Michigan Fighting Through Torrid Stretch

Michigan coach John Beilein hasn't been able to spend as much time on the basics in practice as he'd like, recently. As a result, things haven't been perfect in this tough stretch… but that's ok. The Wolverines remain focused on the wins over anything else.

In a day and age that promotes individual talent and individual success far more than working toward collective goals, the Michigan basketball team continues to push forward at 21-2, including an 8-2 mark in conference play.

Currently sitting at No. 3 in the country and primed to jump back up to No. 1, the Wolverines now turn their attention to a Wisconsin team that makes life very difficult inside the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

As of late, Michigan’s attention in practice has revolved around scouting reports and prepping for the different style offenses and tempos each Big Ten team throws out. After Tuesday night’s 76-74 win over Ohio State, the Wolverines have actually had a chance to put some time into their own skill development.

“For our guys, especially in that swing, we haven’t been able to have repetition in practice in two weeks,” said Beilein. “You just can’t rep. You win at Illinois, you come back -- you can’t rep that day. Now you’re getting ready for the game, you can’t tire them out. Yesterday we got reps in and that’s what we need.”

Michigan was very efficient against Ohio State, with five players in double figures, including junior Tim Hardaway Jr. who knocked down six of the Wolverines 14 three pointers. Defensively, communication issues, missed assignments, and inexperience rose to the surface as the Buckeyes were able to shoot nearly 52 percent for the game.

According to Beilein, part of the lapses defensively can be attributed to junior center Jordan Morgan’s injury. Morgan, who only played four minutes Tuesday, adds an element of experience and flexibility when the Wolverines are protecting the cup.  He also affords Beilein the freedom to put two big men on the floor at the same time.

“It depends, really, who we’re playing and what that guy can do on the perimeter. Jordan is one of those guys we feel good about going out and chasing around a Deshaun Thomas, a Christian Watford -- but can the other guys do that? It’s more of a defensive issue than offensive issue.”

Tight lipped on Morgan’s progress after turning his ankle in nasty fashion at Illinois, Beilein had this to say Friday.

“Jordan practiced yesterday and it was the best he looked.”

Other notes

  • Minutes have been an issue of late, especially in a tight, overtime game against Ohio State that saw four starters play 40-plus. But Beilein likes what he’s getting out of his strong backcourt in Hardaway Jr. and Burke, as well as freshmen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Regarding the young pups, Beilein said, “It’s not about their individual attention. Their only thing right now is that we’re winning basketball games.” and praised their development defensively.
  • Beilein noted the Wolverines continue working on the 1-3-1 zone after having little success in recent games, the coach joked saying, “If we stayed in the zone they might score 1,000 points. But we’re working on it.”

To watch video of Beilein from Friday, press play below.

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