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March 24, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-24

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20'- March 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaify.com

There's a new normal in Ann Arbor

hance The Rapper stood
onstage ina No. 10
Michigan
basketball
jersey,
the word
"Chance"
written
where
freshman EVERETT
point guard COOK
Derrick
Walton's
name usually
is. It was Saturday night at
Hill Auditorium and the young
rapper from Chicago was in
between songs and his signature
high-pitched laughs.
. He strolled up to the mic
stand and said, "I was watching
your game earlier. Congrats on
the win." The Wolverines had
just defeated Texas, 79-65, for a
game that vaulted them into the
Sweet 16 for the second straight
year.
'That announcement got
applause and cheers, but the
sound didn't come close to
replicatingthe noise that came
from the crowd after the next
thing he said.
"Y'all got a few more wins
left, though." It was a statement,
declarative more than wishful.
Because, well, why not?
This team lost its three
best players from last year's
Final Four squad. This team is
succeeding with a true freshman
running the show at point guard,
despite the fact that Walton is
averaging less than three assists
per game. This team is relying
ni potential NBA lottery pick
Glenn Robinson III to regain
his confidence and figure out his
offensive role, even though the
kid goes from inert to aggressive
to inert again quicker than a bad
burrito.
But why would people expect
Michigan get back to the Final
Four this year?

I can't handle losing. I can't
handle ateam underachieving,
that's the most disappointing
part. And this team definitely
underachieved."
We're here now, in the new
normal of Michigan hockey,
where postseason wins are
scarce and a 74-year old head
coach is losing like nobody could
have predicted.
The Michigan football team
is somewhere in the middle.
Last season was the worst in
recent memory, but there's a
new offensive coordinator.
The offensive line had more
holes than a paper plate after
steak night, but Michigan is
considering trying to sign
former Alabama offensive
lineman Chad Lindsay. The
defense was inconsistent at
best, but prized recruit Jabrill
Peppers should have a hand in
fixing that.
So on and so on.
Last week, after fifth-year
senior quarterback Devin
Gardner tried convincing
reporters that the Wolverines are
considering a true freshman for
their starting quarterback job,
someone asked him if Michigan
was now a basketball school.
Gardner chuckled and said,
"This is a football school. This is
Michigan - you know that."
He might be right. He might
not be. But the fact he even
had to answer the question
means there is a new normal in
Ann Arbor, where excitement
about spring football practice
is minimal, the hockey team
is sitting at home and the
basketball team is making
a habit of dancing late into
March.
cook can be reached at
evcookgumich.edu or on
Twitter @everettcook

r MICHbLASW ILLIA M S/Naily
Chance The Rapper pertormed at Hill Auditorium wearine a Michigan basketball No. 10 jersey, evidence of a changing of the guard is Wolverine sports, writes Cask.

The answer is because this is
the new normal in Ann Arbor: a
basketball team that contends on
a national stage every year, run
by a coach, John Beilein, who
thrives in situations where he
is expected to fail. In a loaded
Big Ten conference, without
Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.,
Mitch McGary or a consistent
Robinson, Beilein went out
and led the Wolverines to an
outright Big Ten title for the first
time in almost 30 years.
So on Saturday, when the
Longhorns were supposed to
give Michigan issues with their
size, fifth-year senior center
Jordan Morgan went out and
had the best offensive game of
his career. He scored 15 points
and grabbed 10 rebounds
against a center who had two

inches and 40 pounds on him. Red Berenson sat in the
With this team, and with plush, blue chair he always
Beilein, matchups don't matter sits in, facing reporters after a
anywhere except for on paper. first-round loss in the inaugural
After the game, Beilein said Big Ten Hockey Tournament
to reporters, "I just love the to Penn State on Thursday.
fact that we have the program The Michigan hockey team
where I dreamt Michigan could spent 22 straight years in the
be when we came here." NCAA Tournament before last
We're here season, long
now, in the enough for a
new normal recent college
of Michigan W e're here now, in graduate to
basketball, live in a world
where the new normal. where the
postseason Wolverines
wins are had never
expected and been left out of
a 61-year old head coach is living postseason hockey.
a dream only he could have That streak ended last year,
predicted. as all streaks do. Michigan
had a chance to return this
*** season with one win against

