounces and it bounces around, you don’t have as much time now. Coach probably would have called a timeout or put a sub at the table. I don’t know if he did not on the second one.
We had two actions, a 3 or take it to the rim if it was — if it was a 3-point shot, definitely going to be a 3, and we had something drawn up that had just worked in practice about last week. And then if not, you got to go for a 2 or for a 3. So Darius got a great shot. One of our other guys are opened, I trust he would find that guy, too.
THE MODERATOR: Anyone else? Thanks, Coach.