Here’s what John Beilein had to say after Michigan’s 86-57 home win over Michigan State.
“You can tell by our kids. We’ve really worked so hard all year long and it hasn’t always paid off the way you’d like to. And today, like the Indiana game, everything really was in sync. We really played well over a really good team. Michigan State’s got an extremely talented team, but they’re young. If they had those two big kids that were hurt, they’d be a much different team right now. … Any time you can beat Tom Izzo-coached team, it’s a good thing for us. That means we’re doing the right things and trying to be the best basketball team we can. Great crowd tonight for a rainy, 9 pm game. We have no more 9 pm games, right? Apologize to you for all that. Maybe if you’re a team projected to be in the middle of the league you get rewarded with 9 pm games. I guess that’s incentive to have better teams.
“At any rate, we’re elated with (the win). I know that as the season goes on that’s a very valuable win, because Michigan State will continue to win a lot of games. At the end of the day, they’ll be in the mix in the Big Ten and in the NCAA Tournament. I can’t say enough about Derrick Walton right now, the transformation in the last month. If you remember, he came in with a star-studded team and then he was sort of forced into being a leader probably when he wasn’t really ready to do that when we had the injuries his sophomore year, the injuries to Caris (LeVert) again his junior year and to Spike. Now I think he’s finally comfortable, with all that experience he gained, to really play with that ‘extra’ that you need to be a really good player, especially a guard. He’s become so strong with the ball. His left-handed finish there at the end is something he’s worked so hard on. I’m really proud of him and everybody.”
Responding after facing adversity. How do you get consistency?
“I’ve never been able to figure that out. I think it does happen when we make a couple of baskets and there is this relief that, ‘All right, we’re doing all right.’ … When you see other guys making shots, you relax and make more shots. You’ve got to make those first few. We made some great plays in those first two actions, scored baskets, and just kept going from there.”
On Xavier Simpson:
“There have been signs, slow signs. Saddi Washington has done a great job and he suggested that he play more today and we simplify his package. He understands everything we do, but the timing of it is still just a little bit off. And when you’re just a little bit off with Michigan State, they’ll get in the gap or get a hand on something or they’ll be physical with you. So we tried to really shorten his package today when he was in there, and he was really good. That wasn’t my idea, that was Saddi all the way.”
On intense practices:
“Ever since the (loss at Michigan State), we haven’t been happy with not taking that next step, pushing through a ceiling that some of us have. … I watched (Ohio State film) and said we made some steps in this game even though the result wasn’t good. Our practice intensity has been nothing but intense. They understand there’s another level we can play at if we practice it every day and we work at it.”
On Walton’s confidence:
“He put in a summer that was Stauskas-, LeVert-like. He just worked and worked and worked. I think he’s got confidence now …he was always a low-percentage two-point shooter. So he worked at that. He worked at right- and left-handed lay-ups with a dummy pressing on him. He worked really hard on this. With that hard work comes the confidence. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Desperation from where UM is in standings or rivalry?
“I think both. … I said, ‘Guys, you’ve only got three home games, five on the road. You’re not going anywhere if you don’t win some of these home games to prepare you for the road. I’ve said before, one of the best things that happened to us was making the NCAA Tournament last year. Losing Caris and still making the Tournament, that was a tremendous achievement by them. But it also hurt us, because you go into that summer and some guys are thinking we’re going to be naturally good. Derrick Walton didn’t have that attitude; he really went after it.”
On Moritz Wagner’s edge:
“…Moe has to be able to put it in the right direction. He plays with everything that he’s got. We don’t want to rob him of that. We need that very, very badly. (In practice), there are these moments where he’ll just get too excited and leave a man wide open or throw the ball away. It’s what’s going to make him a great player. I’d rather have a guy with that edge, that type of passion, and dial him back, then have to grow the other guys and say, ‘You’re not going to win without enthusiasm.’”
On Walton having extra motivation vs MSU:
“I don’t know that, but knowing Derrick, these games mean a lot to him. He’s very proud to be a Wolverine, he’s very proud to wear the maize and blue. He knows all those other guys on the team; he’s played against so many of them. There’s a lot of stake for him individually that he wanted to make sure that whatever happened today, he wanted to give his best.”
On inconsistency of this team:
“When I go into a game, I don’t know what to expect. With this team, this is true. You can be pretty consistent about guys making shots, but what type of edge are they going to play with? That’s hard (to know). And is the edge too much that they get emotionally drunk during the game? You worry about that a little bit. But today was perfect. They were right there. They were angry. They were junkyard dogs.”
On DJ Wilson’s technical:
“That young man has been here for three years and he’s just playing right now. And he’s being able to do things he dreamed of, national TV. But you can’t go in a guy’s face like that, those days are gone. I do like that he showed great emotion. Just do the same thing, but run down your court and look at your teammates like that. It was a good call by the official as I watched the replay.”
Ever had inconsistent team like this?
“There have been other teams. We’ve just got to get that consistency. Xavier’s play today was huge for us, to get more minutes out of (him). And maybe get guys a little bit more rest so they can continue to have that edge through the game.”
“They’re 5-6 (in the Big Ten). Michigan basketball was 1-6 one year and was a shot away from maybe going to the Sweet 16. … Seven games, five on the road, it’s going to be hard. … But what an opportunity we have right now to grab quality wins. … We’ve got to look at it not as challenges, but as great opportunities for us.”
“…We showed them every basket…that Michigan State scored against. We wanted to feel the flow of the game. That was Billy Donlon’s suggestion. Watching them score 30 or 40 times sunk in on these guys: ‘We could have avoided that one, we could avoided that one.’ I think it really resonated with them. … ‘Here it is, guys. You can all change that. Make up your mind. Or do you want to have them beat you like they did, on your home court?’”
Repeating this performance:
“When we show the video of this, it won’t be the shots. It will be the defense that led to the fast break. The steal that led to the fast break. The block-out that led to the fast break. The great screen that got somebody open. These are the little things that even educated people don’t understand happen in a game that change games. There is this extra edge that is going to make you play like that. … That focus, that ‘I’m going to get this done, I’m going find a way.’ We’ve got to get that across: ‘Find a way to win these games.’”