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March 10, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

With the Big Ten
title already in
hand, Wolverines
topple Indiana and
win conference by
three games
By SIMON KAUFMAN
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's
basketball team had been
waiting to celebrate for 335 days.
It had been waiting for
confetti to fall, nets to be cut and
a trophy to be hoisted since April
8 of last year, when it walked off
the court and watched on after
losing to Louisville in the NCAA
championship game.
Saturday night, after beating
Indiana, 84-80, the wait was

and streamers, the nets and the
Big Ten championship trophy
was all the Wolverines.
Despite clinching the
conference title Tuesday
with a win over Illinois in
Champaign, they waited until
Saturday night to enjoy it on
their own court. And when
the final buzzer sounded, the
moment belonged to this year's
Michigan team, and it savored
every moment of it.
The attention was on the
present celebration, not the
past. Not of the memories of a
dejected Trey Burke walking
off the court in Atlanta last year
with his head down and his back
to a different team.
Freshman guard Derrick
Walton Jr. danced in a circle
of cheering teammates,
injured sophomore forward
Mitch_ McGary kissed the
championship trophy, fifth-year
senior forward Jordan Morgan
shared a long embrace with a

fan on the sideline and former
Michigan football Heisman
Award winner Charles Woodson
photobombed a picture of the
whole team.
This was the celebration the
Wolverines had been waiting
for.

years.
"That's one happy locker
room," Beilein said in his post
game press conference. "We
did celebrate out there. We
celebrated what we've been
really waiting for since Tuesday,
and our kids are ecstatic with

Michigan the way this
coach John season has
Beilein grabbed ended.
the microphone "Our kids are "I had no
in the midst of idea all that
it all to thank ecstatic with the was going
the fans and on and it's
encourage way this season just great for
everyone to the fans to
"celebrate this has ended." stick around
great win," and see a
even after he tribute to a
said celebrating really special
would be kept to a minimum team."
after the Illinois game earlier in A full house of Michigan fans
the week. stayed in its seats to take in the
Not even Beilein could resist moment.
enjoyingthe moment - savoring After Beilein addressed
the program's first outright the crowd, he handed the
conference title in nearly 30 microphone off to Morgan. The

team's lone senior was honored
before the game during Senior
Day festivities, and he had a
special night on the court to
go along with the occasion.
Morgan scored 15 points and
finished with 10 rebounds in his
last game at Crisler Center.
Cheers of "J-Mo, J-Mo"
rained down from the student
section before Morgan led the
crowd in singing a passionate
rendition of "The Victors."
"It was a blast," Morgan said
during the celebration. "It's
surrealIt just shows what hard
work can do. We've got a bunch
of guys that people counted out,
just coming together working
hard."
As the confetti continued
to fall, a ladder was set up
underneath Michigan's basket,
and Morgan made his way to the
hoop. He cut off a small piece -
just enough of a reminder of the
accomplishment without losing
sight of the bigger goal.

Morgan was followed by
other Wolverine players who
climbed the ladder to get a piece
of the net - some who started
every game and others who
rarely got minutes.
Some were highly recruited
in high school and others
walked on at the beginning of
this season. Some have many
games at Crisler Center ahead
of them and others will call an
NBA stadium home next year.
But Saturday night, each was
a champion in his own right.
Each took the scissors to the
rim to cut off a memory of the
Big Ten season that was - one
that ended with confetti falling
and a banner rising next season.
Michigan is a month away
from when it hopes to cut
down nets again. But on
Saturday nightlat long last, the
Wolverines could celebrate.
"It's been anamazing year,"
Morgan said before pausing. "So
far, so far."

vU

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