Michigan is preparing for No. 1 Arizona Saturday, and head coach John Beilein is making the media rounds. He joined The Huge Show's Bill Simonson Wednesday to discuss the Wolverines' play in the early going, the Wildcats and much more.
The Wolverines have been making strides, Beilein said, but now need to prove they can not only hold their own, but also win some of the close games against very good teams.
"We've shown we can play with those teams. At the same time we've got to beat those teams sometimes, too, and that's the goal," Beilein said. "The students will still be on campus …
"We scheduled this four years a go, a home and home, and it's much more than what we thought. Both teams were getting their programs going at that time. They are a tremendously talented team, have all kids of All-America candidates on their team … there's no more softies. We'd better be ready to go and play. It's going to be a very competitive atmosphere."
The Wildcats are like Duke with their veteran backcourt combined with frontcourt youth, Beilein noted. Michigan, meanwhile, is still working on "putting the puzzle together."
"We're not veteran, but we're getting better every day in our backcourt," he said. "They are really good, legit. They don't have a weakness.
"It's the exact same thing as it was last year for us, only we weren't challenged [on the road] until we went to Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State. We lost those games. During times of adversity, there may be a five or 10-point slippage in execution … we have to get a little more used to that, respond better."
And hold serve at home, starting Saturday.
"You can count on one hand the number of top level tams that lose at home during the season," Beilein said. "We've put up some gaudy numbers, I think 36-2 at home. You can't stop trying [on the road]. When you do win, those are the best things ever."
Mitch McGary continues to be hampered by his back injury, specifically getting into game shape after it.
"For three months he did not jump, run, do any drills," Beilein said. "Getting him in shape is not easy. They dive on the floor every day in practice, taking charges every day, playing through all kinds of injuries. That gives you the chance to get banged up more.
"He needs to get healthy. It's tougher to get him in shape. We're trying to get him play more minutes, more effective minutes."
He's a long way away from being 100 percent, Beilein added.
"At time you wonder if maybe sit him a bit to get him 100 percent," he said. "We're working on it, but we're a long way away from where he's going to be. We've just got to get the guy healthy so we can get him in shape. He takes charges. Sometimes he'll get a knee to the thigh or sprain an ankle.
"We'll hang in there and take baby steps to get him in shape."
They're still trying to find the "sweet spots" for the offensive standouts, Beilein said.
"What's best for Glenn Robinson, Caris LeVert, Nik Stauskas - how our young point guards can handle teams even better," Beilein said. "It's on ongoing puzzle many coaches live for.
"Glenn has missed some shots he made last year. He does not have the veteran backcourt getting him the ball in his sweet spots. He needs to keep on going and find other areas. He's a hard worker; he'll start making shots. When he does, we'll all be better."
Derrick Walton Jr. will continue to get better at the point, he added.
"He was playing a fifth year guy at Iowa State, then a four year guy and three year guy at Duke," Beilein said. "Charlotte had a fourth year guy. He's 18, they're 22, someday he'll be and it will really be a lot of fun. In the meantime, enjoy the process."