Postgame Quotes: Michigan-Nebraska
March 2, 2018

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Michigan Quotes
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH BEILEIN: I'm not taking credit away from Iowa and certainly from last night, but I think it's really hard -- I think the team that's already played here once has a real advantage when you can't shoot around, you can't do anything, you walk in, sort of been there.

So I don't know if that's what happened with Nebraska today, but I know we were really good because we've been here yesterday and played a really tough Iowa team.

And so I'm just thrilled with the win. Thrilled for our kids. This reminded me very much of like our Penn State and our Maryland games where we just were hitting on all cylinders and a lot of things on both offense and defense. And the defense, you look at the numbers right now, our defense was not good; it was great.

Q. Does this run feel anything like last year seeing how you got to DC, but just how you're playing right now?
DUNCAN ROBINSON: I think there are some similarities. Obviously there's some different personnel. But the guys that have been through it, we know what it's like to get hot at the right time, and we feel like we're playing well right now.

Obviously we definitely have some work we still need to do. But right now we're just focused on, first of all, recovering from today's game but learning from it and then also getting ready for tomorrow.

Q. For each of the players, everyone talks about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry in football; it's known as "the game." How would you describe the rivalry in basketball and what do you think tomorrow's going to be like?
MORITZ WAGNER: To be honest with you, I'm going to enjoy this win for another 30 minutes to an hour and then I'll probably think about tomorrow. Michigan State is a very good team that deserves to win the Big Ten Championship the way they play. So it's on tomorrow and it's a great team.

DUNCAN ROBINSON: Similar to what Moe said. We're just going to enjoy this one right now and learn from it. And obviously at the same time it's an in-state rival, we have a lot of pride and we're going to come out and compete. And I'm sure they'll do the same.

MUHAMMAD-ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: Like they were saying, it's a rivalry game even though it's postseason you want to come out and have a sense of urgency and be ready for a fight.

Q. Duncan, ever since the Wisconsin game you've been shooting 55 percent from long range. What have you been doing differently since then to start hitting from there?
DUNCAN ROBINSON: Nothing in particular. I think a lot of it was just mental. Found myself in a situation where my time in a Michigan uniform is running out. You heighten your sense of urgency when you realize that. And I think it's just been my mental approach and just trying to be aggressive, and I get a lot of that from my teammates and coaches as well from their encouragement.

Q. Moe, you had one of your best games of the year against Michigan State. They obviously have a bunch of big-time prospects. What do you think went well for you in that first game? And what do you think you maybe have to do different against them this time?
MORITZ WAGNER: I mean it doesn't really matter, to be honest with you, who is going to have a good game. I think that day I think things just worked out the way -- our offense, kind of pick your poison a little bit. And it was my day that day.

I'm not trying to focus on that too much because it doesn't mean tomorrow. We're playing in the semifinals for a Big Ten Championship. And January 13th or whatever it was doesn't mean anything tomorrow. Yeah.

Q. You would expect them to be extra motivated after how well you played against them?
MORITZ WAGNER: I mean, yeah, maybe. But that's nothing I'm worried about, that's nothing I can control. I'm just going to worry about my own team and the way we're going to play tomorrow.

Q. Moe, after fouling out yesterday, did you change your approach at all defensively?
MORITZ WAGNER: Yeah, I mean, I can't start the first half with a dumb foul on the ball screen, I can't do that. And then I just hurt my team. And obviously that was topic in team meetings in the last 24 hours. So I feel a certain responsibility to help my team out there and not do that dumb stuff.

Q. Duncan, Coach Beilein talked about how you guys were not good but great defensively, that's been a mark of your team throughout the season. What's been the biggest thing in terms of becoming such an elite defensive team now?
DUNCAN ROBINSON: I think pride, first and foremost. At least in my time here, I feel we've been always criticized for not getting after it at that end. But this team has just completely transformed that mentality.

To be honest with you, I think it starts with Zavier. He brings it every single game and every single day in practice and raises everybody's level.

When you have veteran guards like Muhammad and Charles, and Moe's improved so much as well defensively, I think when we come together and stay connected on defense, it makes all the difference.

Q. Muhammad, you mentioned yesterday, the game in Lincoln, you guys just didn't respond very well to their defense, maybe doing some switching you guys didn't adjust to, what was different today that worked so well that didn't work in Lincoln?
MUHAMMAD-ALI ABDUR-RAHKMAN: I think we just seen it a lot more. As of late, teams have been trying to switch out their defenses against us. And I think we were just more comfortable with it today and we just picked our poison within our offense and found open shots in slots.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, it's been some time now since you played State last. Do you see anything different about this team going into tomorrow that's just different?
COACH BEILEIN: From our team?

Q. About State, is State any different?
COACH BEILEIN: I haven't watched one bit of their game. The last time I watched them was whenever we played them. I have no idea. I'll start that now. Just focus on the next game. You can't go around just watching games on TV in our business. You have to stay on the next opponent; you might watch that game three or four times.

I wish I could help you with that.

Q. Are you going to watch basketball next week when you're trying to figure out how to kill that extra week?
COACH BEILEIN: You know, if the NCAA Tournament -- I think we're in good shape. But it's going to be interesting because it's up to 10 days. But I will probably watch some things. But I'll be more focused on what can we do; try to put all the things who we could be playing, whether work on our zone offense, people switching against us. That's what we did on Monday. We worked 24 minutes on people switching against us thinking that Nebraska could be doing that if we got there.

Then we didn't talk about Nebraska again. So I'll probably do some of those things, maybe look at some of those charts, see some possible opponents, see if somebody is a little strange with what they do and get a head start, but more than that I'll just try and make our team better on simple things, shooting, cutting, passing.

Q. From a physical standpoint, is this the best defensive team that you've had since you've been here? And when Duncan was asked about the defense a minute ago, he mentioned Zavier Simpson and being important in transforming your identity on that end. What would you point to in terms of one thing that's been key to your success on that end of the court?
COACH BEILEIN: I think one of the things it helped us last year a lot was having -- the 4-man and the point guard are really key defensively right now because of all the ball screens set by the 4-man here and there.

That young man right there much maligned by his defense by probably all you and me has been a huge -- Duncan has been a huge development, playing with more toughness more resilience, really trying to make a difference at that end of the floor. So that's been a big key. But there's no question that Zavier, right, that's what he does. That's his mark.

He works on his all other games, all the areas of his other games, all these finger rolls he's been working on and things like that. He sets the stage.

When they come through the front door and they meet Zavier, they know they're in for a tussle. And all of our other guys sort of feed off that. Muhammad is really good too. Two really good defensive guards.

Q. How do you think Moe is different now compared to this point last year?
COACH BEILEIN: Rebounding. It's an exceptional difference. I mean, his timing, it was all off. He didn't go get the ball. He didn't necessarily box out.

For him to get 13 rebounds today is exceptional. And that's been -- that's one of the things that I think if he's going to play in the pros one day, that was one of the things -- he's a stretch 4 at that level. Stretch 4s have to, they certainly have to rebound. And he's really shown some great growth there.

Q. Last night you guys missed, I think, your first 11 or 12 shots from beyond the arc. Tonight was a different story. Was that an emphasis or just kind of fell into place?
COACH BEILEIN: I think that once you get a little bit more comfortable when you're here, it's a different ball; it's a different arena.

We did come over and shoot around ahead of time and it didn't seem to make a difference yesterday. It's really made a difference today.

But that's the way we've been a little bit. There's one guy, like today it was -- Duncan has been on fire for about a month. But Muhammad couldn't make them yesterday.

J.P. couldn't make them yesterday. And Duncan made just enough. Today there were several people doing that. So been having a lot of shooters for a lot of years. You try to stay calm and they'll come back to the mean all the time.

Q. Coach Miles commended your defensive effort today, specifically closing out ball screen defense, what are you looking to carry over from today into tomorrow's game?
COACH BEILEIN: Michigan State's got a tremendous ball screen offense as well as some -- Tom's got tremendous system of things countering off each other, unless they've changed since the last time we played them.

But one of the big things is you've got to be able to guard the ball screen. Moe has been really exceptional at that. That was not his strength for two years. He's really impacting people. And getting -- recovering back to his man. So it's going to be a challenge again tomorrow. But we're better defensively than we were back then. But they're probably better offensively. So who knows what's going to happen.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.


Nebraska Quotes
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MILES: Well, credit Michigan. I thought they played terrific. Their offensive pace really got us on our heels early. And when they make 11 3-pointers, you're in big trouble because then your defense gets too spread out, and it's hard to get them under control. And we've done a good job all year of taking away 3s but we didn't today.

Again, I think Michigan just really played excellent sound, too, put us in a position of, I thought, overhandle the ball and take real questionable shots. And we just couldn't get back up on top once we got down by 11 or whatever it was. But I think the credit goes to Michigan. They played excellent basketball tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. I'm sure your coach will get asked the same thing but I'll ask you what's the next week or so going to be like sort of waiting to see what happens with the NCAA bid?
JAMES PALMER JR.: I think we're just going to wait to see what happens. Whether it's NCAA -- which I think we should be. But we're just going to wait this week out, see what happens. Because I don't think this loss should affect us.

ISAIAH ROBY: I agree with him. I think we're going to have to just start working hard again and just get ready for whatever postseason we're in, hopefully it's the NCAA. I think we should be in there, too.

Q. James, what made Zavier Simpson so good defensively against you guys this afternoon? What made him excel on that side of the floor?
JAMES PALMER JR.: I don't think it was just Zavier. I think it was a good team effort with their defense. They was in some good help spots and made us take tough shots, which I took some of them. And I think they just did a good job defensively and they got it going on the offensive end. That definitely helped them on the defensive end.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Tim, do you guys think you deserve an NCAA bid? And what would be your case to make to the committee?
COACH MILES: Well, I believe we're an NCAA Tournament team now. That was -- we just ran into a buzz saw with Michigan, but I don't think that undoes what we've already accomplished.

What we've done is we've won games away from home. We've beaten the teams that we should beat with maybe one exception. And to go through that type of season where you have to win, I think we won eight out of our last nine, four of those on the road, we showed we could win away from home.

And to put 13 league wins, I know that's not a marker or anything like that, but to be able to do that in a difficult environment, because those teams -- Indiana is a good team. You saw today, Iowa is not easy to beat.

And at the end of the day if Quad 1 is the holy grail, that's a tough deal. But I don't think Quad 1 is the holy grail. There's tough wins in Quad 3. You just have to see where it goes.

Q. In retrospect would you have done anything differently in schedule so you got more Tier 1s? I know it's a little difficult, obviously, but is there anything you would have done differently?
COACH MILES: We had some bad luck with the Big Ten schedule. If you look at our Quad 1, I think we've got five games against the Top 25. There's no top 75 in there. I mean, it's all loaded, top-heavy.

And most of those were on the road. I might have switched a screen against Kansas. That would have made me feel a hell of a lot better. But we didn't do it.

And so we've competed well against good teams. We weren't able to beat Central Florida when they had Tacko Fall, so we lost out on the chance to play West Virginia. And we end up playing Marist and Long Beach in that tournament last year. We beat Dayton in the Wooden Legacy, then we got UCLA and Virginia Tech, which was almost too much. And this year we just missed a little bit.

We've never underscheduled. We played at Creighton. We took the Kansas game on our own volition which not many people are doing.

I think Villanova is the next home-and-away they've got. It says a lot about what we're about. We're in the Gavitt Games, went to St. John's early when LoVett was there. We beat Minnesota when Minnesota was basically a Quad 1 win. That was a very good team.

We've won some excellent games. But I don't know that the league schedule and the quirkiness of that, there's nothing you can do about it.

Q. Same question as I asked James earlier, just you touched on Michigan, how good they were defensively. Within that, what made Zavier Simpson so good on that end and making things difficult for your guards?
COACH MILES: Zavier was really tough on the ball. He wouldn't let guys past him. He'd defeat the ball screen and get back in front so we couldn't get downhill, we couldn't turn the corner. They also did a good job zoning up, getting guys into the mid-line and then getting back out to shooters. And that got us standing around and overdribbling. So when you overdribble you stand around.

And I'm begging guys, cut, cut, on the ball screen stuff, to force them to have to pick up a cutter and then maybe we can skip and drive or closeout, shoot an open shot from there. I thought they did a good job getting us -- your goal in defense is to stand the ball up and stand the offense up; get them standing still as much as you can.

I thought they did a good job, all of them, with active hands, handling ball screens, just defeating screens, guarding the ball one-on-one in a really good manner.

Now we did get to the foul line some, but by the time we started getting downhill there was only three minutes left. We had that little run early where we hit some shots but then we stood around for a long time. And then I think we got score-sensitive in the second half. We got a little panicky. And Michigan will make you do that.

Q. As it stands now the Big Ten might only get four or five NCAA Tournament bids. Just curious, if you sort of look at the overall strength of the league, how would you compare it to what it's been in the previous three seasons since the league increased to 14 teams?
COACH MILES: Well, you know, like I was looking at the KenPom numbers and what is Michigan like defensively, like 12? Ninth or tenth. And the league is just a little different.

Now, we had some changeover. We had some injuries. Certainly left a few teams with less talent. But Maryland still has a lot of talent, you know what I mean. You play a Maryland team you're playing Cowan and Huerter and Fernando. You're playing plenty of talent. They lost some guys here, but I'm just using it as an example. It's too bad guys were injured, but everybody kind of goes through that at a different time. But I believe the Big Ten's always a grind.

I thought we were going to have a good team anyway this year. I've read that this is a decidedly down year. I don't know who the hell decided that, but at the same time when you look at this, the Big Ten, I think how many other teams we get in the tournament, we'll all do very well.

Q. With all the talk about how big this game was going in for your resume and profile, do you feel your kids put extra pressure going into the game, and did that play on as the game continued on?
COACH MILES: I don't think there's any question the guys kind of felt a burden of expectation that way. You could see and you could see in the reaction afterwards. The other thing with the double bye, you just don't get in the facility. And that advantage of playing that day before, you have seen that with even Wisconsin and Michigan State, I think, there's a true advantage there.

But not being in the facility I don't love that but I don't know what our options are either. I think our option was like 8.00 a.m. or 7:30 this morning. You're not going to get your guys out of bed for that. So I do think when we arrived we arrived a little tight. But they've also done some excellent things this year, and I don't think that one game takes away all that hard work over months and months.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.