UM’s Beilein on title game vs. Louisville: ‘They beat us fair and square’
The 2013 national championship game was a historic loss for Michigan.
But moving forward, the official record of the contest could be vacated from the history books.
The NCAA levied several sanctions against the Louisville men’s basketball program and coach Rick Pitino last week as punishment following a sex scandal investigation.
Among the penalties, the NCAA suspended Pitino for five Atlantic Coast Conference games and will force the program to surrender wins in which ineligible players participated, which could include the 2013 national title game. Louisville said it will appeal the NCAA's decision.
And while the Cardinals could be forced to take down their championship banner from their 82-76 win, Michigan coach John Beilein said he won’t be rushing to celebrate and make championship rings if that does happen.
“They beat us fair and square in that game,” Beilein said Monday on “The Doug Gottlieb Show” on Fox Sports Radio. “I'm not going to go into what their issues were there. It's a basketball game and we had a tough game. The breaks did not go our way.”
Arguably the most memorable moment in the championship game came when Michigan star guard Trey Burke was called for a controversial foul after he appeared to cleanly pin Louisville guard Peyton Siva’s dunk attempt against the glass with roughly five minutes remaining.
Siva made both free throws to give Louisville a five-point lead, and Michigan never got within one possession the rest of the way as the Cardinals held on.
The game is also remembered for then-freshman guard Spike Albrecht’s 17-point, first-half outburst that helped Michigan take a 38-37 lead at halftime.
“It didn't work out but we're not going to look back and ask for anything else. Our kids gave us everything they had,” Beilein said. “It actually led to the next year where we won the Big Ten championship with many of those guys that made them all better and several of them are in the pros because of that run."
Even if Louisville is stripped of its 2013 championship, Michigan wouldn't be awarded the title because a vacated victory doesn't declare a new winner.
“The NCAA, Louisville can do their thing. Michigan is just going to stay on path to be the best program we can be," Beilein said.
Beilein was ahead of the curve when it came to utilizing the 3-point shot and stretching defenses with big men who can shoot, most notably during his West Virginia days with center Kevin Pittsnogle.
As more and more teams continue to space the floor and adopt similar offenses, Beilein anticipates a shift in defensive adjustments.
“I do see the idea that people may pick back up full court again and even soft presses even more with the 30-second shot clock. I think that changed us a little bit with the 30-second clock,” Beilein said. “We have to move, we have to get the ball out quicker. We have to do things quicker, so that we have more options with the ball.”
The biggest change Beilein has noticed defensively is opponents switching ball screens, something Michigan saw plenty of down the stretch last season.
“That's what really helped us be really good at the end. People switched every ball screen and that's where Derrick Walton, we just challenged him,” Beilein said. “We said, 'Derrick, they don't think you can go by a 7-footer or shoot over a 7-footer. It's time.' He did every bit of that.
“I think that's the next wave defensively is switching everything and stop getting into all these rotations on ball screens because it's really hard. People work at closeout drills all day. Anytime you're in a long closeout, you're in trouble, so how can you avoid that? You switch.”