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March 21, 2009

John Beilein

Manny Harris

C.J. Lee

Deshawn Sims

Anthony Wright



KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Brief statement from Coach Beilein and questions for Michigan student athletes.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I just glanced at the stat sheet a little bit, and we tried everything we could to stop Blake. The residual effect was he -- we couldn't stop him obviously the way we would like to stop him, but I actually thought their point guard with his long 3s was a big dagger at times for us, was huge, and I'm very proud of our guys.
Our guys just -- they played as hard, as well as we could tonight, and I think we're a better team than we played tonight, but it just didn't work that way.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach. Questions for Michigan student athletes, C.J. Lee, Manny Harris, Anthony Wright, and DeShawn Sims.

Q. Guys, give us your opinion of Blake Griffin, facing him in the bottom, seen him on highlights, but playing him. Your thoughts on Blake Griffin, the Player of the Year, DeShawn.
DESHAWN SIMS: Great player. Strong. He takes his time and he's a great player.

Q. Anthony?
ANTHONY WRIGHT: Added onto what DeShawn said, one thing he had was great body control, and I didn't really think that that was going to be one of his major strengths, but body control was probably the biggest thing.

Q. Manny?
MANNY HARRIS: They said it all. He's a great player. He showed it today. He's been showing it all year.

Q. C.J.?
C.J. LEE: Like everyone has been saying, he's a good inside presence. I like his demeanor and his composure on the court. He doesn't really seem to get rattled or too high or too low.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about that stretch in the first half, what was going through your mind? Obviously you had a couple guys in foul trouble, lineup that probably is not used to being in that situation, certainly not in this situation and just that takeover mindset and not be afraid of the moment mindset. Anthony?
ANTHONY WRIGHT: DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, their names are highlighted on every single scouting report. So just having guys like that, it kind of draws away from everybody else a little bit. And Manny got his second foul with about 15 minutes left, and I knew somebody had to step up with the scoring role, and I just took the shots that I think Coach would want me to take.

Q. C.J., this being your last go-around, how proud are you of the guys, especially with DeShawn and Manny missing so much time in the first half and guys stepping up and sticking with one of the best teams in the country. Describe how you're feeling about this team.
C.J. LEE: I'm definitely proud of our guys and program. I'm proud of the possibility of where we can go and just -- these guys did not stop until it's all the over. That's all you can ask as a senior of your fellow teammates. That's all a coach can ask of his players. So, I'll remember that forever.

Q. C.J., looked like you got there several times on the double team on the back end of the defense. You're sitting there trying to defend a guy that's 6-5, 6-10, and you're leaning into him and he's just leaning back into you and jumping over. What was that like?
C.J. LEE: Well, it wasn't fun, but we were just trying to execute our game plan. We obviously were doubling off. We didn't want to double with Blake having the ball too high because he's a good passer and could just pass over us. So a couple times it's probably just a step or two, too late on my rotation.
Obviously he's taller so he's able to put the ball in the basket. It wasn't one player. It was a team that we were trying to defend him as. That's all we're trying to do was take the ball out of his hands or force him into a charge.

Q. Manny, all season when you guys have been behind, you talked about break the half into segments of time. When it's a tournament game and it's do or die, is it harder to kind of look at it smaller rather than the big picture?
MANNY HARRIS: Yes, it's definitely -- it's kind of hard to look at it like that, but we fought today and they made their run. We was able to fight back and cut the lead down to where we wanted it, but it was some tough breaks at the end and just didn't go our way down the stretch.

Q. For DeShawn, when you think about this season as a whole, what do you think it says about where the program is?
DESHAWN SIMS: As players we kind of -- we set expectations and set NCAA everyday and knowing that if you say something enough that it can happen. It was kind of almost a dream because the expectations were high, but we wasn't sure where we could go, and I'm not sure if other people thought that we would be in this position, but we kind felt in our minds that we worked hard and something had to pay off.
The season -- we were a win away from the Sweet 16. It don't get no sweeter for that for a team that finished 10-22 last year, and it's a lot to build on, and it's a long ways away from the next season.

Q. C.J., do you feel there were a couple charges you did not get on him, got under him and got knocked down?
C.J. LEE: Those are just the breaks of the game. I mean, we're never going to second guess anything like that. That's just how the game goes. So that stuff is out of our control. We can only control our effort, how hard we play and our execution. So, that's out of my control as a player. That's out of our team's control. We don't second guess that.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any more questions? Thanks, guys. You can go back to the locker room. Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about that lineup you had in the first half that kind of found a way to stay in there. I'm guessing that's not your dream lineup.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's an amazing team -- except I think we had one other addition, does do fairly well in practice everyday. Anthony was a former starter, Jevohn was a former starter, and so they've been in that situation a little bit before, but I really liked the way we played especially Anthony, obviously.

