John Beilein spoke with the media after Michigan’s home loss to Maryland. Here’s what he had to say.
“Maryland played really well. [Jared] Nickens comes into this game…last two years he’s shooting 22 percent, and he goes 4 for 4. Huge difference in this game. Melo Trimble was Melo Trimble—dagger three with the shot clock low. And Justin Jackson, we didn’t guard him very well and he got some really good looks…Whole second half until about six minutes to go, they were shooting 38 percent. We were guarding them. We were trading a little bit but we were right there.
“Last six minutes they went 7 for 8. Some of them we couldn’t stop. Some were just because they have really good players that made great individual plays. Some we’d certainly like to have back. We’re making steps in some areas. Muhammad took a charge today, which is what I’ve been rallying about. Moe—you can see the great promise there. DJ—offensively, right now, has done a really good job. All our guys have a long ways to go.”
On sticking with starters for final 10 minutes:
“They were playing well. We thought it was our best defensive team on the floor. When you’ve got eight minutes to go, you’ve got two media timeouts, I called one, and he called one, so you’ve got plenty of rest…I was concerned about the third game [of this stretch]. We were wide open in the first half with several looks [and missed], I was concerned maybe our legs were dead, but then we shot the heck out of it the second half.”
On Nickens’ threes:
“They were runaway threes at the NBA line. There’s not too many people that can defend a guy running away at 26 feet [who] rises up and shoots it. You can either go through the screen or chase it. We decided to chase the rest of the time, but we didn’t chase it on that last one.”
Was not being able to get key stop was Maryland making big shots or…?
“It’s a combination of things. Our kids have a good attitude about it and we’re growing every single day. But other teams are too. They were on their ‘A’ game…They made some tough shots. [Damonte] Dodd and Trimble have run that pick and roll a few times, and they know where each other will be. And he [Trimble] is just a really good player.”
Moe was frustrated with his defense. What is your assessment?
“We’ve got to coach it better. You haven’t taught it until they’ve learned. It’s a combination of physical contact, of being more physical. We had guys play 37 minutes and don’t have a personal foul. That’s not good in a loss. You’ve got to give three fouls at the end. We’ve got to find that balance. We don’t want guys out there just fouling and putting them at the line early. It’s a processing speed with several of our guys. There’s this little tape delay.
“We’re trying to hasten it with all kinds of coaching strategies and these crazy drills to try to identify what’s going on and then get to it. The game just needs to slow down for some of our guys. Some of them are in their first year, some are in their fourth year—it’s still there, and we’ve go to work at it.”
Aside from not shooting well, anything that has been a factor in slow starts?
“…That was the big difference: Nickens makes the three [in a row], Moe, I think, Muhammad, Derrick, and Xavier all had the same shot. Nickens made the three in a row, and we missed four in the row from the same open spot. We can say this, say that—there’s the game sometimes.”
“We are trying to encourage him to get to the foul line, to go downhill. Trying to make sure he…gets two feet in the paint. Having the opportunity to do that, and the type of defense they’re playing, dictates his playing time. Today we wanted him to guard Trimble and their point guard as much as possible.”
What is the next step to make sure Wagner isn’t in foul trouble?
“He hasn’t too many of those games. I think he’s learning what the smart play is. We don’t want to go the other way where we’re just giving people layups. As he goes through this, he’s processing not just the language difference but the speed of the game. You go through your schedule. You play the UCLAs, South Carolinas and get woke up, and then you play some guarantee games and get away with some of the things that we all do.
“All of a sudden, we ain’t getting away with it any more with the way the league is right now. …I think he’s understanding how to stay out of foul trouble, but we also want him to understand how to be more physical with is defense as well.”
Is it dispiriting to you that Zak said this team waits until it gets hit in mouth to respond?
“Maryland really played good today. But we had some moments there where we don’t play with the same IQ, intensity that you need. It bites you in this game. It’s a six-point swing in a matter of seconds. What was tough is when we’d make a big play to cut it down, they’d make one coming right back. It’s hard to keep doing that. Lot of factors. It’s a great time for us to learn and get to be a better team. There’s nothing better than a game—a loss—to help us improve.”
Where is this team in grasping the 1-3-1 defense?
“Really bad. Really bad. Our OER (efficiency rating allowed) is probably highest in the country. It’s probably 2.0.”
On Xavier Simpson’s improvement:
“He had two assists, he played 11 minutes, he made some things happen. that’s why he’s out there, he’s made the progress in practice. It’s good to be able to allow Derrick to have a little more rest. We’ve got to find a way to maybe have Derrick play some off guard at times, or just have those guys … sub for each other.”
On perimeter defense:
“There’s two stats that you got to look at. How many [threes] do they make? And we’re one of the ones in the league with a low number of how many you make. We have to really close out on people and get to shooters like today. Huerter, Jackson and then Nickens — they’re not guys you close out short and then contest; you just run them off the line.
“Couple times, we closed out short and dared them to shoot it, and that’s what they did. That’s that processing speed — ‘Who do I got? Where am I gonna go?’ It will come, and hopefully it doesn’t come when they’re playing in Europe someday later on or in the NBA. It’s got to be something that we want them to get at Michigan … it’s just an issue with this team. They’ll get better at it. They’re great kids, they’ll work at it, we’re going to work at it, and it’s gonna be really fun when they pull it all together.”
On other team’s shooting well and bad luck:
“…The Nickens thing — he is a shooter — but for a guy to come off the bench and go four-for-four, they’d only played one road game at Georgetown, to go in and do that is quite remarkable, actually. So it wasn’t the only factor in the game; it was a huge factor. There’s probably some luck in both of those games, it could’ve been the other way but that would’ve been fool’s gold because we’re still not good enough and we’ve got to keep working.”