John Beilein, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mitch McGary all took the podium on Thursday evening after Michigan’s NCAA tournament opening win over South Dakota State. Read their comments in the full transcript below. (Photo: Bryan Fuller)
COACH BEILEIN: I want to congratulate South Dakota State, first of all.
Being a former mid-major coach and Division II coach and to get to this level right now where they are in this tournament back to back years, I hope the people from South Dakota understand how difficult that is to do.
So they had a great year. They really had a good team. We had a heck of a time preparing for them because all the challenge that they give you with so many guys that can shoot it.
But really proud of our guys the way we defended them. Tried to shut down the three ball and give them some tough twos. And I think they were 4 for 19 for threes and it was a key for the game.
We had some guys step up today that we’re very proud of and we look forward to practicing tomorrow and playing whoever we play on Saturday.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Floor’s open for questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Trey, you were struggling a little earlier with your shot. Can you talk about how big it was for Tim to come out the way he did shooting the ball?
TREY BURKE: It was really big. You know, that’s why I trust my teammates.
Not just Tim but Glenn and Mitch, everyone played a really well game and like he said shots just weren’t falling tonight. South Dakota State, they did a good job of not allowing us to get into the paint as much as possible. I just tried to pick and choose when I could get in there and hit the open net.
Q. Trey, we could hear the thud when you hit the ground over on press row. What exactly happened?
TREY BURKE: I hit my back and my elbow and a piece of my head, but I’m fine.
My elbow’s just a little sore, and my tailbone is a little sore, but besides that, I’m fine.
Q. Mitch, talk about the energy coming out your first start?
MITCH MCGARY: I think early this week Coach LaVall told me I’m going to start so I just need to come out with the energy and I like to bring every game and pick the team up.
Q. Troy and Tim, can you talk about what Mitch brought tonight?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Mitch said it, he brought energy, he brought toughness, he brought poise, and that’s what we need out of our bigs, every last one of them, not only Mitch but Jon Horford came in got his big minutes, got big rebounds and they all just played with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence out there.
Q. Tim, it seemed like when Trey went out even though it was briefly, you guys extended the lead. What was the message in the huddle when Trey went out?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: You know, this happened before during the season our first game.
We all know how valuable Trey is to our team, but it’s a team game and we all knew that we all had to step up when he went down.
We all just did a great job of going out there, executing the plays and just trying to play team ball.
Q. Trey or Tim, can you talk about Glenn start to the second half that little run that he had with a couple three pointers?
TREY BURKE: Critical. He did a very phenomenal job of picking and choosing when the shots were there and he knocked down the open shots for us. He played his tail off tonight. He crashed the boards when we missed and he got us a couple second opportunities to score.
That’s Glenn Robinson at his best. If he can play like that, which we know he can, then this team would be that much better.
Q. Tim, can you talk about your shooting tonight?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Yeah, just coming in earlier today when myself, Nik Stauskas, and Caris LeVert and some of our bigs just come in here and get extra reps out and just getting a feel of the court and just feel for the environment. We played here before last year. So we kind of know what to expect out of the court and out of the rim. So it was good. It felt good.
Q. Trey, what was your frustration level like tonight?
TREY BURKE: I wasn’t frustrated at all.
I knew that my shot wasn’t falling, and I just tried to contribute in different ways, and, you know, we had different hot hands tonight: Tim, Nick, Glenn, Mitch, you know, every — those guys were going.
As a point guard, it’s my job to go to those guys so we have success on the offensive end.
MODERATOR: Floor is open for Coach Beilein.
Q. You guys started five of six deep shooting to start the game. How did you feel the quality of shot was at that point?
COACH BEILEIN: I think our guys — South Dakota State played really good defense in the beginning, particularly in the beginning of the game, and I think our guys didn’t see the gaps that we usually would see.
We missed a couple easy ones. We missed some foul shots, but it was a — they really played good defense. They really keyed. They weren’t giving help off Tim at all. We couldn’t get Tim open. And when Trey missed a few shots, we didn’t have many answers at first. Tim came back and hit two huge threes, deep guarded threes, and it seemed to turn everything at that point.
Q. Even though you probably didn’t want to see the Burke that you saw tonight and the injury, are you hurting to have seen what happened out of it?
COACH BEILEIN: We see this in practice more than we see it in games, and Tim’s always played with a lot of confidence, looking for scoring opportunities.
What level we saw from Glenn and Mitch as well, that they — Mitch gives us the energy and just the dropoffs. When we drop-off to Mitch, he knows what to do with it, but Glenn’s presence was huge today because he was at a difficult matchup. You know, they do a lot of one-four pick and pop. So he had also to guard No. 3 as well as No. 42 back and forth. So he’d post up man and got a terrific point guard. So wasn’t just his offense. It was his defense as well.
Q. Coach, talk about the decision to go with Mitch.
COACH BEILEIN: We’ve watched this very carefully and we’re very loyal to it. Jordan’s giving to us a lot, but we thought in practice the last couple days, let’s just bring Jordan off the bench as needed and let’s get him a lot of reps in practice and see where he is.
But John had to earn those minutes in the last couple games. Jordan’s injury still has him in a bit of a funk. So we just said, we’re going to go with Mitch as number one, Jon as No. 2, and really I think it’s obvious to everyone what Mitch can bring to us at times, but don’t count Jordan out. He’ll be back.
Q. You’ve talked in the past about Glenn needing to be a consistent scorer for the team to be successful. Did you say anything to him prior to the game or at halftime?
COACH BEILEIN: No. There was — you know, we say it to him every day in practice where he’s got to look at the basket, but within the structure of our offense, there’s all kinds of opportunities for him. He’s got to learn where they are.
And I like what he’s doing sometimes. He’s showing some drives. He’s doing some things, but when he came off, you know, in the corner, hit the two jump shots, but when he came off and hit two other jump shots, that’s something he does for us, not even enough in practice.
So I love when we get that from him, as long as he compliments that with enough times that he drives to the basket. We don’t want him to just be a jump shooter. He’s got to get 2 feet in the paint because he can go by a lot of people, especially some of the forwards that he faces.
Q. John, do you think with all the attention he’s gotten that Burke has pressed a little bit, and if he has, how much does it help him?
COACH BEILEIN: I didn’t see that. I saw him looking for opportunities, and they played really good defense.
He still had seven assists and two turnovers. So probably there’s a couple of shots, but I think Burke, Tim, and he, they have that type of — I have that type of confidence in them to be able to survive a shot that they usually tell me, Coach, I know that was a bad one.
But he had some other good shots that didn’t go down. It’s really good to have those other guys there, and that’s really something that we haven’t always had in these situations, is more answers than if one of our other guys was off.
So we just played through this right now, and someone asked me when he was 0 for 7 at halftime I said that means he’ll probably be 7 for 7 at the second half because the odds are he’s going to start making them.
Now, he still didn’t do that. Still wouldn’t trade him. Want him out there every minute we can have him out there.
Q. How excited are you to get away from the Big Ten for a minute?
COACH BEILEIN: I think every Big Ten team right now is glad that they weren’t playing a Big 10 team. Now, we’re all playing quality opponents, but the Big Ten has a certain style to it that it makes it difficult to score points, to stop people, to do everything.
But each team that we’re going to play here along the line will be more like the Big Ten teams, including our next opponent. So it is good to get away from that.
We all know each other very well, let’s put it this way, and your angst is prepare for a new team you don’t know much about. At the same time, it is different for us, and probably a good different.
Q. Can you talk about your strategy going into defend Wolters and the job you did?
COACH BEILEIN: Well, we had a couple of things. We wanted to quick hedge the ball screen a little quicker than we normally do to get back to the shooter, and then we also wanted to put Tim on him to get some length on him, and if we did switch any ball screens, then he could also be on No. 42.
Trey did a good job on him. He’s a heck of a player. A lot will be said about, you know, that Trey — that maybe Wolters guarded Trey very well. Well, so did Trey guard Nate.
Q. Coach, what’s the first thing that goes through your head when you see Trey hit the floor as hard as he did?
COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, that was a scary moment for us.
One thing I know, the kid is tough as nails. I mean, whether he’s in the weight room, whether he’s in practice — avoids the training room like the plague unless he has to. He’s actually — he’s not a guy that shows any sign of weakness as far as physical injury. So he needs a lot of ice, but that was not a good feeling.
But you could tell — I saw him sort of move quickly right away. Felt he was going to be fine, and then I went about my business of arguing with the officials. (Laughter) But he — apparently it was our own player that knocked him off balance, but the video may say that.
Q. You talk about the balance between hitting singles and going for home runs. Were you pleased overall with the balance?
COACH BEILEIN: The value and the possessions, we had Spike and Trey both throw some long, long passes that, actually, we’ve gotten to be much better at that than we were earlier in the year. So we have a rule on that, if you throw that, it better work. And it’s the only rule. But it didn’t work twice, and I think after that we pulled that back a little bit. But it is important.
We had a lot of good assists. We had very low turnovers again. That means people weren’t trying to do too much.