March 20, 2009
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Now up in the interview room, University of Michigan, Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak.
Q. Simulate Blake from practice. Seriously, how do you guys prepare for somebody like Blake?
DESHAWN SIMS: He does a great job of playing all the big men, great big men around the country, and it's hard to simulate a player of this talent or any other talent. We do the best we can, and just know the goal in mind is not really trying to equal the potential but just trying to get work done and being able to know the positions, whatever it may be.
Q. Zack, do you think having played a game in this tournament is going to make a difference how everybody settles in the in first few minutes of Oklahoma?
ZACK NOVAK: I think definitely it will help a lot. It's kind one of those things. We're a young team and obviously none of us have ever played in the tournament before. So I mean, it showed the first couple minutes against Clemson. We were a little shaky, but then we relaxed as the game went on. So I don't think we'll have a problem in the next game.
Q. Stu, when 3-point shots aren't falling, people say, "Well, it's just a matter of a streak," Do you guys go back and look at film with the coach and look for technical stuff to do on your shots or maybe they're hitting the front of the rim, back of the rim?
STU DOUGLASS: Sometimes. The coach stresses not leaving it short, but last night we didn't talk about it much. Sometimes you just have those type of games and, you know, sometimes there's a tweak here or there but shooting is within the offense. Good shots, he doesn't care too much.
Q. Zack, how hard is it to look at this completely as a business trip without enjoying the fact that you're at the NCAA Tournament?
ZACK NOVAK: I think we are enjoying it. I mean, it is business, but I mean, nothing is guaranteed. It's going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think it's kind of trying to find a balance.
I mean, when it's time to get to work, you get to work but, I mean when -- the whole time, you got to enjoy it because you don't know if it's ever going to be there again.
Q. Manny, one of the big matchups will be you and Willie Warren.
What do you know about him? How do you think that matchup will kind of stack up heading into the game?
MANNY HARRIS: I don't know much about him, and I don't know if he looks at it as a matchup. I look at it as a matchup with Oklahoma and Michigan, trying to get our team a win.
Q. Manny, that was it like changing, adjusting your style of to keep Beilein's system? You are a driver and got into the lane and now more point jump shooting.
MANNY HARRIS: I was coming from high school, so I know I was going to have to develop as a player and that's all he did. He wasn't changing my style. He just developed me as a player, and that's pretty much it.
Q. You said last night you were going to play better in the next game and that obviously there were things that didn't work for you last night. What are you going to do differently and how do you know that, DeShawn?
DESHAWN SIMS: Know what?
Q. You're going to play better tomorrow.
DESHAWN SIMS: When it's tomorrow -- you always have high expectations of yourself and just going out and playing hard and aggressive, more hard and aggressive than I did the next night. I look at that as playing better. So, give more effort and play more aggressive.
Q. Manny, what do you know about the Fab Five and when did you first become aware of them?
MANNY HARRIS: I know a little about the Fab Five, just something that a lot of people just talked about but -- first time probably becoming aware of it was in high school or something like that. I know a little bit about them. I learned more and more each day almost at the University of Michigan.
Q. Have you met any of them?
MANNY HARRIS: Yes. Met probably two or three.
Q. Does playing in the Big 10 help you prepare for playing a physical player like Blake Griffin?
DESHAWN SIMS: There's great players, not maybe with the potential he has, but all over the Big 10. Physical play. Most of the Big 10 is for a big men game, it's dominated -- not too many guys getting 13 or 12 rebounds a game in the Big 10 because it's such a physical game. It definitely prepares to us play against guys of his caliber.
Q. This is for Stu and then for DeShawn. Short turnaround time for Oklahoma. You've seen how your coaches attack prep time. Can you tell me, give us a sense of how they've gone after this particular one and what they deliver to you in a short time? Was it a late night last night?
STU DOUGLASS: Pretty normal for a one-day prep. Film and walking through. The normal preparations. We don't have three days kind of like we did this last game, but, you know, they prepare us as best they can, and we're confident in that. You know, one day or three days, we're going to be ready.
Q. How about you, DeShawn?
DESHAWN SIMS: Coach Beilein stressed after the Clemson game, it's not enough. Anything we have to do to be prepared to play Oklahoma as far as mentally and physically, we just have to think of it that way.
It's not enough just being here for Coach Beilein or his team.
Q. Stu and Zack, since you guys were named to the tournament, how much have you guys heard from -- obviously you guys were in high school last year at this time. How much have you heard from back home and friends? What's the traffic been like on your cell phones and Facebook?
STU DOUGLASS: Kind of crazy. I think I got like 60 texts last night.
Wasn't really expecting it. Just a lot of support and a lot of love back home. People are just excited and proud of individually on this team -- you know, this team is doing something that's never been done before really in the last ten years. They're really proud of us.
ZACK NOVAK: Pretty much the same thing. Everybody -- being from like a smaller town like that, everybody is really excited and, yeah, probably lot of text messages, Facebook messages, everything.
Q. DeShawn, up until now, who is the toughest guy you've ever had to guard playing basketball, college, high school, AAU, whatever?
DESHAWN SIMS: Up until now, probably that I actually had to guard was Greg Oden. My first year I played, I played against guys who have been in the NBA, a number of players. But up until this point, Greg Oden.
Q. How did you do?
DESHAWN SIMS: He didn't score a lot of points, but he definitely controlled the basketball game while I was guarding him.
Q. Zack, obviously you've had to play out of position defensively a number of times with bigger guys. Have you learned anything from some of those experiences that maybe you can use on Taylor if you have to play him tomorrow?
ZACK NOVAK: I think -- well, obviously a big thing is I got to box out hard every time. I mean, they're more athletic than me, they're bigger than me. If I don't use leverage, they're going get the ball almost every time.
But I mean, it's just really about effort. When you're undersized, you got to put a little bit more into it than they do, and that's about all I can do.
Q. For Manny and then Stu. You guys, it had been ten years since Michigan was in the tournament. You get here. Now you've won a game, have a chance to go to the Sweet 16 with a win tomorrow. What sort of an attitude or mindset you guys have at this point?
MANNY HARRIS: Just feel good. We're enjoying it, every moment of, it and we're going to play hard and just try to grind it out and win as much games as possible. At the same time, we're going to have fun and the whole team and everyone just -- the team chemistry is good and everyone just happy to be here.
STU DOUGLASS: Just kind of the same mindset as last game and, you know, trying to keep the same mindset we've had all season. Just giving a hundred percent effort and coming out and playing to win. Not playing just to experience it, we're playing to win.
Q. Outside of Big 12 country, I don't think Blake Griffin was a household name until this year. Do you guys remember the first time you saw highlights of him on the TV, first impression, know who he was and what he could do?
DESHAWN SIMS: Seeing just like Michael Beasley, you know, first couple games. The guy had great games, and you start seeing him on TV every time. He plays hard, and just like seeing a player just like the last couple years like a Michael Beasley. You see him and the potential and you hope to get a chance to play against him one day.
Q. When were you first aware of who he was and what he could do?
DESHAWN SIMS: Probably the beginning of the year, maybe when they played Davidson. Stephon Curry. He grabbed a bunch of rebounds and put the team on his back.
Q. Deshawn, we saw last night Blake being the victim of a flagrant foul. Something kind of gone on throughout the season. Does that make you a little curious kind of what all the hubbub is about, that there's all this stuff following him and concussions and flagrant fouls? The other part is, do you worry he's a little bit protected because of that and might make it tougher on you guys tomorrow night?
DESHAWN SIMS: You know, when you pay your dues and you're a player of his caliber, I'm not saying that anything like the refs give him anything. He's just been in the wrong position. You know, guys from other teams see you and try to get you.
That may have been the case. But all I know we'll be ready to play Oklahoma on Saturday and we'll do a good job defending Blake and we have a great chance of prospering.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Any other questions? Thanks, guys. Being joined by Michigan Head Coach, John Beilein.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Playing a great team tomorrow. I've had a chance to spend most of the morning watching video on Oklahoma. Jeff does a great job and they really -- I mean, both the Griffins are tremendous players. There's obviously so much made about them, but they're not the only guys there. They have -- they have a quality team and quality bench.
So really now I understand why they're No. 2 seed.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Questions.
Q. Coach, could you talk a little bit about the key factors behind your team's turnaround this season compared to last season.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I think experience is a big thing. Last year we were just -- because of attrition, we had four -- Tony Amaker had the great last season. They won 22 games, just missed the NCAA Tournament.
But there were four seniors on that team, and when they were gone, they did most of the scoring. And then starting point guard on that team in December decided it was best we move forward. And so we were basically playing with an -- our leading player averaged three points or four points the year before.
We just went through it last year, and now they got another year's experience. These two young -- the three freshmen that are now the two young guys from Indiana and Laval Lucas-Perry, also, each one of them has had at least 19 points in one game. We needed them the most. A lot of our big wins have been those guys.
Combination of experience and the influx of three new players.
Q. Coach, what's the hardest part of these day and a half turnarounds in terms of preparation for your second game in?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's better than a half day turnaround, that's for sure. I think for the players, I think that we just put them through a pretty good regimen. You think if they were back in Michigan right now, they have to go to classes. There's a whole lot of other things they can do.
I think the coaches, we pour ourselves into it for -- virtually, of the 24 hours, 18 hours we pour ourselves into everything that we can know about our opponent. My assistants did all the work as far as the Oklahoma scout ahead of time, and now it's -- this day, I do a good blend of keeping our team fresh, at the same time, giving them as much knowledge as I can about the opponent.
And we watched lot of clips of last night to make sure our kids know, understand why you win and also got to understand what can cost you if you don't correct it.
