Coach Beilein: “I need one second to look at it here (stat sheet). They just told me Tim (Hardaway) had ten rebounds. That was an interesting one from a standpoint that I really love the way we guarded in the first half. It was tremendous. This was a game where they forced some turnovers and we were very careless at times. That kept them a little bit in the game when (Michael) Thompson was in foul trouble. That allowed us to get away. He just runs their offense so well. They just never seem to be out of the game. It was the ditto of last year, five straight threes. I think it was five in a row and three of them were right in their face, you just got to play through it. Disappointed only in our guards turnovers today. Stu (Douglass) and Darius (Morris) are much better than that. In the second half of the game, when you’re trying to win it, you got to take care of the basketball. Are we tired? Perhaps a little bit with the third game in seven days, but we got to take care of it better. Other than that, we had to make big plays, we made them. Tim again I think ended up getting a great assist to Jordan (Morgan). Jordan, can’t say enough about his catches. He made some difficult catches. He only missed one that little two-on-one that start their run. I just love his development right now.”
Question: Is that one of the most complete performances out of Jordan that you’ve seen in a while?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah, because his defense right now, he is understanding how he can impact the game. He only rebounded two shots and there is going to be a lot of long rebounds and if he stuck his man that allows Tim to rebound. Not just based on points, forget about the points, he is active in impacting the game both offensively and defensively. He has this NFL linebacker body I say. He is 6’8”, maybe a tight end. He is 6’8”, he is 240 and he can run and he is learning when he does it more and harder, he is pretty effective.”
Question: Is that something you saw on film? Because it seemed like you guys went inside a lot more than you had been doing?
Coach Beilein: “I think most of the inside stuff was residual from pick and roll. It was not like we threw it down on the box to him and said go to work big fellow. They switch a lot of ball screens, so he would be switched on to a smaller guy and then Darius was trying to get his man off the dribble.”
Question: Is it hard for a team to be defending all those threes?
Coach Beilein: “It is very difficult. Now they had two days to prepare. That is the key to their success is throwing something different at you. When you play them, no one switches screens like they switch screens that is a day and a half that we have to work on that and now they also run the most intricate offense that anyone has ever seen, so it is tough to prepare for all those things. That’s the way they play. So we knew they were going to do that, now you’re guys got to see it. We tried to run three plays against them today that we thought was be guaranteed layups, I think only one of them was. They really did a good job of what they did.”
Question: Was there anything that you worked on defensively with Jordan to keep him out of foul trouble that has plagued him?
Coach Beilein: “We’ve just been working on it. We get upset with him and we let him know that it is not acceptable to be one of the assistant coaches sitting on the bench many games. That’s where he has been almost the whole time. So he is learning how to play aggressively without fouling. His match with both those juniors in there was very good. He ended up playing with very few fouls.”
Question: Starting Stu today was just strategic for this game?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah, I really thought with the way (John) Shurna shot it before and Evan (Smotrcyz) has never had to really play perimeter defense like that and Shurna is an atypical four and when he didn’t start, we just say let us go with it and we just wanted to get off to a better start too. Sometimes as I’ve said to you before, we try to bring guy off the bench might loosen them up, Evan hits what could have been a four point play and gets a good rebound. That’s the way we’ve been finishing games. I don’t know what we’ll do coming into the next game. I’ll have to reevaluate it.”
Question: How much has Jordan’s development exceeded what you expected at this point when you think back to when he came?
Coach Beilein: “I think when he came here, it was real difficult in that he was overweight and then he had an injury right away. We all knew and you never know, I’m not trying to say that I see things that other people didn’t see but when he was at Detroit Jesuit, he had a fall birthday, which means he was going to be a 17-year-old coming to college and he had a great body. Then when he gained a little extra weight and then he had the injury, he didn’t look like the same guy I saw with the potential as a junior. He has worked very hard to get that body in good shape and his hands so that he can catch. You’re never surprised really. Your expectations when you sign a kid or you get a verbal from a kid when he is 16, what is he going to be like when he is 19 is really hard to determine.”
Question: How big is this win?
Coach Beilein: “Ask me later on. It is another game. It is nice to be 5-7 and what could be the best league in the United States right now. So you get your fifth win in there and you sort of move up in that pack a little bit and then it is going to impact, you get swept by Northwestern and postseason they’re looking at two teams, well Northwestern swept them that’s the team. If you make a run in the tournament and you don’t get to the championship game, you got to have these wins. If you don’t win the championship, you have to have these types of wins to back you up.”
Question: Some of the players were stating how their backs are to the wall.
Coach Beilein: “I don’t know. They are embellishing that. They know the countdown. There are seven games, four at home. They know how much we hate to lose at home. What are you going to do, you say okay, we’re going to win six on the road and we are going to lose all but three at home. You can’t do it. You cannot win six or seven on the road. We’re not ready to do that so you got to win your home games. It was just important that we get to the middle of this league so that you can move up in the league.”
