John Beilein addressed the media to update his team’s progress halfway through fall practices. Beilein touched on Moritz Wagner’s basketball acumen, Spike Albrecht’s hips, Caris LeVert’s responsibilities in the offense and much more.
Watch Beilein’s full press conference in the embedded media player above or read select notes and quotes below.
“I was just looking at the calendar. We’ve practiced 15 days of the 30 and we have 15 left to either practice or have exhibition or scrimmage. It’s a perfect time to kind of fill you in. I know a lot of things that I didn’t know two weeks ago, but probably not some of the things you want to know. That’s going to be determined over the long haul in many areas.
On what he likes about the team: “I think that our skill level as far as seeing the floor, understanding offense and defense, is at a different level than what it was last year. We’ve worked a lot on it all last year and this year. “
On Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s role: “We haven’t even discussed any redshirt possibilities. Muhammad is not of a young age number one, but he’s got his work cut out for him to get the minutes that he did last year and he knows it. He has some explosion to his game and some speed that we do need on this team. That’s all going to come if he can become an excellent defender on this team then there will always be minutes for him.”
On Aubrey Dawkins & Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman’s experience: “They are not running around blind right now, but there are more expectations. Now you have that next level. Last year you were trying to figure out what you had to , now you’re trying to figure out what my opponent is trying to do and where do my teammates need me. There’s still more that they have to continue to do”
On Moritz Wagner: “We’re trying to teach him two positions. You’ll see him today a little bit. At 6-foot-10 and a half he can play in the middle just hasn’t shown that physical ability to rebound – yet. He will. He’s really a talented young man. You’re going to see a moment here ‘wow that was awkward’ and then ‘oh my goodness did he just do that at 6-foot-10.5.’ Just enjoy it, I don’t know when it’s going to come around but we just love coaching that kid so much. Especially a kid who is 18 coming from a foreign country and learning the language on the fly.”
On big men versatility: “We can do some things defensively, we can play zone with that type of height if we want to play both guys. We have four guys that are 6-9 to 6-10 and how many minutes are out there for them? I would think that would be evolving all year long. “
On DJ Wilson: “He’s 235 now, but he’s trying to play at 235 instead of like he’s 190. Every day there’s something new that happens with DJ and we say okay that’s he right step. There’s some habits that you have (when you add weight) that he’s trying to change.”
On Moe Wagner: “Moe is exceptional. Some guys once they get past the addition and subtraction they sort of stop. I don’t see any stop in Moe’s learning curve right now. It is exceptional the things that he says and we just marvel at. He teaches us things sometimes and he’ll say this is why I did this. The other day he switched out and denied Caris the ball and created offense because he missed it. I said ‘why did you do that?’ and he said ‘I did not want him to get the ball because it would be a bad mismatch for me.’ That’s something that the pros think about.
“Hang on (before figuring out where he plays) and find out what we can do. He’s gotta rebound better to play in the middle that’s for sure.”
On Caris LeVert: “I think he’s close to leading us in both categories right now in scoring and assisting. Just like he was last year. That’s the thing with him too, we want him to be a guy that we play through a lot but there’s always this spot with everybody whether it was Trey or Nik where they try to do too much at certain times. They have to know when the defense is loaded up against them and then just defer and everyone is better. HE’s had a couple of really good days where he did less and accomplished more by making the simple plays. We don’t want him to have this feeling that he has to carry us on his back although there are times he may carry us on his back.”
On multi-positional players: “Zak Irvin can play in the backcourt or play either side. Caris can move around and play three as well. With Aubrey and Kam we are trying to have them take the next step and play on both sides.”
On Spike Albrecht: “It’s tough to tell right now. He’s not where he probably was when he was playing at his best. He’s still the hip surgery is still maybe restricting him a bit more than it will in another month. It’s not injury its just flexibility and soreness that he’s getting rid of.
On Duncan Robinson: “He’s been good. What we’re trying to teach him which you don’t have to teach many people is to hunt. He needs to be a hunter and he’s starting to hunt. That’s not the mentality unless on the scout team we told him that he needed to get his own he wouldn’t do it. A shot that he’s slightly guarded in we feel is just as good as a shot for some of our other guys when they may be wide open.”
On Ricky Doyle: “He came in country strong. He didn’t lift a lot of weights but he was strong walking in the door. I think one of his bigger issues was to change the muscle mass and make it more productive. His lean muscle mass has gone way up. He’s probably in the best condition he’s been in. He’s far from a finished product but I like what I see.”
On Aubrey: “He’s done really well. You’ll notice his skill level is much different. He’s making passes and assisting. He’s seeing the floor much better, his defense is getting better. I don’t know if his shooting could have gotten better. His overall feel for the game has improved.”
On Kam and Derrick: “Both of those guys have had really good falls. Kam is doing less and accomplishing more. He’s really worked very hard. His body has gotten better as far as a kid that came in at a young 18 and now with a year of weight training. You’re going to see this continuing progression.”
On Derrick Walton: “I think Derrick Walton when playing healthy was very good the last two years. When not healthy, there are challenges when=ever you run or jump and your foot hurts. He’s really having a good first two weeks.”