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March 16, 2019

John Beilein

United Center - Chicago, Illinois

Michigan - 76, Minnesota - 49

JOHN BEILEIN: So we really played great basketball in the first half. I think the big difference was, they were staying with us when we got offensive rebounds, and they really have been great at getting offensive rebounds. They're one of the best in the country, and once we shut that down, we got enough stops that we could get out and run a little bit. We also could sort of frustrate them. So being up 19 at halftime really is uncomfortable. My son's Division II team was up 19 today with about 18 minutes to go and it didn't turn out good. So that was in my mind at halftime, and we ended up just fighting like crazy to come back and just play the same way we played in the first half -- and they won the first four minutes -- then it was 20, then it was 25, then it was 30, and proud of our guys. I think Minnesota has had a great year. One or two more players -- they've had injuries. One or two more players, as we found out when Charles was out, an injury or two changes -- it's just such a butterfly effect on the team that your depth is a little bit different, people get tired, and I think that's what happened to Minnesota today. Richard has done a great job with that team, and I'm certain they're going to be an NCAA Tournament team, and proud to have them playing out in the NCAA Tournament and representing the Big Ten.

Q. We all got what we wanted, at least those Michigan guys, rubber match coming up against Michigan State for everything. What advantages do you guys got coming into this knowing that you guys have already lost two of them? Hard to lose to a team three times it seems like.
JOHN BEILEIN: Well, that's -- I don't know that that's true. If it is true, it would be really good. But no, they're -- we were talking about it, they've just played great basketball all year long, played a very demanding schedule. The injuries, certainly I feel bad for the two injuries that they've had. The fact is they're playing at a high level right now like they had no injuries. So you've got to -- you have to understand, you've got a Hall of Fame coach who is incredible at his team's execution on offense and defense, and we haven't played well against them, and that's because they played so well against us. So play them a third time, we go, we're going to go after a championship again. You only get so many chances to win a championship. We have a chance to do it, and we're going to do everything we can to win this championship because we didn't get the last one.

Q. What do you think this team's identity is on offense, and can you compare it to past teams that you've coached?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think that it's pretty consistent with the teams we've always had: Low turnovers, a team with a lot of skilled guys that can share the ball. We've had over 20 assists the last two games. Guys that will share the ball, a lot of shooters, a lot of skilled guys, a big center who can shoot a little bit, and that's the identity of many of our players. Now, Jon Teske and Mo Wagner couldn't be more different than anybody, but they both give you the big man who can shoot, one gives more rim protection, one gives more offensive driving, and we've had really good -- if you compare to other teams, going all the way back to Darius Morris, to Trey Burke, Derek Walton, Zavier Simpson, great point guards make very good teams.

Q. Tom was mentioning something about the rivalry and the two of you playing now for the title. How important is it for the two of you to play on this stage?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think as far as anybody who's a Michigan or Michigan State fan, it is that. It's not as sexy as the North Carolina-Duke game. We may not have NBA players here or Hollywood stars, but that's okay. That's okay. But it rivals it 100 percent. As I said before, show me another place where they've got two people in the state that have been to four Final Fours in the last 10 years. We have four championships. They've got more than that in the last 10 years. You've got great rivalries everywhere, but not ones that are playing this deep in March, not the ones that -- as I say, they sweep us, we sweep them, we split, they sweep us, we sweep them, we split. It's been a great -- particularly the last nine years, we had to get our thing going a little bit, the first three years were not good to us, but after that, we've got two great programs -- it's not just great for our state, it's great for college basketball. Clean programs. We both have had injuries, we still maintain our ability to be good in the postseason. We've both had guys go pro a lot. We still maintain that. We get good people, you've got great support from the administration in these two states, in these two universities, and we've got great fans and alums.

Q. Can you talk about Isaiah's performance today and what he means to your team?
JOHN BEILEIN: Well, that was -- you know, I think that the one good thing, the only good thing about Charles Matthews' injury is all of a sudden Isaiah had to be out there for 35 minutes, and it gave him confidence coming off the bench now to do what he does. He's taking the ball to the basket a little bit more. He was sort of just a shooter last year. He and Duncan Robinson, he wouldn't be as long as Duncan, but he did give us some good energy early, and Duncan was tremendous in February. But he gives us that outside threat, very much like Goins has done an incredible job at Michigan State as a 4 man that can really shoot it. What we like about Isaiah, he can play either position and give people rest. But it's been -- his defense continues to get better. He's become a very, very good defender, and he's just a young, young sophomore.

Q. What is the single most biggest adjustment you make coming into this game? I know ball screens, defense was a big thing with Cassius Winston. Talk about the A number 1 adjustment you guys are going to have to make coming into Game 3.
JOHN BEILEIN: I think that they have changed their offense dramatically, where -- I don't know what they did, I didn't watch anything today. They used to throw the ball in the post, throw the ball in the post and play a lot out of that, and I think that's probably a lot of ways people have prepared for, and now it's probably 100 different ball screens by the same guy. One guy is doing it all. Everybody talks about Cassius. He is terrific. Player of the Year without question. But what McQuaid and Goins are giving them right now and Tillman is just absolutely incredible. They are playing flawless basketball on offense, defense, making the extra pass. They're really an awful lot like we were last year and that we're growing this year. They've got a fourth-year guy, a fifth-year guy. Cassius is a junior. They're leading those young guys along and it makes them a tough team. I'm going to have to watch a lot. Obviously we haven't been very good either time, and I'm not sure what we're going to have to do, but we've got to be smarter, that's for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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