After his team’s fourth loss in five games, this time to No. 16 Iowa, Michigan coach John Beilein understands that his team still has work to do in the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
With the regular season now in the books, Beilein discusses the Wolverines’ latest loss, life on the tournament bubble, senior day and more.
“I think we all saw the Iowa team that beat Purdue twice and beat Michigan State twice, they really have a good team. Jarrod Uthoff was really not shooting the ball in the basket at all for the last five games and I think he was 21% from 3 but somehow found a way to get healthy against us. He was a big difference in the game, we couldn’t stop him enough of course.
“I think we got some open looks, but not enough obviously, but we did have some open looks and we just couldn’t hit anything from a couple of our guys today. So it’s disappointing for all of us going into the tournament now and we just have to go in there and making a run in this tournament is the answer to ending our season with success. Any postseason we can get, we’re going to embrace, and we’ll play from there. The best shot at the postseason is right now … We’re proud of the 10 (conference) wins, but we’re not proud of the three home losses here in the league. That hasn’t happened often, it shouldn’t happen, but it’s happened.”
On failing to capitalize on comeback chances
“Yeah, we have to be able to control that, and we did not. We took some bad shots, and just had a couple times where we needed to be more poised in that run. And I get it, everyone was all jacked up and ready to go, but that’s not the way we need to respond.”
On early struggles
“I saw Jarrod Uthoff early. I mean there are some things at his length and his size that — he did the sleeper 3, he had another one he had the pull-up jumper — they’re just really good at running it. You saw guys that were playing for a league championship a few games ago and it didn’t really work out, so now they’re coming out and playing just to win, and he played really loose.”
On LeVert and Albrecht
“It’s been a great four years with them and to say that they were under the radar as recruits would be true. Both of them, we just had a great feel that they would be really good players here, and they certainly would. It’s disappointing that they wouldn’t be able to have their senior year and that they wouldn’t be able to have the success they had in their first two years in the next two years.
“We missed them in every moment. We missed them in the beginning of games, the end of games, in the locker rooms, in practice, we missed a lot of it. But we had to get over that, and we’re just trying to be true to these young men and do whatever we can for them. But those two were really good at making plays when things broke down, and that’s been an issue for us.”
On his team’s case for the tournament
“It has a lot to do with what the other teams are doing; who is the competition? We do have 10 wins in a very good league, we do have some wins over top-25 teams and we have played a lot of top-25 teams. And I’m sure other people have similar arguments. But I don’t know enough about the other teams, and I really trust the people in that room. They’re really talented, and they don’t get too many of these things wrong. So if we’re in, we’re in. But whatever work we’ve got to do to get in. If we’re not, we’ve just got to say ‘Hey, these guys spent weeks of their own time getting this done.
“We’d have to play really well in this tournament right now, I don’t think there’s any question about that — we’ve got to play well in this tournament. You can see there’s spots, the teams that are like no-brainers, the Wisconsins, the Marylands, this team, Purdue … we’re right in those games, we’re in that mix, but I think it depends on who else is in that mix to see where we really are, because I really don’t know. … We’ve got to make repairs and we’ve got to play better to prove that we belong in the NCAA Tournament.”
On team’s inexperience
“(Iowa) was doing the same things and making the same mistakes we were doing when they were all sophomores and juniors. The exact same stuff. (This year) is the winningest team they’ve had, but when they were freshmen and sophomores, they were doing the same things we are. SO yeah, we have experience, but we don’t have that type of experience. Experience comes when we have big junior and senior classes, that’s experience. Two does not mean big in junior and senior classes.
On being positive during recent skid
“This is not a life and death situation. This is something that you’re talking to them about and you’re saying ‘You know what? This is part of the process. We’re going to be good, whether it’s this year or next year of the year after. It’s just part of the process of getting better.”