After capturing a share of the Big Ten regular season conference title, Michigan earned a number four seed in the NCAA Tournament. It has been a great turnaround for a program that was off the map for so many years, and John Beilein, the former West Virginia head coach, is at the center of the Wolverines resurgence. However, their first round matchup is going to be extremely difficult. It will also be compelling as Big Blue plays Ohio University and former Buckeyes Assistant Coach John Groce in round one.
Not only are the Bobcats riding a wave of momentum after their run through the MAC Tournament, but they have a player that can take over games in point guard D.J. Cooper. Recently Michigan coaches, including Beilein, have been referring to Ohio State as “Ohio” to take a dig at their rival school, now that’s exactly who the Wolverines will play. Given Groce’s background at Ohio State, he will have extra motivation to knock off his former arch rival.
John Beilein joined WXYT in Detroit with Stoney and Bill to talk about whether he was disappointed by the way his team played in the Big Ten Tournament, how confusing will it be to play Ohio University because of what he calls the Buckeyes, how he will define success this season, and what he thinks about Ohio University.
Whether he was disappointed by the way his team played in the Big Ten Tournament:
“Not at all. First of all Minnesota won 19 games, they played the night before, I mean they were the 10 seed in the tournament and they won 19 games. They had just beaten Northwestern who was the seven seed so they were playing pretty well and they had won two in a row going into it and they were a team that at one time was picked to be in the NCAA tournament they were playing so well earlier in the year but they finished poorly. We won the game and that’s the way it is at tournament time. Ohio is tremendous. I mean they are really, really good. I think they have four guys in that starting lineup that are tremendous at what they do and as good as anybody, with that talent, in the country. We did not play well. We have to play our A game against a team like that and it would be no different than if we were matched up with North Carolina, Kansas, or any of those teams that are number one seeds, we have to play well and we didn’t.”
What will you call the Bobcats? You call the Buckeyes Ohio but what will you call the Bobcats?
“There’s Ohio University and then there is just Ohio. Ohio University is who we are playing this Friday.”
How he will define success this season:
“We have to be satisfied with making progress. We still, this program, we finally got our practice facility, we finally got a home where we can play, were selling out games, but at the same time we want to do that on a consistent basis. I think if you watch our recruiting growth right now it is moving in the right direction. Were still in the process right now that a lot of team would like to be in. We love our progress but were not there. I think when you get to the point where you’re like the Wisconsin’s the Michigan State’s, or the Ohio’s where you are in that tournament ten straight years then you’ve really reached the point where only the Final Four or even five straight years where on the Final Four or a great run is acceptable. Were not in that place yet. Were trying to get there and we might make that run right now but that’s not how I’m going to judge our success. I’m going to judge our success with our we better than we were last year? Are we progressing? Without question we are. No we just have to continue on and try and do better in this tournament. If we don’t we’re still a better team than we were last year.”
What he thinks about Ohio University:
“They look like they play really solid defense and they get after you and they take away your three-point shots. Really a speed team that gets up and down. I think they get about 58 or 59 shots per game where we average 52. What they really do well is make people turn the ball over. We take what people give us away. If they take that away then they have to give up something else if they are really going to get out and guard the three point shot. I think they really have exceptional quickness and that’s always a concern because we are quick in some areas but in some other areas we are slower than we look. Just continue to work this week at making Michigan better while we see certainly a great team in the Bobcats.”