Michigan head coach John Beilein broke down the late game loss in Evanston on Wednesday night as the Wolverines fell to 9-8 in league play.
“Congratulations to Northwestern, Chris (Collins), his staff. Just a wonderful atmosphere; two great teams. Northwestern’s doing it the right way; they’ve got great student-athletes that played their heart out. Really played smart today as well. Congratulate them. Obviously a big win—to get that 10th win in this league is terrific. Our kids are a bit devastated right now because we fought so hard to stay in the game, get ahead in the game. Just had some unusual things happen and ended up losing the game that way. Had to be an absolutely perfect pass to make that happen. If we don’t switch the screen, McIntosh can get loose, with 1.7 (seconds) he could dribble and get a 15-footer. So we decided to switch it. Pardon’s not going to make a shot unless it’s a layup; it was a perfect pass. Those of you who want to put a man on the ball, it doesn’t make any difference. If a guy is way back you waste a man. … Putting a man on the ball backfired for us this time but since it was a dead inbounds, we thought it was the right thing to do.”
Will this loss put steel in your team’s spine?
“We’ve had two overtime losses now on the road. Both times we didn’t shoot well from the foul line. We’ve got a lot of steel in our spine already. We don’t need any more. These kids will keep working on it. We’ve got to find positives out of this game. Because Nebraska is no easier team to beat. … We’re going to have to be back ready to play.”
Was Irvin’s shot what you wanted?
“With 10 seconds you can set something up. We just wanted to go and just play off the action. I wish Muhammad would have maybe kept going to the basket because they don’t want to foul at that point. I thought (Irvin) had a pretty good look at the basket. But it wasn’t a set there because it was off a miss. I could have called timeout and we could have run something. My feeling is, 10 seconds to go, full court, let them play basketball and hopefully you’re going to get fouled, find something good, spread the floor and go. I loved having Muhammad with the ball. We did get a good shot. It would have been fantastic if Zak could have made that; it didn’t happen.”
On the final pass:
“…It was just a fantastic pass. Sometimes you just can’t—it reminded me of Christian Laettner’s shot. There are some things, you try to do everything you can. Derrick worked like crazy to go get that ball. He’s a pretty good jumper. He can go up high and get it. But it was a perfect play.”
Is Northwestern Tournament-worthy?
“If I don’t make judgments on my (own team) I’m not (going to judge them). This is what I’ll say: Our league is really good. If you have a .500 or above record in this league, you are really a good basketball team. You’re one of the best teams in the country. They have their 10th win, maybe they’ll get 11. … NCAA Tournament will bear that out, and I’m sure people on the selection committee will understand. Anybody who saw that game tonight will say, ‘Those are two great teams.’”
Was Walton gassed late in game?
“I don’t know. … He had a great, great second half. When you’re guarding McIntosh, you’re giving everything you can to stay in front of him. He was devastated by that, probably more because he’s not 6’10” with long arms and could get that ball. He played his tail off.”
On Walton’s drive on UM’s second to last possession:
“…The play broke down, shot clock running low, I had to trust him at that point. We could have reset and done something, but I trust him. Obviously he’d like to have that last shot back, but at that point he’d gotten to the rim several times. We thought he’d get there, he got hung up, he took a shot and it didn’t go in.”
On Northwestern’s offense:
“They were running NBA short action that we hadn’t seen a whole lot from them. It really hurt us tonight. It’s very tough to defend. The NBA has trouble defending it, so it’s going to be trouble for us. It’s really a good action, they pass the ball well.”
On Walton’s free throw violation during Wagner’s attempt:
“I was trying to huddle our guys up. Somebody said it’s a one-and-one. Derrick ran in like he’d be at the line. I have no idea why he did that. We didn’t have anybody at the line. I was trying to tell them what they were going to run at the other end. And just use that time. We wouldn’t have put anybody on the line. He stepped on the line. You can’t go over the line once the guy’s got the ball. That was a tough break. That’s a first.”