the Nittany Lions, a first-year
varsity program, but failed even
though freshman goalie Zach
Nagelvoort had 63 saves. In
almost 93 minutes of double-
overtime game action, the
Wolverines could manage only
one goal against ateam that
gave up close to four per game in
the regular season. The 2-1loss
started a new streak, and sent
Michigan back to Ann Arbor,
back to the new normal.
Since losing in the national
championship game four
seasons ago, the Wolverines
have yet to win an NCAA
Tournament game. The seniors
of next year's team have never
won a game in the Dance.
In that chair on Sunday,
Berenson told reporters, "I'm
getting closer (to retirement).

Smug Morgan re

senior stop
Texas big mei
Michigan rolls
Sweet 16
By DANIEL WASSER
Daily Sports Editor
MILWAUKEE - A lit
than 30 minutes after
down his final rebound
day to complete a double
a -eporter began to ask
Morgan something abou
doubted a little bit."
"A little bit?" Morg:
interruptingthe questio
hearty chuckle.
He was back in th
locker room where, a day
he took question afterq
about how the Michiga
basketball team, but spe
he, was going to stop th
9; 285-pound Texas,
Cameron Ridley.
Twenty-four hours
smug Morgan was g
while answering qt
rot only about howl
down Ridley to the tun
points on 2-of-5 shoot
also about his 15 points
rebounds - both season
"We spent two who
hearing about
how hard it
was going to be "JO
to stop those
guys in the is
post," Morgan
said. "That's IS
the fun part. .h
Just proving th
everybody
wrong.
"You see
teams like this, you hear
stuff and you just go of
and show them ... wha
been doing all year."
The two-day prepara
the Longhorns had M
coach John Beilein
about how his und
frontline would be able t
Texas - one of the
biggest frontcourts.I
and his backup, redshir
forward Jon Horford, ha
struggled with foul trou
.The Longhorns avera

s than 26 foul shots per game -
just a few less than the nation's
1 as leader - a testament to the high
into number of shooting fouls they
draw, despite not being in the
country's top 50 in fouls drawn.
"We were very concerned
tMAN about how we were going to
,r stop (Ridley), but (Morgan) kept
telling me, 'Coach, I got it. I got
tle more it,"' Beilein said. "I was worried
pulling about foul trouble and we said,
d of the 'Max, you've got to be ready,'
-double, 'Jon, you've got to be ready.' And
Jordan Jordan handled it all by himself
t "being beautifully."
Did he ever.
an said, Morgan handled Ridley's
n with a load while hardly taking
a break; his 35 minutes on
e same Saturday matched a career
yearlier, high. In that game, in February
question of his 2011 sophomore season,
n men's the Wolverines upset No. 6 Ohio
cifically State while Morgan held All-
e 6-foot- American Jared Sullinger to
forward 6-of-14 shooting. .
It was that lead-in to that
later, a game, specifically Morgan's
rinning eagerness to carry the load and
uestions quell so many doubters, that
he shut reminded Michigan assistant
e of six coach Bacari Alexander so
ing, but much of Morgan's focus before
,and 10 the Texas game.
highs. "I kind of chuckled a little
le days bit because he was frowning
at some of
the dining-
)rdan Morgan room staff
at the hotel
on the 'This and I was
like, 'Jordan,
It' tour and I what's
. going on?' "
nk he feels it." Alexander
said. "He
was like, 'I'm
just thinking
all that about Ridley.' To that end,
ut there Jordan is the type of guy who's
t we've wired to try to rise to the
occasion.
tion for "It was extremely personal."
lichigan Morgan agreed.
fretting "I was excited for this one,"
lersized he said. "Everyone's like,
o handle 'Oh, he's only 6-(foot)-8, 240
nation's (pounds). How is he going to
Morgan hold his own?' Just showing
I junior everybody - I ain't got a lot of
ve each body fat on me. There's been a
ble. lot of weights lifted over these
ge more last five years and I'm not about

