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March 31, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-31

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2B - March 31, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Elite Eight charmingly fun, until the photo finish

Moments after the game,
the sun is low in the sky
and Lucas Oil Stadium casts a
long shadow
as, inside,
walks off
the court for
the last time
together. ZACH
Morgan is
first, well
before anyone else. Glenn
Robinson III gives a quick
wave to the crowd and puts
his head down. Nik Stauskas
is emotionless. Mitch McGary,
who was never getting into the
game, walks off wearing the
uniform his teammates have
insisted he wear.
Later, Morgan, held up by
his press conference, is one of
the last to enter the Michigan
locker room. Most of the room
is composed except for Zak
Irvin, who is emotional in one
corner of the room, and for
Morgan. He wipes his face with
his sleeve and cries in front of
the television cameras.
His teammates have said
the loss is all the more difficult
because it means they'll
never play another game with
Morgan. The senior doesn't
know how to respond.
He pauses to wipe his eyes.
"I didn't expect it to be my
last game," Morgan says.
"It's over. I don't know what
else to say."
It's over - much later than
anyone anticipated. Without
Trey Burke, without Tim
Hardaway Jr., without McGary,
this team didn't just win the Big
Ten. It dominated. It improved,
steadily, each game. The pieces,
especially offensively, meshed

A photo comes to mind now
from the summer of 2012. The
Michigan men's basketball
team's incoming class is posing
together at the basketball
facilities, maybe for the first
time all together.
Caris LeVert is wearing
cargo shorts. Spike Albrecht
looks small, even next to the
wiry LeVert. All have their
arms around each other, except
Robinson, who has his hands
in his pockets and smiles big.
McGary looks like akid at
summer camp. Stauskas stands
at the edge and looks moody.
College basketball today is
brutal in this regard. Jordan
Morgans are rare. Play as well
as Michigan has and you risk
losing your best players. A
two-year-old photo feels like
a sepia-toned memory. Almost
certainly, some of those players
will be gone next year.
It's unclear what Michigan
could have done differently
against Kentucky. It's unclear
what Michigan could have done
better. A few more box outs,
maybe. Less foul trouble.
But the Wolverines played
at just about its peak and stood
with Kentucky's size and
talent and saidbeat this. And
Kentucky did.
It was hard to ask much more
from this team in this game,
this season. Michigan's big men,
simply, weren't big. Kentucky
was too much to handle above
the rim. The final six minutes
on Sunday were the best
basketball of this thoroughly
entertaining tournament.
Michigan takes a timeout,
down seven, the game slipping
away. A pretty drive and kick
back by LeVert finds Robinson
open in the corner. His shooting
has been inconsistent for most
of the season. It's good. Four-

Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson Ill and the Michigan men's basketball team couldn't make the Final Four for a second straight year, but they made a deep run.

point game now.
Two possessions later,
Morgan gets a put-back and
the foul. Free throw good. One
point game -and now we're
Aaron Harrison three.
Morgan dunk. Kentucky layup.
Robinson layup. Kentucky
layup. The under-four-minutes
television timeout feels
akin to interrupting Mozart
mid-symphony to sell a few
extra bratwursts. Damn your
television timeouts.
Back now. Stauskas makes
both on a shooting foul.
Harrison three. Robinson three.
Nine possessions now without
so much as a missed shot. How
much fun is this?
Michigan needs two to tie
now. so John Beilein takes a

timeout. And then LeVert goes
off. Stauskas misses a layup,
but LeVert grabs it and dishes.
Stauskas, again, from three rims
out and LeVert slashes into the
paint, dives after the ball and,
falling backward, dishes back
to Stauskas. Another miss, but
a hand - likely that of Julius
Randle of Kentucky - redirects
the ball back in. Tie game.
This right here was
Michigan's season. A flawless,
smart offense (the most
efficient, ever, it turns out,
at least since we've started
keeping track of such stats);
a socialist-like insistence on
sharing the basketball; and
more effort than defense.
LeVert was not going to let
Kentucky get the ball back
before Michigan made a basket.

