John Beilein, Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III were on the podium after Michigan’s round of 32 victory over Texas on Saturday night. Read the press conference transcript below. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I was able to listen to a little of Rick’s comments there, and that’s really — when you have a program, you can see a program back on the rise again with what they were able to do today. Those 21 offensive rebounds. We’re not a great rebounding team, but the talent he’s assembled right there and the year they had this year, it’s a credit to them what a great season they had.
Really proud of our guys because we knew that number, that rebounding number, we probably weren’t going to win that today. We had to win the other numbers to win the possession number. Proud of only four turnovers. I don’t think we had a turnover out of the backcourt in the entire game.
So, huge win for us and guys believed and did a great job and it all starts with the guy next to me right here, our only senior.
Q. To any of you guys, the first nine minutes without a whistle, how much of an advantage do you think that was for you to get them running to pace the game up?
NIK STAUSKAS: I don’t even know if that was an advantage for us because we were all pretty tired by that time. We never went that long without a whistle or timeout or anything. We just figured that we’d keep it going and keep running and play to our pace because we were hitting shots and we were feeling good.
So obviously we were a little bit tired, but I think we did a good job of pushing through and making shots when we were open.
Q. Nik, when you’re creating for everybody else a career high, eight assists, what kind of different dimension do you think that gives you guys offensively when you’re looking for everybody as well as hunting your own stuff?
NIK STAUSKAS: Well, in the second half when they started playing that zone, you know, I just found it really easy to just put my eyes on the basket. And as soon as I put my eyes on the basket or pretend like I’m going the raise up, a lot of people would start running at me. That would leave some of the other guys wide open. So I just tried to be aggressive, and if that’s me getting shots at the basket or shots from the other side, that’s great. But, you know, a lot of time it just leads to guys getting open shots under the rim and from three.
Q. Jordan, you guys did a real good job of taking Cameron out of his game and challenging him inside. What was your strategy coming in? How did you feel about the way you guys performed banging him inside?
JORDAN MORGAN: Somebody like that, you know, he’s got so much size. Can’t let him get close to the basket. So we wanted the make all his post touches, you know, away from the basket as much as possible, make him have to dribble and really, really be aggressive with double-teams and swiping at the ball and things like that.
Q. Glenn, this is a Milwaukee question. Your dad had a lot of big games in this arena. Wondering what it was like for you to have a really big game in this arena?
GLENN ROBINSON III: It’s an honor to be able to play in the same arena he has. He had a great career here. You know, for me to be able to come out and have a big game is important, you know, and reminds people a lot of my dad. But, at the same time, I wanted to come out and play and do what I had to do to help my teammates out and win.
Q. What in particular did Texas do to cut the lead down to six with about seven, eight minutes left in the game?
JORDAN MORGAN: They did a good job of changing the pace of the game. They really started to attack the offensive glass, get finishes and get fouls, and they kind of gave us different looks with their defense, with their zones, and made it hard for us to kind of get in a rhythm or stay in a rhythm, I should say.
Q. Glenn, kind of building on that question, you guys — the lead was six when you had five quick points in row, the drive and then the three-pointer. Did you want to step forward at that time, or was it just kind of a function the way the offense was going at that point?
GLENN ROBINSON III: I wanted the ball. They were kind keying in on Nik, and some of our other guys. I hadn’t scored in awhile. I figured they were kind of sleeping. I got a couple cuts that I didn’t finish, but I went to the rim strong, finish over Cam Ridley, and then knocked down that shot from Nik.
Like he said earlier, people are really keying in on him. Once he goes up for that shot, they’re trying to block it. That’s leaving other guys wide open. I think that was just my job to knock it down.
Q. For any or all of you guys. You guys are a 2 seed and playing at a very efficient level right now as evidenced today. Why do you think it is that you sort of seem to be flying a little bit under the radar? Everybody is talking with Michigan State nationally?
JORDAN MORGAN: At this point, I think people like to kind of say that we can’t accomplish things. We embrace that.
Q. Nik, this might be stating the obvious, but I think you hit your first three-pointer 30, 40 seconds into the game today. How important is it to try to nail that first one to just get the rhythm especially in a big game like this?
NIK STAUSKAS: It’s important for my confidence. It helps me get going, but at the same time, I think the rest of the team feeds off it when we hit our first shot. So, you know, Coach had a good play for me come off a ball screen and I was trying to be aggressive and my shot was there and fortunately it went in.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student-athletes? Glenn, Nik, Jordan. Congratulations. Good luck.
Questions for Coach Beilein, please.
