John Beilein was relieved that his Wolverines held on for a three-point win over No. 3 ranked Maryland on Tuesday evening. The head coach praised his team for stepping up in Caris LeVert’s absence and much more in the win.
“I think it’s great for our team, for our students. We haven’t had a lot of good scheduling where we can have our students on campus and have a good team here. We had Xavier, but we were in a place that we didn’t play well, and just for us to get this win today — as you can see we’re a really good team with a lot of weapons. But our defense, except for those few minutes where we really got exposed by not giving enough help inside off Trimble and off the ball screen … they were picking us apart, but we were able to tighten that up and get the stops that we needed.
“A lot of key players in the game. One when you look at the shooting stats they weren’t good, he had a couple turnovers, but I had Derrick Walton sing the song in the end because I asked him in a timeout ‘I want you to go out there and shoot the ball.’ His first one missed, but the next two (went in). We were very stagnant at that time, and he made two shots that we needed to make.
“But everybody contributed, and I’m really happy for our team and like I said our students. I really want them to have this great experience to go and see a good basketball team, and for a lot of reasons we haven’t been as good the last two years, and we want to be a good team again because it’s exciting for them.”
On Zak Irvin:
“Our assistants call him Big Shot, and that was sort of his reputation in high school and AAU ball and things like that, and we drew up a play for him just to read and he pull up and hit that 3 and that was a really big play for us. He’s doing some things, he’s driving the ball to the basket and staying under control, that was a good night for him.
“If we can get him at the consistency that I think he expects for himself I think that will be really good for us.”
On Derrick Walton down the stretch:
“These things with Derrick, he has this in him — he has more in him. And when you think of some of the guys that he’s been playing with have been such excellent players, he didn’t have to take that role, and even with Caris this year we were not putting him in that role. But he and I have been talking these past couple weeks that he’s got to assume that role, and that was a good example of it.”
On Irvin’s defense:
“He’s had his moments where he has grown as a young man and has grown as a player, but right now he just wants to win. SO we put him on some pretty tough matchups just like we had to do with Glenn Robinson, but the good news is that they’ve got to guard you too, and so he’s been able to make really big plays for us.
On Walton and Irvin taking over:
“This is that next step for them. It was probably forced on too early for them last year they were sophomores, and they had really played cameo roles freshmen year on a championship team. But Zak started to like that towards the end of last year, but we didn’t win enough games — now we’re winning games.
“It’s that feeling right now that was like Tim Hardaway, Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert come in and make the big play to win the game. That’s why I was encouraging Derrick saying ‘Okay, Derrick, you’ve got to shoot the ball.’ … Telling him to be more assertive.”
On defensive strategy against Maryland’s size: “We had three different double down packages that I won’t disclose, but there were three packages. Sometimes we doubled on the wrong guy, that’s confusing when your back is to the guy and they throw it and you go get him and it’s not the guy you’re supposed to get because you can’t see his number.
“It was costing us a little bit so we decided to go away from that. We’ve done it successfully on some occasions, we were awful in the Purdue game, there were several times Mark was leading them to the double team and there was no double team. We tried to mix it up so they wouldn’t be real comfortable, but we didn’t want to leave Trimble.”
On uncertainty without LeVert: “I’ll confess probably I did it, ‘here we go again, same thing as last year.’ We’ve got Spike sitting there and you’ve got Caris sitting there, but I think the Penn State game really showed that we have some other weapons.
“They also love playing with Duncan Robinson, they’re looking for him all the time. So I think both of them are realizing, that if you play defense and we really execute on offense. We’re going to have to make a lot of threes because we still don’t have that inside presence like a Diamond Stone — that doesn’t mean you can’t win.
On the importance of holding on: “I think it’s big. That three goes in at the end or we don’t make the foul shot, it would have been really tough for them because they’re giving everything they can in practice every day. There’s not an agenda, we have zero issues with anything that would distract us from growing as a team. This was a big win for us and now we have to carry it over going to Iowa.”
On Mark Donnal: “He was doing this in practice the last couple of days. Where he’s just really been our best big man. Two weeks ago on the scout team. I think he had to have some success to realize that it does work because there’s moments where he was really working hard and nothing seems to still go right.
“The big man in any defense has a lot to think about because his man is setting most of the ball screens. We play almost everybody differently in the ball screen and he has to remember coverages. He’s getting the reps now where I can see he’s making the right progress. His whole idea was overthinking and (now) he just reacts sometimes now and if you’re wrong, you’re wrong but at least you did something.”
On Derrick Walton’s turnovers: “He comes up the court and gets a little tunnel vision sometime with what he’s trying to do. The move I was upset with his turnover was the exact same thing he did with five minutes to go in the Purdue game. He went down and said ‘I’m going to pick this ball up and go and make a play even though there’s not one there’. As he sees this, he’s a smart kid, he’ll get better and better.”
“If I’m a guard, I’m thinking assist I want to give the ball to Duncan or Zak whenever I can.”
On Duncan’s miss in the corner: “Wasn’t that unbelievable? That was his worst miss of the year! And it was the most open he’s been all year. His little baseline drive and finish on the other side is pretty good. We all love coaching him, he thanks me every day after practice, every day he thanks me for coaching him, everybody on the staff.