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February 03, 2014 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-03

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2B - February 3, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Morgan leads charge in Michigan turnaround

The Michigan basketball
team was going to its first Sweet
Sixteen since 1994, and Jordan
Morgan couldn't even bring
himself to smile.
native kept
his eyes on
the floor
to avoid
looking at
the countless
family and EVERETT
friends COOK
from his
that had
come to see Michigan's starting
center play in the first two
rounds of the 2013 NCAA
Tournament at the Palace of
Auburn Hills. After starting 27
of the team's 31 games before
the tournament, Morgan was
replaced by a freshman - Mitch
McGary - in the lineup.
McGary went on to score a
combined 34 points in those
two games, the start to a
tournament run so dominant
it would land him on the
preseason All-American team
as a sophomore before this
season. Morgan would play a
grand total of one minute.
The freshman was
celebrating. The redshirt junior
felt completely broken.
It took Morgan until the
following day off to feel happy
again, but even then, he
played just 25 total minutes
over the course of Michigan's
postseason run.
After the season ended
with a loss to Louisville in
the national championship
game, Morgan got back to Ann
Arbor and knew he needed
to change something. Letting
his happiness be defined by
playing time wasn't healthy or
So began the summer of
Jordan, the transformation
from someone who defined his
own success by minutes and
points to someone who could
care less about individual
statistics. And so began the
spark to help turn Michigan's
season around after it struggled
in non-conference play and
dropped out of the Top 25
earlier this year.
If Morgan doesn't have that
humiliation in the Palace, he
doesn't have the open mind he
needed to grow last spring and
summer. For the 10th-ranked
Wolverines, whose recent
10-game winning streak was
snapped on Sunday in a 63-52
loss to Indiana, that growth
has made all the difference for
one of the youngest rosters in
college basketball.

handle starting the season on the
bench, playing four minutes in a
road loss to Iowa State or three
minutes in that loss to Arizona.
But this Morgan did. When
McGary got injured, the fifth-
year senior stepped in like
nothing had changed. Since
the injury, Morgan is shooting
almost 80 percent from the
floor to go along with his 23
minutes and eight points per
contest, even though his game
has never been about stats.
It's always been about taking
charges, hustling for loose balls
and playing smart defense.
"That's kind of my game,
because unfortunately, I'm
not as talented as some of the
guys on our team so I've got
to rely on that stuff," Morgan
said. "But when you've got the
talented guys, the guys who
people look toward as go-to
guys, when they start to buy
into that stuff, it changes the
whole direction of the team."
For a player whose biggest
contributions don't always
show up on the stat sheet,
getting Michigan to remember
what brought this program
from the basement to national
prominence might be his biggest
victory yet. The Wolverines
needed to learn how to become
selfless, but they couldn't have
done it without Morgan learning
the same lesson, too.
"I've grown in that area
since then, but that's what I
needed to grow, to go through
that," Morgan said. "I was
completely broken. ... I had to
stop worrying about my own
personal glorification. I don't
need to have the articles, the
playing time, the points, to be
satisfied with myself, but I had
to go through that tournament
to really have an open mind and
heart this off-season to learn
that lesson."
Cook can be reached at
evcook@umich.edu and on
Twitter Severettcook

Fifth-year senior forward Jordan Morgan, Michigan's most veteran player, has seen the program progress from middle-of-the-pack into a national powerhouse.

have experienced nothin
but a sold-out Crisler Cez
and a trip to the national
championship game intl
year and a half in Ann A
When this year's team
watched film of Morgan'
redshirt year in 2010, no
could believe that the lo
bowl of Crisler wasn't re
close to full.
the only
remaining 4
player from
the last tale
team to of
not make
the NCAA
had to remind
them what it

ig recruits and told them they
nter needed to get back to what
Michigan did best.
heir "We took some tough losses,
rbor. at Duke and all that, and I
think during those games, we
's really struggled to see that
body winning games in those type
wer of road environments against
motely teams like that is so much more
than just the
talent," he
said. "It's
' not as the little
things that
nted as some one team is
willing to do
the guys on that the other
team isn't.
our team." That was so
engrained in
our program

Like Morgan, the Wolverines
needed to lose in order to learn
how to win.
"I think (losing) helped us a
lot," Morgan said. "I don't know
if that's the only answer, butI
think that's what worked, losing
those tough games in those
tough environments. Losing to
teams that we weren't supposed
to lose to. That stuff helped.
Us dropping out of the Top-25,
once you start losing like that,
people start calling everyone
overrated. 'Oh, Glenn Robinson
is overrated,' 'oh, Nik Stauskas,
he isn't that good.' You need a
little bit of that, especially with
a young team."
Morgan's spring started
with an exercise he did in
a management class called
"Reflected Best Self." He asked
neonle from all different areas of

his life when he had performed
his best. Every single answer was
from a time when he put himself
before others.
With that in mind, he took
a trip to Africa as part of a
program called Athletes in
Action. There, he had a renewal
in his faith, coming to the
understanding that God needed
to be in every aspect of his life,
including basketball.
After those experiences, it
didn't matter that McGary
decided to come back for his
sophomore season, and it didn't
matter when the preseason
All-American had back surgery
in December. Morgan's focus
didn't change at all, because
he realized his true happiness
only came from focusing
on helping other people, in
basketball or not.
The same Morgan who
couldn't smile in the Palace last
year wouldn't have been able to