Question: Stu talked about how it was not so much getting the win, but how you are getting the wins and coming back in the Penn State game and really building a lead and being to come back when they cut in this game, maybe that is a character thing.
Coach Beilein: “We’ve had two games in a row where we’ve had to make a big basket late in the game. We had several of them but you have to make them. They hit the threes and then they get the steal and all of a sudden it is a one point game. We had to come back there. Darius gets to the foul line and makes two foul shots, all of sudden it is three, we get a stop and all of a sudden we get away from them again. So making big baskets…none of these guys have really up to this year, all of our big baskets came from Manny (Harris) and DeShawn (Sims). These guys are really experiencing it really for the first time and when you’re playing at a high level like this in the Big Ten.”
Question: Tim had ten rebounds today, is that really a function of your bigs boxing out?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah, he’s cleaning up a lot of stuff but as you can see on his one dunk there, he is pretty athletic now and he can go up and get things. Once again, his body, as you said, an 18-year-old, he is going up and he is learning that he can do more by going to the backboard and cleaning up things.”
Question: When the game is close at the end and Darius lobbed it up to Morgan for the alley, did your heart stop a little?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah a little bit. We’re not a great alley-oop team yet. We aren’t, I think we are now 3 for 16. We had one in practice yesterday actually, maybe we are 4 for 20, but he finished it. It is the same rule as taking one of those shots that you’re laying on back, it better go in.”
Question: Even if is such a close situation at the end of the game?
Coach Beilein: “I don’t want them to be afraid to fail. I would have preferred that number four would have laid in the backdoor layup that we set up that we worked so hard to develop in the past and in that game and now you throw it away. There are a lot of those times, but I don’t want them to be afraid of making plays as well.”
Question: You mentioned that Jordan really doesn’t get the ball one-on-one and being able to work in the post, is that something that you think he will get this season…?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah there is a process to go there. It is very difficult to score in the post with collapsing defenses to reading defenses. He is getting better and better at it, but it is something that we have to work through. You can do it in high school because you’re 6’8” and everybody is 6’6”, now the other guy is 6’10”, there is a process with everybody. With Jon (Horford), with Evan, with Blake McLimans yesterday in practice, I thought I was even going to play him today. He might have scored 25 points in practice yesterday. He did everything right. So there is these things that we are on every day in practice to get them to develop, but it just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Question: Stu you and Zach (Novak) have been on the end of a couple of losses here to Northwestern, how good did it feel to come out and get this one?
Stu Douglass: “It felt great. Last year was painful, this year at Northwestern was painful. A lot of revenge built up and it was a good feeling for the whole team.”
Question: You were back in the starting lineup tonight, how did that feel?
Stu Douglass: “It felt good. I got in a rhythm defensively. It is tough. They are going to make some plays here and there even if you think you got them but it felt good.”
Question: Does that change anything for you at all in the mindset to starting as opposed to coming off the bench?
Stu Douglass: “Maybe just a little extra time, especially with Northwestern, just the special plays to figure out how to guard Juice (Michael Thompson) and their two guard, maybe in that sense, nothing else really.”
Question: When they went on their little run there towards the end, did anybody say anything or were you guys just all kind of focused together?
Stu Douglass: “All focusing together. Early on, maybe we had to have somebody step up, we’ve all collectively whoever is playing and then the guys in the bench are just focused in and it worked to our advantage.”
Question: You got a game on Saturday against Indiana, your home state. You seem to play pretty well against them. Do your juices get flowing a little bit to play those guys?
Stu Douglass: “Yeah definitely. It is always fun to go down to Assembly and it is the same thing with them, we just have a lot of revenge built up. We’ve had some tough games with them. We played them good at home last year and we want to repeat that.”
Question: How big of a win was this for you guys?
Jordan Morgan: “It is huge. We felt that we needed to pay back. Just the way we went in and played in Evanston and we really wanted to come out with a lot of energy and play to our fullest potential. It was really big just to set up to try and make the tournament.”
Question: A career night out there for you, I think you had 27 points. What was working well for you? It seemed like the pick and roll was a big part of it.
Jordan Morgan: “Definitely but our guards are just so good finding me and because they are so deadly from driving and shooting, they got to give so much help and it opens a lot up in the paint. They do a lot of switching, Northwestern does, you get a lot of smaller guys on you.”
Question: What was the attitude of the team like in that tight situation there at the end when Northwestern made a little bit of a push?
Jordan Morgan: “It was definitely our defense. We let them claw back into it. We made a few mistakes, we let them get some shots off and before we knew it, it was a game. We had to buckle down on defense and we got a few transition buckets and it got us back out comfortable again.”
Question: You guys are 15-10 now, got a big win against Northwestern. They have the same number of wins that you did, where do you go from here going forward when Indiana comes in here on Saturday.
Jordan Morgan: “It is another big game for us going forward. We lost to them at their place as well and we just want to go forward and play just like we did tonight and try to cut down on some of the mistakes.”