Michigan’s newfounded rebounding ability was on full display in New York, impacting the game on both ends of the floor. Beilein hopes it continues as a dangerous NC State team arrives in Ann Arbor tonight (7:30 PM, Crisler Center, ESPN TV).
Michigan’s rebounding ability in the first three games came filled with questions galore. Could the Wolverines do this against better teams? Would Michigan be able to pound the glass against big, physical teams?
In New York, with contests against Pittsburgh and Kansas State, not only did Michigan answer those questions in resounding-rebounding fashion, they also came home with two quality wins against teams that run out styles similar to that of the Big Ten.
“I think we proved we could rebound with two rebounding teams,” said Beilein Monday. “We weren’t playing against spread offenses with four perimeter guys. We were playing against—both teams had two guys on the blocks who were there to do a lot of things, one of them rebound.”
“When you out rebound Pitt, when you out rebound Kansas State, that showed us that with effort we can continue to do that.”
Michigan outrebounded Pitt in game one 37-26, and followed that up Friday by outrebounding Bruce Weber’s Wildcats 42-30. Rebounding is about showing a “want to” attitude and having a nose for the basketball (well, as well as inside strength and talent) but as Beilein pointed out Monday, the way a team plays defensively can have a lot to do with that margin as well.
“The other thing that helps you rebound is: if you’re keeping people from penetration you don’t get caught in rotations where you have the wrong guys rebounding,” said Beilein.
“Glenn Robinson has done a great job, almost what Novak used to do defensively—sort’ve being so solid either on the ball or off the ball it’s made us not have to make up for typical freshmen errors. He and Jordan Morgan have really helped us defensively many times this year.”
Not only is the added rebounding ability allowing Michigan’s defense to be nearly air tight, its also creating opportunity on the offensive end. Although getting back in transition will always be important, specifically in games controlled by half-court offense, the Wolverines are doing a nice job attacking the offensive boards, looking for quick, easy buckets.
“If you score over a point a possession we’re really pleased with that, and we’ve been scoring over that,” said Beilein. “We got two things happening. We’ve got low turnovers, we’re getting extra possessions from offensive rebounding, and we’re shooting the ball at a pretty good clip” (we’ll excuse the coach for miscounting, lol).
“When you get a few offensive rebounds and stick-backs, that’s a quick percentage booster.”
With an athletic, long, and dangerous North Carolina State team (4-1, ranked #18) headed to Crisler Center tonight (7:30, ESPN), the Wolverines will be challenged yet again—as will the rest of the league looking for their fourth win in a row in the BIG/ACC Challenge.
To watch video of Beilein’s press conference Monday, press play below.