was like to play on a nationally
irrelevant team.
Really, he's been reminding
the young players of this all
season. One of Michigan's
toughest defeats of the season
was a 10-point loss on the road
against Duke. In the locker
room after that game, Morgan
stood up and told his teammates
they had to stop relying on their
talent alone. Scouting reports
needed to be taken seriously.
Knowing the other team's
tendencies might change five or
six plays, but how much would
that help in a 10-point loss?
When Morgan was a younger
player, the Wolverines had
to know that scouting report
inside and out. They had to
hustle for loose balls and
rebounds. The talent wasn't
there - they had no other
choice if they wanted to win.
In that locker room in
Durham, N.C., Morgan stood
up in a room full of potential
NBA lottery picks and touted

because that's how we had
to win. More times than not,
we weren't the most talented
team, so we had to win by
executing better, boxing out
harder, crashing harder, diving
on the floor.
"But then once you get a
bunch of really talented guys -
which we now have - I think it
did take a couple little bruises
here and there to realize that
it's more than just our talent
that's going to win games."
Since then, the Wolverines
have lost just twice, to then-
No.1 Arizona in the middle of
December and on Sunday, and
have vaulted into first place in
the Big Ten.
So while a perfect conference
record might have been nice,
losing in Assembly Hall on
Sunday might not be the worst
thing in the world. Michigan
had to revisit itself after those
losses to Arizona and Duke,
which turned the season

y of Michigan's
phomores who

The majorit
veterans are so

The University of Michigan Board for Student Publications is
recruiting new members for three year terms beginning in April.
The Board is responsible for three publications:
The Michigan Daily, the Michiganensian yearbook, and the Gargoyle.
Because the Board is committed to realizing diversity's benefits for itself and
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members of the University community (faculty, staff and students), or the
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All interested persons are encouraged to apply.
For more information and application forms,please contact
Mark Bealafeld, Student Publications General Manager at
734-418-4115, extension 1246, or nbealafe@urmich.edu.
a l~ihe for applications itFebruary 12th.

Fifth-year senior forward Jordan Morgan has performed well as a starter since Mitch McGary underwent back surgery.
Comeback epitomizes rivalry

Daily Sports Writer
about rivalries being limited to
revenue sports, especially when
its Michigan vs. Ohio State.
As if the Wolverines'
151-147 road victory wasn't
exciting enough on its own, the
meet featured some unusual
gamesmanship in a desperate
attempt to emerge victorious.
In a sport where every
hundredth of a second is pivotal,
high-tech swimsuits can make
the difference between winning
and losing. So, before the meet,
Michigan coach Mike Bottom
and Ohio State coach Bill Wadley
made a simple gentlemen's
agreement: no swimmers
competing for points would wear
tech suits.
Athletes swimming an
exhibition heat to make a Big Ten
qualifying time were free to wear
one of the speedy, knee-length
suits, but anyone going for points
had to wear a speedo.
For the first part of the meet,
that agreement was upheld. Then
came the 200-yard backstroke.
The Buckeyes' Michael
Gallagher led most of the race
wearing a high-tech jammer

before being overtaken at the
end by a teammate and Michigan
senior Ryutaro Kamiya.
But in the very next race,
the 200-yard breaststroke, the
Buckeyes' tech suits led them to a
huge victory over junior Richard
Funk, who had previously been
unbeaten in the event this season.
Following the second
consecutive race with Ohio State
swimmers wearingtech suits, the
Michigan men's swim and dive
Twitter account posted a quote
from Bottom:
"I'm not going to lose when
someone suits up against us,"
read the tweet.
Some Michigan swimmers
entered the locker room and
emerged intech suits of their own
for the 100-yard butterfly, taking
the top two spots in the event and
sending a message to the other
side of the pool deck.
"All of a sudden the tech suits
started appearing on the Ohio
State side," Bottom said. "So my
goal was to put the suits on for
one race and show them that if
we decided to do that for the rest
of the meet, that's what it would
look like."
Bottom's plan worked.
Sophomore Dylan Bosch won the
100-yard butterfly in 46.63 and

was closely followed by senior
John Wojciechowski in 46.89.
By the next race, both teams
were back in speedos.
But while the tech-suit fiasco
brought plenty of drama to the
rivalry meet, the two teams didn't
need any added excitement.
The Buckeyes (3-1 Big Ten,
9-1 overall) won both the 200-
yard medley relay and 400-
yard freestyle relays by half a
second, the first time this season
Michigan (5-0, 8-0) didn't win a
relay event.
SeniorConnor Jaeger answered
back, though, out-touching Ohio
State's Alex Miller to takethe500-
yard freestyle in 4:24.92.
"Michigan had to win that
race," Jaeger said. "It wasn't a
matter of how much it was by or
how close the race was."
Bottom praised the leadership
of his senior captain,but also cited
an important piece of wisdom
from associate coach Josh White
during a 20-minute break in the
action. Ohio State had come out
strong, including a sweep of the
100-yard backstroke, and the
Wolverines were in unfamiliar
territory - comeback mode.
But nothing was going to
stop Michigan from doing that
Saturday, not even tech suits.

,q h S

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