The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017 2017 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE you flip over the jersey and put the blue on. The blue jersey is always the first team, and when you put it on, a lot of guys don't always play with the same confidence. When we put that blue jersey on, that's when we're go- ing to measure it. "Charles and Austin are becoming more and more versatile with what they can do on the court. Charles hadn't been in a ball screen since high school and he's getting much more comfortable in it. Austin had not played man defense in his life … to be hedging and recovering and rebound- ing, he's really shown a unique ability to get those big mitts on the ball. "Charles could be an excellent de- fender. He can become a big-time de- fender, because he's got a brain for it." The Wolverine: How important will it be to replace walk-ons like Andrew Dakich and Sean Lonergan to keep that scout team strong? Beilein: "That's a big need for next year. A big need. We lost two guys that knew every offense, every defense in Andrew Dakich and Sean Loner- gan, also Fred Wright-Jones. They've been invaluable to us, especially those guards. "We're out there right now looking at a few young men that have been accepted to the university. It's not a recruiting thing, more who's been accepted and who has reached out. It's amazing. There's some talent out there." The Wolverine: You usually stick to a seven- to nine-man rotation, but you'll have lots of bodies next year. What determines if you extend that? Beilein: "Well, let's see who's ready to play defense and who is strong enough to do that. We've got to find, again, eight or nine that will be ver- satile enough to play different posi- tions, who will guard, rebound and play hard. "We typically have a few guys that will have tuxedos on for a couple years, and gradually they roll up their sleeves and do that. So, we'll see what happens." The Wolverine: You've all but aban- doned the 1-3-1 zone defense you made famous at West Virginia. Is it just that there's not enough time to teach it, or why has that been used less? Beilein: "We'd probably have time if we really wanted to teach that. I just think if you follow college basketball today, unless you are turning people over … you've got to really pour a lot of time into it. If you don't have guys that really feel that zone, you can practice it forever and you're still go- ing to give up threes. To allow threes is analytically disastrous. "To be able to turn them over and limit the threes … if you don't practice it a lot, it's hard to do. At the same time, our man-to-man defense, you've got to practice that a lot to do it well. We see virtually no zones anymore. We don't see them all year long." The Wolverine: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman is a senior now, and you've always said he could be an even better player. How good could he be if he lived in the gym this summer? Beilein: "That will be his focus. Now he'll have one more year back with us. His passing has gotten better, his shooting, his defense has gotten better, but there's another level for all that. Our seniors have generally done it, and he could have a Derrick Walton type of year. "That's what I want him to work for. Derrick earned that. It didn't just hap- pen. He spent a summer in this gym that was incredible. We didn't see it until the end of the year, but when his opportunity came he was ready for it." The Wolverine: Purdue head coach Matt Painter said he thought Der- rick excelled because he was finally healthy this year. How much was that a part of it even last year, carryover from his sophomore foot injury? Beilein: "I think there was still re- sidual effect. He created some really bad habits because he was afraid to land on that one foot and it got him off balance. Gradually, in his senior year, he was able to correct that. "We saw him hit seven threes against SMU early in the year, and we knew he had the ability. But back to back to back was the challenge." The Wolverine: You often say it's the bounce of the ball that determines a win or a loss in a close game. How tough was it to take the one-point loss to Oregon in the Sweet 16? Beilein: "I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but I wish we'd had one more day to rest before the Or- egon game. They had the same rest period so we can't complain, but for that game I wish we had just one more day to rest and prepare for that team. We'd just been through four games, and I just felt we did not play like we'd been playing. Oregon, you could see what they did to Kansas … that was an elite-level team, really good. "That one could have gone our way, but we also could have had serious injuries or worse in that plane crash, so we'll take what God gave us." ❏ Led by star senior Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan's late surge — 12 wins in its final 15 games — propelled the program to its third Sweet 16 appearance under Beilein, all within the past five years. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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