Michigan head coach John Beilein joined The Huge Show's Bill Simonson Wednesday to talk about the Wolverines' Big Ten title. He wasn't expecting to breeze through Illinois, he admitted, but saw great potential in his young team throughout the year.
"I don't think that far ahead, but I certainly didn't expect it to happen exactly the way it did, going to Illinois playing a flawless game and getting up by so much," he said. "There wasn't any drama at the end. When you win championships there's usually some drama involved - it was a little different, but at the same time it really felt good."
He won't take the time to enjoy it until years later, he admitted, when he looks back on his accomplishments. He can appreciate just how close and focused his group has been, however.
"We pride ourselves on that," he said. "We try to keep everything in house if there are issues. There always will be as long as you put 18 to 22 year olds who go from high school starters to becoming a team. It's hard to mold all those things.
"We have really been fortunate with who we've selected. Everyone has been ultra successful, but for the most part the core of our team has bought into what we try to accomplish. That's really helped us over the last four years.
"They are great friends with each other. They really love each other. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, in particular, have bonded with those sophomores. Caris LeVert is as old as Zak Irvin, and Derrick Walton is still 18. The team was so young, they really all have so many commonalities that they've really gotten together well with no agendas."
All they care about is winning, he said. No sulking, no issues.
"That's really helped us focus on the task at hand," Beilein said. "I love going to work every day, working with them - I have an incredible staff. That's what makes my job so enjoyable."
Beilein said he could sense the team coming together as a contender when LeVert emerged as a scorer, but there were other indicators, too.
"It's a big thing to have that third guy out there," he said. "He was really the first guy in half our Big Ten games, and he came from nowhere.
"Nik in the championship game last year, I don't know if he scored. He might have had one three in in the Syracuse game. We weren't sure what he'd do being the marked man. For the most part he's handled it really well.
"Glenn Robinson has just gotten better and better over two years. The issue there is people want him to be Superman overnight and he's only 20 years old. Just let the young man get better and keep working at his skillset."
That, combined with great leadership from big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford and a cohesive point guard position between Walton and Spike Albrecht, was the recipe for a title.
Beilein stopped short of saying Stauskas should be player of the year, but only because he doesn't tout his player for individual awards. If they're good enough, they'll earn it, he said.
"There have been some games he's certainly been the best player on the court for both teams, but I didn't answer that question last year with Trey Burke and it worked out - I know Nik Stauskas is one heck of a basketball player that every coach in this country would love to have," he said. "But I'll let people who see all these other games and watch the other people make those decisions. I never try to go out and say, 'my guy's the best,' but I wouldn't trade him for anyone else in this league. That's what I'll tell you."
Michigan will have one goal when it goes to the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1 seed, he added.
"We'll go into it the only intention is to win that championship, as well," he said. "It's hard to do. Three games in three days, the 8-9 winner fighting for their life for an NCAA bid.
"We've never made it to Sunday. We've been there Saturday a couple times, but never Sunday. I'd like to get there one time, get to Sunday and play a championship game."