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March 4, 2018
Madison Square Garden - New York, New York
Michigan - 75, Purdue - 66
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Michigan head coach John Beilein, Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske and MVP Moe Wagner.
COACH BEILEIN: I'm shivering up here. I think I was doused with a couple gallons of the Hudson River. It was cold. As I told the Big Ten Network, you can't win these championships if they're not dedicated all year long.
It takes a long time to sort of build up the substance to your team that can persevere and just won't give in. They won't give in to fatigue. They won't give in to momentum changes. They just stick in there.
This is one of the best teams I've ever coached at just taking on the -- moving on to the next play and keep moving forward and doing things just the old-fashioned way with a lot of hard work.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. You beat two of the top teams in the nation back to back here at Madison Square Garden. You have a lot of confidence and you have a week off compared to other teams. Do you feel that it's an advantage going into the tournament?
MORITZ WAGNER: I would just say I don't think we really think about that too much. I think we are just going to focus on -- first of all, we're going to enjoy this a couple days and to get some rest. Then we're going to focus on what's next. Whether that's an advantage or disadvantage, doesn't really matter.
Q. Jon, that dunk that you had, can you talk a little bit about what that feeling is like to hear your name hitting the rafters of Madison Square Garden on that moment? And I guess bigger picture as well, what was it today in that first half that allowed you to hit some of those big shots?
JON TESKE: I really have no words to explain. The play just happened in that instance and it was a great pass and just finish it. But then in the first half we were in foul trouble a little bit and I was able to knock down a couple shots and just trying to help my team win.
Q. Along the same lines for Moe, how did you feel when you hit that turnaround 3? The Garden also rocked for that one, too. I'm not sure that's exactly in the playbook but you can tell me otherwise.
MORITZ WAGNER: To be honest with you I didn't know how much time was on the clock. I just saw Duncan running for the hand-off. It must have been a little time on the clock so I took my (indiscernible) and shot it and it went in. And obviously it's a good feeling when the ball goes in and the Garden cheers for you. Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Q. How does it feel to win in the mecca or in the Madison Square Garden?
ZAVIER SIMPSON: I mean, it feels great. It feels great just being able to do it with my teammates. We worked hard for this. It's something we've been plotting on for a while since July.
I'm just glad that what we worked so hard for, for it to be earned. It means a lot. I'm appreciative of the coaches, and hopefully we can just continue to keep winning and keep doing good things like this.
JON TESKE: It feels amazing. We had great support from our fans who traveled from far distances and great fans out here, out east. And we just wanted to come out here and they always show support for us, so we wanted to put on a great show for them.
Q. Moe, watching Jon in that first half and hearing his name, the crowd chanting that name, it's got to be a special feeling working with a guy for a full season and seeing that to fruition. What did you see from him today?
MORITZ WAGNER: I was so happy when he popped off after that dunk. I got so excited. He got emotional. Yeah, I know how good he is. I play against him every day. That was long overdue. And incredible to be part of such a great group, to play with such great people. Yeah, very grateful for that.
Q. Moe, can you talk about how this week will help you guys as you get ready for the NCAAs?
MORITZ WAGNER: Yeah, obviously playing four games in four days, you kind of establish a certain rhythm for how you prepare for games, with how you approach certain things. So that's going to be helpful going into the NCAA weekend. So, yeah, that's helpful.
And just also the thought that we all committed together for the end goal and not looking ahead too far, and just trying to keep growing every day.
Q. Moe, last year was such a unique run, what you guys did. Now four wins in four days again. Can you tell me whether there were any differences or similarities to what you did this year as to how it felt doing it last year?
MORITZ WAGNER: That's tough to reflect that short after it happened, to be honest with you. Obviously the personnel is different. Last year it was a little different with the whole plane accident thing obviously, but winning is so much fun. You can't compare it. It's very special.
Q. Zavier, it was another really stellar defensive effort by you and especially the guys on the perimeter. What was sort of the game plan? It seemed like you and the rest of the team were really focused on taking away their 3s?
ZAVIER SIMPSON: We knew Purdue has a lot of great talent. Good guard play. And Muhammad and I just wanted to come out and set the tone. We wanted to play great defense from the start so our energy could be contagious. And as you've seen, others followed. And we were just glad to be able to just take away the big 3, play good defense on Haas and secure the win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. I know you talked about making adjustments to bring the best of the players forward. What ways have you adjusted in the past month or so to let some of their personalities emerge and let their confidence build?
COACH BEILEIN: It was really hard, because we had just -- we had extremely talented players last year that had really been through the process before. And so we let them lead.
Now, we had all new leadership. The role players had to step up. And I think it wasn't until we got almost til February that our coaching staff just figured out a little bit what we could do and what we could expect.
So it was some guys had (indiscernible) some latitude. Some other guys, okay, they're not going to do that this year. You get to a point in February where you only practice -- you're playing games like crazy. You only practicing four times a week.
Is he really going to get better in the next 16 practices on that? Or let's find something that works better for him. So we tried to make adjustments that way.
