Turning the page.
That was the theme in Michigan’s locker room after the Wolverines’ disappointing turn in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Normally the sting of losing a rivalry game… especially one with title implications… would linger a long time. In this instance, though, the crown jewel called the NCAA tournament has put salve on their wounds.
“I think we snapped out of it just like that,” Michigan headman John Beilein said. “We were really down right after the game, and then all of a sudden the media is done and (someone) says, ‘hey let’s go watch the selection show!’ It’s just like, ‘ok let’s go back (to the feeling we had before the loss).’ I’ve been in that room when you lost the championship and it meant you weren’t going anywhere, or maybe the NIT. This is huge to go from that room and go see us in the NCAA tournament.”
“We are not ho-hum right now. I want our guys to be really excited, and they are excited about this. So the fact that Jordan Morgan has been in four NCAA tournaments… we all know about the great run that we went on last year and how much fun that was. So we really have to work like crazy just to make sure we can play basketball just as long as we can play it in March.”
One of the essential ingredients in making a deep run is confidence. The Wolverines had a ton of it heading into to Sunday’s game, and Beilein is “confident” that they still do.
“You are going to have days like (this),” he said. “Just like when we lost to Iowa, or we lost to Indiana, or we lost to Wisconsin at home. You are going to have days like that. Credit the other team and move on don’t make excuses.
“This Michigan State team that we lost to today is terrific. They have such experience, such athleticism, such a great coaching staff… for us to win two out of three this year was a great accomplishment. For us to win the conference was a great accomplishment. Yeah we would like to have had it all, but we just move on. We really feel good about what this team accomplished and the direction of our program.”
They also feel good about getting away from the Big Ten and all of its familiar opponents.
“I think that every university in the country is just excited about playing somebody else that they haven’t seen twice or three times during the year,” Beilein admitted. “I think we all root for each other as well, so it is good. It doesn’t mean it is going to be easier it’s just a different mindset.”
In Michigan’s case, however, it may not be so different. The Wolverines first round opponent is Wofford… a program that happens to boast one of Beilein’s former players among its assistants.
Said Beilein, “we are playing a good Wofford team in the Southern conference… the same conference that has had Davison in (the NCAA Tournament) like crazy. We all know how good Davison has been in the NCAA tournament. The additional thing is Darris Nichols, one of the assistant coaches, is one of the smartest brightest point guards I have ever had. Now I wish he really didn’t understand our offense at all. He knows everything about it, so we have a challenge with a guy on the other bench that knows a lot about what we do.”
“I don’t know a lot about them right now, but I will by tomorrow. The good news (about making it to Sunday in the Big Ten Tournament) is playing in the championship. The bad news is on Sunday you have a short turnaround with a Thursday game. So we got to give the team (time) off. So tomorrow will be a super study day for our team. Our staff does a terrific job. I am sure every game that goes up in the sky in the Southern championship game and semifinals we have captured on video and will probably be on my computer probably by the time I land.”
On if the seeding’s overrated….
John Beilein: “Yeah absolutely, without question. Like I said, there is so much discussion on that… it is just wasted effort to me. What is the big deal? I mean seriously. I am sure these teams are trying to figure out where are those last three seeds and where are those first three. They’re all the same. Take the top 12 teams. Is there really a difference in one, two, and three? The top 16 teams? The top 4? There are not huge differences. Teams that were just #1 in the country a month ago are now four or five seeds. They’re the same team. They are good.
John Beilein: “I did not. I did notice who we would be playing next if we were fortunate to win… I believe it was Texas and Arizona State. Alright two good friends of mine (are the coaches) in Rick (Barnes) and Herb (Sendek), but we have to beat Wofford first because they do a really good job with that team.”
On playing close to home…
John Beilein: “Well that’s big. The NCAA has been so good at this the last couple years… finding teams and getting them close to home without putting them in their home arena. So it’s really good we have a great fans all throughout the footprint of the Big Ten, but in particular in that area the Chicago area. Hopefully we will really draw well and we will get all so many of our faithful up there.”
On if Glenn is one of the players he needs to be more aggressive…
John Beilein: “Well today was going to be tough rebounding just because that is what they do, they are really good at it, and they are very athletic. Glenn continues to do good things at different times. None of our guys had a great game today, but we have been really playing well and we just have to pick up where we left off.”
--To view more of John Beilein's Selection Sunday commentary, press play below.