Michigan coach John Beilein met with the media to chat about Arkansas, scheduling, lineups and other topics in advance of the Wolverines' trip to Fayetteville, Ark. for a game against the Razorbacks tomorrow.
As always, here are the highlights in easy-to-digest bullet form:
Will Beilein use the starting lineup he did against Michigan State (subbing Stu Douglass in for Evan Smotrycz) or will he switch it again? Beilein wouldn't say, including Saturday. "We'll see how we practice today. We have a lot of different things hopefully we can do to try to get the best players on the court at the best particular times, whether it is starting or off the bench."
Beilein said the tempo Arkansas runs at -- Mike Anderson brought a similar style with him from Missouri this season -- is unlike what the Wolverines have seen before.
Was he more impressed watching Trey Burke on tape after Michigan State than live? "No. He was good both ways. On the last play, when (Draymond) Green drove it, Zack (Novak) for some reason pressed up on him too far and Green was really going in for a layup. Trey came off his man, built a wall and made him shoot an off-balance shot going left. His defense continues to improve."
This game happened during the conference season because of Beilein's philosophy of trying to set up at least one marquee non-conference home game each season. Going to Arkansas gets the Razorbacks to Michigan next season. Part of why this type of game falls into second semester is because Michigan's finals schedule is different than other schools, so this game in December becomes more difficult to schedule.
That said, the new Big Ten/Pac-12 partnership could change things, Beilein said. Down the road "maybe this game will be replaced by a Pac-12 game."
On the Big Ten/Pac-12 partnership: "I think it's a great idea, a very healthy idea. Anything we get where we're not in a situation we were last year, where you know your schedule, that this game is coming in and you're not out there like the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, you're counting on this home game. That flipped on us this year but at least we know we have a quality opponent. Any time we can do that, because of the exempted tournaments now, it is difficult to get quality, BCS conference, home-and-home series. So this is a way to do it."
On Tim Hardaway Jr. playing the second half of Michigan State like Beilein wants him to always: "What he's working on right now is trying to really take what's the best shot for him, he's getting everybody's best defender. He's working at that, what's the right play, and trying to play through any time he has poor play or missed shots. Just play through it. We called his number in twice late in the game and he came through for us."
On the Big Ten: "This might be the most difficult year. Road victories are going to be really hard to come by and I've said all year it is because the transition period is all but over with so many programs. There are four or five that had very little transition over the last decade. Those programs have been as solid as can be. Those programs that have had transitions over the five years I've been here have had their times of building and now teams are getting to where they want to be. Like the Big East was last year with 10 or 11 very good teams, we only have 11 or 12 teams and probably nine or 10 of them are going to be vying for an NCAA bid all along the way."