Q. John, on Sunday you got your first NCAA bid at Michigan in 10 seasons. You're 40 minutes away from the Sweet 16. Who would a win against Oklahoma tomorrow mean for this program?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: There was a day when Michigan was a fixture in the Sweet 16 and that's what who -- if you can be a fixture in the Sweet 16, you have a great chance to get to the Final Four where we've been several times.
It's just another great step in the right direction. We have so many great alums and so many loyal student athletes and students at the university, boosters. Between all our -- I think we were second in the Director's Cup last year. All our sports are doing so well. I know that because of the media attention to our major sports, it's great that -- it's great when we can have good seasons.
Q. Other than a wrestling style takedown, how do you slowdown Blake Griffin?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Oh, boy. It's really hard. I think you got to play great -- the individual line has got to be very tough, and then you have to play great team defense around him. You just start the scoreboard and say, okay, here, start 8-0 Oklahoma. He's already got four offensive rebounds, and then tell Blake he can't go to the boards the rest of the night.
He's going to get eight points just because he's so -- his timing, his instinct for the ball is terrific. You know that's going to happen.
Now, you got to find ways that you play him such that he's such a good passer. You don't give him three shots to other people, but you don't allow him to get your big guys in foul trouble or score at-will in the post.
Q. Coach, you talked about the maturity of your freshmen. Are there areas in particular where you've really -- what areas most are they different today than they were when they walked in your first practice?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: The biggest area was that they're accomplishing more by doing less in some areas. In other words, I think, for example, Stu Douglass sort of came in with the mentality "If I can see the rim, it's a good shot."
His shooting percentages have climbed as he's sort of been a little
-- he's been more patient. Zack Novak has had to have two different -- he's played guard and played forward. Similar idea with him of just -- he's become a really great defensive player for us, yet he's playing people that are -- and he will tomorrow. He's playing guys that are
6-8 and 240.
Laval Lucas-Perry, the game is slowing down little by little for him. He could end up doing what did he for us in that Minnesota game.
He's waiting for the right opportunity to get it going. His defense is getting better everyday.
Q. John, can you take a minute and talk about the roots of your offense that you call 2 guard and where that came from?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Come from way back in the '80s. I have a great mentor, also, my uncle named Tom Nylan who coached Lamoine College for years. I also became the coach at Lamoine College.
We were running a point guard offense with -- like everybody was playing. And he played in the '40s, Battle of the Bulge guy and 101st Airborne, and he ends up -- one day we just cannot run an offense because we're not really good at the point guard position that year.
So just said, "Why don't you just play like we used to play back in the day, back in the '40s and '50s. Get two guards, put your two forwards in the corners, put a high post, and run some scissor-cuts off the post and just spread the floor.
Sure enough, we began doing it at Lamoine back in the '80s, and once it started to work and the pressure was off, we decided that even if we got -- we weren't very athletic. When we even got athletic, this is the way we're going to play.
When we got to both Canisius and in particular West Virginia, when you have a 5-man that shoot the ball, the Pittsnogle type, it really opened things up.
Q. Coach, how much do you use the tradition of the Fab Five Glen Rice title in recruiting? Is that an advantage?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Glen wasn't in the Fab Five.
Q. His national titles.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Okay. Obviously you come into our place, you see the banners, and we had Glen come back this year with the '89 team.
The Fab Five, we haven't -- people usually mention it to us. We have some restrictions there and some issues, but I think that right now if you think about the kids right now that we recruit, they are born in
1991 or '92. So they were watching Sports Center when they were 7 or 8. Some of them don't know about that.
It would be like when I was growing up, my dad telling me about how good the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Yankees were. Some of the kids don't understand that. So you really have to coach them in that.
It's much different than if we had been there just a couple years ago.
Q. Was than an attraction to you?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: For me, when I looked at Michigan, you know, I didn't see it as some people may see it as a football school or anything. That's all I thought about. When I first began going to the Final Fours in the '80s as a young coach at Lamoine College, it was the Michigan fight song, the Michigan teams.
And go way back to when I first started following college basketball. Cazzie Russell and Bill Bradley. I got hooked on college basketball as a very young man. Rudy Tomjanovich, so many great players.
Then you go all the way through to the Fab Five, two are very -- Jimmy King works with us as an announcer. Jalen Rose is in contact quite often, Terry Mills, guys like that.
Q. John, in the past, I take it as good as Griffin is and as unique a challenge as he presents, you game-planned against his like in the past. I'm asking, as an example, can you give me a face and a guy like that?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: He has an impact on the game when I think about the guys he tried -- the impact. He's not the same player because he's not -- Carmelo Anthony is the guy that I'm thinking about at Syracuse.
He was more of a small forward than a power forward.
We devised a great game plan, and then he just basically just destroyed our game plan because he get himself into leveraged positions and all of a sudden, it's just difficult to stop in those one-on-one -- when it gets in those one-on-one situations.
He's the first name that comes to my mind about when I said what do you do? You can't stop some young men when they really are that talented. We're going to try, though. We're certainly going to try.
