The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
March 31, 2014 - 3B
Michigan a legacy years in the making
INDIANAPOLIS - Legacies
are supposed to be easy to
A team's season was a
disappointment, a fairytale, one
to remember or anything but.
is the legacy
of this one,
team - the
entered the DANIEL
year with WASSERMAN
only to fall flat in November
and December before rolling off
10 straight wins en route to a
runaway Big Ten Championship?
Last season's team was
supposed to be good, but its
shocking run to No. 1, and six
weeks later, to the national title
game, stole our hearts because it
was so unexpected.
This year, for the first time
since the Fab Five left Ann
Arbor, a Final Four wasn't just
"Last year, we just wanted to
get there," said Glenn Robinson
III. "We knew we could, but we
just wanted to getthere. This
year, we expected to be back
in the same position and we
expected to make it to the Final
Sunday night, they were
close. But they fell short when
Nik Stauskas' desperation heave
caromed off the backboard to
bring the Wolverines' season to
The season was a letdown -
"I remember that day when
we lost to Arizona," Stauskas
said, his eyes still red and moist.
"We were 6-4, and even Coach
Beilein told us, he said, 'If we
keep playing like this, we're not
going to make the tournament.'
3-pointer away from a second
Final Four in as many years. It
was a disappointment and an
accomplishment wrapped into
But they'll be back.
"The sun will come up
tomorrow," said a smiling
Michigan coach John Beilein.
"I'll have a cup of coffee - it
won't taste as good as it might've
tasted, as it tasted for these
last few games, but I'm really
pleased with the direction of the
So maybe that feeling is this
team's legacy - one defined
not by an isolated season, buta
Players come and then they
go, and in the next two weeks, a
few likely will. But the Michigan
program is going nowhere but
up. We'll probably never see
another Jordan Morgan at
Michigan under Beilein - a
scholarship player who had to
scrap and claw and work harder
than everyone just to prove that
he really didbelong.
Ann Arbor is now a basketball
destination - a place where
Final Fours, and not just NCAA
Tournament bids, like during
Morgan's early years, are the
"That's all it ever was, just get
better every year," Morgan said,
tears running down his face.
There won'tbe a Final Four
banner from this team, but if
it taught us anything, it's that
there will be another sometime
Daniel Wasserman can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on Twitter @dwasserman
Michigan coach John Beilein has led the Wolverines to two straight Elite 8 appearances and will still drink his coffee tomorrow - albeit with a different taste.
That was the day that everything
It was also the last day that
Mitch McGary played in a
Michigan uniform, and when it
was announced a few days later
that he would likely miss the rest
of the season, all bets were off.
But just when it seemed like
the wheels had come off, the
team started to play like it was
supposed to all along. It won. At
Minnesota, in Madison, against
Michigan State twice.
"We won the Big Ten by three
games. Who the hell would've
thought that?" said sophomore
guard Spike Albrecht.
They did it as atE
Sure, Stauskas was
Player of the
Year and one
of the best
scorers in the
land, but he
was also the
at the top,
the Big Ten
school to his ability to defend
bigger opponents in the final few
games of his
"This year, we captain, the
team, too, was
expected to doubted until
mak itt th the end. Picked
make it to the by manyto
55 lest each
Final Four." oeec
FinalFour- of their last
one expected us tobe in this
position, no one wanted us - I'll
say wanted - no one wanted us
to be here right now," Robinson
said. "We had that target on our
backs once again. We came out
and used that to our advantage
and played as hard as we could
every single night.
"People are going to
remember this team for its
hardworking guys that no one
thought could do it."
So, in a sense, they did it.