Then Aaron Harrison -
that's Aaron Bleeping Harrison,
to translate for Ann Arbor
readers - hit the shot of his
young career. Stauskas' prayer
went short. And Kentucky won.
Michigan will be back here
again. This feels more certain
than it has in forever.
For Michigan, this hurt
not because it gave Kentucky
anything. It didn't. It hurt not
because it squandered a rare
opportunity. It will come again.
It hurts because it won't be
with this team, this thoroughly
surprising and likeable team.
It hurts, because in college
basketball today, teams like
this are like comets - brilliant,
breathtaking, brief. It hurts
because that photo feels
nostalgic. And it's from 2012. It

hurts because of Morgan.
Morgan is talking about this
team in the press conference
after the game. He's the last one
to speak before it's over.
"Yeah, I mean, just this year
has been the most fun time
I've had, probably, playing
basketball, ever," he says.
It's over now, and it hurts
for Michigan, butI don't know
what else to say except: how
much fun was that?
- Managing Photo Editor Teresa
Mathew and Senior Sports Editor
Daniel Wasserman contributed
Helfand can be reached
at zhelfand@umich.edu and
on Twitter @zhetfand

Wolverines take fourth,
claim two NCAA Titles

Michigan BIG champs

Daily Sports Writer
For the second straight year,
the Michigan men's swimming
team boarded a team bus with
two NCAA Championship
But this time, instead of
taking the crown as a team,
the Wolverines placed fourth
at the NCAA Championships,
with senior Connor Jaeger and
sophomore Dylan Bosch claiming
individual national titles.
No. 2 Michigan entered the
meet knowing it would be tough

in the Jamail Texas Swimming
Center, powering himself to
victory in 1:39.33. Along with
breaking Tom Shields' NCAA
record, Bosch also seta U.S. Open
record previously shared by
Shields and Michael Phelps.
The Wolverines erupted on
the pool-deck, drowning out all
other noise in ecstasy for their
"I love Dylan Bosch," Jaeger
tweeted moments after Bosch
touched the wall. "That is the
single most excited I've ever been
after a race. So proud of my boy
and to call you my friend."

to live up to
its resounding
victory in
2013. But with
the sheer
number of
swimmers No.
1 Florida, No. 3
California and
No. 6 Texas
had competing,
it quickly
apparent that a r
out of reach.
The Golden B
themselves from
the final day to
with 468.5 point
Longhorns (387),
and the Wolverin
Michigan u
the first two dt
hard to tell wi
cheered for ev
meet's final sessi
Nowhere wa
evident than in
record-setting w
yard butterfly.
Entering the
favorite, Bosch 1

a weighty
"They really hold from a three-
on to each other champion and
an Olympian.
and want to do it "(Bosch) has
thought about
for each other." this every day
for the past 365
days," Jaeger
said. "He knew
'epeat would be what he wanted to do, and he did
it. He was inspired."
tears separated But despite being seeded
the field on near the top in many events,
win the title Michigan (7-0 Big Ten, 10-1
s, ahead of the overall) couldn't duplicate its
the Gators (387) performances from a record-
es (310). breaking Big Ten Championships
nderperformed inAnnArbor three weeks earlier.
ays, but it was "When we had the Big Ten
th the way it Championships at our home,
ery lap at the we wanted to make sure we
on. represented Michigan at
s that more Michigan," said Michigan coach
Bosch's NCAA- Mike Bottom. "Sometimes it's
in in the 200- really difficult to re-taper and
re-shave for NCAA's after such
race as the an emotional win."
eft no doubters The times the Wolverines

posted on the first two days were
still nothing to scoff at. Senior
Kyle Whitaker was barely a
second off an NCAA record in the
200-yard individual medley, and
junior Richard Funk swam aSl.96
in the 100-yard breaststroke.
But at the NCAA
Championships, everyone brings
their best, and Michigan fell
behind by nearly 100 points after
the first two days to the Golden
Bears and Longhorns.
So the Wolverines adjusted.
Bottom shifted his team's focus
from trying to make up all the
points at once to swimming each
race for the team.
Once that happened, things
began shifting back in the
Wolverines' favor. Jaeger, who
placed third in Friday's 500-
yard freestyle, defended his
national title in the 1,650-yard
freestyle, winning the event in
"He felt like he let the team
down in the 500," Bottom
said. "He was apologizing to
the whole team this morning.
... They really hold each other
accountable and want to do it for
each other. He was inspired, and
he swam that way."
The performances by Jaeger
and Bosch were indicative not
only of the talent Michigan has,
but also of the way it handles
"We made peace with
(not winning the team
championship)," Bosch said
"We'll be back next year."
It can be hard to handle the
emotions of coming up just
short. But don't tell that to the
Wolverines. They're too busy
celebrating their teammates
and their trophies.

