Michigan stands 9-1 in Big Ten play with eight games remaining but faces two tough road games in the next week, starting with tomorrow's contest at Iowa before traveling to Ohio State Tuesday. U-M did very little yesterday but will practice hard today before heading to Iowa City.
Tomorrow is the Wolverines' fourth game in 10 days.
"What they really have is tremendous experience, juniors and seniors all over the court," head coach John Beilein said of Iowa. "What they do get is points they manufacture with offensive rebounding. They are a tremendous rebounding team. You have to know who the shooters are, are they drivers, know your personnel. You have to know the whole game and close out well, block out, different things that give them easy baskets."
Beilein hasn't talked with his team about the tough stretch ahead - home games with Wisconsin and Michigan State follow the two road games - other than to remind them to take care of their bodies and stay on top of their studies.
They're healthy, though, and appear ready for the grind.
"Our guys are pumped up to play in this atmosphere," Beilein said Friday.
Here are Beilein's quotes in News and Views format:
News: The Hawkeyes have lost their last two home games and need a win to have any shot at a Big Ten title, so in a sense they're in desperation mode like Indiana was last weekend.
Beilein: "When teams lose any games, there's a certain spirit in that locker room," Beilein said. "Too many in a row is not good … but our teams usually responded after losses, and did the other day. Iowa has a couple really tough ones, and I'm sure since that's a home game, we were successful here - there are a lot of reasons for them to have some edge."
Views: Michigan has one too, he added.
"There's a championship trophy waiting for whoever can be best in this league," Beilein said. "If you're going to do that, you're going to have to beat some really good teams."
The Wolverines realize they've got a great shot at a title if they finish. Expect focus to remain at a high over the last month of the season. If they lose, it won't be for lack of effort.
News: Michigan continues to play unselfish basketball on both ends of the court.
Beilein: "The real fact is they really like each other. You don't always know that when you recruit young men. It's obvious in every kid we've signed that this is a really good kid, but they don't always turn out to be that way so you don't always know.
"This group has really turned out to be special young men. Getting them out of here, out of the locker room, they are really good together. When have guys who are friends, it speaks to how they see each other."
Views: Chemistry is such an underrated aspect of any team, and it's clear this group has it. Watching injured sophomore big man Mitch McGary react from the bench and seeing how Morford interact with each other shows just how much respect these guys have for each other.
That hasn't always been the case in Ann Arbor, of course, but this is a special group.
News: Sophomore Glenn Robinson III broke out of a mini-slump with 23 points against Nebraska.
Beilein: "I guarantee in film he saw every one of the shots that went in. We just continue to do that. He's capable of that more than not. We're just trying to find what he's comfortable with, put him in situations like that … we are pumping that up, because when he is involved and scoring, we are a really tough team to guard."
Views: And when he's scoring, he's also usually more involved in the other facets of the game. There's no reason Robinson shouldn't be one of the best offensive rebounders in the game with his athleticism, but there are times he's too passive.
"He had four the last two times against Iowa, each game, so get in and get rebounds," Beilein said. " We don't get a lot of extra possessions cause we're not turning people over, not getting offensive rebounds. For him to get them is huge for us.
"Like most players - a baseball player for example gets two or three hits a game feels he's going to hit well fifth time up or next game. It's the same thing. He had several in and out baskets that made him look like he had a bad game when there was just an inch difference in a shot."
Those things he can't control. The effort areas he can, and that's what they're concentrating on, Beilein said - making sure he brings that every game.
News: McGary has started rehab and is using #thereturn as his motivation.
Beilein: "I do not have any shattering news. He has started rehab with our team, teams of doctors. He'll start slow and do it right."
Views: There's still no indication that McGary will come back and contribute this year, but knowing him, we wouldn't completely count it out.