Without McGary, without Trey
Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.,
they were 2.3 seconds and a
perfectly defended fadeaway
consummate underdog who was underdog role.
doubted every step of the way "People are going to definitely
- from his recruitment in high remember the fact that no
WrroutWHAT THEY TWEETED:
X Vverines' luck fnally runs MICHIGAN VS KENTUCKY
By DANIEL FELDMAN Morgan out, the Wolverines
Daily Sports Writer went, at times, with an option
that they love to play, despite the
INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan gamble involved in it.
had been in these situations "I feel like as a team, if
before this year. The endings, we had a choice, we would
though, hadn't gone like this. play 1-3-1 (zone defense) 20
The Michigan men's minutes a game," Horford said.
basketball team has been lucky "Regardless of foul trouble, the
this season. According to team really likes playing 1-3-1.
coach John Beilein, the team It's very high risk, but it's very
has created its own luck and high reward as well."
used such fortunes to come out When Michigan entered the
victorious. style of defense with 13-plus
Sunday, inside Lucas Oil minutes left in the game, the
Stadium, that last-minute luck results were immediate.
finally ran out. Of course, the A Horford block led to
Wolverines wouldn't be in such a fast break, resulting in a
a situation if it weren't for their dunk by sophomore forward
own play to begin with. Glenn Robinson III. The next
When fifth-year senior possession, a defensive play
forward Jordan Morgan came by sophomore guard Caris
to the bench with 19:35 left in LeVert led to a dunk by Horford
the game with his third foul, in transition to push the
could've lead to four
folded. ir "There's nothing points.
Losing the In the
best interior we can do. JI middle of the
defender and second half,
arguably best thought Caris did without the
defender in heart of its
general, the all he could." defense on
Wolverines the court,
could've let Michigan
the game get could've
away from them quickly. allowed a few Kentucky runs to
Instead, the team persevered. end its season.
With redshirt sophomore Max But it didn't.
Bielfeldt and redshirt junior "We just hung in there and
forward Jon Horford playing hung in there and they got away
the '5,' Michigan stuck around from us a little bit," Beilein said.
until Morgan returned nearly 10 "That shows what these kids
minutes later. have done all year long. When
It didn't come easy, of course. things are going well, they were
With Morgan out, Kentucky pretty good at playing through
continued what it had done up it. And when people would make
to that point - it drove to the a run on them, we're still good."
basket, crashed the boards and That's whywhenthe Wildcats
got baskets right at the hoop had the ball for the final
off first shots or off second possession after a four-shot long
opportunities. possession by Michigan, which
The four-headed monster ended appropriately with a tip
of Julius Randle, Dakari in by Morgan, the Wolverines
Johnson, Marcus Lee and Alex felt the game would go to
Poythress produced 42 points overtime. Kentucky would miss
and 25 rebounds, including 15 a buzzer beater. The game and
offensive ones. Michigan's run of luck in the
Michigan couldn't fight final seconds of games wasn't
fire with fire. It didn't have about to end.
the ability and strength of But then it did.
Kentucky's big men. It wasn't Even with LeVert draped
going to work. That's why, with all over him, Aaron Harrison
drained a 3-pointer from NBA
range with 2.3 seconds left.
"There's nothing we can do
about that," Robinson said. "I
thought Caris did all he could to
In Beilein's eyes, the sequence
was exactly what he wanted
on defense. With Kentucky as
good as any team at getting into
the lane and the risk of taking
a charge so high, Michigan
played contain defense and held
Harrison behind the arc.
Beilein "would have been
upset if someone got to the rim
on us," but Harrison didn't.
He rose up from deep and left
enough time on the clock for
sophomore guard Nik Stauskas
to get a half-court shot off to
save Michigan's season.
And while the shot didn't fall
and the Wolverines' late-game
fortune and season came to an
end, the team wouldn't have
wanted it to conclude any other
"If we have to go down,"
Robinson said, "this is the way
this team had!"
- Nik Stauskas
"5 years of pure
fun.... Thank you
Nik Stauskas dominated the first half and finished with 24 points on Sunday.
Jordan Morgan'sfield goal percentage,
best in programhistory
Adjusted offensive efficiency, best in
the KenPom era.
*Stats via @DrewCHallett, a
very worthy Twitter follow.
Sophomore Spike Albrecht and Michigan's guards had to contend with the Wildcats' size advantage in the paint.