Coach Beilein on the upcoming overseas trip: “It is good. You have this rare opportunity every four years to do this, like a leap year that we can see what we have, work at what we have and give these guys a great experience in basketball and a wonderful culture experience. I know that we had three or four guys that did not have passports, so I know they have not traveled abroad, but many people have done it or will be doing it to different countries. We’re really excited about it. We’ve been doing two a day practices, very light in the morning and in the afternoon. You are allowed ten days of practice, this will be the fourth day. We will take a week off, do another one and then do five a week before we leave – that will be our ten. We spread them out. It has been very warm. It is very humid in the gym. You are invited to practice. We are going to do one little bit of film, as soon as I am done with our guys in the locker room. There are 15 cuts that usually take ten minutes. So you might have to wait ten minutes for us to get out there. It has been exciting just to see the development of the guys from last year and get a good look at our young guys. There have been some good things and there are some things that are normal that we have a lot of work to do.”
Question: Can you run through the freshman and kind of give us your expression?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah let’s start with Evan Smotrycz: really he broke his toe playing whiffle ball about a week before he came here. He is still not cleared to go full court and all out. He has run options in the offense, drills, shooting, things that you will see him do a little bit today. I sense that he is a guy that is going to pick up things very quickly.
Tim Hardaway has come in with a great attitude. I think he’s focused is the word that I say. It is yes sir, no sir and he appears to be picking up things as quickly as Evan. You can tell that he has -- not that anybody hasn’t been well coached -- but he really been well coached and has studied the game.
Jon Horford, I look at this long body that has got a ton of athleticism to him. Again learning the game and just wants to be coached. He really has in a limited time here --we’ve seen some very good things.
Colton Christian as well. Colton Christian pulled his hamstring in the first weeks. He is still not cleared, so he has been limited to half-court activity. He has got great bounce, we can see already that he may be like a defensive, not an enforcer yet, but he is going to bring us a physical defensive presence that we’ve been missing at the four/three position. (Zach) Novak, I think we measured him and he is under 6’4” maybe. So we were really undersized there, but Colton will help us there.”
Question: Were you pleased with the conditioning, the way the guys have come back?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah you can do so a little, but we’ve gone very slow these first four days. What you don’t want is an injury now, so our first practice is October 15th, after five weeks of conditioning and basketball; they have just been with John Sanderson. So we’ve gone very slowly and the heat has been…the floor has been very slippery, but I have been pleased. We haven’t pushed them. I think before we go over there, the week beforehand we will push them a little harder.”
Question: Just to clarify, do you anticipate Evan and Colton being cleared by the time of this trip?
Coach Beilein: “Yes, I hope everybody is going to be cleared to play full by the time we go. Jordan Morgan is the other one. Jordan Morgan has not been fully cleared. I think it was a six-month shutdown and it also gave him time to rest his knee. He is now I think one week from being cleared, but he has been able to do half-court activity. I’m looking forward to seeing him being able to go full court as well. We haven’t done full court. It has been teach, teach, teach for three days. Full court passing drills and things like that, but we have not played one bit of full court basketball except for transition defense in three days.”
Question: What kind of jump are you excepting from Matt Vogrich this year?
Coach Beilein: “His body has changed. It looks like his shot is much more consistent from what we’ve seen. He’s going to get a chance early, both over there and now, to adjust in between, whether he plays small forward or off guard. He is trying to learn both, but I’ve seen an improvement. Like I said, it is three days of drills.”
Question: When do you anticipate maybe going full court?
Coach Beilein: “I think the final week of those five days that we have left, we are going to go three in a row, take a day off and then go two in a row. I would think those last three days we will really go full. It will be more of their bodies will be ready for a full practice game. The 24-second clock is going to be a huge effect on their ticker when they get over there for that. In order to run an offense, you got eight seconds to get it over and now you have what 16 seconds to run things. That’s one of the challenges with today, how to run a play and then you still get something as the shot-clock is at five, four, three. I think it will really help us…I was watching tape from last year and at least the tape I had, we played at a speed that was a little too slow for us. We need to pop the ball more, move the ball quicker. They are going to watch that a little today and then we’ll try to do that when we do dummy.”
Question: Is that maybe the biggest change into…
Coach Beilein: “Yeah that will be a change. We’ll have a lot of shot-clock violations over there because of that extra bit of time. It has got to help us. Let’s execute it early so we don’t have to get in those situations and then, when you do get in those situations, understand each second counts and you can get things done.”
Question: How is Darius Morris been doing?
Coach Beilein: “I’ve really been pleased with #1, his leadership right now. As every freshman comes in, not one of them comes in thinking that I’m going to be a leader. While you like that in a guard, I’ve really seen great leadership in him. He has shot the ball very well, he has put in a lot of time. If from what he tells me is true, he shot thousands and thousands and I have no reason to believe that he wasn’t.”
Question: Did he have an injury that kind of messed with his shot?
Coach Beilein: “Going into his senior year, he missed that whole summer and I think he came out of there compensating for a bad back. We saw some things where he was not balanced. He was on his toes the whole time. You don’t want to shoot on your toes all the time. You want to finish off your toes, but it would be like running only on your toes. We saw that and we filmed it in the spring. He has worked hard at it. He shot the ball very well so far.”
Question: Blake McLimans, what have you seen from him so far?
