Michigan basketball coach John Beilein and members of the No. 22 Michigan basketball team met with the media on Friday to discuss the Wolverines' matchup with No. 3 Ohio State.
Beilein: He said the players are spending Friday's practice with more of an emphasis on their improvements (even noting that the team will be doing drills they did in October) and that Saturday's practice will be more Ohio State-focused. The team leaves Saturday night for Columbus.
ON THE KEY TO BEING COMPETITIVE: Beilein point edout that last year the team played with poise in its 62-53 loss in Columbus and in the Wolverines' Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss to Ohio State. "What they've been able to do is things that only [Jared] Sullinger has been able to do," Beilein said. "Get traffic rebounds with four guys around. Somehow he ends up with the ball. And at the rim. And getting to the foul line as well. … It's more just keepin him in check somewhat."
ON HOW SULLINGER HAS CHANGED: Beilein said he has noticed Sullinger's quickness and that he has been stepping out and shooting from range, which is something the Wolverines didn’t have to worry about with Sullinger last season. "It's always a concern when you have a five who can pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll," Beilein said. "It's a big roll that's coming down there, and it's a big pop that you have to go get."
HOW MUCH DOES MICHIGAN'S CHANCE FOR SUCCESS RELY ON LIMITING SULLINGER: "A good part of it," Beilein said. "But while they're good … they have the pieces around him. You have to try to do that. I think you have a lot of plans in place when you’re playing a team with this extreme talent." Beilein mentioned that he believes the Buckeyes will get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
ON CONTAINING OSU SOPHOMORE GUARD AARON CRAFT: Beilein said freshman point guard Trey Burke has matched up with several talented point guards. "He has seen the point guards that have stayed around for three, four, five years and played against them," Beilein said of Burke. "Craft is good. Trey Burke is good, too."
Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr.:
ON THE HYPE OF A FIRST-PLACE SHOWDOWN: "We just have to go in there with the same intensity when we were going against Michigan State," Hardaway Jr. said.
ON BURKE MATCHING UP WITH CRAFT: "There’s a lot of hype behind it because he [Burke] is from where we’re about to play," Hardaway Jr. said. "He has played against those guys and played with them at the same time." Hardaway Jr. said it's not too much an advantage for Burke because he knows Sullinger and Craft's tendencies (because they played together), because they know his tendencies as well.
Redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan:
ON THE OSU RIVALRY: "I think there's bad blood between Michigan and Ohio State regardless, no matter what sport," Morgan said. "It could be checkers or chess, whatever."
ON MATCHING UP WITH SULLINGER: "As far as room for error, there's really not much," Morgan said. "He's a dominant player." Morgan wouldn't say Sullinger was his toughest challenge, but he did say that Ohio State as a team is one of the best in the league. He said there's a slight advantage to having played him before, but that he's sure Sullinger has improved his game in the offseason.