Michigan tosses the Michigan State piano off its back, executes John Beilein's system again
After tough losses at Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State, the Wolverines appeared as if they were playing in quick sand -- running with a piano on their back.
Or, perhaps two pianos.
"Credit Michigan State, but we played like we had two pianos on our back at Michigan State, that was the one that was most glaring to us," Beilein said Monday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "After the Wisconsin loss, we weren't acting, we were reacting too much.
"We needed to just go out and make the cuts we make, look for each other ... 'This is what we do, this is our style of play, let's go back to it.' "
A favorite coaching cliche in sports is to not let one team beat you twice.
It appeared the Wolverines (23-4, 10-4) allowed Wisconsin to beat them twice, and then let Michigan State beat them three or four times in losses earlier this month.
The result of those games was a frazzled, rattled squad who seemed to have forgotten its identity.
It may have taken a full 40 minutes against Penn State, an entire week off and a first half against Illinois -- but Beilein believes his team has finally remembered its identity after a 71-58 win over the Illini on Sunday.
"The coaching staff may have been trying to dial people up too many times, maybe trying to change a little bit at the wrong times," Beilein said. "We were trying to just get back to playing the way we play.
"The system that we run is a read and react system, and that's what we tried to do more of in this last game."
The Wolverines took care of the ball in the second half against Illinois, avoiding costly turnovers and playing off what the defense offered them in transition.
Michigan scored 10 fast break points, 27 points off turnovers and shot 54.2 percent from the floor after the break.
In other words: It just focused on being itself.
"That was the best we had looked overall (since before the Wisconsin game)," Beilein said. "Just playing the game, playing free, easy and playing the way we want Michigan basketball to play."
Michigan will visit Penn State on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., BTN), but its first real chance to prove if its "back" will come Sunday when the Wolverines host Michigan State (4 p.m., CBS).
A game Michigan hopes will feature no pianos this time.
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook