By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Unlike Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Michigan coach John Beilein uses Twitter, and like Izzo, Beilein does not appear to be a huge fan of the social media site.
“I have a lot of followers, and I don’t check it that much, I don’t tweet enough, but I will just, I will check my Twitter sometimes, just after a win or after a loss, just to see what the players could be getting, and it’s amazing, after a win what a good coach you are and after a loss what a pathetic coach you are,” Beilein said. “And I can imagine the same thing is happening to the players. They just can’t read that. We just don’t read it.”
Beilein does not forbid players from tweeting. The group instituted a no-tweeting policy last year, but that did not stop players from checking the site, which is what coaches want players to avoid in the first place.
“We just advise them, ‘You cannot even look at it,’” Beilein said. “It’s just like looking at blogs, things like that. It certainly isn’t conducive to your self-esteem. Sometimes it might be, but with most people, I think it’s most common, you read nine nice things about you, and one person gets after you, that affects you more than the nine people that said something nice to you, and you just, you can’t do that.
“We haven’t won a national championship and we’re new kids on the block a little bit in the last four years of just really being up there, but the media attention that they get because of that is far – it’s what maybe the best professional teams and the best teams had 20 years ago, it’s more than that,” Beilein continued. “It’s incredible. And they just have to shut it out.”
Players can hardly afford any extra distractions in the next few days, as the weekend culminates in on of the bigger games of the regular season. The team that wins the rivalry matchup at Crisler Center will likely take over first place in the Big Ten conference standings, depending on the outcome of Michigan State’s Thursday game against Purdue.
“The last 20 years they have been absolutely terrific,” Beilein said. “We’re just trying to get to that point where we’re consistently up there … With both teams being really good, this is what it’s all about.”
Going into the season, the Spartans were projected as Final Four contenders, but many thought the Wolverines would fade after the departure of superstar point guard Trey Burke. Beilein said the team’s continued strength has not particularly shocked him.
“I’m never surprised by anything,” Beilein said. “You just never know what’s going to happen during a season … We’ve still got to finish strong, but we’ve got a good group of young men.”
Sophomore Nik Stauskas, a guard who has been averaging 16.7 points for Michigan, went on a hot streak in January in which he scored 19 or more in four straight games. Recently, though, his numbers have dropped. Beilein said the decline in production is a result of opponents guarding Stauskas more closely rather than Stauskas not performing.
“When a player really plays well, teams will load up against them,” Beilein said. “That means they will put extra attention on him … Teams load up against him, and so we have other alternatives … Kids are 19, 20 years old, they’re going to have good games, they’re going to have great games, they’re going to have bad games.”
One of the alternatives for the Wolverines is another sophomore, Caris LeVert, whom Beilein said the team wanted to redshirt but in retrospect is glad that did not end up happening.
“We just sensed he was ready to play,” Beilein said. “Thank goodness we did because we wouldn’t have gotten to the Final Four without him … Between Nik, Glenn [Robinson III] and Caris, we wanted all of them on the court at the same time.”
Since that group provides so much versatility, Beilein said, it made sense to go smaller with the lineup to take advantage of the flexibility of those players. Robinson, though, has received some criticism since he has scored in single digits in five of the team’s last seven games.
“We have to deal with those expectations all the time,” Beilein said. “He’s had a really solid year, adjusted well to his role … He shot more volume than last year, but he was more consistent last year … He’s coming along at a really good rate … We wouldn’t be in this situation right now without Glenn’s consistent performance for us. He’s really done a great job.”