Almost as impressive as Michigan’s 17-1 start to the 2012-13 season is the Wolverines propensity to, in stretches, make the game look far too fun and in certain instances, easy. But the Big Ten is anything but easy these days and with three teams tallying 4 losses, four teams with at least two losses, and just three sitting at the top of the standings with one loss.
Just a little over three weeks into conference play, the Wolverines needed, and took full advantage, of some rare time off.
“We took a break because of all the games next week,” Beilein said Wednesday. “We took two days off this week so that we don’t have to take a day off next week when we have three games in a week. It was good to give guys two days back-to-back.”
Sometimes lost in the day-to-day, constant effort to scout and prepare for each team on the schedule, ready to throw the kitchen sink at the Wolverines, can be the focus on individual skill development. With so much emphasis on the Ohio State’s, Minnesota’s and now Purdue, the fundamentals that all good teams are built on -- defending the pick and roll, handling assignments defensively, rotating to help, and that kind of important statistic called rebounding.
Add all of that up and this week, this extra time outside of competition was as much about Michigan as it’s been since non-conference play.
“When you have the games during the season and if you play two games a week, it’s really hard to get back to the basics,” said Beilein. “Because you’re trying to rest after one game, trying to get ready for the next game.”
“Sometimes you can get so much into scouting reports you’re playing to play instead of playing basketball. That’s a fine area we’ve got to watch.”
Michigan is now set to embark on a stretch that includes five games over a 13 day span, beginning with Thursday nights 7PM/EST tip with Purdue (3-2 in Big Ten) as the Boilermakers come to town winners of three in a row.
And if the Wolverines need any reminder what it’s like to drop a game to Purdue at Crisler Center, they needn’t look further back than last year’s senior day loss.
“We did not play very well in that game and it’s a credit to Purdue,” said Beilein. “They outplayed us in every way. They out hustled us. They out schemed us. They did everything.”
“At that time someone asked the question about the Big Ten championship – we didn’t think there was a chance then. Everything would have to drop after we lost that home game.”
Michigan was able to recover and earn a share of the 2011-12 Big Ten title but if the Wolverines are hoping to repeat, a loss at home, to anyone, just can’t happen.
• Beilein said Wednesday afternoon that his team’s health is just fine, although “four to five” guys will be in the training room receiving normal treatments
• Jon Horford continues working his way back and although he isn’t experiencing any setbacks, the effort to get him back up to speed and in shape is a slow one in the middle of conference play. Beilein also noted the practice performance of Max Bielfeldt and majority of minutes being allotted to Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary.
To watch video of Beilein from Wednesday afternoon, press play below.