March 9, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Beilein to make an opening statement, then go to questions for the student athletes. Coach?
COACH BEILEIN: Minnesota, in the beginning of the first half, just showed incredible quickness. We were -- I think it put us back on our heels immediately. We hadn't seen that, that type of defense, and it was a great to start the game. And it took us a while, dug us into a big hole.
I'm really proud of our guys, the way we fought back. If you watched our team on the floor, there was always poise; they were working very hard; there was a lot of diligence involved in what they were doing. And just the ball got bounced our way and it did at the end. We wouldn't get in that position if these guys didn't stay persistent and keep their poise during that game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Trey, Tim, and Zack.
Q. Zack, how hard is it to guard against complacency, when you win the Big Ten and after what you went through last week and then to come into this tournament?
ZACK NOVAK: With this group of guys, it's not very difficult. I think if anything, what we saw today is -- we had a longer layover than we've had in a while. And that team, they played really well. You gotta give them a lot of credit. They made big shots. They played with a lot of energy, and it kind of took us some time to get back into the flow of things.
But complacency is not a huge thing that I worry about with this group. We're pretty focused.
Q. Guys, any of you can talk about the last sequence before Evan's 3 pointer that tied the game at the end of regulation.
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Talk about what now? Oh, Evan's 3 was huge. I think that was the first bucket that he made throughout the whole entire game and, you know, it came out at a great time. We ran our play, out of bounds play. It didn't work. Stu got the ball. Didn't force anything up, and then they left Evan wide open, and he's been making shots like that in practice all year long and throughout the season, so we had total confidence in him making that shot.
Q. With about four minutes, to take that 9 point lead on Rodney Williams' dunk, Trey, can you just talk about how this team maintained its composure to send this game into overtime and then win it?
TREY BURKE: We maintained our composure the whole game. Once they went up, we just continued to huddle up every dead ball and every chance we got. We just kept telling each other that we weren't going to win it on the offensive side; it was going to be the defensive side that was going to help us come out with the win. That's what we did. We got down late in the game and our bigs stepped up and Zack, Tim, we all stepped up on the defensive end and we sent it into overtime, and that gave us another chance to get the win.
Q. Zack, talk a little bit about -- I think you guys hit five straight 3 pointers at the end of regulation and three to start the overtime. Just talk about that sequence right there, how that propels you for the win?
ZACK NOVAK: Yeah, I think that's why we're a pretty dangerous team, because we have multiple people that can get it going, and knock down shots when they're open. So except for these two right here, our whole team had been struggling. So you give guys credit.
Evan, on the bench a long time, comes in the game, was able to knock down a shot. Trey's doing whatever he wants, so I pretty much get wide open there for one. I think Tim hit me on another one.
And when you got two guys that garner so much attention, you know, and guys can get wide open shots, then that's our job to knock it down.
Q. Trey, can you talk about the momentum you felt at the start of overtime after having come back from nine points at the end of the second half?
TREY BURKE: Well, we came with a different attitude as a team. Like I said, it was the defensive end. We came out, you know, overtime, I think we had -- we didn't score in the first possession, but we knew that was gonna be on the defensive end. We locked down, got on the boards, and we just came out with another mindset as a team. As a team, we came out, we told each other that we're already together and things like that, and we got the win.
Q. Zack, how frustrating was most of that game for you? Was it just shots not falling for you or just something that they were doing?
ZACK NOVAK: You know, they just did a really good job just flying at me. And they're so athletic and just long. So for me, struggled a little bit just getting it over them. But thankfully, there at the end, like I said, these guys were so hot that I was finally able to get freed up a little bit and knock them down.
Q. Zack, does this help a team ready for the NCAA Tournament when you get a game like this, a scrappy game like this?
ZACK NOVAK: Without a doubt. Sometimes you like to see your team go through a little bit of -- through a little trouble like that to see how they're going to respond and see how tough we are. I think we passed the test today. We played a team that was fighting for their lives. They came to play and they played very well.
And for us, we didn't do some of the things that we typically do. To able come out this game with a win is huge, and that's what you gotta do at this time of the year.
Q. Trey, you had scored 27 against Minnesota during the season. Did you think you could get your shots against this team tonight? Were you trying to be a little more aggressive looking for your shot? Or just your mindset offensively tonight.
TREY BURKE: Well, the coaches just tell me to take whatever the defense gave me. We seen that in the first half. They had a little trouble guarding the pick and roll action, so the top of the key was kind of open for an 8 foot jump shot. Towards the second half, they were kind of making me not use the screen, so it allowed us to be able to get down in the lane and shoot lay ups. And a couple times they had pinched in, and that's when I hit the shooters on the wing. Like we say, we knocked down big shots when it mattered.
Q. You guys have been really good with end game adjustments the entire year, but you didn't have the lead the first half. So can you talk about what you did to adjust and actually grab the momentum in the second half?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Yeah. I think just coming out and we've been in these situations before, especially during the regular season versus Northwestern at home. We were down by eight or seven at halftime, and we just worked our way back, got in overtime, and made sure we took care of business.
We're not afraid of these type of moments. We just keep on fighting and just let the best come to us and just try to take what our defense gives us.
Q. Zack, what makes this team so good in late game situations when it comes down to the wire?
ZACK NOVAK: You know, early on in the year, we did our back to back situations every day where, you know, if you scored a bucket, it wasn't a point and if you got a stop it wasn't a point. You had to do it on consecutive possessions.
And I think that's really what's propelled us is that kind of no matter what's happening in the game, we're not making shots or they've exploited us on defense. For whatever reason, that last four minutes comes and we just -- we become different people I think. And we've just -- everyone's locked in and we've been on it.
And I think we've been through it so many times at this point with this group, you know, with the exception of Trey, everybody played major minutes. They're pretty much upper classmen now, and he's like an upper classman.
But I think when you've got that type of group with that experience, late game, when -- there's nothing we haven't seen.
Q. Tim, this is your third straight really solid game, scoring 20 despite only making one 3 pointer. Do you feel like you're finally getting into a grove this season, near the end?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR.: Yeah, most definitely. And it just comes from practice and my teammates behind my back 100 percent and just sticking with me through rough times and the good times.
So just getting in the gym, getting extra reps up. These guys right here and Stu and Evan, as you know, is very key for me and just giving me momentum going into practice to make sure I knock down shots and momentum going into the game.
Q. Zack, two guys sitting next to you combined for 50. At what point tonight did you guys just say, let's get out of their way, let them take over here?
ZACK NOVAK: Well, Trey had it going from the beginning. I think we saw that. That's kind of how it typically is, though. I just kind of let them do their thing. And if I'm open, then throw it to me. And if not, do what you do.
Then Tim came out in the second half and really got it going, hit some big shots and jump started us offensively because we had struggled a little bit except for Trey. So we got that other person going. Just looking at stats, they both played incredible. Without them stepping up, we don't win this game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Beilein.
Q. Coach, obviously some struggles on the boards. How difficult is it to just -- when you don't have that extra body in Jon Horford, some of the things he's been able to help you with in the past?
COACH BEILEIN: That was I think the most frustrating part of the beginning of the game. That's why I'm so proud of them. We had -- their athleticism. I think we had three lay ups, two of them were pinned against the backboard. And then coming down, sometimes it was four or five possessions. The ball's in the air, we have to do a great job of boxing out and sometimes it's not enough.
We missed that sometimes, but you basically -- some of our young men had to just -- not even trying to get the ball, just get into the guys' legs and let Trey come and get the rebound because if we're getting in a jumping contest with some of them, we can't do that.
It's been difficult all year. You see once we went to a four guard lineup, that really has hurt us, but it's given us some things on the other side.
Q. Zack and Stu didn't do much offensively for almost the whole game, but they still came back and hit some really big shots near the end. Talk about their
COACH BEILEIN: I think it was part of the Minnesota game plan that they were going to not give help off of them. Some of the action we do is based on if you're going to give help, we have one action; if you don't give help, then we're trying to exploit the drives. We only got five 3s off in the first half, which means they weren't giving help.
It's sort of a middle of the court attack that we use at that time, and certainly it allows us to play two on two or three on three. And that was their choice. So it worked very well for a long time, and then we just got enough penetration at times and enough confusion through some things that we got some guys open. Got them open.
Q. Down nine late in the timeout, can you look at your players and can you see in their eyes that
COACH BEILEIN: I was very thankful. I think there was four or five minutes left. That was enough for us, that we can do that. We just needed to get open a little bit, and we had to really -- we simplified things a lot at that point and really tried to play off Trey's penetration.
And I think even in that point, we missed -- I think we missed a couple of foul shots or a one and one. I think we missed two lay ups and a little pull up jump shot all during that time. But they didn't -- here's the big difference for this team.
When they have those times, we went down and guarded. When we didn't get stops, we got stops. Or when we got stopped, we got stops on the other end. That was big. That could have been seven or eight the whole time. It's nine. We don't score, well, but then we score the next time because it was still nine or it was because it was still six. Our defense won that part of it.
Q. John what impressed you most about Burke's performance tonight?
COACH BEILEIN: The story just keeps going on because I feel like sometimes I'm talking to a senior. He is talking to me in the game about things that he thinks we can use in our offense. And it's a pleasure. It's a wonder to have a guy who understands basketball at 19 years old as a freshman like he does. So he's easy to coach.
He wants to win more than he wants to score points, but he also is not afraid to take it at people. And then his foul line performance, although down the stretch there of going four -- I think it was 4-for-4, when we were trying to get away from them and we were trading baskets was huge as well. Poise.
Q. Timeout with about three minutes left, you had a big speech about all the experience that they've had all season. Can you talk about what you said to them?
COACH BEILEIN: I think we've been in so many tight games, if that's the one you're talking about, that we had been through so much, this is nothing right now for us to be -- they had to win games. We have been winning close games. We're used to that. We just gotta do the right things.
And it was all going to be about our stops. It wasn't going to be what we dialed up on offense. It was going to be our stops. And they got that, and then when we did that up on offense, the kids had to make big shots. And just all of them, the shooters said, what we need, tonight, you're practicing a lot, we need you right now. So if you're open, knock it down. And sure enough we did.
Q. John, just getting back to Stu and Zack for a second, you mentioned that Minnesota dictated their keeping them from getting shots early, but they still had to make shots at the end when they're open after they haven't scored all night. Can you talk about the mental toughness that
COACH BEILEIN: That was Evan as well. Evan was in foul trouble the whole time, and those are big -- that's who those guys are. They're not the guy that's going to go in and be on a highlight film. They are a highlight film in how to play steady, good, solid basketball. That's their highlight film.
You talk to a lot of coaches, that's what we prefer to have many times. You gotta have those glue guys to get it done. And whether they get two or three in a row early in the game or hit two or three in a row late in the game, they're the same guy. They just want the ball in their hands if, in fact, it's the right team shot.
They don't get thirsty, so to speak, if they're not getting their shots. They wait for the game to come to them, and that's what's made our team so resilient this year and so solid.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much. Congratulations.
MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Smith to make an opening statement and then go to questions for Andre and Rodney. Coach?
COACH SMITH: Well, I thought we played extremely hard. We narrowed our bench. I thought -- obviously Michigan made the baskets at the end of the game to get the tie. Their last three baskets were 3 point shots, and the 3 point shot was there to send it into overtime. But I thought our kids played with a lot of heart and with a lot of courage. I'm really proud of them.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. This question is for Andre. Can you just talk about the experience of the Big Ten Tournament? Obviously the first game, being able to carry the team to a win, and it got close in this last one, but what are you going to take away from it?
ANDRE HOLLINS: This is a great experience for all of us. I think it's a testament to what we can do as a team. Unfortunately, we didn't execute at the end. It's just the little things that count. And we let them get some second chance shots and they -- you gotta give Michigan credit. They hit every one they needed, and we kind of let the game slip out of our hands.
Q. Rodney, I saw you shaking your head like right until the end there. Were you upset particularly about the free throws or was it just the way of the game?
RODNEY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was definitely upset with myself about the free throws. Looking at stat sheet, I was the only one that missed free throws out there tonight. So that was something that definitely upset me at the end of the game.
Q. Rodney, your positives that you can take out of tonight and the last three games that you guys have played?
RODNEY WILLIAMS: Tonight we definitely played hard for all 45 minutes out there. If we go into the post season tournament, we can definitely build from that because we played the No. 13 team in the nation, no doubt, to the very end. So we can definitely build off that.
