John Beilein, Derrick Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman were on the podium after Michigan fell to Notre Dame on Friday night. Watch the full press conference in the embedded media player above or read the transcript below.
JOHN BEILEIN: It was a great basketball game and a great environment, that’s for sure. Notre Dame’s strategy of coming out in the second half and being much more aggressive with their man to man defense was the key. I did not like the way we reacted to it, and we’ll just have to get better at that. They came out and denied some passes and put us back on our heels for a few minutes, and that was not a good thing. So it got them right back in the game, and then it was a dogfight who was going to make the last couple of shots was going to win the game. We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation from how we played in those first few minutes of the second half.
Q. You guys led for a majority of the second half and it kind of got away from you at the end. Was it something Notre Dame started doing in the last five minutes? Was it you guys maybe feeling a little bit of jitters? What happened over the last five minutes that Notre Dame was able to take the lead and hold on?
DERRICK WALTON: We just — you know, down the stretch we didn’t collectively get enough stops in a row. And that was all the difference in the game basically. They were getting stops, and we weren’t. They were making shots, and we weren’t. That’s pretty much what it boiled down to. We didn’t make the necessary stops down the stretch that would hold them off.
MUHAMMAD-ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: Yeah, like he said, we didn’t get any stops on the defensive end or made that many shots. So we’ve just got to get better and play better defense.
Q. For either one of you guys, considering that this was your fifth game in nine days, was fatigue a potential issue?
DERRICK WALTON: That’s not what we kind of attested to. I’m pretty sure that everybody at this time of the year is pretty tired. So that’s not the round that we’re going to take. We know that within the game there’s some things we could have done to control our fate. We just weren’t able to capitalize on that. Fatigue is not the thing we’re going to attest to not coming out on top tonight.
MUHAMMAD ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: Everybody is fatigued this point of the season. We’re all young men. So fatigue is not going to be the reason you win or lose. We’ve just got to go out there and play better.
Q. You guys expressed the disappointment coming so close to being able to advance tonight?
DERRICK WALTON: Can you repeat the question?
Q. Coming so close to winning, the disappointment you must feel.
DERRICK WALTON: It’s disappointing in the moment because we feel like we were good enough to get that win, and it hurts. But ultimately, I’m just really proud of, ultimately, the guys that’s on our team. We had so much things that went on within our locker room and personal journeys and hardships that everybody had to deal with. So at this point, of course it’s disappointing, but at the end of the day, we’re just really proud of our brothers who really fought when a lot of teams, a couple guys wrote us off .
MUHAMMAD ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: It’s always disappointing when your season ends, especially like this in a close game. I’m proud of our guys, like he said. We fought hard and played hard today.
Q. Despite the outcome of the game, how proud of you are the players, of the fan support that you had coming from when you played in the first four to coming here to Brooklyn, New York, and playing in the first round?
DERRICK WALTON: Again, we’re always appreciative of the fans that go out of their way to support us in venues outside of our home state. So, again, we really want to express how appreciative we are. That’s all we really have to say. We really have to appreciate our fans. They stuck with us when things weren’t good and when things got a little better. So we’re always appreciative of them.
MUHAMMAD ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: We’re so thankful to have fans like we have, and we appreciate their support in coming out to the games even when we’re not playing a home game.
Q. John, obviously, Notre Dame had a great night shooting the ball. Seemed like a lot of shots they made were pretty good looks. Would you like to see anything different defensively or was it just a matter of them getting open shots?
JOHN BEILEIN: The first half we played very good defense. They had 22 points. The second half of this game, the second half against Tulsa again, we sort of lose some of that intensity that I think you need to have to play good defense . Beachem’s shots from deep, at the shot, we played 29 seconds of good defense on that play. We’ve been up and down all year with this, whether it’s schematic, whether it’s personnel, we’ve got to figure it out because you can’t give up a 58 percent percentage in the NCAA Tournament and expect to win.
Q. Coach, you’ve obviously had tremendous success with your system through the years and a lot of different stops. I’m just wondering if you just came up against sort of the ceiling of having three guys playing 38 minutes and another one playing 36. Is your system just one that require a little bit more depth to make the kind of runs you’ve made in past years?
JOHN BEILEIN: Yes, absolutely. The depth that we had, that we expected to have going into the season is sitting on the bench with Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert. We’ll always wonder with those two. Here’s a kid that scored 17 points as a freshman in the National Championship Game. We found out in November, December, that he can’t play. And then you’ve got Caris LeVert, who was obviously a first round choice.
So we missed those. We’re trying to build our depth but we’ve also have to win this game tonight or our post season is going to be over. Trying to balance that, it can catch up with you. I don’t know if it does or not. I love the way we played at times this year, but we’d love to have a nice, tight nine-man rotation and we didn’t have that in our game tonight.