Michigan-Wisconsin Postgame Quotes

March 13, 2017

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Michigan Quotes
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.


Wisconsin Quotes
COACH GARD: First of all, congratulations to Michigan on the run that they're on. Obviously playing very well. We knew that coming in. One of the hotter teams in the league, if not the country.

Also proud of our guys, to get it to this point. They've grown throughout the year. We allowed too much confidence to get going, specifically early from three, which gave them some momentum.

In the first 10 possessions of the second half I think is really where we couldn't get back over that hump, specifically offensively. We go I think two points on 10 possessions in that start of the second half, which allowed them to get a little more separation when it was a one-point game.

Proud of our guys, how they battled. Didn't play specifically well in the first half defensively, for the most part, the whole game offensively in terms of how we were executing, converting on possessions.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Nigel and Bronson.

Q. Bronson, they held you to 26% shooting in the second half. What was effective against the offense that you were running?
BRONSON KOENIG: I thought they didn't adjust much other than just, you know, saying get up on the shooters a little more. We were trying to do our best to get it inside. We weren't finishing as well as we have been inside. Obviously some shots weren't going in that were going in the past few games.

So, yeah.

Q. Nigel, yesterday you emphasized defensive rebounding, saying that was a big key. Michigan finished with three offensive rebounds today. Was that a product of focusing on defensive rebounding or was it them not missing shots?
NIGEL HAYES: Probably them not missing shots. They shot the ball extremely well. A lot of tough shots. That's kind of their offense.

Some of it is they are good shooters. And sometimes the ball bounces their way. That's what happened for them today. We just needed to do a better job in other areas.

Q. You've obviously been here before. How hard or easy is it to readjust your sights and start focusing on the next opportunity in front of you?
BRONSON KOENIG: I mean, we've been here before, like you said. We know what to expect. We celebrate the night of our win and start looking forward to the next team we play. Our coaches do a great job of letting us know what the other team is going to want to do that next day.

I mean, just like any other tournament really.

Q. You maybe weren't getting the results you wanted late in the regular season. What you guys did here this week, what kind of confidence does that give you going forward?
NIGEL HAYES: We were good for the first two games. We played how we practiced, how we were supposed to play. We played how we knew we could play. We played how we expected ourselves to play. The results showed.

This game, we kind of took a detour from that, kind of played how we were doing in February. Still credit to Michigan. They played some tough plays, made some good shots.

But we just got to remember the first two games we had here, how we played, the way we shared the ball, the way we defended, try to get that back from this tournament.

BRONSON KOENIG: Just like what Nigel said, we were playing really well for the past three games or so. We just kind of went away from what was working a little bit. A little bit of that, a little bit of just, like I said before, not finishing, not making some shots, not getting stops. Just a combination of those things.

Q. As seniors, all season you talked about wanting to close your careers with a Big Ten title. Now that this moment is gone, is there a sense that you need to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament to close your careers, leave the legacy you want to leave?
NIGEL HAYES: Obviously we just want to win. It shows how hard it is to do that. We knew that going in. We knew we had the ability. We put ourselves in there for a good portion of the year. As we said, we got into a little rut where we got away from what we were doing. We kind of gave it away. Did the same thing again tonight.

But, you know, we just got to make sure we refocus, adjust for this. We wouldn't be the first team that could do something incredible without having a conference championship our a tournament one.

Just got to refocus, do what works best for us, what works well, play from there.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Nigel and Bronson.

We'll continue with questions for Coach Gard.

Q. What can you take from the way you played the first two games here moving forward into next week?
COACH GARD: Well, it's how we need to play. I mean, it shows how good we can be when we are connected defensively, share the ball. Obviously it helps when the ball goes in. Makes things look a lot easier than what it really is, or the game a lot simpler.

We played pretty well here. We didn't play specifically well today. Probably more so from the defensive end at the start than we had been playing. That's a credit to Michigan. I mean, we gave them some things, but they hit some shots, too, timely shots when we were making runs.

Duncan has one basket all game. It was a huge three, when we cut it to six. We got to remember, as these guys said, when we're on, what it looks like, what it feels like when we're playing well. Obviously Friday and Saturday we did that, and not so much here today.

Q. I don't think the first field goal you had was until just a little over eight minutes into that second half. How much of that was you guys and how much of that was them?
COACH GARD: We had a lot of opportunities. I'll have to go through and see exactly where the shots came from.

We were two points on our first 10 possessions of the second half. You're going to have a hard time against anybody when you're having that type of struggles offensively.

We got it to a one-point game. I thought we had made some adjustments through the first half to kind of cover up some of the threes. Guys felt comfortable about the plan, what we were doing the second half.

But then to offensively not be able to score... It's not like they ran away from it. It got to 39-32. We couldn't do anything.

Like I said, that number right away, when I heard two points on our first 10 possessions, that told the story.

Q. Some of the critics argue that some of the losses towards the end of the season could be attributed to not getting the ball in Bronson's hands enough. Is that something you'll be looking at going into the tournament, part of the game plan?
COACH GARD: He's had the ball in his hands a lot. You look at it, when we're at our best, we share it really well. It's not dominated by one person.

Compare Friday and Saturday to other games, how we shared, how we moved the ball, we had multiple guys in double figures, specifically I think Friday we had five guys in doubles.

That's when we're at our best. We don't necessarily have to be one player or person dominated. Types of shots are more important for me than volume. Obviously the efficiency that comes with those types of shots is important.

Bronson is an important piece to us, as is everybody else. I look more at the type of shots we get versus who's getting how many.

Those three guys, Hayes, Happ and Koenig, get the vast majority of what we do. We'll continue to work and try to play like we played Friday and Saturday.

Q. When you look ahead at the next few days, talk about the experience that Nigel and Bronson have, and how much does it makes your job easier?
COACH GARD: They understand it's one game at a time. If you don't play well, it will only be one game.

I think they understand. They don't let the outside noise or all the drama that comes with it, which obviously it's a terrific tournament, they do a very good job of filtering that, just understanding our preparation, how we go about this next week, depending on when we play, where we go, understanding that the focus needs to be on our preparation, our opponent, and not get caught up in terms of the pomp and circumstance that comes with being in the tournament.

They'll be able to do a good job of that, understand we'll get back to Madison tonight, find out who we play in a little while, get ready to go.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

COACH GARD: Thank you.