Q. Coach, can you just talk about Blake Griffin and his presence and just the role of your team to try to combat his role?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: First of all, once again I do not want to diminish how good this man is. Oklahoma is terrific. I mean, when you have guards that can shoot like that, your small forward gets six assists and his brother who we don't feel -- hear a lot about Taylor. He can start for any team in the country. He's a tremendous player. It's tough to defend all those things.
Like I said, he might have had those 33 points and 17 rebounds and we might have won the game because of the fact that they didn't have any outside shooting because you can afford to do a lot more a lot more like that. That is a tremendous team. He's a tremendous player.

Q. John, when you got your technical, you were heard saying "What are you supposed to do?" What were you referring to?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: When we were -- we were trying to double-team then and just coming and being straight. We really train our kids not to reach in, just come in and make sure that he initiates any contact.
So that's what I was referring to. I don't know how you guard it if you have two guys on him and you're standing up. It's a ref's call. There's a lot of those 50/50 calls that go into a season.

Q. John, did you feel like you dodged a bullet in the first half when Manny plays five minutes, you're only down two?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I told him when he first got the second foul, "Be ready, I might throw you in for a couple minutes." As the score -- we had the lead for most of the half at that point. My biggest concern was getting him warmed up at halftime after sitting there, with a 20-minute halftime, and then sitting for probably 20 minutes in the first half.
That was my biggest concern, how we could come out of there. Then Novak went down and C.J. went down and DeShawn were all down. You've seen our team. Very rarely -- we may lead the country in not fouling people. That was really some adversity that I thought we handled well, but after all that, we really didn't come out of the box real good in the second half.

Q. Coach, you said at the beginning of the year, second season at a new school, "It's going to be a rollercoaster. Expectations shouldn't be as high from outside." You're sitting up here, second round of the NCAA Tournament. Has this team exceeded your initial expectations back in November?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't think anybody ever exceeds them. I'll really proud of them. I don't go out there with these long range. I did say it would be a rollercoaster. I think we've had some great highlights. We certainly have some very low moments. But when you're really proud of a team when they -- I think everybody wouldn't argue if they finished strong even -- you never won a national championship so you don't -- you got to -- two teams will win, the NCAA and the NIT. You're going to end with a loss. If you feel your team battled strong, then they met your expectations.

Q. Coach, start off the second half UO on an 8-0 run. Can you just talk about -- and also Coach Capel talked about how you mixed up defenses with the zones. Could you talk about what were you trying to do there?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: In the second half we came out -- there was only really one small error we made during that particular time where we blew up a play, but DeShawn got a real nice shot that just missed and they went down and got the ball.
First play we got a good shot, missed, they scored. Manny had a great shot, missed, they went down and scored. We sort of blew up a play and they went down and scored. Just the way we didn't want to start the half. I don't think it was like all of a sudden we went down and just threw the ball away or didn't play hard. Being in foul trouble and adjusting to coming back hard against a team of that caliber, I think had some factor in our starting the second half.

Q. The zone defenses.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: There was no way we could stand there and slug it out with them. There's no way. Like I said, this is one fantastic player on one very good team. There's no way we could just matchup and say, "Okay, we're going to slug it out with you in man-to-man."
We had to keep changing. Hopefully create turnovers that way. We couldn't give them to turn it over enough. 11 turnovers. We probably needed more than that to win the game.

Q. Coach, last year your players talked about wanting to get the taste out of their mouths of a 10-22 season. With them having gotten to the tournament, is this something you want them to savor and push them into next year?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yes, but I want today's feeling to linger a bit. I want them to know that, first of all, that they were a few breaks and a few shots away from going to the Sweet 16.
You know, even though it got away in the second half, if we had a couple other shots drop and a couple breaks go our way, we could be continuing on. I want them to feel that a little bit because we need to continue to grow here and the hungriest is very good at this time. Satisfaction, it's nice to feel you accomplished something, but we want to continue the hunger for us to get Michigan past this stage.

Q. Can you talk about your seniors a little bit and how hard it's going to be to say goodbye?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's hard. We had some Kleenexes out in there. You know, I don't want to single anybody out because they're all the same. They've all given us louder leadership, quieter leadership. They have been virtually no maintenance, team-first guys from the very beginning, and that allows you when -- especially when everybody else is so young, that really allows you to focus on the growth of the other guys on the team. If you have a senior -- malcontent as a senior, that never helps you concentrate on the younger guys.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the experience those guys get? They're hanging in there in the first half, those moments for freshmen and young players in that setting and what that can do for a player?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: All our freshmen have had ups and downs, but really I thought the three freshmen have had a great year. This was a great moment for them to learn, and I know that those three guys will be in the gym like crazy, as well as Manny and Anthony and DeShawn will be in the gym like crazy to get better.
But it was really good that we got them to experience -- I talked before about the -- some of the programs that I admire in the Big 10 that do not know what it's like not to go to the NCAA Tournament. They just push through all the things and they see togetherness and team work and right attitude can get there. That's how I want our freshmen to feel. The reason they got there was about a team concept.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Thanks everyone.

End of FastScripts

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