Michigan head coach John Beilein was pleased with his team’s ‘gritty not pretty’ victory over Purdue on Saturday afternoon. The head coach discussed his team’s defensive performance, Caris LeVert’s return and much more in his post game press conference.
“For our team to win in a gritty, not pretty performance is big for our growth. I think we grew up a lot today as a team. Knowing that games are going to be tough, you’re going to have to be tougher. And so as they all mature right now, that’s a big part of us.
“I’m happy Caris could get out there. At the start of the second half when we were warming up, he felt out-of-shape and wobbly, and maybe in an emergency (he could have played), but right now I thought it was best to just shut him down. We wanted him to play 10 to 15 minutes. He played 11 because Duncan was in foul trouble, and that was just about enough to get him ready for the next game. We might have second guessed it if we lost it, but as any of you who played this game know, after one and a half practices you are not ready to play. You can’t cheat this game. There’s no designated hitter, there’s no huddling up every 30 seconds, you cannot cheat this game, and we decided not to push it anymore.”
On Derrick Walton’s struggles
“There was a point in the game where people on my bench were saying ‘Get him out of there,’ and I said ‘The dude scored 26 points the other night, I’m not taking him out.’ I mean every time I’m missing a shot, (I believed) the next one’s going in, and so we rode him all the way down. He only made one of them, but that was a big play to get to the point that we were there.
“What I’ve learned about him is that he needs confidence, but I also need to be extremely commanding with him sometimes about his expectations. I don’t know if I gave him any confidence in the game but I called him over after those 3 missed open shots and I said ‘Make the open shots, damnit!’ You’ve just got to be real with him because he’s tough kid and he’s learning to be tougher.”
On out-rebounding Purdue:
“If you look at that, that may be the only time you see that stat, so we got it done somehow. Chad Carr was batting the ball around to us as a little angel somewhere, and we were getting the ball. We were able to get enough done so that they didn’t get too many second opportunities.
“We couldn’t get close to the basket too much with their size. Even Haas intimidated a couple shots. SO yeah, our guards have to go in and get the ball and we all know Derrick does a great job with that.”
On Zak Irvin:
“He’s worked very hard ever since the summer and the injury to really get a rhythm back and want to take big shots. You just look at the contrast of him and Derrick in the Minnesota game and this game, they just flipped roles, and it was just huge for him to go in and make those big ones, especially those 3s.”
On the tough stretch still looming:
In this league, you need to win on the road, and right now we have four road wins … That’s pretty good, now we have to go and get more and think ‘How can we do better tomorrow?’
On winning without the 3:
“There’s different ways to win, and we have to take what the defense gives us. And (the lack of 3-pointers) is surprising because we can’t get to the rim as well as you’d like to because (A.J. Hammons) is an elite shot-blocker, so it is good for our guys to realize we’re more than just (a shooting team), but if teams are going to leave our guys open, I want them to shoot it too.
On Abdur-Rahkman’s hustle:
“We play that over and over again, that time he sprinted down at Minnesota and (showed) that athleticism. When he first came here I used to accuse him of playing in a tuxedo, because he was just playing. He wasn’t playing hard or gritty, and we said this is the sprint, the hustle that we have to see every time because that saved the game for us.”