Jordan Morgan and the Wolverines return to action Thursday night with a home game against Purdue. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — After the dust settled on Michigan’s monumental week that included two more upsets of top-10 teams, it was back to business as usual for the Wolverines.
Following a day off Sunday and video study and light work Monday, it was back to the grind of getting prepared for Thursday’s matchup against Purdue at the Crisler Center.
As the conference schedule nears its midpoint, the 10th-ranked Wolverines (15-4, 7-0 Big Ten) sit atop the pack, a game ahead of Michigan State and at least 2.5 games ahead of the rest of the pack.
“You’d rather be winning all the time, so it’s good we’re feeling that way,” coach John Beilein said. “At the same time, if you follow the scores anywhere in the country, things can change so quickly on you. When you have this many games in a row, you want to be playing well; you have to find a way to stay fresh and sharp at the same time by practicing enough.
“That’s the biggest thing with our coaching staff — staying on point and efficient with our practices but (ensuring) that our practices aren’t tougher than our games, which they usually are.”
For senior Jordan Morgan, it’s a psychological play to want to stay in the groove of continuing to play well while U-M is playing some of its best basketball of the season.
“There’s a balance. With this team and playing well, you almost want to just play games and not practice as much,” Morgan said Wednesday. “It’s going to be difficult for recovery with our bodies and playing a lot of good teams like that. Being able to transition from game to game and having our bodies recover is going to be key in this stretch coming up.”
Thursday’s game against Purdue (13-7, 3-4) begins a stretch of five games in 13 days, with a regular routine of a game about every three or four days for the rest of the season.
There’s a concern about recovering from the strenuous Big Ten rigors both mentally and physically.
“That’s the challenge of coaching everywhere,” Beilein said. “You have to continue to address that and you trust the character of your kids and you trust they get it and understand this game -- and the losses earlier in the year were good tools for them. Not that they weren’t up for those games -- but there’s sudden change all the time in basketball.”
Beilein doesn’t have to look any further than Ohio State and Wisconsin; both were ranked as high as No. 3 in the country before going on multiple-game losing streaks.
“There were a bunch of teams that were all highly ranked before their league seasons started and they had unblemished records,” he said. “Now they’re not even close to it. It comes and goes and you have to keep pressing and be persistent from day to day.”
Purdue at Michigan
Tipoff: 9 p.m. Thursday, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
Records: Purdue 13-7, 3-4 Big Ten; No. 10 Michigan 15-4, 7-0
TV / radio: ESPN / WWJ
Outlook: Michigan goes for its 10th straight win and will have to neutralize 7-foot center A.J. Hammons (9.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks). The Boilermakers have won two of the last three meetings in Ann Arbor.