John Beilein is nothing if not prepared. Tim Hardaway, Jr. once said of his former coach, “Don’t give him a week to prepare for you because you will lose.” Beilein will only have six days to prepare for Michigan’s upcoming game, but that seems like plenty of time. Taking a break from preparation, the Big Ten Coach of the Year held a press conference to discuss Michigan basketball before their noon game on Friday against the winner of Illinois and Indiana. Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas also took some time to answer a few questions.
Beilein on not knowing who Michigan will play: “We had an Illinois practice yesterday, an Indiana practice today. We were focusing on what didn’t go well in the last games.” Michigan dispatched Illinois with ease, behind the hot shooting of Stauskas. Indiana proved to be a difficult matchup for the Wolverines, as the two squads split the series.
Beilein is never looking too far forward. “Improving our NCAA seed doesn’t concern me. We’re just going to take the Big Ten Tournament one game at a time.” The Wolverines are currently slated for a two seed in many expert predictions, and jumping to a one or falling to a three are both considered unlikely.
The strength and conditioning coach, John Sanderson, has been a major reason for Michigan’s success. “It’s impressive, just looking at what he has done with Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, guys he has had over 4 and 5 years. But also, what he has been able to do with Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton in a short time.” Beilein also credits Sanderson’s program with Michigan’s relative lack of injuries. Besides a Cole McConnell foot injury and Mitch McGary’s back, Michigan has remained relatively unaffected by the injury bug.
Michigan hasn’t done well in the Big Ten Tournament in the past few years. Beilein isn’t troubled by Michigan’s past struggles, however. “We have never gone in as the favorite, we have been seven seeds and ten seeds. We just have to survive and advance.” Beilien is fairly neutral on the subject of conference tournaments. “It depends on who you are. I know a couple of times at Richmond and West Virginia, we wouldn’t have gotten in the NCAA without the conference tournament. Other years, when you are solidly in, won’t end your season on a glum note, because you have another opportunity in the NCAA tournament.”
Nik Stauskas then took over, and spoke to winning the Player of the Year award. “It was great to be voted that by the media and the coaches, and I’m super excited right now.”
Stauskas also addressed his struggles in the NCAA tournament. “I struggled a little bit other than the Florida game. It was tough to get going when so much of our offense was going through Trey and Tim, but I’m ready to go now.”
In terms of winning it all, Stauskas believes its all about “peaking at the right time, and playing your best basketball in March.” There’s not a lot to argue about there, and Michigan looks poised for another deep run. The Wolverines play Friday at noon on ESPN.
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