Mikulak, Golder
earn individual
recognition as
Wolverines roll
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's
gymnastics team had one word
in mind when it set its goals at
the beginning of the season:
repeat. Repeat as conference
champion. Repeat as National
Friday night, No. 4 Michigan
achieved the former with a final
score of 448.20 at the Big Ten

in 14 years.
"I'm just really proud of
everyone for going out and
performing their best," Mikulak
said. "Being able to put up a
combined team total of 448.20
really set the standard for what
our goals are for the next couple
weeks and shows that we're
here to win and won't settle for
anything less."
Day one of competition
started off strong when
Michigan broke an NCAA
record on the vault with a team
score of 75.80. The effort was
led by freshman Tristan Perez-
Rivera, whose stuck landing
earned him a 15.30. Mikulak
was close behind with a score
of 15.25.

Championship, It was in
topping the second
second-place rotation
Ohio State "W e're when the
by more than ere Wolverines
seven points. to win and hit some
That wasn't trouble:
the only won't settle for their second
award the performer,
Wolverines anything less." junior Stacey
earned. Senior Ervin,
Sam Mikulak ruptured his
walked away bicep while
as Big Ten Gymnast of the he was on the parallel bars.
Year and won the all-around He finished his routine and
competition for the third year earned a 14.10, but was not able
in a row, besting his own NCAA to compete for the rest of the
record in the event. weekend.
"I broke (the record) last But Michigan made up for
year at the exact same meet," it when Mikulak earned a
Mikulak said. "Then (Ohio 16.10, another NCAA record.
State's) Sean Melton beat it out Graduate student Syque Caesar
this year. You don't want to earned a 15.40 and senior
make it so that someone at Ohio Jordan Gaarenstroom received
State has the title, so I had to go a career-best 14.90 in the event.
and break it again." Mikulak then went on to
Added Michigan coach Kurt break one more NCAA record
Golder: "It wasn't a surprise. with a score of 16.00 on the
He's definitely established high bar, the Wolverines' third
himself as the best gymnast, rotation. The team walked away
not only in the NCAA, but in with a 73.05 in the event.
America, and one of the best in Despite not having Ervin,
the world." who was the 2013 Big Ten
Golder was also named Big champion on floor exercise,
Ten Coach of the Year for a Michigan was able to earn a
second year in a row, but he team score of 74.75. Freshman
and Mikulak agreed when they Anthony Stefanelli and
said that the biggest honor was Gaarenstroom each earned a
having the team repeat as Big 14.70, while Perez-Rivera took
Ten champions for the first time home a 14.90 and Mikulak took

the top spot with a 15.70.
After earning a 73.10 on the
pommel horse, with Mikulak
and senior Matt Freeman
notching the highest scores, the
Wolverines held a comfortable
lead going into their final
rotation - the rings.
Despite the cushion, junior
Connor Mahar added to
Michigan's lead with a career-
high 15.30. Both Gaarenstroom
and Freeman received a 15.00,
and the combined effort was
enough to clinch the Big Ten
On the second day of
competition, the Wolverines
had a meet-high 11 gymnasts
competing in 20 routines.
Perez-Rivera placed second
on floor routine, while junior
Paul Rizkalla placed second
on vault. Caesar placed third
on parallel bars and all three
earned Big Ten Honors.
Mikulak and Golder were
honored on the second day of
competition when Mikulak
won Big Ten Gymnast of the
Year for the third straight year.
"It's such an honor,"
Mikulak said. "This is such
a great conference to be
competing in for gymnastics.
It's the most competitive
and most prestigious out
of any conference in men's
gymnastics, and to come home
with Gymnast of the Year, I just
feel humbled by it."
Now, the Wolverines are one
step closer to that final goal -
another NCAA championship.
After winning one title, Mikulak
said that the teamis now turning
its eyes to the final prize.
"It's motivating for everyone
to push themselves," Mikulak
said. "I think it shows that all of
our hard work is goingto pay off
and that we just need two more
weeks of hard work for it to pay
off once again."
The goal? Practice hard.
Perform well. Repeat.


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