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March 16, 2018

John Beilein

Wichita, Kansas

MODERATOR: Coach, I know that's the thing about the NCAA Tournament, little turnaround and game prep, but your early assessment on your opponent tomorrow.

COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, it's actually a lot of time because when you come out of a Big Ten tournament where you play four games in four days, it's really great to have this situation where we can at least take a day and try to regroup a little bit. And we actually watched video of yesterday's game just to make improvements from some of the areas where I felt our game was flawed against Montana.

But our team does have -- has had time to watch Houston. A lot of respect for the program, a lot of respect for how well they're coached. Really solid, defensive team, but can really score the ball. Got a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket, with some three-point shooters that would fit well in our system as well. I mean, incredible three-point shooters. So we got our work cut out for us. But we're thrilled to be advancing, and see what we can do tomorrow night.

Q. Coach, when Coach Sampson and the Houston players were up here earlier today they spent more time talking about preparing for your defense than your offense. It's a far cry from the first 85 -- first team to 85 points, which seemed to be your mantra for years. How surprised are you, or are you surprised, that you've become such a good defensive team and done so so quickly?
COACH BEILEIN: Well, I've said that this is an often-asked question, because we have -- we've always been a good defensive team, but we've never been a great defensive team. I think we've evolved into becoming a great defensive team. Has a lot of factors in there, that we have good individual defenders. I've stepped away from trying to do everything and let our assistants really have a bigger voice in the game itself.

My eye, my mind drifts to offense all the time. So while we're all -- the head coach and the staff are all connected in what we choose to do, I'm really letting Luke Yaklich and last year Billy Donlon just really talk defense the whole time. But there's been a lot of good changes that we've made, and that's the only reason I'm coaching now 43 years after I started is because I've always embraced change.

Q. Coach, do you see any similarities between those Montana guards and then Rob Gray, and do you think that was good practice facing them yesterday?
COACH BEILEIN: It was great practice. I think that these guys remind me more of Carson Edwards from Purdue, who I think I might have voted for first or second team All-American. They are tremendous guards. They have jump shots. They can get their own shot. They got a little bit more size and strength than we had in the Montana guards. So it's going to be difficult. We do have guys that can defend individually, but this is a whole new thing right now, that we weren't able to guard Carson Edwards the first two times we played him. We were able to the third time. We have to do more like we did the third time tomorrow or we won't be playing anymore.

Q. Coach, the distinguished coaching career of both yourself and Coach Kelvin Sampson. I'm sure you've had many encounters. What takeaways do you remember from those?
COACH BEILEIN: I think we've only played two times, and one obviously the West Virginia coach, and we had a Sweet 16 team there that played really well against Oklahoma. And then just it was like two years later when he came to Indiana I was at Michigan. So we've had good games both times. And I think we might have split those. And we got another great matchup coming tomorrow. Really solid, solid coach. Solid coaching staff.

Q. Coach, from the game yesterday, Rob Gray, what makes him such a tough cover for you guys?
COACH BEILEIN: You know, I watched half of that game this morning and I've been just looking at clips, because first of all, he's experienced. I think he's 24 years old. Right. We'll have -- I think if Zavier Simpson is on, Zavier is 19. There's a big difference there. He might have just turned 20 actually. He just can get his own shot. He sees the floor well. His ability to get into spots without and still get his shot off in closed areas. A lot of guys can shoot their jump shot, but when they get in among the big fellows, can they still get their hands to the rim. He does that. So just really clever player.

But he's not the player on that team. He's not the only one. They got some really good players. Both of the Davis guys are tremendous. I mean, I haven't seen a guy with his jump shot -- I can only recall facing a guy with over 100 threes in a while. And for him to be able to get that shot off when everybody knows that's what he does, that's tough to defend.

Devin Davis, I remember from when he was at Indiana. I think he might even be related to Zak Irvin, one of our former players. Really good player, as well. He's done a great job, once again a fifth-year guy there. So their average age a little bit higher than ours, and that shows sometimes in what an experienced team they have.

Q. Coach, you touched on this a little bit, some of the outside shooting, some of the experience. What else do they do that presents a challenge for you?
COACH BEILEIN: I think the offensive rebounding will be a thing. We've been really good. We're one of the leaders in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. I believe they're one of the leaders in offensive rebounding percentage. So same thing as Montana. They turn people over, we don't turn it over. When those two things clash, somebody is going to win it. And so getting them off the boards, you know, they're going to run a lot of pick and roll jump shot.

Well, while you're hedging the ball screen or doing whatever you choose to do, their big guy is rolling right down State Street trying to get the rebound. And now one of your guards has to pick him up. And that's a difficult thing for people. And especially make or miss, they can shoot it in. So you gotta contest. If they don't shoot it in, you got a great chance at the rebound. So that's a big concern of mine.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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