Beilein awaits 'interesting discussion' after rare ejection
University Park, Pa. — Losses for Michigan have been hard to come by this season.
Even rarer? Michigan coach John Beilein being tossed from a game.
Both happened during a bizarre, strange night at Bryce Jordan Center where Beilein was ejected for the second time in his 44-year coaching career in Tuesday’s 75-69 loss to Penn State.
It all unfolded at the end of the first half when Beilein argued with the officials over a possible missed moving screen that knocked junior guard Zavier Simpson down and freed up Penn State’s Rasir Bolton for a buzzer-beating layup.
Beilein, 66, was hit with successive technical fouls and, as a result, was ejected from the game. The only other time that’s believed to happen to Beilein is when he was a 26-year-old head coach at Erie Community College in New York.
“I haven't been thrown out of a game since I think it was 78-79. It's 20 years before most of you were born,” Beilein said. “And you know me, I very rarely ever get a technical. I'll deal with the league office going forward and see what I can do differently.”
Beilein declined to elaborate on why he went after the refs and what the topic of discussion was at the end of the half but said having to watch the second half from the locker room was “painful.”
"Yeah, I'm not going to say anything, that would not be good,” Beilein said. “There will be some pretty interesting discussion with the Big Ten office. What I will say is you guys know I don't get upset with officials.”
Assistant coach Saddi Washington, who replaced Beilein after halftime, confirmed the ejection was regarding the non-call on Simpson on the final possession.
“It's one of those bang-bang things,” Washington said. “I thought X did a good job of guarding their guy. That call could've went either way if it was an illegal screen. They didn't call it, they scored on it and then what happened, happened.”
Washington added he was surprised how quickly Beilein received both technicals because of his reputation. And while Beilein was fired up when he was hit with the first technical, he was trying to get clarification on that last play from officials Paul Szelc, Lewis Garrison and Rob Riley when the second one soon followed.
“I think you guys have been around long enough to know Coach Beilein and the latitude a guy in his position should get after a questionable call,” Washington said. “At the end of the day, we're here to compete.
“There are a lot of plays that we can look back on and say what determined the outcome. But certainly, I think Coach Beilein has built up enough equity in this league and across the country that he's able to share his opinion and then everybody moves on.”
While that wasn’t the case Tuesday, Beilein said his dismissal didn't change Michigan's usual halftime routine. He met with the rest of the coaching staff to go over adjustments — like Penn State switching ball screens and playing with a better tempo on offense — for four or five minutes before talking with the team with five minutes left in the break.
Beilein said he wrapped up his speech by notifying the Wolverines of his ejection and apologizing because "that was a surprise."
“I mean that shows he cares for us,” redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews said. “Coach put his reputation on the line. Coach B is basically a saint in the basketball world. For something like that to happen shows that he was really frustrated, and he cares. He blamed himself after the game and it had nothing to do with him. It's all on us.”
The two technical fouls led to four free throws for Penn State (9-15, 2-11) and the Nittany Lions made three to push their lead to 43-27 at the start of the second half.
The Wolverines (22-3, 11-3) put up a fight and pulled within four points three times in the final 8:21, including twice in the last 34 seconds. But time ultimately ran out and the comeback effort fell short.
“(The ejection) wasn't what determined the game,” Washington said. “I thought we could've came out with a little bit more focus to start. No one singular play is going to determine it, especially that early in it. Obviously losing coach, that's a big deal. But I think our staff did a good job of trying to hold down the fort and make a run at it in the second half.”
Penn State held a decisive edge in the rebounding battle, 35-25, and finished with 12 offensive boards that led to 11 second-chance points.
While Beilein noted the Nittany Lions had a couple fortunate bounces and had success with their guards crashing the glass, Matthews said it had everything to do with effort.
“Clear as day,” Matthews said. “You can see it from the beginning. It was all effort.”
... Sophomore guard Jordan Poole finished 1-for-8 from 3-point range and is shooting 27.9 percent from deep (17-for-61) over the past 10 games.
"We've just got to working on taking the right shots," Beilein said. "Every guy is going through these times where you have one of those 1-for-something games."
… Michigan busted out a 2-3 zone for one possession late in the first half. It was quickly shelved after Penn State missed a shot but managed to get the offensive rebound.
“We couldn't stop (Lamar) Stevens. We had Iggy (Brazdeikis) in foul trouble and he was taking advantage of (Jon) Teske,” Beilein said. “We thought we would try it. May see it again."
… Penn State snapped an eight-game losing against Michigan and recorded its first win in the series since Feb. 27, 2013, when the Wolverines were ranked No. 4 in the nation.