Michigan head coach John Beilein joined The Huge Show's Bill Simonson Thursday to talk about his team's play heading down the stretch, big man Jordan Morgan's health and more.
First, though, he admitted the half court shot heard 'round the Big Ten - a heave from Wisconsin's Ben Brust that sent the game to overtime in U-M's loss in Madison - took a lot out of his team.
"That was a hard one for all of us," he said. "We didn't have that much time, Saturday afternoon, then we played Michigan State right away. That was a difficult one.
"When you have a game virtually won, especially when you make a big play, and there were several plays down the stretch that could have gone either way - that's the one that heats you up a little bit. You have to move on, but then we played a really good, strong Michigan State team that kicked out butt in every way. We've just got to be better."
It will be hard given what they face down the stretch, starting with Sunday's game against Illinois and including home games with MSU and Indiana.
"I don't think I've ever paid as much attention to trying to get our young guys some rest, changing what we do this time of year," Beilein added. "Last year we won five out of our last six before the Big Ten Tournament, which is a good number. We finished strong. You don't want to change too much, but I don't recall the back to back to back games this late in the year or at any time - any coach is managing his team, their spirit, heart, fatigue, energy. It is really important to us all. We're trying to get extra reps, but we don't want to wear them out with extra reps. It's an interesting puzzle we're trying to put together.
"This is what we signed up for. Long seasons have great reward as you go down the stretch. Tom Izzo has been in it longer than I have, we just shook hands at the beginning of the game and he said, 'you've only been in the league a few years. This is as good as it has been in a long time."
Beilein admitted the defense has slipped in recent weeks.
"The defense was really bad in the first half [against Penn State] so we could not get our offense in gear," he said. "The defense was better in the second half even though did give up a lot of points - we were able to get out in transition a little bit and just play better.
"We had gone to a span where Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway was carrying us and the freshmen were trying to hang in there. In that game obviously Glenn Robinson and Nik Stauskas really helped us. Trey and Tim can't do all of it. We were getting really lightning in a bottle from the freshmen. We need more from them down the stretch."
The Wolverines have missed Jordan Morgan on both ends, Beilein said.
"I would agree that it has hurt us," he said. "Showing clips yesterday of good defense, showing different times we played really well against good teams, Minnesota, Ohio Staet on the road where we stopped it and it struck me - he was in the middle of a lot of those. The big man is essential to good defense today. If they cannot shuffle, play hard for long periods of time - not too many teams sit a big man in the zone in the middle and he keeps his arms up. He is chasing all over the court. We have a bunch of young guys doing that right now, and Jordan has become very good at that."
"We used this week, our train of thought was to practice one time and take a couple days off. We're hoping Friday he can go back to practice and he wouldn't be 100 percent, but 90, 95. At 70, 80 he doesn't help us enough. His attitude is there and he's working hard - but every team has injuries. We just have to deal with it."