It was an ugly win for the Michigan basketball team, but the Wolverines (4- Big Ten, 14-5 overall) were happy to take down Minnesota, 74-69, and move on victorious nonetheless.
On a night where the offense struggled and the game ended up closer than it was supposed to, Michigan coach John Beilein broke down a quick Golden Gopher defense, Zak Irvin’s progress and more.
“We cherish wins like this, when we can shoot 30 percent from 3, even less than 30 percent from 3 … and still win games. It just happens. I knew they were going to be challenging for us because their overall quickness, and we made a choice to not get beat by King on the outside and that really opened up some things from their guards, in particular Mason was really good.
“It’s a W. When we go back to their place it will obviously be a much bigger challenge than it was, but it was (still) a challenge tonight. They’ve got a lot of young players that are very good, they’ve got some seasoned veterans that mix in with them, and we’ll take that W any day, because it beats the alternative.”
On Minnesota’s defense
“Yeah they defended it differently than anybody has all year long. I’m not going to put it out there, but we have to have a different strategy or be better at what we do. … They contain you, and a lot of teams can’t do that.”
“We had a day off Monday , and we our kids are so entrenched at getting better that I think some of them came in when they needed to rest. We looked dead-legged out there. And now we have to do it again Saturday against what you can see is a very good Nebraska team at their place, and we’re going to have to use tomorrow to get rest again with these three games in these seven days.”
“I think he’s playing at the highest level right now that he’s played since he’s been here because he’s putting it all together. I mean there were days as a freshman where he might hit six 3s, and that’s yet to come. But he wasn’t getting six rebounds or assists or getting to the basket. But now he’s getting to the basket, he’s shooting the ball well. We don’t win without him right now, he’s really playing well.”
On Michigan’s bigs struggling:
“Our bigs only had an OK day. We had a great opportunity, Moe finished, but nobody else really did. We’ve just got to keep working really hard with all of them, but every day it’s a different strategy, and the veterans are doing really well with that, but the young guys are still struggling.”
On end of first half:
“We had a wide-open 3, we’re all shocked when Duncan doesn’t make two out of every three he takes, so we had a wide-open 3 ready to go up 18, and the next thing you know it was a seen-point half. So that was the big thing at halftime that we need to come out with the same energy that we started this game. When you’re up by a lot and the lead goes down, it can really deflate a team, but what happens if we were tied, then we were up by seven at the half? You’d be happy. So we had to change the mindset there.”
“Once again, we’re calling more plays for him, asking him to see more things and be more aggressive. His 3 was a big big shot for us, it’s the only one he made.
“He’s growing every single day and of course, you haven’t seen us in this type of game yet. We’ve either been up by so much people weren’t pressing and we didn’t need to make 10 foul shots to win a game like we did today, that was big that he could go and do that.”
On defensive breakdowns:
“It was why didn’t they get the threes, because we weren’t leaving the shooters. Same thing people do to us. So we’re going to challenge them to finish at the rim, take charges with our big guy — I think we had two opportunities there where DJ could have got one, Moe I think got one — and guard your yard a little bit better. We were up pressuring a little too much, not containing Mason enough. But that was it, they weren’t going to get those threes.”
“That was big. We haven’t had to do that. Texas game I think we had to make a few and NC State , Caris LeVert went and made eight in a row. We haven’t been in that situation. We’ve either won by a lot or struggling to get back. That was big for us and we’ve been doing it every day in practice. Without Caris out there and getting the ball to him, we want to make sure Mark and Muhammad and all these guys are prepared.”
On Duncan Robinson:
“He got some really good looks. A couple of them were really deep. He practices so much, so much and you’re a student. They tell me how many threes he makes before the games, it’s like hundreds. I can assure you — and I was away recruiting — on the day off he found his way in there obviously with no instruction from us and hit a couple hundred. He’s gotta gauge that but one bad game won’t make us change that.”
On if the game felt flat:
“The only time I felt flat really was the end of the first half. With the weather tonight how cold it is and Minnesota is 0-6 coming in here. It’s not like (Maryland’s) coming to town.”
On shot selection:
“I thought we were. We were still struggling at shot clock time to figure out what we need to do against the different defenses that we see. What I’m just finding is people are more in shot clock situations than ever before because of the 30 seconds. We’ve gotta continually try to streamline our offense so we can get through a few more things before we go to shot clock. In the games we were winning by a lot, I just feel stressed at shot clock time. We have to be better at getting to it and getting people to their spots.”