Following Michigan’s omission from the NIT, John Beilein spoke with media on a teleconference Sunday night. With the Wolverines’ season officially over, the coach discussed watching the NIT selection show and his team’s outlook for the future.
Opening statement: “I know I’m at the University of Michigan if we have 11 people on this call and we’re not going to the postseason. That’s the good news right now. We are obviously disappointed that we’re not going to the postseason. At the same time, I have tremendous faith in the committees that choose the NCAA, that choose the NIT. Those guys work around the clock for months and weeks to come up with this decision
“The real fact is, you don’t get into these things, and you don’t go to tournaments when you come close so many times. You have to win more games, and you have to do better than we did, and that’s a fact. Still proud of our team and how resilient they were all year long. Great growth in them, as we’ve talked about. But really, spots of what could be a brilliant future for the program, for them individually, and, of course, Michigan basketball overall.”
On watching the NIT selection show: “I watched it at home with Kathleen and Patrick. I knew going in it was 50/50 and in the NCAA at least I’ve sat there at Richmond and West Virginia twice, knowing they’re going to have to make tough choices. Sometimes, you don’t get that selection. I don’t think I had any real feeling other than disappointment. We practiced today; we had a great practice. Our kids were excited to have this opportunity. They don’t get to have another year. I get to coach for a long time, and they don’t get to have that year back. You feel bad for them.
“I texted them all; I did a mass text to tell them the season was over and I was very proud of them. We’ll take tomorrow off and talk again Tuesday about the season going forward. We change from 20 hours a week to two hours a week. We want to make sure we’re on schedule. I’ve gotten a couple of texts from Spike Albrecht, said ‘I wish next season was here tomorrow.’ Quite a few texts like that from our guys about they are all in and ready to go for Team 100.”
On recent improvements: “Yeah, I was looking forward to playing against teams — in the Big Ten, we know each other pretty well, but usually, when we get out of the conference at this time of the year, we’ve had some success. Just to play against somebody else, and on two days’ rest, and just watch these new things that we’re working on, perhaps work again and again and again going all the way to New York. But it wasn’t to be.”
On Zak Irvin: “He’s become a passer, a rebounder, a better shooter, scorer. It’s things like that we’re seeing. I think we’re seeing similar things in some of the freshmen. Just, we haven’t seen that growth yet, but give them another year. We’re very excited about the future. Unfortunately, you have to go through a year like this. But we know so much more about our freshmen now than we would have.”
On talking to NIT committee: “It wasn’t any lobbying going on. I don’t think lobbying has anything to do with anything anymore. It’s just straight out, they’re going to go by what they see on the court, they’re going to go by win/loss record, they’re going to go by RPI.”
On plan with Spike’s surgery: “The next couple days will mean a lot. If the injury is similar to Max’s, it is something that will take him the best part of the summer to recover from. So the earlier the better. But we also don’t want him to miss too many classes. … He’ll rehab really well, I’m confident of it. He’s hungry to get back going, I’m sure.”
On Derrick Walton’s status: “He practiced today the best he’s practiced all year long. What’s the irony in that? He was able to go for a full hour today. Still not completely pain-free, but it didn’t bother him like it had. He’s ready to try all kinds of therapy. We want him to get it right. Today, he still wasn’t right, but it was a big improvement.”
On improvements he wants to see from Doyle: “He was playing against guys three, four years older every night. He didn’t back off, including against Kaminsky the other night. I love the way he’s making great progress. He is a workhorse as far as getting into the gym. That could be a separator for him.
“It would be nice if he could make a little 15-footer, because I believe he can. He just didn’t have that many opportunities this year, but that would be good. And then playing where we can throw him the ball down near the box, playing off of him and through him a little bit more. There was times we did that, not enough, and that was part of the issue of passing as well.”