8A - Monday, March 5, 2012
From Page 1A
efforts alone are the only ele-
ments necessary for the fulfill-
ment of their goals. Michigan
gave that up, though, when it
fell to Purdue on senior night a
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
As the Wolverines filed into picked
their hotel rooms on Saturday the le
night, as they filed onto the bus but m
to head to the Bryce Jordan to run
Center yesterday, as they went Nob
through the monotony of their State t
pregame warmups and as they for the
finally escaped with a 71-65 win and as
over the Nittany Lions that was land.
more draining than it need
have been, the spirits of sea-
sons past danced above their "t'
No, these weren't the spir- bi
its of the dead, of those who
donned the colors long ago and and
now lie in eternal rest. These
were the spirits of men very in
much alive, but whose great-
ness and pedigree still ride the
winds in search of what they
could not seize. Yet
They were the spirits of the tough,
greats, those who have a claim it wou
to hallowed spots in their pro- ting al
gram's lore - Rice, Robinson, It's,
Rose. glass a
They were the spirits of senior
those who weren't quite as embod
talented, but who still gave They j
everything they had to Michi- lying d
gan - Blanchard, Robinson Jr., to its r
Horton, Abram, Sims. wrong
They were even the spirits of them a
those who had no peer on the way th
court but who shamed their But
school off it - Webber, Traylor, John B
They still drift aimlessly lifer li(
because, for all they achieved, mind t
they never won their confer- slows,
ence's ultimate prize. But you ever-h
can be sure they were swirl- His
ing as the Wolverines landed isn't th
n Ann Arbor on Sunday have a bonafide all-star. It has
ng in time to see William a couple players that will prob-
d's jumper sink the Spar- ably make the NBA some day,
but nobody that's going to set
***the league on fire.
Beilein, this season, had
Michigan basketball essentially the same team that
s Big Ten co-champions he had last year - a squad
e first time since 1986, and that went 8-8 in the confer-
seems like just a dream ence. Trey Burke is more
ing around the heads of dynamic than Darius Morris,
ung players. while Novak and Douglass are
Wolverines were to improved.
I to finish near the top of But Tim Hardaway Jr. and
ague before the season, Evan Smotrycz have been
ost expected the Buckeyes worse players overall, and the
away with it. bench is even thinner.
body expected Michigan But this edition has been
o be as strong as it is, or more disciplined. The players
conference to be, far have been tougher and have
ray, the best league in the played smarter - that comes
Beilein, with his tactical
genius and subtle powers as a
s time for the motivator, has squeezed more
out of this group than any could
g goals now have thought possible.
He probably won't win Big
, irrevocably, Ten Coach of the Year, but he
the future." Those who called for his fir-
ing during the early lows of last
season, and those who ques-
tioned his hiring in the first
Michigan navigated a place, now seem sillier than
er road than it imagined ever.
id have to traverse in get- Michigan has been yearning
1 the way to the top. for its program's promised reas-
a testament to Stu Dou- cendance, for the return of the
nd Zack Novak, two days when its name was synon-
s who have been the ymous with basketball power.
liment of leadership. This season isn't over yet, but
oined a program that was with this championship, that
lormant and took it back day has come.
ightful place, proving "We want to get back (to the
all those who doubted top), but to get there, you have
and their team the whole these mini-goals, and this was
rough. one of them," Beilein said after
mostly, it's a testament to the Penn State game.
Beilein. Behind the unim- But thanks to his own
face of the mid-major rebuilding mastery, the days
es a searing basketball of the mini-goals are over. The
hat never stops, never sleeping giant that was Michi-
in driving endlessly for gan is slumbering no more.
igher goals. This season isn't over yet. It's
team this season really time for the big goals, now, and
tat talented. It doesn't irrevocably, in the future.
From Page 1A
of Buford's last-second shot.
"Everybody just froze for half-a-
second, and once the shot went
in, the place erupted."
Crisler Center will see a new
regular-season-title banner for
the first time since 1986, when
Michigan all-time scoring leader
Glen Rice finished up his impres-
sive freshman campaign.
The past 26 years have been
quite the conference champion-
ship drought for the Wolverines
on the hardwood.
Touted early-90s recruits
Jalen Rose and Chris Webber
couldn't deliver one, but the
unsung duo of Novak and Dou-
glass - who formed coach John
Beilein's first recruiting class in
Ann Arbor - did just that.
"First Big Ten Championship
in (26) years," Novak said on
Sunday night. "For everybody on
this team - you see the reunions,
we've had a few since we've been
here - guys will come back, and
this is the Big Ten Championship
team from this year. This team
won this championship. We're
going to be able to do that."
Before the season, few ana-
lysts predicted that Michigan
would vie for a title by season's
end, and after the Wolverines
suffered their first home loss
of the season on senior night to
Purdue last weekend, the pro-
jections seemed accurate. Ohio
State fell on its senior night that
weekend as well, and all Michi-
gan State had to do to wrap up
the outright title was win one of
its last two matchups.
But in an unlikely twist,
Indiana denied the Spartans in
Bloomington on Tuesday, 70-55,
and Buford took care of the rest
"The most rewarding part of
what just happened is watching
our young men's faces," Beilein
said after Ohio State took care of
"When you (are a) coach for
this long, and our staff knows
this, it's not about the Ws, it's
about the journey. ... It's cer-
tainly a highlight in this year's
journey, and for some guys, a
Despite the slip-up against
the Boilermakers last week, the
Wolverines will enter the Big
Ten Tournament in Indianapo-
lis this weekend on a roll, having
won six of their last seven con-
In accordance with the tie-
breaker rule - how the three
first-place teams fared against
fourth-place Wisconsin this sea-
son - Michigan State (2-0) gets
Senior guard Zack Novak battles for a rebound in Michigan's season-ending vic-
tory against Penn State on Sunday.
. 1 seed in the conference of the game between No. 7 seed
ment, Michigan (1-0) the Northwestern and No. 10 seed
seed and Ohio State (1-1) Minnesota on Thursday. Should
. 3 seed. The three teams, the Wildcats win, the Wolver-
he fourth-seeded Badgers, ines will have their hands full on
Friday, as they needed overtime
to subdue Northwestern in both
.t n of their meetings this season.
t's O T J f But for now, Michigan will
.h ighlih rest up and enjoy the title they
highlght rightfully earned.
"All I know is, this is a really
this ... four- good cup of coffee," Beilein
'ar Journe q.e"I might have a really good
glass of wine when I go home,
and the coffee the next morn-
ing will really taste good. That's
eive first-round byes. when it will sink in, probably
higan will tip off on Friday tomorrow morning, when I make
at 6:30 against the winner my first cup of coffee."
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