THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome the victorious Michigan Wolverines. They will advance to Anaheim on Thursday. We are joined by student-athletes Jon Teske, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews. At this time, Coach, congratulations. We will take an opening statement.
JOHN BEILEIN: Florida has had such a great year. They really had us confused in the first half because they kept changing defenses on us. Their 1-3-1 was really good. We had what we thought were good looks. They were probably a little bit from distance that we couldn’t knock down. Fortunately we were able to get stops so they couldn’t set the defense in the second half or we found a new plan that worked much better. We only scored 64 points, these guys holding them to 49 points is incredible and that’s how we won the game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student-athletes?
Q. For all three of you, you guys have been playing great defense all year, including the two games here. When it did that become a point of pride for you guys to play defense that way?
JORDAN POOLE: Me personally when I got on campus they made a major emphasis on defense, Coach Ya came in and I think that’s what turned everybody around, everybody brought in and guys from last year on the team still and bringing it to the team this year is something that we have bought into and something we pride ourselves on.
CHARLES MATTHEWS: I think that the pride part of it started last summer when guys were in here playing one-on-one from sunup to sundown. JP was playing one-on-one, D-Bo, we was playing one-on-ones, and nobody wanted to be the guy that was embarrassed and talked about the day after on that’s what started us locking up.
JON TESKE: It starts beginning of practice and you don’t want to get scored on and it’s the pride part. We don’t want to let our brothers down and keeping each other accountable and just D-ing up.
Q. I don’t know how many times Florida players had good looks to the basket and they significantly altered their shot or passed it out. How nice is that?
CHARLES MATTHEWS: It’s huge, and last year we had Mo and he wasn’t blocking those shots. He will tell you that, I’m not Blake Griffin, bro! Just having him down that helps us to pressure the ball and we know if we make mistakes, he’s behind us and can cover it up.
JORDAN POOLE: Being able to have Jon back there to save us, I got beat earlier tonight on the backdoor and Jon was able to wall up and being able to have him as our anchor is definitely huge.
Q. They came out, hit six threes in the first half and then shot 3 of 14, 21% in the second half. What changed defensively? Did you smell blood in the water? What happened?
JON TESKE: They got a couple of easy looks. Couple of ball screens thrown over the top. We were just trying to shut that water off. Six threes in the first half is a lot for us. We only give up two or three a game and we don’t let that happen.
JORDAN POOLE: Like Jon said, we felt like we needed to make a change and they were getting shots because they were getting open looks and able to capitalize on that and having them make tougher baskets and the 2 point percentage is something that the stats showed they weren’t well at and I think it was huge to contest them and not let them get threes in the second half.
CHARLES MATTHEWS: We wanted to shut off their water. They were getting open looks and our coaching staff did a great job of recognizing that and we just followed the game plan.
Q. Jordan, last year in the second round you had that game winner against Houston, this year 19 points. What is it about the second round? Were you thinking about that going into the game?
JORDAN POOLE: I’m just excited to go to California. Being in the position where we win this game we went to LA last year and now I think we go to Anaheim, I think that was really about it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Questions for Coach?
Q. Coach, perhaps just your perspective on the difference in defense in the second half, especially 5 and a half minutes without them scoring a point at a point where it had gotten down to 7. Anything change? Intensity? What?
JOHN BEILEIN: They have three guys on their team that we talk about they can get their own jump shot. We have a guy in our league. Carsen Edwards at Purdue is like that. They have three of them. They’re so quick and what happened is they were on running great ball screen action and we only had a single tag and it was so high we kept missing it and gave them really good shots. That was a big difference, gave them really good shots.
Second half, the kids adjusted and did a great job with it. They didn’t get as open is the simple answer. They did not get as open and it was changing. We did a couple of different things and tried to change up. Andrew Nembhard is so talented we had to continue to give him different looks. He’s just a freshman. We had to give him looks that he had to discern.
Q. Coach, they all three said “shut the water off” talk about that. Is that something you guys talk about or did they make it up on the fly?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think we mentioned it, but it’s not a catch phrase with us. But it is something that we’re really proud of, our defensive numbers and there is all the analytics out there, but I think we’re one of the very top 10 in the country if not 1 or 2 in DER, et cetera. Charles and Zavier, Jon protects the rim, Charles and Zavier are “on” guys. Iggy and Jordan are growing defensively. It’s not just the coaches. Those two are on them all the time to make sure they buy into this idea, you can win scoring 64 points, right? If you hold them to 49.
Q. (Away from mic.)
JOHN BEILEIN: There is no question. Charles came off and gave up a three. He was so upset with himself. Andrew Nembhard hit the 3 behind that scene he should have never gone behind that screen and he was upset with himself and he was telling everybody we can’t give them anymore threes and they didn’t get too many open ones.
Q. John, playing defense the way you have not just in the tournament but over the whole season obviously takes buy-in from the players. Did you have to do a sales job to get them to play this way? Or was it easier than that?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think our 33 wins last year was the sales job. They knew it, right? We had a team with veteran players, Muhammad-Ali was a really good defender and Duncan Robinson became a good defender. People used to pick on early and he got so smart with his defense and they saw it firsthand that that a team could beat really good teams last year, really good teams, with defense.
Q. Obviously you build the season to peak for these moments these couple of weeks. Assess the performance of these first two rounds. The scoreboard and everything would say that it may be went close to script. Would you agree with that?
JOHN BEILEIN: You guys are scripting it. I’m not. I thought Montana was a terrible match-up for us. I think they had all those shooters. They were all over the place. We continue to, but that’s how I think all the time. I’m always thinking what could happen in this game.
This team with that jump-shooting team and the changing and in defense. Really, how much can you prep? You walk through. You can’t do it at game speed and that 1-3-1 was very much like the one we played at West Virginia and Richmond. It was very good, but we couldn’t do it live yesterday and I’m pleased with the way we did it. Was there a script? No, at this time of the year everybody is good. Anybody can beat anybody.
Q. Coach, you talked about that 1-3-1. It seemed in the first half you got good looks, shots just didn’t fall. Did you do something differently in the second half?
JOHN BEILEIN: I thought the looks were good, but they were a little deep. We settled. Maybe we could have got, we have some guys that have the dog fences on there. They get to the NBA line and they stop instead of shooting no further than they needed top. But we changed just the geometry of our approach and changed it several times just to keep giving them different looks and we discovered during that time when we went to spot A or B they went man-to-man. This helped us out. The first half had we saw it three possessions all year and saw it 10 in the first half. It was really the secret to our success at West Virginia in particular because nobody sees it that played that way.