Coach Beilein: “240 pounds he weighed the other day. I told him, tell me how much you weighed in high school and he said 200 pounds. So that has been a big change from him. Because of Jordan’s injury and Jon’s just learning, Blake right now would be playing, if I had to go out there and put a lineup out there. He’s the one that knows the most about what he is doing, so he has went in where DeShawn (Sims) was playing and he is going in and playing right there, right now. I’ve been pleased. You’ll see a different body out there. I haven’t seen the before and after pictures that John Sanderson does. That one is one that I got to see, and Vogrich. Those will be very interesting.”
Question: Obviously, since the last time we saw you, (Laval) Lucas-Perry is no longer here. Have you talked to him at all?
Coach Beilein: “We wished him well but now we are on to a new team right now.”
Question: Last year, you were changed from a 1-3-1 team to a man team?
Coach Beilein: “It is a little bit of a…because so much was made about our teams that played the 1-3-1 so well that we were a 1-3-1 team. We have basically played more man than zone over time. What is essentially to the 1-3-1 is length, which we have not necessary had -- having a big center, having a guy out top that can really touch the ball. We’ve probably played less but the percentage is probably only 20% less. It probably was always a 60-40 and maybe last year it was an 80-20 or maybe 90-10.”
Question: Is that the way you see it this year?
Coach Beilein: “I do not know yet. We haven't even talked about that. I think the ten days of practice here with a young team. We will get into it just so we can teach from it. Last time we did that with an experience team, we went and played the Czech Republic, guys all 30 years old, and they ripped it apart because we hadn’t practiced it a lot. We had a pretty experienced team, but when you really have smart cerebral passers and shooters and they really understand the angles and geometry of the game, it is tough to play a young tem.”
Question: How much of that will ultimately be determined if you can find a guy at the top of the zone?
Coach Beilein: “That’s the biggest thing. Whether it was Alex Ruoff, Joe Alexander, Da’Sean Bulter, Mike Gansey, Tony Dobbins at Richmond. Those guys are really key and that is what we haven’t even…we’ll do pickle in the middle drills to see who touches the ball. Some of them can acquire it and some of them just do it. We haven’t gotten to that point yet. That is big in that.”
Question: Are there any number of candidates that could be that guy?
Coach Beilein: “Everybody that is long. Novak isn’t real long here, but he anticipates pretty well and that first year he was a freshman when we had the great win in the Garden and the great here against Duke, he was one of the guys who was on the top of that, so we may go back there. He rebounds so well from the wing. He may play underneath sometimes, because he’s a candidate to play forward or guard now. We encouraged him to be a 3-2-2-3 and he has had to play regular forward because we didn’t feel we had the skill set there.”
Question: Do you feel that you are getting to the point where you can play him where he would be more effective but not necessary where you need him?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah. That’s right, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Question: How much of maybe of a rotation idea are you hoping to get out of this by the time you guys come back?
Coach Beilein: “I think we’ll know a little bit about it. The big thing is…I’m pretty sure where Evan will fit and Tim Hardaway, what is his best position. He is at 190 now, which is…Manny (Harris) got a lot of rebounds and did a lot of great things in the paint and never got to 190 the whole time. So Tim at 190 at 18 years and four months old is pretty good where he is going. You’ll enjoy his progress over the next four years. The early indications are that he is a guy that is good that has the attitude to really improve.”
Question: I know you’ve said in the past the freshmen weren’t able to go so you wouldn’t take the trip. How much do you think that changes maybe a philosophy of what coaches do with these sort of trips?
Coach Beilein: “I do not know. First of all, these sort of trips have to be planned. It is not as hard to plan them as it used to be and because Travis Conlan has been in Belgium for a couple of years, it was easy for us to plan. He made four phone calls and we had four games and it was over. We had our tour guide with us, everything in Travis. I will tell you later whether I would recommend this when you bring freshman over there, but I’m looking forward to them having this experience not only getting them experience culturally but getting them out on the floor. I think Travis had three very…I do not know the names of the all the teams right now. I know there is a day two game set, a day off and a two game set, but they are very good Belgium teams. A lot of the Americans won’t be there yet, but there will be some there.”
Question: How has Eso Akunne responded from his suspension, what kind of shape is he in and what kind of opportunities he has?
Coach Beilein: “He has put in some great time in practice. He must have put in some great time in practice because I really like the way he is shooting. I do not know if you know, but he used to have a little bit of a sidespin on his shot and I’ve watched him today and he has been shooting the ball pretty well in these three days. So I think he has worked hard.”
Question: Is he a potential rotation player?
Coach Beilein: “Yeah. He has got some point guard vision. He’s more of a big guard body. Especially over there with the 24-seconc clock, he is going to be playing. With those, Novak will move back there a little bit. He’ll be there. We’ll just play people and see how they do. We’re going to try and keep our offense very simple to all the automatics that we’ve always run. Not a lot of scripted things, just let’s play ball and just read each other. That’s been the challenge the first three days, the reading each other. Just like a quarterback, the guy is on your inside shoulder going to run one route, outside shoulder…well the quarterback has to know what he is running and that’s what we’re learning right now.”
Question: Any thought of putting him back on scholarship since you have, it looks like…?
Coach Beilein: “Anything with any scholarship we’ll determine later on.”