John Beilein met with the media after Michigan’s win over Penn State and was pleased with how his team played without their star player. The coach shared a brief update on LeVert’s status, but very little concrete information.
Opening statement: “After the Illinois game I was pleased with how we responded on the road then we had to face more adversity with Caris’ injury and they responded again. That tells me a lot about this team and you only can have so much of different things but boy they came out with great energy and togetherness and we had a heck of a first half.
“Then we had enough to start the second half, that was where you worried. You come out and you’re up 20 and they can drop it to 14 in no time and then be in this game. We got away from them up to 30 and then didn’t play as well down the stretch.
On LeVert: “We don’t know all of the specifics. I know you’d like me to know the specifics, but I don’t want to speculate on what we don’t know yet, I think in time we’ll know more.
“I think we’ll know more, as soon as we start putting things out there we’ll be talking about things that we don’t know yet. He’s his lower left leg, it happened in the Illinois game, you can watch the video. ”
Beilein also confirmed that the injury is this play against Illinois where LeVert stepped on another players’ foot and he didn’t practice since that game.
On Duncan and Zak passing the ball: “I was concerned about Duncan’s assist numbers after about five or six games because he does need to… The Stauskases and guys like that, once they could floor the ball and see people that made a big difference for us.
There were games that Vall Jordan, took a lot of credit for this, I was looking over the SMU tape and I had missed a lot of the opportunities… I was looking at execution and not how open our big men were. We really have been emphasizing since then… those two did a great job. They had 13 assists together, those are two guys who came in as shooters and now they get 13 assist, that’s a large number.
On Donnal: “Mark right now is really finishing high and tight. There’s a simplicity to his game of putting it in where some other guys are still having some balance issues. Mitch McGary was like that. Early in Mitch’s career, every time he had an easy shot, it became complicated. Then he got to his leverage and it was much better.”
On shooting: “We don’t want to be just that team, we want to give people a lot of different things they have to guard, but when you have four people out there that all can shoot the ball — and they’re usually all out there. First of all it’s a big man’s dream because he’s in single coverage and leverage a lot. Second of all, they are becoming a much better passing team and they are passing it where people can see the basket and have good balance.”
On when the players found out about LeVert’s injury : “They players knew yesterday. They’re just doing their job. Everybody is zippered up while we figure out what this is. ”
More on LeVert: “Just rehab and evaluate, rehab and evaluate and see where it is, what is going on there. That’s the whole plan. That’s what we’ve been doing the last two days and then yesterday we decided he wasn’t going to play just because of the fact that he hadn’t practiced. We said let’s go, based on what happened last year we’re trying to be cautious, but rehab and evaluate.”
Has he had an x-ray? “He’s had all kinds of information coming his way.”
On Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: “That 7-nothing it didn’t look good to start did it? We were obviously missing a very important player, but Muhammad hit a tough three which was followed by Duncan with a tough three and all of the sudden 7-6 is ‘alright…'”
More on Donnal: “We’re not throwing the ball to Donnal and saying ‘alright go to work big fella’, he’s playing off of leverage. We’ve found out who our team is and trying to put them in schemes that they are comfortable in seeing him. You can run a lot of things, but they have to be comfortable. Some of our guys can make certain passes and some can’t, so we scheme to say how can we get this guy in this position and get Mark an easy basket.”
On Walton’s struggles: “I think sometimes what happens to players when they lose their other backcourt mate is either they’re trying to do too much or they lose some confidence early. That’s why we sat him and Andrew Dakich just did a wonderful job, we went ahead in that time. It’s one of those games where he has some spurts, he made two huge threes in the second half and the first half and he had three assists. Unfortunately he turned the ball over which is not like him, he’s probably pressing a little bit more knowing that his running mate and really good friend was not here. ”
On Dakich: “One of the things is his energy that he brings to the team. He’s a true point guard and he sees the floor really well. ”
On the defense: “The key to all of this guys is our defense. While this team isn’t a great offensive team, they’re a good offensive team. They went out to Colorado lost by one point, there was another very, very close game they played a really good team. They can score points and our defense is getting better and better every day. Zak has bought in. Derrick did not have a good offensive game, but Derrick had a great defensive game on Shep Garner.”
On Purdue: “Hopefully we’re not getting beat off the bounce like we were in some games, or beat off the pass like SMU and Connecticut where everybody is in help coverage. That will be a big issue, we had a sellout crowd here tonight and we’ll probably have a sell out at Purdue and that place will be rocking in rolling.
“They do what we don’t do well, they rebound. We have challenges and we have to find a way to balance what they do well with what we do well.”