And if we don't play again, we've definitely got a really, really good team coming back next year. We're just losing Ralph, and we may get Trevor (Mbakwe) back. So going into next year, we definitely can contend to get another shot at the Big Ten title.
Q. You guys had the momentum for most of the game and then in overtime Michigan got it. Was there something different that they did, or did you guys make an adjustment that didn't pan out or -- like what would you pinpoint as the change?
ANDRE HOLLINS: Like I said earlier, I think their last four -- well, one of the last three possessions in regulation were 3s, and they were all second shots. They got the offensive rebound, and that's one of the toughest things to guard in basketball is the second shot where everyone is scattering.
They kind of -- Stu Douglass hit a big 3 from an offensive rebound, and that just kind of put us in a hole. And then Trey Burke hit a 3 off of a pick and roll, and the 3s killed us tonight. That's one of the things.
MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Smith?
Q. Coach, second year in a row there's a possibility that you might not play in the NIT. What were you able to tell your team about to prepare for this weekend? And are they going to get together and watch any selection shows or anything like that?
COACH SMITH: No, we really didn't talk about that. I just kind of told them -- I said, hey, let's hold out. Let's keep hope alive that we will get an opportunity to play.
But fate was in our hand and we didn't really -- we just didn't get it done. We'll just have to wait to see what happens. But we won't be doing anything special.
Q. Is it a good time for you to see a guy like Andre Hollins thrive in a big pressure situation like these last two nights for the future of this program?
COACH SMITH: Yeah, I'm very proud and encouraged by the way he played. Andre's got a lot of heart. He's a very skilled basketball player. You can see just by -- he makes shots. He really played great. He has stamina. He has good endurance. Tonight, 44 minutes. And chasing Trey Burke around is a tough job.
But I think we're well positioned with him at the point as our future point guard, and he's just going to get better throughout the year. He had some ups and downs this year, but he had more ups than he had downs, and especially finishing the right way with these two games in the tournament to show just what he's capable of doing.
Q. Tubby, does this feel similar to -- you guys obviously had a lot of really close losses this year, or did you see anything different from your guys tonight?
COACH SMITH: Well, we made some mistakes. As you mentioned, we gave up those 3s and we didn't really -- we just got lost with some -- you have to make those plays in the games and you have to make the stops. So that's sort of what we had issues with all year long.
But, again, we won the one last night, and this again tonight was very similar. I thought we had -- you know, we felt comfortable in what we were doing and the way we were executing, but you can't -- we can't afford to turn the ball over the way we did. And we do the job on the boards, but that's sort of what we've been doing is we've got to find a way to win and find a way to finish off people, and we didn't do it once again tonight.
But I think we're learning from these experiences. Certainly putting the ball in Andre's hands has been good for us.
Q. Rodney mentioned Trevor, hoping that he comes back. When do you think you'll find out about that, and how do you think it looks with him?
COACH SMITH: You know, I think it looks good. We'd love to have him back. I think he's done all the things we've -- it's in the process now. It's just going to take time for the NCAA to make some decisions -- to make the decision whether he comes back or whether -- but he's a young man that deserves an opportunity, all the things he's going through, a lot of it that he didn't have much control over.
And I know the NCAA is working hard to justify, and they're student friendly, and that's biggest push now is just trying to protect the student athletes. And this is another eligibility issue, and I think he'll -- I think he'll have another year. He's doing fine, I think, with his rehab. It's going well.
Q. It seems like the guys have had more energy and more intensity in these last three games than maybe all season, at least consecutively. Do you feel like -- I mean, do you think that's true? And do you look at that and say, you know, things could have been different if you'd had that maybe earlier in the season?
COACH SMITH: I think it was just one game we really didn't have much firepower to us. But I thought all year long we had a good effort. We've been missing a lot of people over a lot of -- off and on throughout the season, and that's hard to get that type of continuity, not just in games but in practice.
So I was impressed with our guys' energy the last three games. But I think our guys have played hard all season long. I can pinpoint maybe one or two games that I thought -- a lot of it has to do with going through a losing streak. It's hard to maintain your intensity because you keep losing close games, and it can take a lot out of you.
So that's what I attribute it to, and being a very young team, and that hurt also.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
COACH SMITH: Thank you.