No time to rest for Wolverines after OT win

John Beilein

When it's NCAA Tournament time, there's only rest after every other game. For Michigan, who just finished an overtime win against top seeded Kansas, you have to wonder if one day is enough. Scouting is difficult enough but when you win an emotional game like that and four of your starters also log 39 minutes or more, it may take a toll. Michigan says they feel fine and will be ready for Florida.

Michigan star Trey Burke who was the hero of the contest on Friday is the first to tell you they will be fine.

"We were all very excited after the game, obviously, just being able to get back to the Elite-8 is something that this program hasn't done in a long time," Burke told the national media on Saturday. "We're really excited. We're honored to be here.

"It really hasn't (taken) us a long time to come down from it. We understand that we have more work to do. We understand that we're about to face a really good Florida team. So we really don't have time to reminisce on the last game. We just have to get ready for Florida tomorrow and we have to be prepared. This deep into the season you can't really look back on your last wins or your last losses. You just have to keep playing.

Guard Tim Hardaway, JR knows they have to put the big, dramatic, overtime win behind them as well.

"We knew what happened yesterday, we had a great win, a great comeback," Hardaway said. "Last night everybody was very, very happy. We knew today we have to focus on whoever won against Florida Gulf Coast or University of Florida. Florida won, so we're just focusing on them right now.

Michigan coach John Beilein knows you have to take shortcuts with a quick turnaround like this one.

Well, it's always a quick turnaround, not like your conference tournament, but pretty quick… so we're trying to get them to absorb as much information as we can on our next opponent, great opponent and get as ready as we can," Beilein said in the same media setting. "And then with an early afternoon game tomorrow we've got to rely on a lot of the instincts and a lot of things we've done earlier in the year. They grasped what we did well today and now we've just got to rest a little bit and come out and play a really, really good Florida team."

Of note for Michigan, they start three freshmen… Forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, and guard Nik Stauskas. Every rung they climb in the NCAA tournament is an entirely new one. With the whirlwind of everything happening in the last two weeks it would be easy for the young guys to get caught up in all of it and expect they have already reached the mountain top. Beilein isn't going to let it happen.

We're going to make sure that it's never enough until the season is not over you're not the team until you're the team," the coach said. "And the only way you can be the team is that you win the Championship.

"So we want to make sure that they never get satisfied by this great season that we have. We're trying to get one more every game. And if one more leads us to one more, we'll concentrate on that game. But we'll be hungry."

The oldest starter on the unit is guard Hardaway an he says the freshmen have played above their heads most of the season and he isn't worried about the young guys.

"This team is playing with a lot of toughness right now, especially going down the stretch," Hardaway said. "It's great just to see our young guys… fighting fatigue and not get down on themselves when making a mistake. They know it's win or go home right now. So everything is on the line and everybody just wants to go out there and play their hardest."

Michigan has a highly efficient offense. They are 6th in the nation in field goal percentage and 6th in scoring margin averaging 12,4 points per game more than their opponent. Florida counters with the nation's best scoring margin and the 3rd ranked scoring defense in the country. Hardaway says something will have to give, but it should be fun to watch.

"We know that they're going to come out and execute their defensive plan," he said. "And we'll execute our offensive plan.

"It's going to be a great match up between both teams. And we need to go out and play like yesterday (against Kansas), play with heart and play with passion. That's what it's going to boil down to."

Freshman Robinson believes the defense will be the key, on both sides.

"At the end of the day it's all going to come down to defense in my opinion," the freshman forward said. "We've got to lock into defense and at the same time continue to do what we've been doing offensively wise."

With the quick turnaround Beilein believes they got the luck of the draw in that he says Florida and Kansas are very similar in playing style. They aren't running into anything that will totally throw them off the path as far as how to play against it.

"I think if you have a really, really experienced team and you run a very unique offense, very unique I think and defense I think you saw that with Florida Gulf Coast, how they've been able to probably play at a higher level, play with a lot of high majors at a very high level, because they're unique in what they do<" he said. "I think that favors some teams.

"We are fortunate in that a lot of the things that Florida runs is what we saw from Kansas. They have some other unique things. It's not like playing the Syracuse zone in one day. That's another challenge for everybody if they see something they haven't seen a lot this year."

With only a short time to prepare for the Gators so far, by interview time, Beilein was only able to grasp the numbers and statistics that Florida has put up this year. The numbers themselves say winning this game will be a daunting task.

All I'm looking is the numbers," he said. "The numbers are outstanding. The 36(percent), 37 in league play. I don't look at overall. I just look at league play. And then look at holding people to 27 percent from three. People are scoring in the 40s and 50s on them. So they are terrific.

"I think Billy would probably say this is the best defensive people he's ever had. We're having trouble finding spots that we can attack. It has to do a lot with the match ups, the makeup of the team, and the experience of the team. But they're going to be challenging. They're not turning teams over a great deal. They're just guarding their yard. They're just staying in front of people and contesting and not getting a lot of second opportunities, as well."

The inside match up should be a fun one to watch. Florida's post man junior Patric Young is a 6-9, 249 pound rock in the middle of the defense. Michigan counters with the 6-10, 250 pound freshman McGary. McGary has feasted during the tournaments because other team's bigs have maneuvered to show defense against trey burke when he gets the ball and then burke feeds it back inside for easy points, especially against Kansas. Something Young will have to guard against.

"It happens a lot throughout this whole tournament, everyone has been so keyed in on Trey that it's been able to free me up for looks and get easy drop offs," McGary said. "He expects me to finish those, and I did just that."

The All-American Burke knows a bit about Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin. The 6-2, 176 pound Wilbekin is the guy that will likely draw Burke on defense. Burke likewise will defend Wilbekin. He has a feel for what he has to try and accomplish against the All-SEC defender.

"Really good defender, and really good distributor, as well," Burke said of Wilbekin. "I understand that my job is just to try to keep him out of the paint as much as possible and make him take tough 2's."

"Just from watching film and watching Florida this year, I understand that he's kind of one of their best defenders. So just like against VCU, we're going to have to try to find ways to attack their pressure and make their pressure our offense."

Florida and Michigan tip off at 2:20 pm eastern time on CBS.

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