With the Michigan State match-up just a day away, John Beilein met with the media on Monday to discuss the game and how the rivalry has developed. The most newsworthy bit of was that Jon Horford will definitely not play tomorrow and a final decision regarding his return should be made by the end of this week. Watch Beilein’s address in the embedded media player below:
Full notes and quotes after the jump.
- Opening statement: “Right now, we’ve got an incredible test with Michigan State, who’s playing great basketball all the way through. They’ve gone on the road and won and that’s a true test and they’ve done that before, so it’s gonna be a good game.”
- On the possibility of starting Stu Douglass instead of the struggling Evan Smotrycz: “Every game we’re trying to look at what’s the best way to get our five best players on the court at the right time. If it’s the start of the game, then that’s something that you always have the option to do, whether it’s Evan or someone else… We’re looking at a lot of options right now.”
- Michigan was a “step slow” in many things during the Iowa loss. “I don’t know if it’s fatigue, if it’s focus, if it’s over-coaching, under-coaching, I have no idea.”
- Adversity is “essential” to success, so in the long run, a loss can really make a team better. “We don’t want to lose, but we embrace it.”
- On the rivalry: “Way beyond me and Tom Izzo, this has been a great series for years and years and years. These two schools compete so hard against each other. I’m sure Michigan State is extremely excited about their opportunity and we are as well.”
- On Michigan State’s Draymond Green: “He’s as good of a passing big man as there is anywhere in the country. He’s as good of a rebounder, especially at his size…what he’s doing right now is he is shooting the ball extremely well from deep.”
- Bouncing back from the loss to Iowa will be different from bouncing back after the loss to Indiana mainly because Michigan only has two days to recover after Saturday’s loss, whereas they had three days to re-evaluate everything after the Indiana loss and could afford to take a day off after the game. “You can’t do that right now. You have got to move on. We’ve watched film, we’ve walked and talked the film. Our starters practiced for 30 minutes live and then they went to the weight room… It’s more of a cerebral practice after a game where there’s only a two-day turnaround.”
- On stepping back and realizing where this program is now: “There’s times that I do, when I just walk the halls of the Player Development Center or I hear the ball bouncing at the PDC and see somebody’s out there practicing… I came Friday and we thought we were practicing at Crisler and I walked over and it was all set up for gymnastics. And I said, ‘gee, I forgot about that’. Oh, well we’ll just practice at the Player Development Center.” Having the PDC now has been a big step for the program. “It’s a smoother-running machine.”
- More on the program: “I think it’s always been taken seriously. I don’t know if they always understood what it took to take it seriously… We had the tremendous football program, so maybe it wasn’t essential to pack the place.” Beilein noted the fact that over 12,000 people came to see the Northwestern game is a great sign that people want to support this team and understand its importance.
- On beating MSU twice last year: “You know what, it really helped us get into the NCAA Tournament. I think for our fans, the watercooler fans, it was a satisfying time. For us, it’s two great wins over really a good team with a great coaching staff and great players.”
- On Jon Horford’s status: “He’s jump-shooting now, he’s doing a couple things. He’s not going to play tomorrow. He stayed home this weekend so he could just do therapy, and then Thursday and Friday we’re gonna go hard with him and see how he looks. Then we’ll have to make a decision. One more game, one more minute and he burns a redshirt.”
- On the importance of staying focused for the rest of the season: “There’s not anything more significant than staying the course and trying to win as many as you can. I can’t say we gotta win these two. No we don’t. We have to play the best we can and we have to win, in these last how many games we have, we have to win several. I do know that it’s usually very good if you want to get into the NCAA Tournament, winning on the road is very important.”
- Beilein said he doesn’t know what Michigan is ranked. “It’s impossible to avoid it, but it’s not like we’re looking for it.”
- This is the first time Michigan and Michigan State have both been ranked heading into the head-to-head matchup since 1998. “I think that all four programs (basketball and football for both schools), their foundations are set pretty well right now and so it’s really a good day when you have all these programs that are nationally ranked.”