John Beilein spoke to the media after Michigan’s 97-53 victory over Central Arkansas.
“I didn’t expect that. They’d just played Arkansas-Little Rock, whose got a pretty good team, [and lost by two in overtime]. Coming off trip, I was concerned about fatigue. We practiced yesterday and it was ‘water break,’ 10 minutes later, ‘water break.’ We get one water break a year it seems, and they were getting them all the time. I’ll have to give them more water breaks in the future because we played really well. No. 1 is an outstanding talent. They played Butler and it was a 7-point game with 12 minutes to go. No. 1 hit four threes against them… We really made shots. We’ve got a lot of guys who can make shots from the outside so a zone sometimes can be a tough defense to play against us. Our kids really played well.”
Program records for threes (made and attempted). Did you tell players this would be a game where they’d shoot a lot of threes?
“No, we never say that. We never talk about what types of shots we’re going to take. We’re going to take shots the defense gives us. You’re not going to get open if you don’t make some penetration. In first minutes the ball was sticking. Everybody stopped and let them re-match-up. It’s a true match-up zone; they’ll go with every cutter. The ball needed to move and when we moved it better at the end of the first half and the second half, it made a big difference. When I saw the 45 threes, I didn’t think we’d shot that many. But we made a lot, too.”
On responding to UCLA loss:
“I was really proud of them. We had a really good practice yesterday. We shot like that yesterday. We’re at a confidence level—a little bit SMU-, Marquette-like. Our confidence was back to make shots, to see each other, to trust each other. You hear these horror stories about the west to east trip. The fact we spent the night [on Saturday] was a good idea, in retrospect.”
On getting ball to Wagner more in second half:
“The way that match-up zone is, they’re going to crowd middle. Not going to leave big guy too often. Basically played man to man with him and it was hard to get him open. Basically had to force it to him in the second half.”
On the bounce-back win:
“I saw some resiliency here. When you have really good kids, I think you can bounce back better than when you have kids with agendas. These are great kids. They’re too nice—we all know that—sometimes. But I think we can coach that up more than if we had kids with poor attitudes.”
On preparing Simpson and Watson for Big Ten play:
“Our whole idea is ‘Big Ten play, you have to be ready.’ They are growing. X had a couple of really good passes where he might have left his feet and charged a month ago. He’s lost some confidence because he’s had to take some steps backwards…There are some things he’s re-working. We’re seeing some carry-over [from seeing to doing]. Ibi the same thing. I don’t care how that three went in. He can shoot much better than he has, but it went in. Now he’s got that one to his credit and hopefully he’ll grow from that because we do need that off the bench. Both of them defensively need work and that’s like with every freshman in country. Only way it changes is if a guy has such a veteran team around him that is really good on defense and makes up for all [the freshman’s] mistakes. We’re not that good defensively to do that.”
Do you want Simpson and Watson to get more sustained minutes before conference play?
“I hope so. They earned a little bit of that today. I wanted Xavier to guard No. 1 for a few minutes so he could learn that kid can really score the ball. I’d like to get them more [minutes] in these next two games. We’re not going to do it to sacrifice a win. If they’re getting beat defensively or taking us out of the flow, ‘OK, keep practicing.’ Both are very limited, as many freshmen are, as far as exams, and I think they’re done early. We’ll be using every NCAA moment—20 hours a week—with both of them the next two weeks. That’s a major focus for us.”
How do you maintain shooting confidence?
“After UCLA game, we showed them about 10 defensive clips…But we showed them every basket we made. We’ll do same thing again. Just show them making shots to get that confidence up. Duncan, once he made a couple, got tentative. I would have been firing those babies up like crazy when you make two in a row. He missed one, then got tentative…You don’t see whether you’re open when you get the ball. Expect to be open, and turn it down if it’s not good.”