John Beilein was on the podium this afternoon to preview Michigan’s First Four match-up with Tulsa. The head coach discussed the Golden Hurricane’s experience and Michigan’s mentality heading into Wednesday night’s play-in game.
JOHN BEILEIN: I feel like everyone that is here right now, very appreciative of what Dayton has done with this part of the tournament, and we’re thrilled to be here. It certainly beats the alternative right now, and we know we have a tough task ahead of us. I have much respect for the Tulsa program. And playing against nine seniors. I don’t think we’ve had nine seniors total in the last four or five years together. So there’s a great amount of experience, and we’re going to have to find a way to win despite that difference. So really got a quick, long team, that just really, really — a good basketball team or they wouldn’t be here.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. You talked Sunday, I guess, about Duncan and maybe the shot, the Big Ten tournament, sort of validating why he’s here, those kind of things. How have you sort of dealt with him from the psychological standpoint of the grind and the second half, the struggles, the shooting, et cetera?
JOHN BEILEIN: There’s many times that I looked at him almost like a freshman going through this for the first time, even though he’s got a year of really playing good basketball in Division III at Williams and a year with us sitting out. He hadn’t seen the quickness, the length, the strength, the big men that he has to shoot over, the scouting reports that he sees right now. And so I’ve just — hey, you’ve got three years to play at Michigan. There’s a process that you’re going to go through, and without pressing too much, knowing that this summer will be very important, when this season is over, he’s the type of worker that will really — it will really elevate his game knowing what he knows now how this season has gone. He’s had 90 3s. Nik Stauskas topped off at 92 in one year. But Nik went to the foul line 200 times. And Duncan has not come close to that. So there’s a whole bunch of things he’s working on.
Q. John, how have you seen, obviously Moe got in that Indiana game, how have you seen him developed this year, and do you wish maybe he could have gotten a few more minutes early in the season, early Big Ten season, or where do you see him in his growth right now?
JOHN BEILEIN: You know, he’s been going through like what most freshmen, and I mean a true 18-year-old freshman. He’s still 18 right now. And with his body growing, I think when the Big Ten hit him, the bodies in the Big Ten were difficult for him to play defensively. You are who you can guard. And he was really having issues with that early. And as he got more comfortable with it in practice, we were more willing to put him in in these last few games. No, I think that this season was a great learning experience for him that he’s got to show us in practice every day that he can do a whole lot in the game. And he works really hard in practice. But he’s still got some flaws, as we all do, that he’s trying to clean up. And I’m glad that no matter what happens, with the rest of this season, he’s ending the season, I think, in a positive direction.
Q. Just following up, has there been a single foul called on him that he agreed with that you’ve seen?
JOHN BEILEIN: Never. This is a European thing. You watch soccer, the whole deal, it is every foul, it is — he’s even — yeah, every foul is always, there’s drama involved in everything. We talked to him a long time about taking the drama out of his game.
Q. John, I know this doesn’t really concern you, but coming into rival territory a little bit, what kind of a crowd are you expecting tomorrow?
JOHN BEILEIN: I was asked that question the other day. And I think everybody assumed, because we’re close by, we’re a Midwestern team, that people would gravitate to us. I do not expect that to happen. These are college basketball fans here that are coming to this game. Certainly we’ll have Michigan fans. And they’ll have Tulsa fans. But they’re college basketball fans. But most of them reside in the state of Ohio. So I would assume that — this is one time that you’re three hours from home, and Tulsa’s how many hours from home — 16, 18, 20 hours from home. I do not think we’ll have a home advantage. And that’s okay.
Q. Now that you’re here, you see it, you feel it, how would you describe the differences between this —
JOHN BEILEIN: No difference. Really no difference. Here’s the big difference is the prep time of turning around so quickly and playing right away. Especially with given the fact that we played on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament. Balancing the rest and getting ready for a team that has multiple looks, multiple players, nine seniors. It’s difficult to prepare for. So we’re trying — if anything we’ll be guilty of under-preparing in this game just so it’s not confusing.
Q. It’s a pretty stark contrast from two years ago when you guys were a No. 2 and now you’re kind of sliding in. Do you talk about that with, like, the guys who went through it and like the difference in the tournament and the atmosphere and stuff?
JOHN BEILEIN: No, not really. I mean, we are — it occurred to me this morning that two guys on this team — it was just two years ago. There’s only two guys playing in this game that have ever played in an NCAA Tournament game, and that occurred to me this morning. And as we were going through all the things that they have to do at the press conferences and all these things. No, we’re not talking about this. Like I say, we really feel good that we were able to get back into the tournament, given our circumstances the last couple of years, and feel good about the momentum we have going into this.
Q. Talking with Spike, and he mentioned that he kind of felt as if now getting in kind of gave you guys a sense of new life. He actually compared it to the Final Four year, the skid you went on, and you just needed to get into the tournament. What would be your response to that? Do you see what he’s talking about?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think that getting into the tournament, certainly for everybody, especially if you’re awaiting to find out what you’re going to be doing, there’s a sense of release, of relief, rather, that you’re in, that you’re excited. And then next you go into, okay, this is — we’re just going to go and do everything we can to win one game at a time. There’s no — there’s no tomorrow, I know that’s coach-speak, but there’s no tomorrow. So now you go out there and give it everything you have instead of dealing with the what-ifs. The what-if is if you win you advance, if you lose, you go home. And whatever happens, we just have done our absolutely best.