Team 101

Video & Quotes: Michigan Press Conference after Illinois win

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John Beilein was joined on the podium by Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Here’s what they had to say after the emotional win.

John Beilein was joined on the podium by Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Here’s what they had to say after the emotional win.

COACH BEILEIN: It’s been an incredible 24 hours. At this time 24 hours ago, we were board aborting a takeoff at a couple hundred miles an hour. What these guys have been through the last 24 hours has been incredible. It’s been bonding. It’s been emotional for many of them. It’s made them so resilient. They played connected today like they were connected yesterday when we got a hundred-some people off an airplane it seemed like in two minutes. We just feel really blessed today to be in this situation, not only play, but win against a good Illinois team. Illinois has been playing as good of basketball as anybody in the country. For us to come out like that, they made their run, continue to hammer away, was a great response by all of our teams. These three were absolutely sensational today. D.J., and Mo and our bench, Mark, X, Duncan, a tremendous performance by these guys. I couldn’t be more proud.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the three students.

Q. Derrick, was it a relief once you finally got on the court? Take us through the emotion of everything.

DERRICK WALTON: To be completely honest, it was just a relief once we got from the airplane to the bus. For me, after that, I kind of let my shoulders hang back.
Kind of focused on what we had to do today. Like I said before, once we got on the court, we just back to doing what we do every day. We just wanted to give it all, have fun with it

ZAK IRVIN: Like Derrick said, I think the hardest part for all of us was getting back on the plane. Once we landed, everybody was fine. We were excited to get back on the court, get everything back to normal.

Q. Zak, you’re waiting for the coach, shouting 210. Talk about what coach means to you.
ZAK IRVIN: We all waited for Coach B to get back in the locker room. Had a later water, threw it on him. It was fun. He’s done so much for this program. He’s developed players from the time they’ve been here. You can use me as an example. But he’s a great guy, definitely with the X’s and O’s. He’s taken our team to the next level.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll let you guys go back to the locker room. Questions for Coach Beilein.

Q. Coach, Wagner had a lot of energy out there on the court. He plays with a lot of emotion. What does that do for you guys as a team?
COACH BEILEIN: We have a team here of really great kids. You don’t see their personality when they play. You see Mo’s personality when he plays. He brings us an energy to it. Kids just don’t show it. Their body language is a little bit different. Mo wants to win. He’s very young. He’s 19 years old. His parents came from Germany to watch him today. He is just a pleasure to coach. I don’t know if I’ve seen a more beloved teammate over the time. We’ve had a lot of great players that are all beloved. He’s as good as any of them as far as the way his teammates feel about him.

Q. I know there’s been a tremendous amount of logistical challenges over the past 24 hours… Couldn’t help but notice is your team played well in the practice jerseys. Are you planning to wear them again tomorrow or…
COACH BEILEIN: I don’t know if we have a choice. All the baggage is in the baggage area of the plane. The plane is damaged. They’re doing the investigation. I don’t know whether we’ll be able to get them here logistically. We have washers and dryers here in D.C. Our equipment manager, Bob Bland, through this whole thing, was incredible. If it was a one-game series, we would have had other uniforms to wear. But we got all three sets on that plane. Some other things you’re not going to see, any more suits by me. I got one of my suits here. The rest of them are under that plane. You couldn’t repack. I might have to make a visit to the drugstore, get some toothpaste, the whole thing. We’re here, bare bones.

Q. Coach, unchartered territory the last 24 hours. Were you surprised with the energy, how they came out? You had no idea what to expect.
COACH BEILEIN: Last night, we got a hotel in Ann Arbor. We did our pregame walk-through and film. I walked in there, said, We aren’t doing this. We have to let time take care of this a little bit. We had a couple of counselors at school come visit them. We’re not talking basketball till tomorrow. Even in the locker room today, until they came in, I think after the anthem, they came back in, I could tell we were going to be ready. But it was very quiet everywhere. I wasn’t going to shout at them, What’s wrong with you guys? It’s a big game. It wasn’t a big game anymore. It was an important game, but being safe… They’re out there hugging their families hopefully pretty soon. It’s going to be good.

Q. You talked about all the emotion with the players. At the height of what was going on yesterday, how scary was that for you and them?
COACH BEILEIN: I think I’ve been trying to put it back together. Kathleen was reminding me who chose not to fly with us today, by the way. When I thought about that today, it was like a game. You know, when I watch other people coach, my son included, great friends, I get so nervous. I want them to win. When I’m in the game, you’re at work. I felt we were at work yesterday. It wasn’t about it being emotional. What’s happening? It’s going to be, How can we get everybody off this plane? The engine is still running. There’s gas fumes coming in on everybody. When the engine finally shut down, there was this big pop. I said, Oh, my goodness. But everybody was away from the plane. We were good. I don’t think there was anything other than, All right, like a game situation, what everybody does in their workday every day, they’re in a crisis. They don’t cry, sob, get emotional. They try to find the answer, the solution to this issue that we’re involved in.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much.
COACH BEILEIN: Thank you.

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