Here’s the full video and transcript from Michigan’s post-game press conference after the Wolverines knocked off Purdue on Friday afternoon.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll ask coach to make an opening statement, then go to questions.
COACH BEILEIN: We feel very fortunate about that win because I have so much respect for the Purdue program, how good they are, how good they’ve been all year. To be able to beat them today, especially in overtime, in a great basketball game really, just a great basketball game. We’re thrilled by it. Our kids early in the year, there was a lot of speculation about their defense. There should have been. We were not a good defensive team. The growth, our success over this last month and a half, is in direct correlation to how our defense has improved. That was a great display today against a team that has a lot of options. They got some easy points in the paint. They made a few threes. All their threes were well-earned. Really thrilled for these kids because they came on a mission to win this championship. We talk about it every day. We’re one day closer.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students, please. Q. Zak, you guys had difficulty getting here. You played a game. When the game got deep, it seems like you in particular who had enough energy and pop to get to the basket. Did you see some sort of fatigue on Purdue’s part that led you to believe you could get to the basket time and time again?
ZAK IRVIN: Just a warrior mentality. Going into the game, not today, we didn’t want to go home. We wanted to be able to out last Purdue’s toughness, how physical they are. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, especially the game going into overtime. We stayed resilient, were able to get the win.
Q. I don’t know if you’re superstitious, when they’re making halfcourt shots before halftime, are you worried, switch back to the other jerseys? Are either of you close to Spike, but did he reach out to you?
D.J. WILSON: Regarding the first question, no. Once we got underway, we got the ball tipped, we were fine. We didn’t really think too much about the halfcourt shot. It would have been nice going into the second half up four, but it’s basketball. It happens.
ZAK IRVIN: With D.J., we decided to stick with the blue jerseys. I don’t think the practice ones were an option anymore. Spike reached out to me today. Speaks to his character. It was nice to see him today.
Q. Zak, with what you have done the last few times you played Purdue, knowing how good a team Purdue is, what kind of confidence does that give you in any game, regardless of who you’re playing?
ZAK IRVIN: A lot of confidence. I just think the way we were on it, how much momentum we have with our team, we feel like we can do everything. Everything is possible for us. Especially getting stops on the defensive end. When we’re able to do that, it makes us a very dangerous team.
Q. D.J., last game was Mo, this game it was you. Anything that you saw in the film that allowed you to be more explosive, get better looks this game?
D.J. WILSON: Yeah, we talked about it a lot coming into the game, how they play two bigs. So we’re mobile. We’re agile. Taking them off the dribble is a real good option for us. We did so today. It resulted in a win.
Q. Zak, elaborate on the momentum. Have you felt this way at any other point in the season?
ZAK IRVIN: I think so. I think the backstretch of the Big Ten, we finally changed our mentality on the defensive end. It just changed our whole season. We’re playing real connected right now. We just got to do that going forward.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, fellas. We’ll continue with questions for coach.
Q. I’ll ask you the same question I asked D.J. Last game it was Mo, this game D.J. How have you been able to get those guys good looks, to take advantage of their size, use it against them?
COACH BEILEIN: Last year, D.J., we thought the best way for him to get out on the court was to play center. He knows both positions. With Mo getting in foul trouble today, Marcus is certainly a suitable backup. At 6’9″, 225, they’re just so big and talented. Haas is. I was actually surprised that D.J. just moved his feet and used his length, not his strength, used his length and his quickness to guard defensively. But offensively, if you had a shooting contest between D.J., and Mo, I don’t know who would win. The big man in most offenses, it’s the easiest place to get a three-point shot. Most teams have been switching screens. That’s all we’ve been seeing. We learned better ways to counter it. Our kids are getting some volume in their shooting, in games, so they feel more comfortable.
Q. Early in the game, it seemed like Purdue was able to get a lot of deep touches in the lane. That kind of went away. Did you make an adjustment so they could not make the pass into the lane, or you took it away somehow?
COACH BEILEIN: We took it away. I think any time that you have big post men, the only way you can counter it is to pressure the ball more, make sure that they do not get looks inside. So we came in there with that philosophy going into the game, but we didn’t execute it. We just didn’t do it. They have to throw it in there a couple times for them to realize that’s not the pressure you need today. That would be a pressure off most teams. You got to step it up and really make them dribblers in those situations.
Q. How much of a believer are you in tournament time? As you come up to a tournament, are you a believer of getting hot at the right time as a coach?
COACH BEILEIN: I believe a lot in it. It’s happened to us. It’s happened to us at Michigan. It’s happened prior in my coaching career. It’s just this time of the year, you’re trying to keep everybody fresh. I think it bodes well for a team that really has no agenda, really loves each other, because other teams have very little time to prepare for you. You have very little time to prepare for them. If you have a high IQ team that is passionate about Michigan, passionate about their teammates, it’s much easier to coach them. It can be a lot of fun. We’ve been selling the fun of a run is really — it’s irreplaceable in their lives really. You throw in what happened on Wednesday, now they got a lot of memories. We don’t want it to stop.
Q. Yesterday we were talking about the travel, the quick turnaround from the plane to the court. Was that a talking point at all today?
COACH BEILEIN: I think I only mentioned it once today because it continues — I continue to think about what could have happened. I think they all appreciate. I don’t think they want to lose sight of that as they go forward in their lives, of how different that could have turned out. I mentioned it once, how great it was to be here playing right now, right? Carpe diem, seize the day today, because you’re never promised another one.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BEILEIN: In the beginning of the pregame speech, just in the introductory type, it wasn’t fire and brimstone. It was just at the beginning. It gets their attention a little bit, too.
Q. You had some ups and downs this year. Today you played Zak all 45. How important has he been as a leader off the court and today on the court?
COACH BEILEIN: Zak and I and Derrick, we have a special bond. We’ve been together here four years. I think we started recruiting them when they were sophomores. I’ve just seen more than the common eye would see of what he can do. But if he had any type of, again, agendas, if he had any type of bad attitudes, poor body language in games, it would be much different. It’s never happened. He has handled this perceived slump that he’s had by just becoming a better defender. He cares about his team. It’s like, yeah, he’s going to miss a few shots, but what he gives us in intangibles, the shot is not as important as what he does. Dakota, again, he did a great job of not letting Dakota get shots or get the high number of assists he gets many times.
Q. Postgame I saw you waving to some Michigan fans. Your thoughts on the buzz in the building?
COACH BEILEIN: Wherever we go, I mean, there’s a lot of Michigan people. We love ’em. We love the way they’re so passionate about their university and their athletic program. So between them there, but my family was all in the front row. I got three grandkids now that made the trip, made it through a 12:00 game. It was good to see them. I think they’re really happy to be another day in Washington. My son, Andy, lives here in town. It was just great to see that. All the maize and blue behind them was great. I hope we can continue to do that. Hopefully we can be selected for the March NCAA tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH BEILEIN: Thank you.