Q. To follow-up on that, Morgan State chose not to double him. Not many teams have. Whether or not you feel like sharing with us whether you plan to or not, can you just evaluate that decision-making process as a coach?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: One of the things with Blake is he's such a great passer. That's what I've noticed in the tape. The guys on the Oklahoma team, they know he's a good player. So they're not looking for their own when he's opened. At the same time, he looks for them.
It does complicate things a little bit, but no, I will not tell you what we plan on doing tomorrow.
Q. Going back the a previous question, I guess, whether your school is a football school or basketball school is a matter of perception.
You spent the last seven years at schools that people think are football schools.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I never thought that West Virginia was, but that's okay. If you did, that's fine. You've never been in a Coliseum with 14,000 people going crazy, but that's okay.
Q. I've been in the football stadium with 70,000 people. Are there some challenges being coach at a perceived football school?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's not a challenge. It's a highlight. Are you kidding me? When we have recruits come in and you have that, I always wanted to coach in a situation like that that football -- football and basketball works hand-in-hand, whether it's recruiting, whether it's fan interest, all over the country.
You walk anywhere with this block M right here, and there's a lot of people saying "Go blue" to you, and whether their initial loyalties to the program came through football or came through the Fab Five days or the Cazzie Russell or the Rudy days, they're loyal to us.
I always looked at that. That was never a challenge. I would assume Oklahoma may have that similar type of situation. We say it's only an advantage to have that right in your backyard.
Q. Coach, you've talked about over the course of the year Deshawn sometimes has mental lapses. You went to him a couple times yesterday on the bench. Was yesterday a game where he had a couple mental lapses and if so, how do you change that in such a short-term?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I don't mean that in a negative tone. I have mental lapses all the time. We all have mental lapses. Our biggest thing with him is just pull him out for a second. He's very caring. He wants the team to win so badly that sometimes he'll carry a little bit too much on his shoulders.
That's what I mean by that. "Okay, it's okay. The building just didn't fall down because you missed that shot or your man scored on you. Let's go back out there." That's basically what it's doing is being positive with him when he has -- anytime that he just loses his focus for a bit.
Just like when you see me, you know, discussing something with an official. I'm probably losing my focus for the next play. But everybody does that, every member of our team does that. It's just he's such an outstanding player, people night notice it more.
Q. John, what are the guidelines of shooting a three and how do you technically help a player when they go into a 3-point shooting slump?
How much film do you go over it or let them get out of it?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: All the our shooting drills in practice are timed, and there's a certain number you have to make. So we're trying to make it in a game-like situation so that they know whether they're shooting the ball well in practice. If they're shooting well in practice, they basically have a pretty green light when they have time and space.
Different guys, their time and space will vary as a guy like the Pittnogles didn't need much time and space. If -- let's say, we're watching them practice, we film every practice, we filmed today's practice. We'll go over today's practice.
If one of our guys has been struggling, I'll make a point today when we watch the film together of him shooting that jump shot, and I might just replay it five, six times, talking about other things. But I know what he's looking at, the ball going in the ball going in, the ball going in. He might have only made one shoot today, but I'm going to show it to him five, six times.
You got to keep them believing. Had a very good player as a son who was a streaky shooter. I know how sensitive the psyche is on that. You really have to be positive with them. That's my belief.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit, you mentioned Carmelo Anthony.
The coach mentioned yesterday Len Bias in terms of style. Is there a style player that you think that Blake Griffin reminds you of?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Leonard "The Truck" Robinson. You probably never heard ever him. I'm probably lost for who would be there. Shane Battier is a player that was such a great team player and really he saw the court, you hustled so much. Whatever team he's on the NBA, they start winning when gets there.
I'm trying to think everyone that big that really runs and has guard like skills yet rebounds.
I don't know if those are good comparisons or not. I probably haven't thought a lot about it. Probably when I'm watching a lot of great players in the future, I'll probably say more and know more a little bit who he compares to. All I know is he's good, real good.
Q. Coach, how serious were you in the Oklahoma job when Calvin Sampson left and how far did the discussion get with them?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I'm not going to talk about that. They've done a great job and made a great choice. Thank you.
Q. Coach, when you have a player that's getting as much hype or attention as Blake, how do you tell your team to focus not just on him but there's other players on the court that can score, too?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Say one more time.
Q. How do you prepare your team to not just focus on him?
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: We see that in the Big 10 everyday. You got a guy like Jamelle Cornley at Penn State and Talor Battle, you got to guard on the outside. Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore is running around more, too. JaJuan Johnson is inside. You have to pay attention to him.
I said this team is not a one-man show. This team is very, very talented and so -- it's an everyday occurrence for us really to guard two actions, we call it. Two guard, two actions. The main action and what's their next plan that's happening at the same time.
Obviously one of our actions always has to be where is Griffin, where is Griffin, both Griffins, but in particular where is No. 23?
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the details of your day today?
I assume you woke up a pretty happy man.
COACH JOHN BEILEIN: I can't imagine why I had trouble sleeping last night, but it took a long time to go to sleep. I had an early morning and watched a lot of tape, did a couple personal things I always like to do, and then we were watching more tape and met with the team.
