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March 13, 2009

John Beilein

David Merritt

Zack Novak


Illinois – 60
Michigan - 50

THE MODERATOR: Coach, you're free to go ahead and we'll take an opening comment from you and then we'll take questions for the players and then finish up with questions for Coach Beilein.
COACH BEILEIN: Illinois just really played a great defensive -- both offense and defense. Davis was terrific and Bruce's game plan was terrific. But their defense, in just a couple spans in the second half, were just too much for us to handle.
We just really had trouble with a couple of -- the pressure they were putting on us and we didn't respond. A bit uncharacteristic for how we've responded over the last month. But we'll learn a lot from it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for David or Zack Novak.

Q. This is going to be for David or Zack, do you guys think you guys did enough to get the NCAA tournament bid?
DAVID MERRITT: Hopefully. I think we've made a case. We've played everybody this year, haven't strayed away from playing anybody. We've competed in a tough conference. It's one of the best in the country. Went 9-9 in that conference and was able to get a win yesterday. So hopefully we've done enough to make our case.

Q. Coach Weber said he made it a point to push the ball and said you guys looked a little fatigued, would you say you guys were tired out there, especially when you guys were getting attacked constantly, pushing the ball down the court?
ZACK NOVAK: I think there was a little period there. There was a media timeout for like eight minutes it seemed like in the first half towards down to like the five-minute mark.
That was the only time I really remember, just it seemed like there was a lot of fatigue. But it felt like it was going both ways. Other than that, no, we just -- I didn't feel like that was a huge issue.

Q. Zack, what do you think happened during the big run when they kind of put it to you guys in the second half? What do you think was the difference there?
ZACK NOVAK: We lost our poise a little bit on offense, and then that led to -- that led to them getting some open shots on their offensive end and they knocked them down. I think they started 7-for-10 in the second half. And that's tough to overcome.

Q. David, you guys have talked all year about playing better when you guys are backed into a corner a little bit. Did it feel like that when you were down 18, 19 points when you made the run?
DAVID MERRITT: Backed into a corner? Yeah, I mean, we felt that this was a must-win game as well. That's how we tried to approach it. Being down 18, you don't want to lose or have that kind of score. So we buckled down and tried to give as much effort as we can and hopefully pull the game out. We weren't able to do that, though.

Q. Zack, a question I asked of David, what do you think about your NCAA profile?
ZACK NOVAK: I think we've done as much as we can this year. We've played the 10th -- the Top 10 strength of schedule. I mean, we've got the big wins. I mean, we've done as much as we can up to this point. We're just -- I mean, the committee knows what they're doing and we're just hopeful and we think we've got a pretty strong case.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. John, Harris and Sims had terrific games yesterday. Did that take something out of them or was this more --
COACH BEILEIN: You really can't measure that. But the Illinois defense was terrific. It usually is. It was very difficult. They really did a great job of keeping Manny from getting into the comfortable, in the comfortable positions and then really DeShawn got some really good looks. Got 19 shots off and really got some good looks and the ball didn't quite bounce his way. So we'll be ready to bounce back at our next game.

Q. Can you talk about the will and the heart of your team coming back and making it a game with about two minutes to go when you were seemingly left for dead at that point?
COACH BEILEIN: By the 10-foot or 12-foot jump hook that made it go back to 9 when we had it down to 7. So that's the way we always want our teams to play. And I told them that this is a situation that if we're fortunate enough to have a great day on Sunday, that this would be the same game. We'll be playing the same type of game.
Illinois is good enough to have a great seed and we're going to be one of those ones in the upper part of the seeding bracket and this is going to be the same game and we're going to have to respond better than we did tonight. So it was a great teaching tool for us.
I was really proud of the way we came back into the game and made it a game in the last five minutes.

Q. Coach, because you can use the term as kind of a focal point in that kind of a learning lesson, does it sink in more, do you think, because they've got something immediately to work on?
COACH BEILEIN: Yeah, you mean as far as -- like I said, I think we played well enough in the first half to be up by seven or eight at halftime, if we just had some tough breaks with the ball, just getting in the basket. But the second half now we understand that where any issues we have we'll address from the film.
And like always they'll sit there and they'll say, yeah, I could do this or I could do that. We have a very receptive team to being coached and very cohesive team as far as assisting each other through it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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