Michigan head coach John Beilein addressed the media after his team’s 64-58 win over No. 11 Wisconsin at Crisler Center Thursday night.
“As hairy as the last couple minutes of that game were, especially those last 30 seconds, I’m so glad we weren’t up just by one two or three like we’ve been here and at their place a couple times and lose the game. We battled when we had to, Wisconsin came out of the halftime with precision, and we did not, and I thought it was going to cost us, but we got a good old-fashioned bank shot from Zak at the shot clock that changed his world a little bit for what he’s going through the last couple weeks and changed us, as well as a four-pointer from Muhammad. All of a sudden the eight-point lead was gone. It was just a great effort by our kids. It’s finding a way to win without a lot of things working well. …”
On Irvin breaking out of his slump:
“It was exactly what the doctor ordered for (Irvin). He could make some shots when he came and rolled off that screen. How many times has he made that big shot — where we run action left to right for him and he comes off, the big man is backing off and he’s got to make that shot over a 6’10 guy? He made it again today, and that’s really been part of his calling card when he’s been here. Just a couple of games like that to make that happen, and it can change a lot of things.”
“When (Irvin) threw that air ball and missed by four feet, I don’t care. I told him, ‘Shoot it when you’re open.’ It’s going to be very hard for us to have success this year if we shut him off and just say, ‘Don’t.’ He scored 1400 points — you don’t say, ‘Okay, you don’t know how to score anymore.’ You don’t forget that. It’s riding a bike. You might fall down a couple times, but you’ve just got to keep going with him and going while you build another package around him.”
On Happ and double-teaming him more in 2H:
“We looked at our numbers last time that we played this — Northwestern just double-teamed him the whole game and it was a point per possession, and when we didn’t double team him last time it was 0.6. So we said we can have it in our package, but we’re not going to do it unless we need it. Not all of those were post-ups — he blew by Mo a couple times. Mo’s 21 points, I’m really happy about that. He’s got to improve his defense too, he got sloppy a few times. He’s just got to get better there. Happ is really good. Part of where Wisconsin is so successful with us and others is there’s just so little low-post game in college basketball. … It’s unique for people to guard.”
“(Happ’s) good. He missed some shots from four or five feet. He didn’t miss them this time. He’s a good player. But we weren’t going to change just to change knowing we had our package, and save it for the second half. Just save it for the second half and see if we need it.”
“You can give Showalter a lot of credit. … Showalter is an elite defender. I don’t care who he gets put on — he shuts off your water. Derrick, he had some good looks a couple of times. He didn’t get many, and then all of a sudden, he found the right people. That’s more typical — for him not to score a lot and get a lot of assists. I’m just glad all the people were there to pick it up.”
Executing second half game plan:
“The biggest thing about when you double team a post guy is not the double team, it’s the rotation. Somebody’s got to know to get the basket, somebody’s got to get the basket, somebody’s got to get the foul line, and somebody’s got to take the pass out on the strong side. To get three guys in that position is really hard. (Happ’s) such a good passer. When we double teamed Indiana, (Thomas) Bryant is a good passer; this kid is a great passer. But at the same time he’s also a great scorer. So that’s big step for us. … We executed but we had practiced it. I’d been afraid to use it because games were close and I didn’t know if somebody would blow it up. Now we’ve got enough practice where we have it in our package for the future.”
On DJ Wilson not playing much in 2H:
“I just felt we had a good flow and we needed to score points. One of the things about playing Wisconsin is scoring points—it’s really difficult. Duncan (Robinson) has done a great job. His defense is improving daily. He really stretches things for us. We decided to stay with that and use (Wilson) for defense down the stretch.”
You’d talked about prosperity being the enemy. What was different about approach tonight?
“I don’t know if they don’t go up eight like that, maybe we don’t win the game. Maybe it’s nip and tuck and we let it get away at the end. I think our guys had that ‘back to the wall’ again, knowing that we were in trouble. Derrick Walton in the huddle shouted, ‘We’ve got to get stops! We’ve got to get stops!’ That’s not typical Derrick Walton. … I felt a sense of urgency from this team once we got down by eight.”
On Walton and Irvin not playing well in same game:
“…I think we’re getting great stuff from Duncan and Muhammad. They’re just giving us enough. If we can get those two (Walton and Zak Irvin) together… The change that happens with them…is when you’ve got the elite defender on you. That is difficult. … It’s that big step. And now that Derrick right now has been so good, he’s going to draw a lot of that type of coverage, a lot more attention.”
On Jon Teske:
“Happ…is such a high IQ player. He just saw opportunities with (Teske). I’m trying to get Jon as much run as we can so that he can learn on the fly. He can’t learn in practice as much as he learns in games. It wasn’t a good two minutes. I’m going to put him back in again in the next game. He’s got to get out there. I’d like to put him back in. He’s got to get out there and experience this so he can see it on video and learn. Mark (Donnal) I obviously (used) him in the second half.”
On Moritz Wagner being on stationary bike:
“I have no idea why he’s going down there. He must have saw Dirk (Nowitzki) doing it last night. I said, ‘Where’s Moe?’ He’s down on the bike, OK. … I’m not even going to ask him why. He’s staying loose? It’s OK. Nothing wrong.”
On final stretch, mostly on road:
“…Our only home game we’ve got is a team I think can win the national championship, Purdue. … It goes from the frying pan to the fire right now, because (four of final five are) on the road. That great crowd we have tonight, we’re going to see in Minnesota. They’re excited now. … So we’re going to have to go in there and play better than we did today, that’s for sure.