Team 101

Video & Quotes: John Beilein talks win over Purdue

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The coach had high praise for Moe Wagner, Derrick Walton, and Michigan’s defense.

Here’s what John Beilein had to say after Michigan’s 82-70 win over Purdue.

Opening statement:

“I’m really excited for our team, our program, to be able to beat a really good team like Purdue and the way we beat them. We played really good defense in the first half. They shoot threes—I think they’ve made more one more three than us in the league. … We had to do everything we could to take it away from them. In the first half we did a great job of defending that. Moritz’s four threes were difference-makers. To pound the ball into the post, with Moe, is very difficult against (Isaac) Haas and (Caleb) Swanigan. …

“We just tried to spread them out. If we don’t make those threes, we’re probably down here thinking we shot too many threes. Some days you’ve got to pick it, you’ve got to do it, and hopefully it works well enough for you. Really good team with Purdue. I stand by that I think they can win the Big Ten Tournament, they can make a long run in the NCAA Tournament. … Proud of our seniors, all five of them. Except I wish Sean (Lonergan) would have just laid it in. He wanted to be a good gentleman and sportsman and not laid it in. I think Matt (Painter) and his team would have forgiven him. Our seniors have done a great job all year long, all four years. I’m proud they could go out in front of that crowd and get a big win like that.”

How has Wagner evolved on defense?

“There are still moments on defense, but he understands it. Lot of credit goes to Saddi (Washington) and Bill Donlon on that. They’ve done a great job. (Wagner’s) committed to doing whatever it takes to help us win. He’s with the top, the (Zack) Novaks, the type of guys that want to win and do whatever to help us win. He’s made big steps there. Haas is a big boy, Caleb is so skilled. He did a great job.”

On it being a résumé-building win:

“Same formula as it’s been forever. You’ve got to beat top-50 teams; top-25 are better. And you’ve got to win some games on the road. We feel really bad about Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Ohio State. Credit those teams, but we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. I think it was a valuable lesson for us. … I don’t want to pretend to be the committee. … What is good is we’ve got nine wins in the league. … Hopefully we can go get one or two more and really put us in the top of the league.”

On bench building lead:

“We went with DJ (Wilson) playing the center just because they were switching screens and to give us some likeness to what we had with Moe when he was in foul trouble. Xavier (Simpson) hitting that three in the corner—that young man is in the Davidson Player Development Center like every day; he’s just shooting and shooting and shooting. For him to see that ball go in like that was big for us. I think we got enough rest during that time for Derrick (Walton), for Muhammad (-Ali Abdur-Rahkman), for Zak (Irvin), that really helped us. That play off the bench from Xavier and Duncan (Robinson) in particular was really good.”

On Walton:

“He was strong tonight in so many ways—running our team, the rebounds, five assists, no turnovers. He’s really become the guard I think he always wanted to be and we always wanted him to be. It’s not that he’s been bad in between. He’s such a great unselfish player, it was always about the team. I think he convinced himself that, ‘If it’s really about the team, then I need to do more.’”

On what it will take defensively going forward:

“We just have to battle. We have to find ways to stop people by hustle, flying around. We had some isolation problems. We’ve found a way to help that a little bit. … We’re not big and strong in the post, so that’s been an issue. But we’ve made a conscious decision to defend the three-point line, knowing that a tough two is much better to give up than an open three, which we were giving up like crazy in our earlier struggles.”

On improved defensive rotations:

“Duncan in particular had one. I talked earlier with several of our guys. There was this pause in rotation that was killing us: ‘Where do I go?’ We tried to emphasize it in practice but we tried to show them enough film. ‘This is not a time to think, this is a time to react very quickly, to act very quickly.’ There was one where we ran a guy off the line, and Duncan made the perfect play to blow it up. His defense is getting better every day.”

On Mark Donnal:

“He’s had some great moments here at Michigan. … He’s played in almost every game since he was a sophomore. He’s been a great representative for us. … He’s a model student. … He’s not going to be in the Hall of Fame some day. But he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame as far as having a guy who was a good teammate and working hard every day in practice.”

Energy when Wagner hits shots:

“…He is so loved by his teammates. … He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. He’s so caring for his teammates. He’s got a high level of empathy for every one of them. He works his tail off every day. There’s a lot of love on this team and Moe has really promoted that.”

“He’s learning that fine line between shooting a three and driving it. I can’t work to work with him more on selling his shot fake before he goes. Sometimes he just rips it and goes. He’s almost like a forward or a guard in how he plays. He had a really good post move inside. He and DJ have to bottle this thing up, that they can shoot from the outside, but they’ll help teams win, they’ll play professionally, if they have a post-up game. They’re not just going to be these 6’10” shooters. They’ll need t o grow in this physical part of it. If we can put that third part in—that he can shoot and drive and effectively post up and hold position—he can be very special.”

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