Now we go back and I watch some more tape and meet with the team again. It's great -- this has been a great place to host this thing.
The arena is tremendous, our hotel is tremendous. It's been a great stay. We'd like to do there again next week if we can.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: We are being joined in the interview room by Taylor Griffin and Blake Griffin from Oklahoma.
Q. Outside Big 12 country, Blake, not a lot of people knew you before this year. Did you feel because of that as well of national attention, is that something you could feel as the season went on this year? And then also for Taylor, what did you do to keep him grounded in that sense?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: I mean, I feel like the team as a whole we've had kind of a swell of national media attention that, you know, I think for me personally it's attributed to how we play as a team and the games we've won. It's not something I think about and worry about affecting me.
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I don't have to do a whole lot. From the way that our parents raised us, you know, you know where your talent and your abilities come from and, you know, that's never been something that Blake, you know, had to struggle with or, you know, have any issues about humility or anything like that.
Q. Taylor and Blake both, could you guys talk about defensively the problems that Michigan will give you that you'll have to try to defend against some of the things they do that what you can do to defensively against them?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I think they run a really good system. You know, I think they rely on that a lot, and it's been really good for them. I think the biggest thing for us is to play really good team defense.
You know, they make a lot of cuts, curls. They utilize coming off screens really well, and I think that the biggest thing is just being alert every possession and crash the boards.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Pretty much the same thing he said. They're very, very good at what they do and they run a great system, and they all know exactly what they're supposed to do. So we're going to have to be on our game. I don't know exactly what we're going to do just yet, but I know we need to come out and play right because they're a great team.
Q. Blake, any lingering effects from the spill last night when you woke up today?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Just a little soreness. That's about it. Nothing unusual.
Q. For both you guys, looks like the Big 12 will be 6-0 after today.
I know there's a lot of talk this year about the Big East conference being one of the best. What does that say to you guys, if anything, that your conference is 6-0 or about to be 6-0 after the first round?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, first of all, that's great for the conference. You know, we know how tough the Big 12 is, even though the Big East got a lot of attention this year and rightfully so. But, at the same time, you know, the Big 12 has been tough this year.
I know a lot of people said it's kind of been a down year, but I think it's been just as tough as ever. But, you know, that's great for us, great for the program, great for -- the conference, actually. You know, best of luck to everybody out there.
Q. Question for Blake. The highlights that have been on television the whole -- since your game, you know, a lot of photos of you in the flip there. What did you think when you saw it and, you know, any reaction to what happened? I know when we asked you about it last night, it was really right in the heat of battle.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: I mean, I haven't seen photos or anything of that. My reaction is still the same as last night, pretty much we got tangled up. He took it a little personally.
So, I mean I don't think he was really trying to hurt me or anything like that. I think he just kind of got caught up in the heat of the moment and things happen.
Q. Taylor, do you go into this game tomorrow expecting to see a lot of zone and then how much focus does that put on your guards?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: You know, I think the zone has been really something that they rely on a lot. We expect to see 1-3-1, 2-3, and they're very good at it. That's one thing that we're going to have to have well-rounded game offensively to compete with that.
You know, I'm sure they'll double-team Blake and whatever, but, you know, be ready for anything and be ready to knock down shots, knock down open shots and make plays.
Q. Michigan starts four guys that are 6-5 or under. How do you guys
-- how do you game plan for that? Is there a routine?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Just by, you know, just because they don't start as big a lineup, we still have to prepare the same way for what they do, because like we've said, they're very good at what they do. We can't take them lightly just because they might be a little bit shorter. We just need to concentrate on doing what our game plan is, executing that, taking care of the ball. I think hopefully we'll be alright.
Q. Blake, considering all the hits you've taken this year, are people -- are they taking it personally that you're just beating them on the floor and getting rebounds? Are they taking it personally against you? Is that where these hits are coming from, the stitches, concussion, the knees?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: It could be. I'm a physical player. That's kind of my game and, you know, I think that might be it because most of the guys we see aren't so physical down low. I mean, that's my game and I think that might be some of it and, you know, every once in a while things happen in the heat of the moment.
Q. Blake, a number of coaches have tried to describe who they think of when they watch your game. Some struggled and gone back years. Who have you patterned yourself after, if anybody?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Really, I mean, there's not a single player that I really, really try to be like. Maybe throughout the years I've had -- I've watched a lot of players and really tried to play like them, but I mean, you know, any low-post guy that's big and likes to bang, anything like that is somebody that I kind of look up to, I guess, so to speak, but I can't really think of one person in particular.
Q. Taylor, how difficult is it for you to contain your emotions when you see something like what happened to your brother last night? And secondly, do you think something like that could help even bring this team closer together?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: It's kind of been -- it's kind of been tough, you know, watching some of the cheap shots that he's gotten. You know, I've said this before, I have complete faith in him that he's going to handle any situation like that correctly and, you know, what's in the best interest of this team and what we're trying to do.
