The resurrection of the Michigan basketball program has continued this season. The Wolverines were the number one team in the country at one point this year, they have wins over Ohio State and Michigan State and now they have an outside chance at sharing the Big Ten regular season title. The Wolverines are back and John Beilein is responsible for it. He has put together the best backcourt tandem in college basketball with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Not to mention, this once young and inexperienced team has grown up and gained valuable experience this regular season. It all could lead to a deep run in March.
John Beilein joined Fox Sports Radio with Daybreak to talk about his guard combination of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, what his message was to his team following the loss against Penn State, what changed in February for Michigan, on the Big Ten and whether he thinks Michigan is the best team in the conference.
Whether he believes he has the best guard combination in college basketball with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke:
“I get to coach them every day. I don’t see the other ones as much so I can’t judge it that way but they’re probably the best I have veer been around and I’ve had some really, really good guard combos whether it was Michigan, West Virginia, Canisius, great combinations in the backcourt. This one is special.”
What his message was to his team following the loss against Penn State:
“After the game we had to address some issues that we had to get better at and they’re very consistent with most teams that are playing the young players that we play. There’s a tough mental edge, there’s a persistence you have to have, there’s just this thing that comes with young teams and coming out of that it wasn’t just what we said, it was the older players, we have five seniors that play very little and they also had a little bit of a meeting. They spoke with everybody about this. ‘The time is now guys. We can’t keep talking about some of the things we have to do if you want the season to end the way you want it to end.’ Between the coaching staff and the great attitude that we have on our team, the secondary leadership we have in some areas, it all kind of came together for the Michigan State game.”
What changed in February to contribute to the 3-4 record in the month?
“The schedule changed. I think all the things that people, you look at these teams and we’re ranking teams in December and January, rank a team after they have gone on the road and played in front of sell-out crowds against the other good teams in their league. That’s where you can say where they will be. The schedule changes. Teams are not going to go, it would be crazy to think okay you’re going to go 20-1 but now you’re going to be 30-1 pretty soon? Not today. It’s just not going to happen. You just have to go through it and you need that actually if you’re going to have a good team in March. You need some of that in February.”
On the Big Ten:
“When I first got here Purdue finished 15-3 in the league. They didn’t win the league. Wisconsin was 16-2 and there were seven or eight of the programs that were in rebuilding mode. Michigan being one of them. Indiana being another one of them. Now there are five teams right now that are probably as good as any in the country and our teams six, seven, eight and nine can beat anybody, any night and we’re going to get seven or eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. That’s 75 percent, I guess 66 percent of teams going to the NCAA Tournament. It means it’s an awfully strong league. I have only been in it six years but when I talk to Bo Ryan, I talk to Tom Izzo, they’re telling me this is the real deal and the best it has been in a long time.”
Are you the best team in the Big Ten?
“I think that is still going to be played out. There are some nights we have been really good and other nights when we are taught very important lessons as a coaching staff and a team of what we have to do to be the best team. As we go through this thing we just keep working at it and working at it. We’re a heck of a team and we still have a chance at winning the Big Ten Championship, we have a chance of winning the Big Ten Tournament and we have a chance of advancing in March in the NCAA Tournament if we are chosen. I think we have a really good team. In basketball anything can happen on any given day. That’s probably not a straightforward answer but it’s the best I can do.”