John Beilein stepped up to the podium to give his introductory remarks. He began, and then another member of the press stepped into the room. So Beilein started again, but once again he was interrupted by the sound of a door.
At that point, Beilein smiled and said, “I will never show up early again.”
He then launched into his talk. Beilein talked about how happy he was with the win, in Nebraska’s brand new arena in front of a sellout crowd. The win was one that helped the players’ collective confidence. “The ball could have bounced in, and we could be 1-2 and been the exact same team,” Beilein said. “But now we have a little spring in our step.”
Then Beilein moved onto the upcoming Penn State game. “They are a hungry, hungry team,” said Beilein. “Tim Frazier is putting up Trey Burke numbers.”
The defense was a major issue in the Nebraska game, and Beilein mentioned a couple of schemes that will help improve the defense against the Nittany Lions. “You’ll see the 1-3-1 zone again. If they turn it over, like a couple of teams have, we will throw the 1-3-1 back in.”
Beilein also talked about improving the ball screen defense. “We are hard-hedging, but every time we find a way to defend a ball screen, somebody else has new way to do it (figure out ball-screen defense). We just have to focus on our fundamentals.”
Another problem with the hard-hedge is the rule change regarding fouls. Michigan has had a problem with opposing teams guards leaning into the Wolverines’ big men for cheap fouls calls. “Sometimes its just your posture when you’re guarding them,” said Beilein. “You never know what they’re going to call.”
Michigan suffered a devastating loss last year against Penn State, who was winless in the conference at the time. When asked what the takeaway from that game was, Beilein replied, “A sense of valuing that you can lose any game.”
This is why Michigan will not overlook Penn State. Despite the Wolverines’ upcoming schedule, where they face three teams ranked in the AP top 15, Beilein is making sure they focus on the Nittany Lions.
Glenn Robinson III echoed the sentiment, and said he has “been looking forward to this game for a long time.”
Robinson sounded every bit like a leader of the team. His recently elevated play has helped him lead on the court, and his words off it show that he is a major contributor for a young team that needs leaders.
He talked about the team bonding, growing closer. “The Puerto Rico trip was what really changed this team around in terms of bonding.”
That bond has led to a looseness, and room for jokes. “We have a couple inside jokes that we’ll say during the game just to get somebody to smile or laugh.” Evidence of these jokes was captured on camera during the Nebraska game, with Spike Albrecht sneaking a pinch to Andrew Dakich’s chest before turning away with a grin.
Robinson also mentioned his progression. “I’m taking some shots I definitely wouldn’t have last year, but that just comes with confidence. I’ve put in the hours in the gym.”
His progression hasn’t just been in basketball terms, but in attitude. Robison talked to his high school coach recently, who encouraged him to smile a little bit more. Robinson took his advice to heart. “I’m more comfortable when I’m having fun out there.”
Michigan hopes to take the have-fun approach and improve to 4-0 in Big Ten on Tuesday at the Crisler Center.