Preparing for Northwestern's unorthodox offense and defense is different than getting ready for just about any other team in the league. Michigan head coach John Beilein expects Iowa to put up a fight in Sunday's game at Crisler Center.
The Wolverines enter 14-0, 1-0 in the conference. Iowa is 0-1 in the Big Ten after losing a tough one at home to Indiana.
"You have to flip everything because it's going to be different again. In a two-day turnaround, you have to go back to some other things we do to be able to play Iowa," Beilein said. "I really love their team. They are going to the foul line a ton, they are very athletic, very physical. It's going to be a great challenge for us because of how tough and strong they are. They have very good perimeter play, as well."
The Wolverines moved past Northwestern film quickly, Beilein added. He expects the Hawkeyes to be more competitive, though he's not quite sure what to expect.
"I'm not sure what the tempo will be," he said. "We'll morph to whatever the tempo needs to be, but they score points and scored a lot on us last year - 75 points, and they didn't even shoot it well. You've got to be ready to guard them in full court and in transition. In the halfcourt, they are the best one on one team in the league. Stats show when they iso you, they're the best in the league."
Beilein doesn't care how his team wins as long as they take care of business.
"I prefer whatever it takes to get a 'W,'" he said. "If we've got to sit down and guard for 34 seconds, we'll do that. If we need to run, slow the pace, whatever we've got to do. When you envision great teams, what they can do is adapt."
Junior Tim Hardaway Jr. did a great job rehabbing an ankle injury, Beilein said, allowing him to play against the Wildcats.
"We still have to do some things rehab wise to make sure he keeps the ankle nice and strong. That tells you lot about how he handled rehab - Tim's attention to detail. A lot of younger players may not have done what he did to get himself ready to play."
Beilein was pleased with a lot of what he saw from the Northwestern film, but one aspect he didn't like stood out.
"We did a lot of things well," he said. "We focused on some of things in transition defense we've got to continue to work on. It is giving up too many points - the most difficult thing for young teams to grasp is transition defense. It usually comes on the heels of a turnover or missed shot, a missed call by officials, a long rebound. You've got to change and put your defensive uniform on immediately."
A span of three games in seven days is made easier with the kids being out of class, Beilein said.
"I'm glad we had that span during November and December where we did play two games a week," Beilein said. "The silver lining is they're not in classes. They are sleeping in until 10, instead of getting up at 7:00 for class. Two of them are at home - we'll try to focus on each like it's the last game of the year."
Freshman Mitch McGary continues to learn, Beilein said.
"He's making small strides trying to play bigger, valuing the basketball, hitting singles," he said. "Catching the ball and putting it in instead of trying to do to much with the ball.
"It's slow and steady progress, but we're seeing in progress. We see glimpses every now and then. When Jordan does something we preach, look at Mitch - he says, 'I understand that now.' It's small victories in footwork, balance, all the things that have any issues. Don't go too fast, try to do too much, and value possessions. You just don't get that many - become really good before you become great."
McGary's still learning the fundamentals, but his motor and athleticism is what differentiates him from many other freshmen, he added.
The veterans continue to do their part to teach the young guys, Beilein added.
"It's really important to us. Just watch Matt Vogrich with Nik - he's talking with him all the time. Corey and Eso with Caris, Spike, they are talking to him all the time. Jordan Morgan has done a terrific job with the bigs. You've got to have that, secondary leadership - it's huge."
Big man Jon Horford continues to recover from a knee injury. He has played in the halfcourt recently, will do a couple scout team runs before coming back full court and seeing what he can do.