The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017 2017 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan head coach John Beilein led his team to a second Big Ten champion- ship in four years — this one a tournament title — and a Sweet 16 berth. The Wolverines were 4-6 in conference play at one point before ral- lying to a 10-8 record and winning the Big Ten Tournament with four wins in four days. Beilein sat down with The Wolverine after the season for an exclusive ques- tion and answer session. The Wolverine: You mentioned early on in Big Ten play that something was missing from this team. Did you figure out what it was that helped you to fin- ish so strong? Beilein: "We just needed to grow. Re- ally, when I look back at it … people have to understand, you've got 38 games. It's like baseball — you aren't going to get better every game. Thirty- eight games, you're going to go up and down, and there was nothing missing at the beginning when we played SMU and Marquette [and won the 2K Clas- sic in November]. "I don't think you can put a finger on it … we just got better. Nothing was missing. We just weren't good enough." The Wolverine: Was there a turning point in the season, and if so what was it? Beilein: "I do not think there was anything. There are so many turning points in a season, it's tough to put your finger on one. There was good and bad, when we had some tough losses and then ended up winning by 30 against a pretty good Indiana team. It was, 'Well … we can do this.' "You try to put it in perspective and everybody tries to pinpoint something, but it's really hard to pinpoint any- thing other than growth." The Wolverine: Speaking of growth, your team was much better defen- sively in the second half of the season, too. How much did that contribute to your success? Beilein: "A lot of it had to do with the growth of our defense, really. When we were losing games, we were still in some tape delay at a few positions. If you just look at our defensive numbers … it wasn't entirely new to them, some of the things we were talking about, but there was some different terminol- ogy and a few different concepts that [assistant] Billy Donlon really helped us with. The fact was, we just weren't good enough defensively yet. "There are all kinds of stats you can get and analytics that showed we really improved, and we just had to improve in it. Again, 38 games — it's not as easy as saying, 'Let's go be un- defeated.' If football had 38 games, there'd be ups and downs in a sea- son, too. There are very few teams that don't have adversity. You're playing on a very irregular schedule, maybe three games in a week one week, one game in a week another. You're traveling and getting home at two in the morning. "There are going to be obstacles in a season, and you've got to learn from them and move on." LOOKING BACK FONDLY Sitting Down With Michigan Head Coach John Beilein After A Memorable Close To The Campaign Beilein became U-M's all-time winningest basketball coach (215 victories) this year and helped the Wolverines to their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in his 10 seasons while adding his first Big Ten Tournament title. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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