After trying positive reinforcement and adages like, “practice, practice, practice,” to motivate his team, Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein is trying something new age: A highlight video.

Brian Merlos
Michigan coach John Beilein is turning to a highlight DVD to motivate his players. (RODRIGO GAYA/Daily)

“I put the order in today to make a positive tape, get everyone going, so they can watch their tape over and over again, making every shot,” Beilein said following Tuesday’s loss to Indiana. “We can get them to believe that they can do this.”

Beilein’s highlight DVD is an attempt to give his team the confidence it’s currently lacking. Rather than just telling the players about each good play all season, the first-year coach intends to show them.

It remains to be seen whether the film will help Michigan defeat Northwestern Saturday when it tries to avoid being on the losing end of a Wildcat “feel-good story.”

Both teams are 0-3 in the Big Ten, and the Wolverines are just one loss away from matching their all-time worst conference start. With a win, Northwestern, long considered the whipping boy of the Big Ten, could symbolically put the Wolverines in the Wildcats’ usual home – the conference cellar.

“It’s an uphill battle now,” redshirt junior C.J. Lee said. “We have to go to Northwestern now and, basically, get a ‘W.’ “

If Michigan’s whole season were a movie, it’d likely do worse than Waterworld at the box office. But by concentrating on just the positive images, Beilein’s DVD could be as inspiring as It’s a Wonderful Life, showing the players they still have a conference season worth playing.

A continuous loop of highlights will prove to Beilein’s players that they’ve actually made shots this season. The Wolverines are shooting just 41 percent from the floor, worst in the Big Ten.

“We’re getting the looks,” Lee said. “I wouldn’t question our shot selection. I would just say the ball’s not going in the basket. As a scorer and a shooter, you can’t get down on that. . You have to have confidence. It’s going to be a great day when those shots start going.”

The highlight video offers plenty of opportunities for players to see the shots falling before they even step onto the hardwood in Evanston. Any piece of confidence squeezed out of watching the video may be enough to help Michigan avoid another embarrassing loss.

Until then, the Wolverines must continue to play with the weight of a 4-11 record on their shoulders.

During the Big Ten coaches’ weekly teleconference Monday, the conference moderator, as she did with all the coaches, introduced Beilein, mentioning Michigan’s overall record.

“Thanks for rubbing it in that we’re 4-10,” Beilein said. “But I realize you have to give the facts.”

The fact is, one more loss and Michigan’s futility will be as prominent as a movie marquee. And the teleconference moderator won’t be the only one rubbing it in.

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