John Beilein, Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III met with the media after Michigan’s NIT Season Tip-Off Championship. Watch video of Beilein or Burke and Robinson here or read the full transcript below.
Q. Glenn, you and Tim were able to crash the boards on both floors with double‑doubles. What is the key with you as wings getting so many rebounds?
GLENN ROBINSON III: I think we have to box out as a team. That’s one of the things that we tried to focus on. And the guards, like Trey, going and crashing the boards. A lot of time it just fell in my hands, but they got a couple of key big ones that we needed. Our main focus was to box out and that’s what we did.
Q. Trey, was it frustrating at halftime when you hadn’t scored and hadn’t even attempted a shot? Then you were able to turn it around and get started in the second? How important was that first couple of basket when’s you got started in that stretch in the second half?
TREY BURKE: It was frustrating. I knew we were going to come out in the second half and make adjustments. Coach was telling me to continue to play, just continue to stay aggressive and make the right plays. That’s what I did. I knew that Tim was the hot hand, and they were playing and waiting for me to get to the lane. I knew Nik would be open, so I just tried to do what was best for the team which is go to the high end and get to the basket when I could.
Q. In the first half, the first couple shots, how key was that?
TREY BURKE: I think it was, like I said, just something I was reading off of the defense. My mentality was just to get the wings going and things like that and just get to the basket when I could, really. It wasn’t like a set play for me to hit a couple of shots coming in the second half. It was just whatever the defense was giving us was just a matter of making the right read.
Q. When Tim plays like he did tonight, how much does that open things up?
TREY BURKE: It opens everything up for us, because the defense is no longer worried about the pick‑and‑roll actions. They’re no longer worried about outside shots and things. They have to worry about Tim getting to the basket, him coming off the screens and things. That opens up guys like Glenn, guys like Nik, and even allowed me to get open and get some open shots.
Q. Trey, what you mean to this team has been well established. When you pick up your second foul in the first half, are you concerned that on a big stage against a quality opponent and I think at the time it was a four‑point game, can they just get it to halftime without me?
TREY BURKE: Well, I have no doubts in my team. I know Spike is always ready on the sidelines. He’s a good player. He can come in and get an open shot and make the right play. I really didn’t have any type of concern. I continue to stay encouraged on the sideline and continued to encourage him throughout each time out.
So it wasn’t a concern at all. I knew we’d come back out in the second half and make adjustments.
Q. Trey, what is the biggest difference with tendencies? Is it anything about the way he’s playing, is it a confidence thing? What is the biggest difference that you noticed?
TREY BURKE: The biggest difference would have to be his confidence. Like you said, once he gets going, we’ve got to feed him, and that will open up more people on the perimeter to open up Nik’s shot and open up Glenn, and even open up a lot of alley drives for the guards to get down there and get some dunks or lay‑ups for the big men and get to the foul line. With Tim being as aggressive and as good as he was today, it opens the offense up, and it’s something that we have to continue to work on with him.
Q. Trey, why do you think he’s much more confident this year than he was a season ago?
TREY BURKE: I think it’s a matter of maturity. We have to continue each day, and his teammates, too. We continue to encourage Tim, and when he plays like that, he can be very special because he’s capable of playing like that every game.
Q. Trey, last year you were up and down when you were away from home. There was a lot of inconsistency. It seemed the pressure didn’t seem to bother you Wednesday or today. Do you think that’s a mentality thing, a talent overcoming that? What do you attribute that to?
TREY BURKE: Just trusting our teammates. We’re in practice every day and playing against each other. You know, like it’s another team. We compete like it’s a real game every day in practice. So I think us playing in the neutral site or on the road this year, it will be good for us. Because we’re able come out and trust each other. Trust our offense, and know what we have to do. We all have responsibility on the defensive end. It’s a matter of sticking to the game plan and trusting your team.
Q. Trey, how much do you guys talk about in particular winning this tournament early this season here?
TREY BURKE: It was definitely a goal. It was one of our first goals to win the NIT Championship. We did a great job of taking one game at a time. The coaching staff did a good job of preparing us each and every game. We won a hard‑fought game against Pitt and a hard‑fought game today.
We’ve got to continue to get better on the defensive end. It was definitely one of our goals, and just to accomplish it is great, but we still have work to do.
COACH BEILEIN: It’s thrilling to be once again in the Garden. What I said in the beginning, being in a great, great preseason tournament and then win a championship. So I think the way we frame this up this year was this was one opportunity. Michigan, when you go to the University of Michigan, you work at Michigan, you talk about championships a lot and being champions. Those who stay will be champions.
So whenever we have a chance to do something like this, we embrace it and go for it like there were no other games in the season. And the young men did this, our staff did this, and we feel really good to come away and win this segment of the season.
The season is a marathon. This is maybe the first 400 yards or something of that marathon, but we ran it well. Now when we’re done, we’ll pick it up and go back into the marathon.
Q. How concerning was foul trouble in the first half with Burke and Morgan?
COACH BEILEIN: Well, it used to be very concerning when we had foul trouble like that. Not concerning at all. Burke had two fouls and we have a lot of confidence in Spike. Then we have that third big guy if we needed him, really fourth in an emergency to go in there. And thank God John was there to help us. We haven’t always had this luxury of having that extra big guy to help us or extra point guy. You don’t want to see anybody sitting on the bench. But we know when we turn to the bench, we have some guys that can get in there.
Q. I know you have confidence in Spike. But still to be able to see with your own eyes on a big stage against a quality opponent that you can get by for six minutes, basically, of the first half with Trey out must be reassuring. Because these are the type of things and situations you run into in an NCAA Tournament?
COACH BEILEIN: Especially against Kansas State. I know they play great defense. You’ve seen their numbers coming in here and how good they are, and now he’s in there playing in that environment and he didn’t blink. Did any of you sort of shake your head when he pulled up and hit that three? We do it a lot in practice. He looks like an altar boy, and he’s out there playing here in Madison Square Garden just like he’s done his whole life.
Q. How is Tim?
COACH BEILEIN: I don’t have a full report, but he seemed fine when I talked to him.
Q. Is this type of game what you thought the progression would be for him?
COACH BEILEIN: For Tim?
COACH BEILEIN: I said to ESPN, this is what he works for. He works hard at not just being a shooter, but to have an in‑between game, be a rebounder. How about the rebounds he’s getting right now? He’s getting traffic rebounds from a lot of people, taking the ball on the break. He would give it up before and we probably told him to because he didn’t have that confidence. He has it now. It’s just by hard work. When you work really hard, it just breeds confidence. He does that.
Q. To follow up on that, what specifically are they checking him for? What is the injury?
COACH BEILEIN: I think he just got a little hit to the head. Maybe his knee hit his head, right? So it was precautionary, but there was something to the head.
Q. Coach Weber who has seen him in the past couple years, he said he just looks like a different player this year. What do you attribute that to?
COACH BEILEIN: The biggest thing is his work ethic. That just doesn’t happen. He’s got great DNA, but DNA doesn’t get you there alone. You have to have great work ethic like his father did, and that is the big thing. That young man is in the gym all the time, whether he’s in Miami, or he’s in the gym working on his strengths and anything he’s trying to develop.
Q. You have a lot of length on the wings, and Tim and Glenn have been getting a lot of rebounds. How important is that to getting out on the break really quickly when you have two guys that can handle the ball?
COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, if we win this game, it’s probably very close because they probably got putbacks‑‑ more putbacks than they had tonight. They still got 12, but they’re averaging 20. That’s important that we can limit their opportunities, especially teams like this and other Big Ten teams that really rely on offensive rebounding. It doesn’t mean it’s bad. They rely on that, and that’s a great strategy to have.
We haven’t been able to do that in the past. We’re doing it well now of blocking out and getting our own offensive rebounds like you saw today.
Q. Talk about Nik’s playing in Wednesday’s game and today. You gave him bulk minutes then and today. He looked confident the way he shot the ball and put the ball on the floor as well.
COACH BEILEIN: The young man has swag in everything he does. It’s a quiet swag. He just goes out there and he gives you the look saying great foul shooting there in the end. Saying isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? I mean, that’s his attitude. So I thought they were making a little comeback. We ran a special for him. He came in and knocked down the three at the top of the key, pretty well guarded. He’s got just a basketball sense and a basketball poise, not allowing a lot of things to bother him.
Q. A lot of times these early tournaments are the first taste of success your team gets. What have you learned about your teams the last few days?
COACH BEILEIN: Our expectations are my guys are going to play hard and smart every day. That is the only thing we expect, and all they should care about. But just because of the physicalness of both Kansas State and Pitt, that was important that we were heading in the right direction. That’s all it is.
We had a very high‑level team in NorthCarolina State on Tuesday. It’s going to be the same thing. You have to go prove it again. They’re not going to care if we won this championship. They’re going to come in, and we’ve got to perform again.
Q. You said you were not as worried about the foul trouble, but you pulled Jordan in the game. Is that out of habit?
COACH BEILEIN: No, if he gets one, I want him to go back in there with confidence. He gets one, and‑‑
Q. Is that still a rule for you?
COACH BEILEIN: One, I haven’t been able to do that all the time he had one. But because of his issue of getting into foul trouble, I think it’s really good that if he gets it that early, he’s got to play the rest of the minutes. Not trying to get two. So pull him out, think about it, think of what you did, was it a merited foul, and put you right back in and he got two right away.
Q. But he can survive it?
COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, because Mitch is waiting there, and John’s waiting there to help us, and Max if we needed him to.
Q. Being away from home, there were times last year and especially in the season it didn’t work so well. Do you think this is something that can spill over confidence‑wise?
COACH BEILEIN: I think away from home we were good last year being 5‑4 in the Big Ten. I think early in the year we lost to Virginia and Duke on the road. This is a part of the thing that we’ve just got to continue. We’ve got to embrace this. I don’t know. It sounded like a road game out there, that’s for sure.
I just think it’s good to go to a hotel, and have shootarounds and play, and have crammed scouting reports for us to learn from those experiences. Even though some of these young men have played at a high level in high school, they haven’t had the prep that you do in college. I think that’s the part of college, just getting a rhythm to how we’re going to try to win on the road.