Michigan’s regular season ended Saturday afternoon with a 79-69 win over Rutgers at the Crisler Center. Max Bielfeldt, the team’s lone senior, earned the start and proceeded to record his first career double-double. Meanwhile, Aubrey Dawkins scored 31 points and hit eight three-pointers.
John Beilein met with media to discuss the easy win. The coach discussed Bielfeldt’s future with the team and the improvements Dawkins has made, and he reflected on what has been one of his most tumultuous seasons while in Ann Arbor.
Opening Statement: “It was important to get out to a fast start, and we did. Loved the way Max performed throughout the whole game, and obviously Aubrey and Spike were just terrific. Spike knows where the shooters are, and he finds them. I was really encouraged by the other assists we had from Aubrey, from Zak and Muhammad. Growing in a lot of areas, and I think you see that. Kam had a tremendous first half. Just really pleased we showed signs of growth from the last time we played them.”
On rebounding from the Northwestern loss: “Here’s what I saw: I saw our older guys — Max, Spike and Zak Irvin — they were really disappointed [after the Northwestern game] and they showed it. And the coaches, we all felt it but we didn’t show it. It was a really important time in our program that our young guys would not get down after what was as difficult a loss as any Michigan team has had. Up there with the Wisconsin loss, the championship loss to Indiana. It’s just difficult to get over. Our kids moved on, and the coaching staff did a great job of helping them with that. But Zak and Spike and Max, they did it behind the scenes and out in practice.”
On making a run in the Big Ten Tournament: “I look at the Big Ten, the tournament, and just, you look at our scores. With the exception of few games, we either won or lost in close situations. We have a chance against everybody. Our scores should merit that. Obviously, if Aubrey is going to make eight threes every game, we have a much better chance — and if Max is going to give is double-doubles.”
On Dawkins nearly matching three-pointer record: “I don’t know what records people hold, so I wouldn’t know. Tom [Wywrot, Michigan’s SID] usually tells me after the fact. There’s been tremendous growth in him. When he got here, he could shoot, but he had to get it off quicker. He’s worked hard at that. He has a short memory when it comes to when he misses. He gets back out there, loading the gun, shooting it again. He works really hard at this, really happy for him.”
On how season could have been different: “There’s going to be a lot of times I just have to stop looking at the rearview mirror. You just have to go forward with it. Obviously, things could have been much different. At the same time, I just love the way — you couldn’t throw any more adversity at us, and our kids just kept going forward.”
On Max Bielfeldt’s year: “The biggest factor tonight was his 50/50 rebounds. He just went and got the ball. That’s big, and I don’t think he was as quick to that in years past, because he was delayed due to injury. … That was a great performance today.”
On whether Bielfeldt might return: “I don’t think anything is ever closed. I wanted to make sure we underpromised and overdelivered. Make sure that he knew that this was his last year. I would like him to go out and explore some options. We’ll look at some options. We’ll decide whether it’s a good option to come back.”
On discussing the NIT: “Not at all. It’s just one game at a time. It’s not like the good old days, when they would look at it and say, ‘OK, Michigan, they’re going to have a great crowd.’ They’re going to take the most deserving teams out there. It’s difficult for a team with 15 wins. We would be a great representative of the Big Ten if it happened.”
On playing former managers: “I said to Jon [Rubenstein] as he was going to the locker room after the warmup, before the game: ‘What was it like down there?’ And he said, ‘That was amazing.’ And that sort of just took me, and I said, ‘Boy, that was the right thing to do.’ ”