You know, yeah, you see your brother out there, not only a teammate but my brother out there, and you don't want anything -- anybody attacking them like that. But, you know, like I said, I have complete faith in how he handles each of these situations.
And, second, question, I think it can help us to bring us together a little bit more, kind of help us buckle down mentally, and that's kind of the mindset that we have to keep throughout the game. We can't just turn on when something like that happens. We got to keep that mindset for 40 minutes.
Q. Guys, last year at this time you were getting ready to play Louisville and that's a big step forward for the program. Can you just talk a little bit about what your feeling going into this game tomorrow night? Obviously, you're favored seeding-wise. Your approach this year as opposed to last?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: We're definitely excited, but at the same time, Michigan is a great team, and you see games like this go down to the wire all the time. So, you know, by no means are we relaxed. We're very, very excited for it, and we need to be on top of our game, like we've said, and really come out and not make a lot of mistakes.
Q. Taylor, how excited were you guys to see the guards really come out, play free, play with emotion, play well in the game, and has Austin Johnson been able to practice today?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: It was very good to see all our guards play well.
You know, it's been something that people have been questioning for awhile, and I think they've kind of taken that personally. You know, that's a big key to the success of this team is guard play and along with, you know, everybody playing defense. But, yeah, it was great to see, and hopefully that was just a starting point for our tournament run.
What was the second question?
Q. Austin Johnson, was he able to practice today?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Yeah, he should be. I don't see anything that would keep him from doing that.
Q. Blake, did you say you haven't seen any photos or film of that from last night?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: I saw like a quick highlight last night. I didn't see any pictures of it or anything like that.
Q. What did mom have to say about that?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: She was pretty upset, but, you know, we calmed her down a little bit. She'll be alright until the next day.
Q. What about your dad?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: He's a man of few words. He didn't really say much.
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: We bought him some ice cream.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Calmed him down a little bit.
Q. What did you learn? This time last year, you guys played Louisville, lost pretty bad. You're the big dog on the block this year. Also the fact that your dad was a coach when you guys grew up around the game, does that help you to know how to deal with the situation of people beating on you? Has your dad talked to you about stuff like that?
BLAKE GRIFFIN: Yeah. As far as, you know, this year compared to last year, I think from last year we just learned that, you know, Louisville didn't take us lightly and didn't take a break on us at all. They came out and pressed us from beginning to end, and they really got after us, and that's kind of the attitude we want to have this year going into each game, no matter what team we're playing.
So that's definitely something we need to do.
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Yeah. Definitely. You know, it's all about mentality. We have the ability, we have the coaching, it's just how to get the instinct, be able to go out and put teams away no matter who you're playing.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple of questions.
Q. Taylor, I wanted to follow-up kind of on John and Dave's. You've been around this league a long time. You've seen guys like Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. Those guys really didn't have to go through what he's going through as far as the fouls and things. We can see his eye right now, still a reminder from the Rice game. Why do you think Blake has gone through it like others haven't?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: I mean Durant and Beasley were very good players, but they're not nearly, not even close to as physical as he is, big and strong as he is, and I think that's what a lot of it is.
You know, he's going to get his buckets, you know, no matter what he's going to go try. I think it's frustrating for guys. I know it's frustrating for guys trying to guard him in practice everyday. So, you know, I can't imagine when you're in the game and your one assignment is to stop Blake and it's not working, you're going to get frustrated.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question.
Q. Guys, last week after the OSU lost, Coach Capel said he wasn't happy with the way you competed. Taylor, when Blake fell and hopped back up, do you think that sent a message. Blake, do you think you guys competed the way he wanted last night and kind of it's a new season?
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: Yeah. I think, you know, he obviously wasn't very hurt by it. You know, he's a tough guy. He's resilient and that's kind of the mentality we want to have as a team, just that nothing is going to knock us back, nothing is going to knock us down. We're just going to keep coming and, you know, bring it altogether.
BLAKE GRIFFIN: I was very pleased with how we competed last night.
That's something that we really stressed all week in practice, you know, to come out and play like we did. We didn't do it the whole game, but I felt like we did a much better job of competing throughout the game, and, like he said, we needed to have an attitude, you know, we'll take whatever -- whatever you give us, and we'll just keep moving forward.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Thanks, guys.
Coach, if you wouldn't mind opening things up with a quick statement and then we'll get to questions.
COACH JEFF CAPEL: We're excited to still be playing, to have another opportunity to play, playing against a very good Michigan team that's well coached, really tough to prepare for them especially just one day.
We'll get out there and practice and go through some things, and hopefully we can be prepared. Most importantly we have to be ready to take care of us and doing the things we need to be doing. We're excited about the game tomorrow. Look forward to seeing what happens.
Q. Jeff, I'm sure you've seen the tape from last night, the takedown. Just your reaction since you've seen it?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: It was awful. Blake was very fortunate, very, very fortunate. After I left here last night, went back to the locker room, I had the TV on, they showed it. I saw it then. Just made me even more angry. That doesn't need to be in our game. I'm talking about college basketball, plays like that. One of the things that it could do is it could make the really elite players not want to be in college long for fear of getting hurt.
