Here’s Michigan’s press conference after the Big Ten Tournament Championship and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
COACH BEILEIN: We’re obviously so proud and happy for these kids, the University of Michigan, our athletic program, that they could come and win such a coveted championship.
Winning four games in four days is incredible. Our message was, Somebody’s going to do it, why not us?
They really came in, and this team has bonded, not just because of the events last Wednesday, but in the last month. We lost a home game to Ohio State. Our kids really felt bad about that. The coaches felt bad about that.
After that, we gained an edge from that loss that has propelled us to this point.
We’ve handled the prosperity thus far. Now we have to handle it again with a difficult game next Friday. Right now, we’re going to enjoy this Big Ten championship. You don’t get a chance this very often. Really pleased for these young men.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions for the students.
Q. Derrick, talk a little bit about that second half, the way it started for you guys, the defense, getting off to the run that you guys did.
DERRICK WALTON: Before the half even started, we talked about how important the first two possessions of the half is, the first four minutes of the half. We came out firing. We made some consecutive stops. We hit tough shots. I don’t know what their defensive percentage is. A lot of teams don’t score at that rate on them.
I’m proud of our guys. I’m really relieved to finally get here and do what we wanted to do.
Q. Derrick, coach the other day relayed a conversation that you had in the car, in which you guaranteed basically you were going to win the Big Ten tournament. How did you get that confidence? Are you going to carry that confidence into the NCAAs?
DERRICK WALTON: Well, we was on our way to Nebraska. We rode together in the car. I just told him how bad I wanted to win the Big Ten tournament championship, how much the guys did as well.
We just felt like we was playing really good basketball. We had some minor tweaks we needed to make to make a long run in March.
Going into March Madness, the NCAA tournament, we got a lot of confidence. We think we’re a really dynamic team. We can score in a lot of different ways. We think we pose a huge threat against other teams.
Q. For both Derrick and Zak, describe your emotions, your feelings in those final seconds when everybody was starting to feel the championship.
ZAK IRVIN: It was a great feeling, just knowing all the hard work we put in throughout the whole season. Just to be able to experience that with all your brothers, after all the adversity we’ve been through, to finally say we won a Big Ten championship, that’s a huge accomplishment. It’s a memory that we’ll always remember.
DERRICK WALTON: I say probably God is good. That’s all I can really say.
A lot of things we can’t explain that happen happen. We just bonded together as family. To finally do this, do something that hasn’t been done in so long, it’s something that will stick with you for a really long time. The friendships and bonds we have with this team, it’s something that’s everlasting.
Q. With the way this whole week started for you guys, getting here, to be able to accomplish what you did, what does this mean for you going forward?
DERRICK WALTON: When the event first happened, basketball was the last thing on my mind. I talked to Zak. We got home. I just said, Basketball is a small spectrum in life, what we just experienced. I just let him now what really could have happened.
But once we got here, I just let that all be what it was. I really focused in and bought into what coach was talking about, the rest of our coaches. They work so hard with the scouting report and everything. We just wanted to pay them back by doing special things like this.
ZAK IRVIN: Like Derrick said, we had a conversation after everything went down. Once we landed in D.C., we agreed that why can’t this be the greatest story ever told. Everybody had that mentality: Why not us?
When we were tired and fatigued, whatever it might be, that was the extra push we needed to win this championship.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys. Good luck in the NCAAs.
Questions for Coach Beilein.
Q. This week, how much will you concentrate on working on your stuff, what you guys do? How much work do you concentrate on your opponent coming up?
COACH BEILEIN: One of the things I took note of, I know it’s a very good Oklahoma State team, is I wanted to — are we playing Thursday or Friday? Here we are, the last team probably playing right now. All of a sudden, we’re turning around Thursday afternoon at noon. That would have been a little bit different.
The Friday gives us — these first two days, we’re not going to do very much. We need two days’ rest. We played Sunday night. Our kids need to rest.
Those other days, I’m sure we’ll talk about whoever wins, I don’t know who Louisville is playing, but whoever wins them in their matchup, at some point.
It will basically be all about, All right, how can we find ways to stop Oklahoma State? How to also score against Oklahoma State.
With our younger kids, we do fundamentals every day, trying to get them to become like these guys. But overall, it will be a lot like we would in a normal two-day prep.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations. Save travels home.