But that whole time it's skill development every day in our practice. We do worry about the next game. We really do a great job scouting, I think, and preparing, but we're still doing -- when Z is making those hook shots, you don't know how much he works on those, because with him that's the only way he's going to score over a big guy. So he works on it. And it's really paid off, all the stuff they do on their own or with coaches in practice.
Q. What's the difference in feeling now that you don't have to go straight into the Selection Show tonight? I heard you reference it with Jim Nantz. Seemed like you might preferring to play Thursday, Friday and instead of having this big gap.
COACH BEILEIN: In a perfect world that would be great. But as I said to the crowd, to play in this arena in front of that crowd, which was, I feel, was very pro Michigan, that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us. So it will be worth the wait.
I'll remind everybody, there's been some great NCAA Tournament teams that win their tournament like this Sunday or this Monday: Gonzaga; Wichita State; Butler. These teams all have been great NCAA Tournament teams, and I've had both Richmond and Canisius had the same wait.
You work around it. We'll give our guys some rest but we'll be practicing, we'll still be doing those hook shots with Zavier.
Q. With Teske, did you see that coming with him?
COACH BEILEIN: No, absolutely not. What he is is -- he's got so much -- he'll drift around. We talk about the boiling point of 212. He probably was at 205 last year. He gets 211, hits 212 for a day and then comes back to 211.
That's -- he and Austin Davis, they need some of Moe's energy and they can do it. But it's not expected -- it's expected of them, but it's not something that you just click on and all of a sudden I'm 19 years old and now I'm going to start playing with a motor.
But to get him to dunk in practice is difficult to do. But he's worked with Jon Sanderson. We have the greatest strength coach anywhere. And where a vertical jump went from here to here, he's able to do. He's worked. He's a no-nonsense kid. As we continue to improve his skill set and his body, he's got a great future.
Q. (Question off mic.)
JOHN BEILEIN: You have to ask him. Ask him. But here's what you know. If you looked at our bench, he's so loved by his teammates. "Big Sleep" they call him. "Big Bad Jon" they call him. He's so quiet. And so there's nothing quiet about his performance today.
And he will gradually just grow through this. If you watch young men over the college experience, both the process, the maturity, just changes. And he certainly is changing.
He didn't walk in like Moe Wagner with this personality that just says I'm an alpha dog and I'm going out to get it.
No, he's more waiting and waiting for the process to work itself out.
Q. You talked about Zavier's hook shot. Moe won the MVP. He seemed to be the catalyst, Zavier, on both ends of the floor. What does he do to set the tone defensively and offensively?
COACH BEILEIN: He's a pit bull. We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he is that guy. He's one that loves to play defense.
We've had some really good point guards, really good point guards over time. All those point guards right there were tremendous offensive players, and they were really good defenders also.
They probably hung their hats on both ends. This guy hangs his hat on defense. And that's a really great thing to have. He's stubborn. He wants to play every minute.
He doesn't want to rest. He and I have -- he's just wore me out so much with how hard he plays, that he's got a trust for me that he didn't have earlier in the year. I mentioned before, he used to go in there, playing hard, and was not smart. He fouled people like crazy. Now all of a sudden they're at the foul line. Now he's really playing smart, defensive basketball.
Q. How much do guys like Zavier and others earning that trust from you change the trajectory of this team? Seemed like you guys were hitting on all cylinders at the right time.
COACH BEILEIN: They didn't give in. They didn't sulk. We ended up taking Zavier out of the starting lineup early in the year because he wasn't making the extra pass. He wasn't seeing the open man. He was fouling every time he got in there.
So he had to earn his way back. When he earned his way back and we started winning, and I could see that he was really trying hard to do the right thing, what the coaching staff wanted -- you just earn that trust every day.
Same thing with all our guys -- Jordan Poole, he had games in the beginning of the year he didn't play at all, didn't play because he didn't have that trust.
It's not about going to a game, show me I can trust you. No, show me every day in practice you're going to make the right play and you play. It's that simple.
Every kid has two hours every day to show us what he can do. You don't get time in practice -- in games to show me what you can do. Do it in practice, you'll get time in games. And he did it both on the court in practice and in the games he was appearing in.
Q. So you win the Big Ten Tournament and you're riding on a nine-game winning streak, nine in a row, and three in the tournament. How are you going to prepare the guys to win six or seven more games?
COACH BEILEIN: Oh, man, do we have to go there right now? I'll tell you what, every day that I'm contemplating -- and I probably overthink everything, I have to take myself back to just seize today. It's about today. We'll take tomorrow like tomorrow and the next day. There won't be any thoughts about, all right, what's up next?
The NCAA I'm sure will put us in a good bracket and we will do everything we can to win one practice at a time, leading up to that one game at a time.
And if we're still around in San Antonio, we'd be delighted. But there's a lot of good teams that's going to go into this thing just like this. And anything can happen once we get to the first round of the tournament.
Thanks everybody. You've been terrific.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports