No. 5 Michigan Basketball (17-1, 6-1 Big Ten) dropped three spots in the AP Top 25 Poll Monday after losing its first game of the season, a 64-54 game at Wisconsin (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) where the Wolverines did not have great success on either side of the floor. Michigan head coach John Beilein held a press conference Monday where he discussed more of his team’s first defeat of the season.
“We didn’t get many open shots, and we didn’t make some of the open ones we got. It was just a typical loss to Wisconsin.” Beilein told assembled media Monday afternoon as he reflected on his team’s first loss since April 2018. “They don’t beat themselves, what was unusual was the sloppiness on defense, and it probably was the carryover we had from the turnovers on offense.”
The Wolverines tied their season-high with 16 turnovers on Saturday, and the Badgers capitalized, scoring 19 points off turnovers for the game. Beilein went on to detail the message given during the Wolverines post-mortem film session and walkthrough that took place on Sunday.
“We will try to grow in the areas we need to grow in the most, and there’s a lot of areas… I don’t have goals other than let’s just make the most out of every single day. Losses will sit more with people including the coaching staff about things you have got to do better. We finished the Wisconsin game and prepared for Minnesota; I think people understand how important each possession is. If we can control things we can control, we will be a lot better team, that was the message.”
Looking forward, Michigan is only one game into a challenging five-game stretch that will feature games vs. Minnesota, at Indiana, vs. Ohio State and at No. 19 Iowa. Beilein spoke to the strength of the Big Ten this year as to a reason that it will be difficult to assess how good teams are less than halfway into the conference slate.
“Most of the teams that go undefeated during November and December are because they mostly play home games. Now you go into conference play, and it’s gonna be 1 for 1” Beilein said. “It’s gonna happen to everybody, and it’s going to continue to happen. It’s just so hard to do right now. I think everybody realizes that the non-conference is the non-conference and when you get into it right now, you could lose a whole lot of games and still be a heck of a team, because of playing home, playing away and the conference is really strong right now.”
Among Beilein’s most significant concerns for his young team is to make sure that loss Saturday does not snowball into a losing streak amidst this four-game stretch. The 2012-13 Wolverines started 16-0 but finished 9-6 down the stretch before making their way to the National Championship game. No two teams are alike but that season did come to Beilein’s mind as he prepares the Wolverines coming off a loss.
“You’re a victim of your own success. Any losses are magnified, and it’s really not the truth. The truth is that the schedule was much different in the first 18 (games) than it is in the last 13. Much different. You try to explain that to your team without taking away confidence and without scaring them in the future. You try to make sure they know what our team really is and what we’re capable of. But a loss is a loss, learn from it, move on.”
The 2013 team also found itself facing Minnesota coming off a disappointing road loss, and the Wolverines responded with an 83-75 win over a Gopher team ranked No. 9. Beilein gave the players Monday off, but they and the coaches will be eager to get back on the Crisler Center floor and prove that Saturday’s loss was just an aberration in what has been an excellent season so far.
Tuesday night’s game at Crisler Center is an announced sellout as No. 5 Michigan takes on Minnesota (14-4, 4-3 Big Ten) at 7 PM. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network. Follow @WolverineLounge and @ByJaySarkar on Twitter for in-game updates and more.