THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Michigan head coach John Beilein, Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske and MVP Moe Wagner.
COACH BEILEIN: I'm shivering up here. I think I was doused with a couple gallons of the Hudson River. It was cold. As I told the Big Ten Network, you can't win these championships if they're not dedicated all year long.
It takes a long time to sort of build up the substance to your team that can persevere and just won't give in. They won't give in to fatigue. They won't give in to momentum changes. They just stick in there.
This is one of the best teams I've ever coached at just taking on the -- moving on to the next play and keep moving forward and doing things just the old-fashioned way with a lot of hard work.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. You beat two of the top teams in the nation back to back here at Madison Square Garden. You have a lot of confidence and you have a week off compared to other teams. Do you feel that it's an advantage going into the tournament?
MORITZ WAGNER: I would just say I don't think we really think about that too much. I think we are just going to focus on -- first of all, we're going to enjoy this a couple days and to get some rest. Then we're going to focus on what's next. Whether that's an advantage or disadvantage, doesn't really matter.
Q. Jon, that dunk that you had, can you talk a little bit about what that feeling is like to hear your name hitting the rafters of Madison Square Garden on that moment? And I guess bigger picture as well, what was it today in that first half that allowed you to hit some of those big shots?
JON TESKE: I really have no words to explain. The play just happened in that instance and it was a great pass and just finish it. But then in the first half we were in foul trouble a little bit and I was able to knock down a couple shots and just trying to help my team win.
Q. Along the same lines for Moe, how did you feel when you hit that turnaround 3? The Garden also rocked for that one, too. I'm not sure that's exactly in the playbook but you can tell me otherwise.
MORITZ WAGNER: To be honest with you I didn't know how much time was on the clock. I just saw Duncan running for the hand-off. It must have been a little time on the clock so I took my (indiscernible) and shot it and it went in. And obviously it's a good feeling when the ball goes in and the Garden cheers for you. Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Q. How does it feel to win in the mecca or in the Madison Square Garden?
ZAVIER SIMPSON: I mean, it feels great. It feels great just being able to do it with my teammates. We worked hard for this. It's something we've been plotting on for a while since July.
I'm just glad that what we worked so hard for, for it to be earned. It means a lot. I'm appreciative of the coaches, and hopefully we can just continue to keep winning and keep doing good things like this.
JON TESKE: It feels amazing. We had great support from our fans who traveled from far distances and great fans out here, out east. And we just wanted to come out here and they always show support for us, so we wanted to put on a great show for them.
Q. Moe, watching Jon in that first half and hearing his name, the crowd chanting that name, it's got to be a special feeling working with a guy for a full season and seeing that to fruition. What did you see from him today?
MORITZ WAGNER: I was so happy when he popped off after that dunk. I got so excited. He got emotional. Yeah, I know how good he is. I play against him every day. That was long overdue. And incredible to be part of such a great group, to play with such great people. Yeah, very grateful for that.
Q. Moe, can you talk about how this week will help you guys as you get ready for the NCAAs?
MORITZ WAGNER: Yeah, obviously playing four games in four days, you kind of establish a certain rhythm for how you prepare for games, with how you approach certain things. So that's going to be helpful going into the NCAA weekend. So, yeah, that's helpful.
And just also the thought that we all committed together for the end goal and not looking ahead too far, and just trying to keep growing every day.
Q. Moe, last year was such a unique run, what you guys did. Now four wins in four days again. Can you tell me whether there were any differences or similarities to what you did this year as to how it felt doing it last year?
MORITZ WAGNER: That's tough to reflect that short after it happened, to be honest with you. Obviously the personnel is different. Last year it was a little different with the whole plane accident thing obviously, but winning is so much fun. You can't compare it. It's very special.
Q. Zavier, it was another really stellar defensive effort by you and especially the guys on the perimeter. What was sort of the game plan? It seemed like you and the rest of the team were really focused on taking away their 3s?
ZAVIER SIMPSON: We knew Purdue has a lot of great talent. Good guard play. And Muhammad and I just wanted to come out and set the tone. We wanted to play great defense from the start so our energy could be contagious. And as you've seen, others followed. And we were just glad to be able to just take away the big 3, play good defense on Haas and secure the win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. I know you talked about making adjustments to bring the best of the players forward. What ways have you adjusted in the past month or so to let some of their personalities emerge and let their confidence build?
COACH BEILEIN: It was really hard, because we had just -- we had extremely talented players last year that had really been through the process before. And so we let them lead.
Now, we had all new leadership. The role players had to step up. And I think it wasn't until we got almost til February that our coaching staff just figured out a little bit what we could do and what we could expect.
So it was some guys had (indiscernible) some latitude. Some other guys, okay, they're not going to do that this year. You get to a point in February where you only practice -- you're playing games like crazy. You only practicing four times a week.
Is he really going to get better in the next 16 practices on that? Or let's find something that works better for him. So we tried to make adjustments that way.
But that whole time it's skill development every day in our practice. We do worry about the next game. We really do a great job scouting, I think, and preparing, but we're still doing -- when Z is making those hook shots, you don't know how much he works on those, because with him that's the only way he's going to score over a big guy. So he works on it. And it's really paid off, all the stuff they do on their own or with coaches in practice.
Q. What's the difference in feeling now that you don't have to go straight into the Selection Show tonight? I heard you reference it with Jim Nantz. Seemed like you might preferring to play Thursday, Friday and instead of having this big gap.
COACH BEILEIN: In a perfect world that would be great. But as I said to the crowd, to play in this arena in front of that crowd, which was, I feel, was very pro Michigan, that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. So it will be worth the wait.
I'll remind everybody, there's been some great NCAA Tournament teams that win their tournament like this Sunday or this Monday: Gonzaga; Wichita State; Butler. These teams all have been great NCAA Tournament teams, and I've had both Richmond and Canisius had the same wait.
You work around it. We'll give our guys some rest but we'll be practicing, we'll still be doing those hook shots with Zavier.
Q. With Teske, did you see that coming with him?
COACH BEILEIN: No, absolutely not. What he is is -- he's got so much -- he'll drift around. We talk about the boiling point of 212. He probably was at 205 last year. He gets 211, hits 212 for a day and then comes back to 211.
That's -- he and Austin Davis, they need some of Moe's energy and they can do it. But it's not expected -- it's expected of them, but it's not something that you just click on and all of a sudden I'm 19 years old and now I'm going to start playing with a motor.
But to get him to dunk in practice is difficult to do. But he's worked with Jon Sanderson. We have the greatest strength coach anywhere. And where a vertical jump went from here to here, he's able to do. He's worked. He's a no-nonsense kid. As we continue to improve his skill set and his body, he's got a great future.
Q. (Question off mic.)
JOHN BEILEIN: You have to ask him. Ask him. But here's what you know. If you looked at our bench, he's so loved by his teammates. "Big Sleep" they call him. "Big Bad Jon" they call him. He's so quiet. And so there's nothing quiet about his performance today.
And he will gradually just grow through this. If you watch young men over the college experience, both the process, the maturity, just changes. And he certainly is changing.
He didn't walk in like Moe Wagner with this personality that just says I'm an alpha dog and I'm going out to get it.
No, he's more waiting and waiting for the process to work itself out.
Q. You talked about Zavier's hook shot. Moe won the MVP. He seemed to be the catalyst, Zavier, on both ends of the floor. What does he do to set the tone defensively and offensively?
COACH BEILEIN: He's a pit bull. We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he is that guy. He's one that loves to play defense.
We've had some really good point guards, really good point guards over time. All those point guards right there were tremendous offensive players, and they were really good defenders also.
They probably hung their hats on both ends. This guy hangs his hat on defense. And that's a really great thing to have. He's stubborn. He wants to play every minute.
He doesn't want to rest. He and I have -- he's just wore me out so much with how hard he plays, that he's got a trust for me that he didn't have earlier in the year. I mentioned before, he used to go in there, playing hard, and was not smart. He fouled people like crazy. Now all of a sudden they're at the foul line. Now he's really playing smart, defensive basketball.
Q. How much do guys like Zavier and others earning that trust from you change the trajectory of this team? Seemed like you guys were hitting on all cylinders at the right time.
COACH BEILEIN: They didn't give in. They didn't sulk. We ended up taking Zavier out of the starting lineup early in the year because he wasn't making the extra pass. He wasn't seeing the open man. He was fouling every time he got in there.
So he had to earn his way back. When he earned his way back and we started winning, and I could see that he was really trying hard to do the right thing, what the coaching staff wanted -- you just earn that trust every day.
Same thing with all our guys -- Jordan Poole, he had games in the beginning of the year he didn't play at all, didn't play because he didn't have that trust.
It's not about going to a game, show me I can trust you. No, show me every day in practice you're going to make the right play and you play. It's that simple.
Every kid has two hours every day to show us what he can do. You don't get time in practice -- in games to show me what you can do. Do it in practice, you'll get time in games. And he did it both on the court in practice and in the games he was appearing in.
Q. So you win the Big Ten Tournament and you're riding on a nine-game winning streak, nine in a row, and three in the tournament. How are you going to prepare the guys to win six or seven more games?
COACH BEILEIN: Oh, man, do we have to go there right now? I'll tell you what, every day that I'm contemplating -- and I probably overthink everything, I have to take myself back to just seize today. It's about today. We'll take tomorrow like tomorrow and the next day. There won't be any thoughts about, all right, what's up next?
The NCAA I'm sure will put us in a good bracket and we will do everything we can to win one practice at a time, leading up to that one game at a time.
And if we're still around in San Antonio, we'd be delighted. But there's a lot of good teams that's going to go into this thing just like this. And anything can happen once we get to the first round of the tournament.
Thanks everybody. You've been terrific.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.
COACH PAINTER: Congratulations obviously goes out to Michigan. I thought they played a very good game. A very tough matchup for anybody in the country, well-coached. Have really kind of scrapped their offense and just tried to spread people out and break people down within our league, especially us because of our size.
And I thought they did a really good job of moving the basketball, kind of finding the matchups they want, breaking us down off the dribble. We were fortunate I felt to be down five at half. They missed some open shots and I thought we could make a little run there.
In the beginning of the second half, we'd get two or three stops, about three stops in a row, but we couldn't get an offensive rebound. Then when we would go to the matchup, to try to switch and then they had a size advantage down low on a couple of rebounds. We got a foul called against us we couldn't get a couple of balls.
I thought that was a real important time in the game. They gained momentum will, never looked back. I thought the guys at the end we gave some energy and we played hard but that happens after you get down at that time. But hats off to Michigan for winning the Big Ten Tournament.
Q. Isaac, if you can assess just what you thought of your team's effort in this game?
ISAAC HAAS: I thought that at the beginning that we didn't give our best effort. And I think that showed. And then towards the end of the second half we showed pretty well, pretty good effort. But it was too late by that time.
Q. Isaac, with Jon Teske in the game instead of Wagner what are the differences between those two? And what were the challenges of Teske today?
ISAAC HAAS: I think he hit a few crucial shots for them. He played well. So you've got to give him credit. Wagner obviously is a guy, he can pick and pop and do a lot of things. So you've got to respect them on that. And he did his thing. And we just let Teske be a part of the game.
Q. Isaac, I know it's obviously not the result you will vote for, but how much has Carsen grown in meaning to you guys in these last couple of months, in particular in a tournament setting? He had such a strong setting here.
ISAAC HAAS: I think he's a great player. He does good things for us. He's able to go get a bucket if we need one. He's an elite scorer and people don't respect him as such, I feel like sometimes. And I think he does a great job creating opportunities for others as well.
I think he's done a really good job maturing this year and I think he's a huge part of this team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Basically the same question. I know it's not the game you wanted to have, but not just tonight but this weekend and just these last couple of months how much has Carsen grown in meaning to you guys?
COACH PAINTER: Well, Carsen is a very dynamic player. And he can really get on -- he can get into runs where he scores the basketball.
Just kind of finding that rhythm in a game, like getting those rhythm, pull-up 3s and getting to the rim. Whenever he's driving the basketball and getting his layups and getting to the free-throw line to go along with his 3s, that's kind of the total package for him.
But he's really grown here going from January to February you'll watch tape even of some games earlier, like when we played Michigan, you can see how he's grown and been able to take advantage of some opportunities. He's hard to deal with once he gets an angle, then if you back up whatever he's got such a quick trigger, he's hard to guard.
Tonight he just really didn't get in a rhythm. He had a couple of drives that didn't go down for him, and he had a couple of 3s where he could never get back-to-back pullups or back-to-back pullup 3s to get into that rhythm. But he's been fabulous for us.
Q. Seemed like they were having a lot of success screening especially in the first half. What was going on, was it lack of communication on defense from you guys?
COACH PAINTER: A little bit of both. We were guarding it different with Teske. But it was more penetration. Our weak side and our guys in ball-screen defense, sometimes when the ball got deep, had to stay home. And you gotta force them to throw the ball out and they didn't do that.
Our guys sometimes will get really enamored sometimes with guys that can shoot the basketball, especially on the weak side. You've got to be able to come to it.
But I thought we struggled to contain the dribble more than anything and that opened some things up for Teske. Because when they drove then we had the help, then they made passes. A couple of them were off ball screens but a couple of them were simply off us not being able to contain the dribble.
Q. You guys are still probably going to be like a top 2, top 3 NCAA Tournament seed. When you sort of look at what you guys are going to be doing over the next week, is there one thing maybe you think you need to focus on, perhaps it's a ball-screen defense, as you just mentioned, or something like that?
COACH PAINTER: They're a unique team. Playing Michigan, John has a great system, even though they have gone away from their system a lot and just kind of spread things out.
But you're going to play people that are going to run ball screen motion. 90 percent of the country runs ball screen motion.
So for us I think it's more of a concentration thing than anything, not one actual aspect of the game. We have to do a better job of defending and concentrating. I thought we rebounded the ball better today. But we don't force any turnovers in the first half. We just kind of showed we weren't very active. But no, not one thing.
We've got to play together. We've got to be unselfish and move the basketball. And like we said earlier we've got to do a better job moving the ball.
Q. What makes John Beilein so successful in the coach in a tournament setting in your mind?
COACH PAINTER: I just think that a lot of what they run, I would guess that he would go back to running more of his stuff against unfamiliar people.
They run so many different things and have so many different calls within his system that it's a tough prep, especially after they win the first game.
So when they get into that second game -- you always learn something when you play him. I always say that about when Bill Carmody was at Northwestern, when Dana Altman at Creighton. Kind of those systems where they have a lot of quick hitters and a lot of different things you can go to. You always learn something when you play them, and you fix something. As a coach you think you've got them figured out, you don't have them figured out.
He's just very unique in that. You can't allow them to do what they want to do. And if you do, now it's just hitting or missing, especially when they put skill. His ideal thing is having a 5 that can shoot. That's why Teske's picking pops, him going into the short roll into elbow, Wagner being able to make the 3s and drive the ball. He makes them special.
Those guards are good but not everybody has a guy like Wagner that can stick 3s, drive the ball and play with passion.
Q. It's a week away from Selection Sunday. How concerned are you that you can still (indiscernible) get, play hard and effort out of these guys?
COACH PAINTER: I don't think it's as much as playing hard. I thought we did a good job rebounding the ball. I thought it was more concentration. We have to do a better job on the basketball. We've got to do a better job in ball-screen defense.
But good teams will expose you. That's what you're going to face. You'll face good teams but there's only one team leaving this weekend as a winner. So you've got other teams, obviously some teams are finished. But there's always opportunities to improve. There's always a silver lining.
So hopefully this can help us concentrate better and play better on the defensive end and just play -- we've done a good job of playing together as a group. But sometimes that, when you deal with a lot of people that are skilled, you deal with a lot of people that are confident, and sometimes they want it a little bit too much. And we just gotta probe the defense a little more and be a little more patient.
Q. What do you tell your guys to regroup, put this in the rearview mirror and really refocus on the next challenge ahead the NCAA Tournament coming up?
COACH PAINTER: I'm not a guy that throws the tape away. I'm a guy that when you have struggles, look in the mirror, face, take those struggles so they don't happen again.
So we'll talk about it. We'll watch this tape. We'll watch all three of them. And we'll try to learn from some of our successes and learn from some of our failures and just kind of stick with it. You've got to know who you are. You've got to know who you are and you've just got to go back to the drawing board.
We have enough successes together to be able to reflect on those also. I think it's kind of a two-way street sometimes when you lose.
Q. You had three or four games in 12-day stretches this year. Now you're going to go 12 days without a game. What's your plan for that 12 days?
COACH PAINTER: We'll take a couple of days off. We'll practice for a couple of days and take a day off. Practice for a couple of days, take a day off. It's not something where we need to practice every single day but we don't need to go four days off in a row. I think that's obviously too much. But we'll definitely take off Monday and Tuesday and get back after it on Wednesday.
But we're also going to be smart. I think it's more at this point in the year more mental training and guys gotta be able to understand and learn from some of those mistakes that we made today and be better because of it.
You go full bore and you get physical and you practice two hours a day while you're done and one of your better players gets hurt. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
Q. Is this the best defensive team that Michigan has had since John Beilein got there? Having watched them on film and faced them today, what in your eyes has made them so successful on that end in this season?
COACH PAINTER: I just think it's attention to detail. I think Matthews, Simpson, Abdur-Rahkman are all three good defensive players. Duncan Robinson has a lot of experience. Duncan Robinson was a poor defensive player when he got there, but he's really, really worked hard and he's a much better defender out there.
He used to be out there and be a liability but now he's not. That's being a well-rounded player, because he can shoot the basketball, he's a good offensive player and now he's a good defensive player. And you've got to give somebody like that credit to them.
So I think it's their personnel. Jordan Poole gives them length and some athleticism when he comes in there. Livers, who got hurt tonight, has done a good job as a young guy guarding.
I think it's personnel and attention to detail. Anytime you put talent on the court and you give it time and you work on something, whether it's offense or defense, and those guys stick together, you're going to make some improvements.
Q. Vince had an extended spell there on the bench toward the end. Did he tweak the injury or was it a matchup thing?
COACH PAINTER: No it wasn't matchup. We wanted guys to go out there and have energy. I thought Nojel Eastern, I looked at how he played and I thought he brought us energy. And I thought Eifert could bring us some energy, and I had to keep enough scorers out there. I wanted Isaac on the court.
At that point in the game, when you get down like that you're searching as a coach, you want guys to be able to bring energy, and I was just trying to get Nojel and Grady out there.