Q. Coach, that fast start you guys had, do you attribute that at all to your kind of tournament experience in they looked a little tired at the start compared to the way — after that emotional win in the first round?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think everybody’s tongues were hanging with eight minutes of straight basketball with no media timeout. We’re in really good shape, and we’re not as big as some other teams sometimes. Sometimes that helps you get off to that start. But you still got make shots.
But Glenn and Nik and Jordan told me, we have this thing we call “the gauntlet” where you run and it’s really very difficult to accomplish, and they felt like they were running the gauntlet in those first few minutes. They fought through it and got it done. And so we’ve been up and down with good starts this year. But throughout the game, we usually get some consistency somewhere. I’d rather have the quick start.
Q. Coach, you had four guys in double digits today. Do you prefer that type of distribution as opposed to one guy kind of taking over?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah. I really don’t care. I just want to score more points than the other team. If we play the way we practice, we have lot of pass serves and have a lot of shooters. And so if you look — if you get into the lane, we had a couple just beautiful plays where we got in the lane, landed on two and we found open people or found a different shot for ourselves, something we work on endlessly.
So there’s some big points today where what they practiced transferred over to a game.
Q. Coach, talk about Jordan’s game today, the chip on his shoulder he had and not following and just the way he played against the bigs.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: As we went through our pregame routine of two days, we were very concerned about Ridley. How could we stop him from getting rebounds and how we could stop him in the post. And Jordan just said, “I got him, Coach, don’t worry, I got him.”
So, he’s got some pretty players. He’s guarded some pretty good players. You see why last year he was named to the first team of the all defensive team. He did a wonderful job. Now, they did get 21 offensive rebounds. He’s 6-8, we’re probably lying there. The big fella is much bigger than that. But he just does a wonderful job. You can see his engineering degree all the time. He works angles that probably other opponents don’t know he’s working at.
Q. Coach, Rick talked a little bit about Nik has improved dramatically since his freshman year. What areas do you see the improvement? Would you include the passing skills we saw today?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: He has the ball a lot more than he’s had before because of the fact we had Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke last year. So the ball was going to be in their hands. Now — but we do know he could pass a little bit. What he’s worked at is seeing the whole floor.
I think there was one time last year on a ball screen early in the year he had thrown the ball — he had shot it or thrown the ball to the roll man like 95 percent of the time. He wasn’t seeing the corners, so people keyed on that. Now the game has slowed down and he has a great ability to see the floor and he’s unselfish.
Q. John, you guys got on the run last year all the way to the National Championship game. When you look at this team and the way it’s come together and a where your right now, do you see similarities? Is there a comparison you can draw?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It is tough to ever make comparisons between teams. Thirty-seven teams that I cherish. It’s tough to do that. What I do like about this team is they’ve never lost two in a row. They’ve been resilient. They get better both in victory and defeat and they have — it depends on a lot of draws and lot of luck and a lot of things, but this team has an attitude that is similar to that team about just, you know, picking themselves up when things don’t go well.
And like Glenn Robinson, Jordan Morgan, they’ve been making big plays all year long. Spike Albrecht had a huge shot. There’s another guy ready to step up all the time. That’s where the similarities are.
Q. You got some really good looks in the middle of their zone that didn’t go, short ones. Those are probably the looks you want?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: When they went zone, we really felt good about our zone offense. Then they started following cutters through in zone offense. There’s basically half man, half zone, figuring it out right. We had to run more man stuff against them because they’re really matching up with us.
So we had a couple nice shots, and neither of them went in, and it didn’t bother us a little bit, but as their zone got more accustomed to what we were doing, there was a challenge there for a little bit. And Nik hit a huge three and then Glenn’s two plays when it was a six-point game, that’s five times now Glenn Robinson, the game was sort of going the other way and Glenn fixes it. That was tremendous time for him to step up.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for Coach?
Q. Just the culture. Two Sweet 16s in a row. How proud are you of that?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I’m really proud of it. We’ve had a lot of help. It’s not just our coaching staff and the team. We’ve had great help from the university, from the president all the way down. We’ve had great support from our athletic administration, Dave Brandon, et cetera.
When we came to Michigan, this is what I envisioned it could be, and compete for the Big Ten Championship, and you do that, the Big Ten is going to be really strong. You compete for the Big Ten Championship, you can compete at this level like we did today.
Q. I’m guessing 700 doesn’t mean a whole lot to you?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I didn’t even know it until I was presented the ball today. It’s a lot of games, counting junior college wins, which I think are harder to get than some of these wins at the same time, but it means, as most coaches will say, we’ve had a lot of good players and great staff and support and means I’m coaching a long time as well.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Congratulations, good luck.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Thank you.