sponds to doubts

VICTORS
From Page lB
start time Saturday t'
ready.
It's a scenario that th
the spotlight onthe coa
When there's a week to
for a game, each staff h.
fleshed out the major co
- it's up to the players t
execute. In one day, you
few things to
key in on and
express the
message.
According h
to assistant t
coach Bacari o
Alexander,
the coaching
staff
emphasized r
three things
leading up
to the game:
neutralizing
Texas on the glass, cont
penetration off the driv
playing post defense.
The Longhorns had t
advantage rebounding
Saturday, but Michigan
job in the other areas. T
guards had to rely on th
shot to score, and 285-p
load Cameron Ridley w
to six points on five sho
post.
"We're pretty confide
the fact that we have su
deep level of content in
how we play, our play li
changing defensive sch
that it puts us at a comp
advantage," Alexander
of course, after thisc
there was more deflecti
Beilein. Seven hundred
number, even he admitt
He's one of six coachesi
country to reach that nt
"It means you've bee
coaching a long time," B
said. "It means you've g
of losses, too."

o get
rusts
ches.
prepare
as
)ncepts
o
pick a
e und

He said that the Sweet 16
seemed like such a long shot in
his early days of coaching that
he'd retire when he finally got
there. He didn't retire when
he did it with West Virginia,
so there was more toiling and
more redirectingpraise.
"His leadership style,
he chooses to operate in
obscurity," Alexander said. "He
understands the cumulative
effect of what a program
represents."
erstands

Fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan battled for a double-double against Texas.

e cumulative the job
ffeCt of what Mcia'
coaches did in
a program the one-day
prep to the
represents." one-day jobs
they did in the
Tournament
last year.
Before the
rolling VCU game, all the talk was of the
e and full-court press - The Havoc
- that was goingto befuddle
he Michigan's small guards.
Result? Michigan 78, Rams 53.
did its A week later, the next time
'exas Michigan had a day to get
ie jump ready, there was discussion
'ound how the team had yet to
as held face a defense as athletic as
ts in the Florida's.
Result? Michigan 79, Gators
ent in 59.
ch a Maybe there couldn't have
terms of been a more fitting way for
st, our Beilein to get No. 700 - the
emes, type of game that highlights
'etitive the brains behind the scenes.
said. The type of game in which
Beilein could flex his cerebral
muscle.
And then after the game, he
one, could flex his pipes.
on from "I think it's awfully poetic,"
is a big Alexander said. "To get 700
:ed it. wins in any sport, it's sweet
in the Especially when it leads to the
umber. Sweet 16."
!n
teilein Rothschild can be reached
ot a lot at nealroth@umich.edu or
on Twitter @nrothschild3

to just roll over."
Michigan's perimeter
offense will certainly garner
the majority of the offensive
headlines, as its 14 3-pointers
were an NCAA Tournament
school record. But Morgan's
efficiency in the paint (4-of-
7 shooting) and at the line
(7-of-8) gave the Wolverines a
healthy inside-out presence not
all that different than the one
Texas was supposed to threaten
Michigan with.
But at the end of the day, it
was Morgan's defensive effort
that stands out most. With little
production down low, Texas
never really got going, shooting
just 37.1 percent from the field.
"(Ridley) really likes to play
bully ball and push people in the
paint," Morgan said. "I didn't
move."
It has been a longtime coming
for the fifth-year senior, atctimes
one of the faces of the program
and at others, like throughout
last year's NCAA Tournament

run, an emergency reserve used
sparingly.
A year ago, when Michigan
was in the same round against
VCU, "he couldn't have been
lower in his life," Beilein
recalled of the game where
Morgan didn't play a single
minute.
Now, though, few teams
in the country are playing as
well as the Wolverines and it's
Morgan at the helm, navigating
the Sweet 16 team headed to
Indianapolis.
"It kind of makes me think
about Michael Jackson's last
concert tour - it was called the
'This Is It' tour," Alexander said.
"Jordan Morgan is on his own
'This Is It' tour and I think he
feels it every time he steps on
the floor - those are the most
important 40 minutes of his life."
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