Beilein's Plan To Slow Down Texas Tech Lottery Pick Jarrett Culver: Charles Matthews

He was the Big 12 Player of the Year.

Jamie and Stoney
March 26, 2019 - 11:17 am

© Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

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For Michigan and John Beilein, the challenge of Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup with Texas Tech begins with sophomore Jarrett Culver. The Big 12 Player of the Year can flat-out score. He'll be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft this summer. 

To slow Culver down -- there's really no stopping him -- Beilein will deploy his best defender. Mono e mono, one versus the other. 

"He's tough, and you hope you got a guy like Charles Matthews," Beilein told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday. "What I've learned a lot as I've matured as a coach here is, sometimes there's great players and then there's great defenders, and when they match up anything can happen.

"Charles Matthews is an elite defender and he takes it personally. And we got some other guys that if you need to switch onto them you can do some things, too, or give Charles a rest. But he's really a good player and Charles has faced really good players. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but it should be a great battle between two great players."

In 34 games this season, the 6'5 Culver is averaging 18.8 points, plus 6.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He went off for 29-8-7 in three-seeded Texas Tech's first-round win over Northern Kentucky. In the second round he put up 16-10-5 in a win over Buffalo. 

Not too shabby. 

For all the due attention paid to Culver, Texas Tech -- like Michigan -- is built on its defense. The Red Raiders rank first in the country in defensive efficiency, two spots ahead of Michigan. They rank third in the country in points against per game (59.2), behind only Michigan and Virginia. Thursday's game may well be a race, or a struggle, to 60. 

Asked what makes Texas Tech so good defensively, Beilein said, "They have experience, number one. This will be one of the most experienced teams we've played. They haven’t all been at Texas Tech, there’s two grad transfers, four fifth-year guys. Heck, we have one fourth-year guy and a whole bunch of second- and third-year guys.

"They really have that and then they really get up in you. Just do some things to try and take you out of your rhythm." 

The game tips off at 9:39 EST in Anaheim. 

Other highlights from Beilein's interview on 97.1 The Ticket. 

On the development of Zavier Simpson's hook shot: Captain Hook, you're talking about. That’s something that we worked on together. We noticed when there became a change in rules where there was no longer really a block/charge at the basket, it was impossible for 6'0 guards to just go in and manipulate themselves in the air and still get the shot off. You could draw a block, you could charge, but you could also get an and-one the old way. You can’t do that anymore.

"You go in there and there's a seven-footer jumping as high as he can in the air, vertical, and any contact that's made on you is not going to be called. So you have to do what we call, 'Body on, ball away -- BOBA.' Put your body on him and get the ball away. That's one of the things that we’ve developed and he's developed, we suggested he develop. He works on it every day, making probably 20 or 30 every day, right and left -- he can shoot it with this left hand, too. It’s a good weapon for him and it’s been great for the team." 

On Jordan Poole's shot selection: We have a really simple rule: if you take a bad shot, that baby better go in. It's tough, you don't want to take peoples' swag away from them, because it's a game with a 30-second shot clock and great defenses with tons of video on you. You’re going to sometimes be forced into situations where you have to take tough shots. What you don’t want to do is take it early in the shot clock or when someone else is open or when you got a switch down low and Jon Teske's being guarded by a six-footer. Those are the elements you have.

"And he knows what’s up, whether it's in practice or film or benching him in the game, that you take those shots, you gotta make those shots. At the same time, he understands that that’s not what we're looking for. But it's a fine line that we try to dodge there because then all of a sudden when he’s wide open he’ll be thinking, 'Is this a bad shot?' You don’t want that, but that’s the dance I dance every day with a couple of players, including Jordan. 

On Michigan's wild locker room celebration after advancing to Sweet 16: (You want) to celebrate and have some fun with it. They love killing me, and I’ll admit, I was a wimp in this one. I got hit so hard initially with it that I just got out of there. I ran and hid until they were done, because I was done, I was soaked from head to toe. It is really a great tradition that we have and it allows those kids a few minutes to be kids and the coaches to enjoy it and just really celebrate what is so hard to do -- to go to an NCAA Tournament, play two great teams and beat them both.