John Beilein, Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III were all at the podium on Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center to talk about Michigan’s matchup against Wofford in the second round of the NCAA tournament. You can read the full transcript of the press conference below.
Q. I’m curious, this is for all three of you, had you heard of Wofford before this draw came out?
GLENN ROBINSON III: No, we hadn’t heard of them, you know, but I think our coaching staff did a great job of, you know, showing us film and game tape on them. So, you know, did a great job scouting them.
Q. Nick, what do you see of Wofford on film? What kind of team are they compared to Big Ten teams you’ve played?
NIK STAUSKAS: I think they’re just a really high IQ basketball team and their offense has a lot of actions. Not a lot of ball screens, but they do a lot of fade screens and stuff like that. Always kind of tricky to guard and also defensively, so I’m sure it will be a good game.
Q. Jordan, this is going to be your last go-round for the tournament. Your emotions before the last home game. Talk a little bit about keeping your emotions in check, knowing this is your last time going around?
JORDAN MORGAN: This time little bit different. You don’t know which one it’s going to be. It’s a different focus now. It’s a different level of intensity when it comes to the game. It’s going to take a lot of focus from everybody.
Q. Nick, I’m curious, the 15-2 game, historically there haven’t been a ton of upsets in that game, but there have been three in the last two years. Does that sort of make you sit up and pay attention a little bit more despite the small conference team?
NIK STAUSKAS: You know, I didn’t really pay any attention to what the history says. We don’t want to take any team lightly and, you know, they made it to the tournament so they’re definitely capable. Looking at the NIT, you see a lot of small school teams beating on bigger schools. We’re not going to take anyone lightly and prepare as we would for any other game.
Q. Glenn, picturing backing off that question, lot of people have y’all picked to go deep in in this thing. What is the mentality of that and facing a team that you don’t really know anything about and could easily overlook.
GLENN ROBINSON III: Stay focused one game at a time. I thought this team did a great job of not thinking ahead all year and taking it game by game and preparing the best we can for Wofford.
THE MODERATOR: Glenn, obviously here in Milwaukee your dad is so fondly remembered. Talk about playing in this building and maybe your relationship as far as not just being dad but what he tells you about basketball.
GLENN ROBINSON III: You know, I talk to my dad a lot. He gives me tips and pointers about the game of basketball, and just something that everybody doesn’t really get to experience is having a dad who played professionally. So, you know, as far as him playing in this arena, I’ve been to many practices when I was younger and coming back and kind of remembering some of those memories is great, and, you know, I can’t wait to step foot on that floor and get to play here.
Q. I wondered about that, what were some of your more memorable games that you attended and maybe how old you were at the time?
GLENN ROBINSON III: I can’t remember how old I was. I was pretty young, but I just remember him playing on a team and I was at the practice arena with those guys, and I believe it was when Sam Cassell, Ray Allen, my dad were all on the same team. Great experience, I got to go in the locker room. I remember a lot from practices with George Karl.
Q. This is for Jordan, after Michigan went out, you and Jon pretty much had kind of combined roles and filling in for him. You guys were roommates, too. How much did you guys — have you guys talked about your roles and your responsibilities and how things have gone this season?
JORDAN MORGAN: You know, I don’t know if it’s as much basketball, but I think that we did a lot to just support each other, you know, on and off the court, just encouraging each other when the other guy is in there and trying to do our best to give corrections in game situations, and we’ve always had each other’s back throughout this whole year. Whatever the other person is dealing with, whether it be adversity in practice or a game, we’re always the one that’s kind of there to pick each other up. So, that’s where that comes from.
Q. Glenn, your dad was “big dog,” right? Does he call you “little dog” or your teammates call you “little dog”?
GLENN ROBINSON III: I have a lot of different nicknames floating around. Lot of people like to call me “little dog” and things like that. My teammates mostly call me “G.”
Q.What are the nicknames?
GLENN ROBINSON III: Everybody calls me “little puppy” or “little dog” and just different nicknames floating around on Twitter and things like that. They call me “Glenn,” “G-Rob.”
Q.Do fans on the road give you a hard time because of your famous father?
GLENN ROBINSON III: Just like Tim Hardaway last year, we both heard lot of different chants about our fathers being better than us and all the normal chants that we’ll hear. Nothing really affects me anymore. I’ve heard it all.
Q. Your dad doesn’t taunt you on the road?
GLENN ROBINSON III: No. Only thing he says he can still beat me one-on-one.
Q. Nik, lot of people are giving you a chance to go a long way. Giving the loaded region, a lot of people aren’t. Do you guys use that as a chip on your shoulder?
NIK STAUSKAS: Not necessarily. I don’t think we’re going to look into too much how analysts or fans think we’re going to do, but this has been a really confident team all year. People have doubted us all along. We realize as long as we stick to the game plan that Coach gives, really pay attention to what they’re saying and stick together as a group and just play Michigan basketball, I think we’ll be all right.
THE MODERATOR: The wars in the Big Ten, you’ve had some Great games with Wisconsin, Michigan State. How has that toughened you?
NIK STAUSKAS: I think you see a lot of different types of basketball play throughout the Big Ten, and this year we’ve had so many games that have been decided by five points or less. We’ve really played well in those last few minutes to seal those games up. So I just think those games have done a good job of preparing us for this tournament because you’re not going to blow teams out and you’re going to have a lot of games where it comes down to the last few minutes. I think we’re ready for that.
JORDAN MORGAN: I think if you look at our schedule all year long and the teams that we’ve had to play against and the venues we’ve played at, at Iowa State, at Duke, against Arizona as far as non-conference goals and then you talk about obviously the Big Ten schedule, I think that it’s done a lot to help our team mature.
Outside of our sophomore class, we went to the national championship game last year. They had that experience on top of this year, and young freshman that do play having been in all of those situations in close games and every type of environment, we’ve been in almost any position we can be in as a team, and I think that shows our composure late in games where youth might come in to play.
GLENN ROBINSON III: Just like these guys said, each game we play in the Big Ten and non-conference definitely helped us how to prepare for this tournament. Same as practice. Coach does a great job of helping us with situations into the game and things just like that.
The biggest thing that we learned is to value each possession because that’s what each possession during the tournament is going to be like. We can’t just take lazy shots or play lazy defense sometimes. We have to do what we have to do.
Q. Jordan, how does the intensity of the Big Ten Tournament compare to the NCAA Tournament you’ve guys have been through? You’ve been through plenty of those.
JORDAN MORGAN: I think the biggest difference is probably the rest. Three games in three days is not easy for any team. I think that the day in between an NCAA Tournament is very beneficial for everybody to get that rest and — but I mean it prepares us well for this tournament in that every team in the Big Ten is a good team and it’s kind of the same mentality you got to have a tournament, which as the one seed even though we had eight/nine matchup. It wasn’t a bad team, but it wasn’t the top tier teams in the league. But it’s still a team you can’t sleep on.
That’s the position we’re in now. It might not be a team that jumps off the paper, but somebody that you have to respect and take very seriously.
Q. Question for Nik. Nik, when you’re playing out there, looks like you’re having a lot of fun. You like to revel in a hot streak or revel in opposing fans getting on you. How much fun are you trying to have out there and how does that affect the rest of the team, do you think?
NIK STAUSKAS: You know, I hope when I start doing things like that, that my teammates can feed off my energy and kind of brings everyone up. I just love playing basketball. This is what I’ve been doing my whole life. The fact that I have an opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in the world, you know, I just try to enjoy every minute and have as much fun as I possibly can have.
Q. Jordan, do you root for the other Big Ten teams or hope they lose, especially Ohio State?
JORDAN MORGAN: It is a balance. You want them to do well, but just how well you’re not really sure (laughter). All right, you done good. You want to see them do well. We’ve been beating up on each other all year long, and it’s kind of nice for everybody to get a chance to play against new teams.
Q. Even Ohio State.
JORDAN MORGAN: Even Ohio State, yeah.
Q. With the Big Ten teams, everyone is making a production. It’s almost going to be like a neutral court but a home game for Wisconsin. They’re kind of maybe overlooking — you guys ought to have a pretty good fan following too.
JORDAN MORGAN: I think we’ve been given a good draw as far as locations go. I mean, being in Milwaukee, I mean — there’s Michigan fans everywhere. We went to Dallas and we had a ton of Michigan fans out there. I don’t think it matters that much, but I think it’s just good for our fans to be able to make a short trip, and I know we got a lot of fans in the Chicago area and it will definitely be a good showing by Michigan fans.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? All three of you, thank you.
Welcome to the podium the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, John Beilein, who obviously is familiar with this building from your days at West Virginia. Coach, if you would open us with a remark or two and we’ll take questions.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don’t have fond memories of this building. I came in one time and got it pretty good.
No, we’re thrilled to be in Milwaukee. It’s so good how the NCAA has done a great job right now of trying to keep people as close to home as possible and for our many alums throughout the Midwest and the footprint of the Big Ten, this is terrific and it’s not that bad of a drive from Michigan as well.
So, our kids are thrilled to be able to play. We have very high respect for Wofford. I’ve known Mike Young for probably about 20 years, one of his assistants is a former great point guard for me, Darris Nichols. So we know at this time of the year we’ll have to really play well to win, and that’s what we’re going to try and do and do our best.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Questions, please.
Q. John, what would you say the biggest difference is from this team and last year’s team that made it to the final?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: There’s really a lot of similarities. We’re younger than young in so many different areas. Again, we have one senior that — only one senior on the team and one junior on the team.
And so last year we had five seniors that did not play. So, we were young. They have a lot of the heart. Obviously we have a freshman point guard and a backup point guard, Spike Albrecht, that are sort of learning their craft on the fly. Last year we had Player of the Year running our team and a really good player for the New York Knicks right now, Tim Hardaway, standing next to him.
So those are the two guys that been through the wars a bit more than our backcourt. To go through the Big Ten schedule that we have, we have persevered despite the youth in the backcourt. Really proud of the way they conducted themselves with poise during our season.
Q. The senior and the junior that you’ve referenced combined to basically play one position with Mitch out. They’ve taken it upon themselves to really do a nice job there. How has their play been able to keep you guys rolling?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Believe it or not, and obviously we really miss having Mitch McGary there. We’d love to have him here, but if there was one position that we could afford that, it was probably at that because those two have had a lot of experience playing and you can call them “Morford” or “Horgan,” they have combined to give us almost double-doubles on many occasions, and that’s Mitch McGary numbers. So we’ve really been fortunate to be able to have those two. Not only are they good players, but they bring great poise and experience to this lineup for such a young team.
Q. Does it ever bother you internally when you go home after hearing the draw and some of the players are like, you know, who the hell is that, you know, to get them ready and mentally?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No. Coming from this — where I come from, yeah, it probably bothers me a little bit because I know how good those teams are and as I watch NIT scores yesterday and I watched Davidson lead Missouri the whole game at Missouri right from the same league. Or we watched Robert Morris beat the heck out of St. John’s at St. John’s. A guy who came from that territory, I reminds them all the time how everyone this time of the year is really good. You got to come ready to play.
South Dakota State showed us that a lot last year in the first round. That was one of our tougher games getting to the Final Four, that and Kansas were our two games we probably had — was close right till the last five to ten minutes.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, realizing that each year is different, each team is different, some of these guys were not with you last year, many were, how does that experience of going to the final last year help these guys?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think that when they looked back at last year, there was different people in every game. The outliers, we call them, that put us in that position to go to the final game. Most people didn’t know Spike Albrecht had probably 1,000 Twitter followers, and all of a sudden he had 20,000 in one night. There’s outliers out there. Jordan Morgan took a huge charge against Syracuse. The guy didn’t play in our VCU win. We all add something to this game. We all have to stick together and be ready if our number is called.
Q. Are you a big Twitter guy, John?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I do Tweet. Not as often as maybe I probably people think I should. Maybe once a month or once every two weeks.
Q. Who the Tweeting champion among Big Ten coaches?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don’t follow any of them. I would not know.
Q. You don’t follow them.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I follow — it’s more I follow Twitter to follow my players and make sure that they’re doing and following the right things.
Q. How long did it take you to get over the loss of the championship game?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Given our season and the type of young men that we have, you know, it did not take long. I think as time goes on, believe it or not, it will probably bother me more because you know you could have a heck of a team, better team, and the ball bounced our way a couple times during that run. We had two last second wins over Syracuse and Kansas that you might have a better team and the ball is going to bounce your way and you don’t get back.
It was a great — it was a great run for us, and I enjoy that and now I just sort of move on. I’ve never been big at living for — living in the past on — whether it was a win, dwelling on great wins and saying, “oh, man, this is wonderful,” or letting a loss bother me for very long.
But we love to have another opportunity, and this is the first step, but we got a lot of obstacles to jump through to get there again.
Q. Coach, sorry if this is a repeat. Just got in here. Talk to me about I guess one of the big question marks with Michigan is how quickly would they be able to get past losing go their rival in the Big Ten Championship. How quickly do you guys get past that?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don’t think it’s even an issue right now. I think Michigan State just showed why they were a preseason number one with many people. They’ve been banged up all year long. We were fortunate enough to win twice and we were proud of that. At the same time, they’re really playing well. We don’t make excuses. We just take our hat off and say, “great job, Michigan State,” represent our league well, and now we’re on to our third season.
You know, we love the way the regular season turned out for us in the conference. Getting to the championship game in the Big Ten tournament was something we hadn’t done. We paved some new roads in different areas. Now being in the NCAA Tournament, we’re thrilled and now it’s — just like we did all season long, next game.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for coach? Yes.
Q. John, I wonder what you remember about your game with Iowa State, the third game of the year. They started 14-0 and lost their first three Big 12 games. Did you have an idea they might be this good?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: When we really originally scheduled them, there was a year separation. We looked at the roster, and of course you’re looking at, usually when you schedule something, what are they going to be like when we plan the following year. We said, oh, they’re going to lose their point guard, going to lose these other guys. They’re going to probably struggle in the backcourt and that may be one we can get if we’re really good. We’re always probably thinking Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway be in the backcourt. DeAndre Kane king came in and changed that team. Ejim and Niang are tremendous players, but Kane was so good for them as well, even other guys played. We led for 30 minutes, and when they got it going and Hilton magic took over, we couldn’t catch up. One of Mitch McGary’s first games back at the same time they beat us fair and square.
Q. You already got your schedule for next year?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Well, we will not be playing Iowa State next year. No. We haven’t completed it yet. It’s still a work in progress. But we will not be playing Iowa State.