John Beilein confirmed Friday that he had talked with Big Ten Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball Rick Boyages about his ejection at Penn State last Tuesday.
He declined to say much about the conversation.
“I could,” he said to assembled media at Crisler Center, “but I’m not.”
He clarified that his last ejection was 37 years ago in 1981. He went on to say “it would be another 37 years before I get another one.”
He took several questions about the call, and balanced his answers with the typical humor and respect expected out of the 66-year old head coach.
“When I receive a technical, that’s probably when it’s most dangerous,” he said. “When I receive a technical, I want to know why right away. Probably my mother’s Irish side comes out of me a little bit.
“I gotta be better than that. I got to be better than officials.”
The three days of practice since the loss at Happy Valley provided the Wolverines time to review the missed opportunities and evaluate themselves. During film session, Beilein noted that the Wolverines left a bevy of points on the floor.
“We had very profound observations yesterday,” he said, “(particularly) some of the things we could have controlled. We found 28 points that we could have just changed with one different decision. When (the team) sees that in a 6-point loss, that’s a pretty compelling argument that it wasn’t just a bad day.
“We could’ve made a bad day better.”
Michigan made Jon Teske and Ignas Brazdeikis available, as well. The junior center talked about the path towards improvement.
“Just staying more disciplined,” Teske explained. “We fouled a couple 3-point shooters, (we didn’t follow) the scouting report a little bit...Rebounding, we just had to box out, box out, box out, but they got a couple easy boards.”
Brazdeikis echoed not only his coach’s sentiments, but that of Chase Winovich Fan Club member Conor McGregor of the UFC.
“You learn more from losing,” the Canadian freshman remarked. “Conor McGregor has always said you either win or you learn. You never lose. I take that mentality, as well. I take a lot from (the Penn State) game. I made a lot of silly mistakes.”
Beilein cautioned that this loss is different than the upset in 2013, citing analytics. The Nittany Lions rank No. 59 nationally this year despite a 9-15 record, whereas they ranked No. 161 with a 10-21 mark back then.
He compares the loss more to the Iowa road defeat from two weeks ago.
“Short prep, a road game,” he noted. “They both came out and punched us right in the mouth, and we didn’t have much to answer them early.”
One final lesson Beilein gleaned from Tuesday: Michigan needs to push the tempo. He felt the offense lost too much time getting up the court due to the half-court zone pressure. He acknowledged the team was too careful to cough the ball up against Penn State’s Jamari Wheeler and Josh Reaves, two players that rank in the top-50 in steal rate in the country.
Moving on to Maryland
Beilein noted that Maryland has an outside chance at seizing the Big Ten regular season championship over the next six games. The Terrapins visit Ann Arbor tomorrow and trail the Wolverines by just one in the conference standings.
“We were fortunate enough to beat them at the buzzer last year,” Beilein said. “They’re a far different team now...young, but their bodies aren’t young. They remind me of the class we had back in 2012-13 (the NCAA finalists). Three or four freshmen that have really been able to get their bodies ready, their minds ready.”
The main threats come from the pair of 6-foot-10 big men in sophomore Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. Beilein praised their versatile offensive toolbox.
“These two guys are not only skilled offensively,” Beilein said, “but they’re good passers. Some people are doubling them a lot. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t.”
Fernando possesses a 67.3 effective field goal percentage, good for No. 12 nationally. Meanwhile, both he and Smith snag about five offensive rebounds a contest.
Teske, one week removed from a statement game against Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, isn’t shying from the challenge.
The last major offensive weapon for Mark Turgeon’s team is junior point guard Anthony Cowan. After four-straight 20-point games against Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State, the 6-footer has cooled off a bit recently.
Beilein has still emphasized him in the game plan.
“Cowan is so good in the open court,” he said. “Also, one of the better players we’ve seen going left...They’re a downhill team, and his speed is incredible.”
Last year in College Park, Michigan obliterated Maryland 85-61 in the regular season finale. Three former Wolverines from that game will be in attendance, as Moe Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson all have time off due to the NBA All-Star break.
“It’s really cool,” Teske said. “We were with them yesterday, got some dinner and they’re actually down in the locker room right now. We’ve been messing around, so it’s like we haven’t missed a beat.”
Tip-off Saturday is at 12 p.m. ET on FOX.