John Beilein spoke with the media after Michigan’s 98-49 win over Maryland Eastern Shore. Here are the highlights from his press conference:
“…just watching this team and trying to get us to reach every bit of potential that we can. A great example of that today was Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. … He had an assist every 36 minutes as a freshman, and he played a lot of minutes. It wasn’t that he was selfish, he just didn’t see the floor. With the 10 assists (today), that gives him 30 on the year. It’s one-third through the season, that would give him 90 if he continued that rate. That’s a huge step from going from 20 assists in major minutes to 90 assists. So that really helps us see what we can do as a team. I’ve been seeing it a little bit in practice. But it’s refreshing for us to see it with all our guys.
“Our backcourt against a team that trapped us all night long had 15 assists and no turnovers. That backcourt is developing, they’re getting some chemistry. I call our team the starting seven. Duncan (Robinson) and Mark (Donnal), former starters, are coming off the bench. We hopefully don’t have too much drop-off at that point. I thought (Xavier Simpson) did some good things today, Ibi (Watson) did some good things today, Jon (Teske) did some good things today. It’s not even close to where they’re going to be, but we’re got to let the process take care of the rest of it.”
On transition offense:
“First of all, you can’t run if you don’t get a stop. … We got stops and we ran. DJ had an outlet pass today that was Mitch McGary-like, where he caught it, his feet hit the ground and he put beautiful touch on the ball. So we picked it up that Derrick, our guards we’re going back. We have all these coaches, and we hadn’t picked put that Derrick was going backwards and didn’t get the rebound and it was killing our break. We’re doing some drills right now that make sure that we’re all busting out and flying. Nobody was busting out at all, everybody was just looking for Derrick, and it was really slowing us down, so that’s really helped.”
On Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman:
“I just think he’s got a whole another level of who he can be as a defender. We challenged him with Andino today. A lot of times we’ll take a guy like that and put Derrick Walton on him. But we wanted to challenge him. Muhammad has a whole another level of play that we’re trying to get out of him. You can see these baby steps every day of seeing the floor, just becoming a better basketball player. I think we saw maybe a major step today.”
On team defense:
“With Copeland, he’s really a difficult match-up because they’re going to set ball screens for him, is he going to post Derrick up, we tried to do a couple different things. But we’re not missing some of the action defensively that we were missing even two weeks ago. Like we said, we watch a lot of film, it’s been drilled into them. … They’re finally realizing it’s easier if (they) just talk. For a bunch of really quiet kids, it’s a lot easier to just talk and be out in front of everything instead of being reactionary.”
On shifting DJ Wilson to the ‘5’:
“Jon hasn’t had the type of reps in practice … I wanted to look at this thing, when people are spreading us out late in the game, put one of those seven starters in and just move DJ over to the ‘5’ if we need to. Now, you can do a lot of things with that. You may see it again. I think Mo and Mark are too valuable and it might tire DJ out if he’s got to play that and not his natural position, but it was the best way we could go (then). And Mo’s second foul was one of those fouls that we saw last year. Mo can’t do those things. He’s learning a good lesson again, and we hope that we’re better from it.”
A high percentage of assists today. It doesn’t seem like the ball is sticking:
“It isn’t. They played into that, trying to turn us over by trapping a lot. Our teams have traditionally been good passing teams when [opponents] do that. I was happy with way we saw the extra guy. There’s just this little chemistry forming right now that I can see, that Duncan knows, ‘I’m the hunter coming off the bench.’ And they were looking for him a little better.”
Was Robinson starting just a clerical snafu?
“I’ve got to ask how that happened. The scout coach puts in the book. There’s never been an issue with that. Somehow, Jeff checked the wrong box. We don’t know how it happened. We were as surprised as anybody else. But he does have to start [once that happens]. I don’t think there was anything Freudian; there was nothing going on there. Jeff doesn’t like wearing glasses, and maybe he’s got wear glasses.”
On approach to a game against weaker opponent:
“We approached this game the same as if we had a great team coming into Crisler; exact same approach. Our walkthrough makes us better. It’s that one more time that Xavier or Ibi or Jon or Moe sees something and says, ‘OK, now I know what that guy’s been talking about all year long.”
What enabled Walton to shoot so well today?
“He’s got look at the basket. He was the one guy affected by the trip to UCLA. I did not like the way he carried himself in the game against Central Arkansas. He was turning down shots, the ball was sticking like crazy. We talked about that the last couple of weeks but especially after Central Arkansas—what a talented player he is. He’s scored 1,000 points and he missed 16 games…‘You’re a really good player, and this team needs you to look at the basket.’ That was the message.”