You know, again, I had an opportunity when I played to play against some elite players. I don't think they went through anything like that. I don't recall Duncan getting hit like that or taken down like that or Jamieson or Marbury or those guys. There's no place for that in our game, and it's just frustrating to see it happen to a kid that's -- he's everything right about college basketball, something like that to happen. I was probably more frustrated after I saw it last night.
Q. What is Blake's current condition? What kind of treatment did he undergo? Will he be ready tomorrow center?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: He's fine. There's not much you can do for a bruised elbow except ice and rest. He'll be ready to go tomorrow.
Q. Coach, obviously so much attention gets given to Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. Your impression of the two freshman, Novak and Douglass?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: They're good. They're scrappy and tough. It's not a fake toughness. Those kids play hard. They can make shots. Most importantly, which is so important on a team, they understand who they are, and probably just as important, who they're not. They don't try to do the things that they're not good at. They focus in on what they do, and they do it at a very high level, make shots, play hard, defend, scrap, do all the little things that add up to being really big things. I think that's one of the reasons why Michigan is in the position they're in right now.
Q. Coach, specifically what makes them difficult to prepare for, and in short and on the flip side, do you think you're a difficult team to prepare for on short notice because of the uniqueness of Blake?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: What makes them difficult is how much movement they have in their offense. It has some of the Princeton offense similarities, but it's its own unique style. They have a lot of moving and cutting. They keep great spacing and they have five guys on the floor all the time that can shoot the basketball.
So your traditional 5-man may not play a possession of post defense.
They may have to be out on the perimeter the whole game. Lot of screening, lot of cutting. They do a great job of making reads.
There's some things that I think are absolutes if you watch them on tape. They do a really good job ever making reads. Then playing against their multiple defenses. 1-3-1 is not a defense you see a lot in college basketball. It's something that Michigan does and Coach Beilein has done since he's been in the profession.
They're playing more 2-3 zone now than I've ever seen them play. I haven't really watched them this year until a few days ago. Then playing more man-to-man at times. When you're playing against teams that are constantly switching defenses, sometimes that can knock you off balance a little bit as -- has you reacting instead of going out and just playing.
For us, we just have to do what we do, and hopefully we can impose our will and make them react to us and to what we do.
As far as us being difficult to prepare for, I don't know. That's something another coach would have to answer. I know that they're not many Blake Griffins around. So I know that's unique in its own standpoint of having to prepare for that.
But when we have movement own offense, we're screening and doing those things, I think we are tough to guard. When we don't move and just stay and become lethargic, we're pretty easy to guard. Hopefully we'll have movement tomorrow and be tough to guard.
Q. Jeff, when you're playing a team that has good -- four good shooters on the floor and one of your bigs has to go out and cover, can you talk about what you stress in terms of rebounding and making sure they get in position because they'll try to draw your bigs out on the floor?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: No question. You know, one of the things with a team that shoots a lot of 3s is that a lot of times it's long rebounds. Michigan, if I'm correct -- and I looked at this this morning, maybe my math as I is a little bit off -- I think they shoot
47.7 percent of their shots are 3s. That's a lot. It's almost half of their offense. So with that, sometimes it leads to a lot of long rebounds.
Our guards are going to have to rebound for us tomorrow. We're going to have to check out and rebound. It's something we didn't do well yesterday. We're going to have to make that a point of emphasis tomorrow.
Q. Jeff, is it a little bit of a double whammy with Michigan as far as the preparation, the fact they're unique offensively and defensively?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: Yes, it is. But, you know, again, we have to concentrate on what we do. We'll go over Michigan. We'll be as prepared for them as we possibly can. But we need to take care of us.
Hopefully they're having the same kind of thoughts about us.
Q. Follow up on a different topic. Looks like the Big 12 is going to go 6-0 in the first round, first time that's ever happened. What's that say about the conference?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: Very good. Been underrated all year long. One of the things that happens in our league, we beat up on each other. When you get to this point, it's kind of refreshing to have an opportunity to play against someone else.
Again, I don't think people understand how good this league is and how many good players we have and the really good coaches we have in our league, and hopefully this is an example to show the country, to show college basketball country, how good it really is.
Q. Jeff, I know you're getting ready to hit the practice court. Is Austin okay, recovering last night?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: He'll be okay. We'll probably have to limit him some today, but I think he'll be ready to go tomorrow.
Q. Coach, as ugly as that was last night, can some good come out of that in the way it might even make Blake's teammates rally all the more around him together?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: You know, I don't think it took that last night for that to happen, you know? He's taken some hits and falls all year.
You look at him after the concussion, diving over the table at Texas Tech. He does things like that in practice.
So, I don't think it takes that for our guys to rise. I think just the fact that again we have another opportunity to play, that should be enough for us to rally around each other and rally around what we're trying to do.
Q. Jeff, your recent slump, everybody talked about didn't have Blake, didn't make shots. How much of that was just not playing as top level of defense as you had been earlier?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: A little bit of that. It was combination of a lot of different things. Some of it had to do with the opponents we were playing. We played the toughest part of our schedule and, you know, that had something to do with it as well.
But, again, that's behind us. We hadn't really talked about it since the O State loss. We talked about trying to complete every possession and getting back to playing like I know we're capable of playing.
Q. Jeff, last year you guys were in this situation but you were the underdog. This year you're in the situation and you're good going in.
What would the win tomorrow and advance into the Sweet 16 be in terms of a step for this program?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: It would be huge. But most importantly, our guys want to continue to play, and if we really feel that way, then we have to go out there and give an effort worthy of that. Can't just be talk.
Again, whether we're the underdog or favored, we have an opportunity and we have to take advantage of it tomorrow.
Q. Taylor Griffin talked a little bit about he thought some of the beatings Blake takes is because of how frustrating it is to defend him. Your job is to defend him and he's doing what he's done this year. Can you speak a little of that. There must be guys in practice who get frustrated trying to stop him. What it's like for people to try and stop him?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: There are guys in practice who get frustrated.
It's tough. I've said this all year long. He's a tough guy to defend and officiate because you have to be physical with him because he's so strong, he's so physical.
We don't mind people being physical. It's just -- it's not just with him. It's with anyone. That's just dirty stuff is not good for our game. But he is a tough guy to defend because of how physical he is and how good he is and how skilled he is. If you're out there trying your butt off, just really trying and giving everything you have and the guy is still scoring on you, guy still making it look easy, that can be frustrating. I guarded some guys like that. It was frustrating.
I never flipped them over, though.
Q. Jeff, you played a number of guys yesterday. Are you confident that whatever matchup you need defensively or whatever matchup you want to get, you have the personnel now with players that you feel confident will go win the game for you that you can come up in whatever you want to do?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: I'm confident in our players. I believe in them.
We won 28 games with this group, and hopefully we can win some more.
We can win at least one more. I'm really confident in those guys.
Everyone of them at different times have stepped up and made huge contributions for us this season. And so if we -- whatever we need, we feel like we can go to our bench and those guys can provide whatever we need.
Q. Coach, obviously a lot is being made on Michigan matching up against Blake Griffin. The guard play is also going to be a pretty good matchup, Manny Harris and Willie Warren. How do you think Willie stacks up against Manny. Does Manny remind you of any guards from the Big 12?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: Manny is really, really good. He'll be maybe the best guard we've played against this year. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a kid that you would enjoy as a basketball fan, I would enjoy watching him play as a basketball fan. He's really smooth. He's very efficient offensively and he plays hard. He plays the game the right way.
There are some good matchups on the perimeter but most importantly I want our guys to play like I know we're capable of playing. To limit our turnovers and to be aggressive but be smart while being aggressive and step up and be ready to take shots in that are there.
Q. I asked Coach Beilein about doubling Blake, the decision to or not to. Is there anything different that you can show Blake in terms when he sees the double out of those zone formations that you mentioned? Are there different angles, different passes he needs to see?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: They double differently from anyone that we played this year. They double from the bottom, at least they have in their previous games. That is something that's different from what we've seen. One of the things that we talked to Blake about is trying to catch the ball low, catch it deep, do your work early. That can negate the double. You can still go up and finish through it.
Nebraska was doing that to us in the first half when we played them, and Blake did a better job in the second half of catching it deeper.
We did a better job of finding him deeper.
One of the things we talked about with Blake, you know, we know he's going to get doubled is getting out in transition. Running it's hard to double in transition. We have to get stops and rebounds in order for that to happen.
Then being able to trust, when that happens, when he does get doubled, to get the ball back out to the guys. That's where guys have to be ready to step up and make plays, whether it's a shot or extra pass or hit right back inside when that happens.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last couple of questions for Coach.
Q. Jeff, you talked on Wednesday about you like to coach by giving your guys a lot of freedom, you don't want to have a quick hook or come down too hard on them for mistakes. As the season goes on deeper into the tournament, for instance, do you have less patience for that, or do you think you have the same threshold as do you in November, December and January, and if so, what kind of mistakes get you going more than others?
COACH JEFF CAPEL: Depends on how the game is going. I don't go into a game thinking -- I try to coach on feel and get a feel for how the game is going. The mistakes that bother me the most are effort mistakes. I don't feel like guys are giving good effort. Guys don't hustle, guys don't get on the floor for a loose ball.
Those are the ones that probably get you out of there a little bit faster than any other ones. You make a mistake trying to make a play, you're going hard and maybe you overrun something on defense or you get over and try to take a charge but you're a second too late but you're really trying to make an effort to do that, I understand that.
The best guy that ever played made mistakes.
But it's just effort mistakes are the ones that bother me.
KEVIN KLINTWORTH: Last question? No questions? Okay. Thank you Coach.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports