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December 08, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-12-08

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28 - December 8, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily:com

SPORT$MONDAY COLUMN
Mee th ne2w Mchign Man

Interim Athletic Director
Jim Hackett strolled into
his press
conference-
Tuesday
afternoon,
his job
status no
more certain
than the
man-he had
chosen to GREGt
fire. GARNO
Two
weeks ago,
he said his position was up
to University President Mark
Schlissel and that the pair
would work together in finding
a permanent replacement.
"When I took this job, it
was clearly as interim AD,"
Hackett said on Nov.22. Later
he remarked, "I first have to
talk to Kathy Hackett about
(staying full time), because
she's asked me the same thing.
The challenge right now, I'm so
focused on that.
"For me, for Jim Hackett to
be asked to be interim athletic
director and to accept it, was
about, we need help right now
so would you come and do it? So
I'm glad to do it."
That Saturday afternoon
he made a list of goals he had
planned. He expressed his
interest in connecting with
athletes, students and fans.
He noted he'd continue the
development of renovating
and expanding the athletic
facilities. And he said how he'd
handle the status of the head
football coach.
But Tuesday, when he left the
media room after speaking for
14 minutes and 57 seconds, the
interim title might as well have
disappeared too.
Because in less than 15
minutes, Hackett made
one thing clear in his press
conference without having
to say it explicitly: He's here

which inevitably, won't come
in one year. After all, he saw
what happened when you get
too excited with a coach after
one year. And what coach would
want to work for a guy who is
going to leave right away?
Most importantly, he tackled
an issue that has reverberated
with the University for 25
years, not just an issue he could
address in 30 seconds.
"I want to get rid of the word
'Michigan Man,' "Hackett
said, his face as stern as ever.
"This is a point about how
we stand for the team first.
... The competitive spirit in
my lifetime and with others
that you see around here that
played, we knew.that we had
to work really hard. It wasn't
arrogance. It was about being
competitive."
Those aren't comments you
make unless you're in it for the
long haul, because this isn't
something anyone else will
handle.
And that's why it should
have been easy to see what he
meant when he talked about his
timetable for the future.
"The standard here is
not time," Hackett said in
November. "The standard
is issues. We go to work on
important issues, and I'm really
excited about that right now."
He may be similar to his
predecessor, who somany
people despised. He doesn't
have the experience in athletics
that other candidates have. And
he isn't the big name that would
automatically attract a big-
name coach.
But it's time to get
comfortable with Jim Hackett
for the time being, because
he's here to stay. And he's not
messing around.
Garno can be reached
at ggarno@umich.edu or
on Twitter @G.._Garno.

Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett asserted himself as a viable long-term leader of Michigan's Athletic Department during Tuesday's press conference.

to stay, and he's not messing who had been practicing for,
around. this moment his entire life.
Hackett isn't here to lead the That's not to say he'll be
Michigan Athletic Department working for two decades when
for another 30 days, and he's he's older and retired, but his
not here to definition

knew he "better take the time
to think about it."
However long Hackett stays
in charge, he's serious about his
plans. He handled Tuesday's
press

he said included search firms
and charts with candidates.
Those aren't tasks you can,
pass on to someone else the way
a CEO passes along a memo to
his secretary,

be an athletic
director that u
goes through I
the motions. ri
Just over a
month into his
job as Dave
Brandon's
replacement,
Hackett
has made
his biggest
decision facing the Athl
Department. And he did
someone who had practi
with the conviction of s

of interim
. is measured
w ant to get in years, not
of the word monthsider
-M c a *that Hackett
was given the
M an' ' " responsibility
to handle
Brady Hoke's
future, not
a board of
etic regents or group of associate
so like athletic directors. And when
iced, Hackett said he made his
omeone decision to fire someone, he

conference
with a
measured
seriousness,
without
smiling or
joking.
Hackett
was given the
task of picking
the next
head football

though.
Asan
"The standard athletic
here is not time. director,
*going to hire
The standard is gtohtht
the coach that
" he wants, not
ise. someone who
will please the
next guy: He
wouldn't hire

coach on his own schedule.
He spent that time refusing to
acknowledge the details of his
coaching search process, which

someone only to leave months
after bringing him in.
He'll see the task through
and he'll watch the results,

NJIT
From Page 1B t
"I thought we were due to get
a couple of stops, and obviously
we got the last one down one
with 10 seconds to go, but didn't
get the rebound," Beilein said. "I
thought we were going to get one
of those stops, and that's what I
was telling them. When we got.
down seven, we just gotta get
stops one at a time and we'll get
back in the game."
The teams had traded the
lead for the final 13 minutes, but
NJIT never back down, even as
an antsy Crisler Center crowd
implored, Michigan to take
control.
Finally, with 11:59 left in the
game, NJIT guard Ky Howard
gave the Highlanders their first
lead of the game, 46-44. Just

under 90 seconds
knocked down a
make it a five-point
"(Lynn) was just
Beilein said. "We
have a defense for
back jump
shots he hit
over people.
Those nine
points, those
three straight
(3-pointers)
were a big
difference in
the game."
The upset
alert was
officially on.
Inside the
eight-minute mar
finally turned upt
Junior guard Cari
sophomore forwar
hit back-to-back
drawing the

later, Lynn within one. They got the crowd
3-pointer to energized, and after an NJIt
game. charge, LeVert drained another
sensational," triple to give Michigan its first
really don't lead in more than seven minutes.
r those step- On the ensuing possession,
Lynn
answered
with a
3-pointer of
T .thu gt We his own.
.were due to "He's
ridiculous,"
said NJIT
get a couple of coach Jim
st psEngles. "He's
stops. a freshman,
and he's
ridiculous.
I was
k, Michigan just trying to get as many
the intensity. opportunities for him to touch
s LeVert and the ball (as I could). At the end
d Zak Irvin of the game, it was basically
3-pointers, LeVert or Damon, who was
Wolverines going to have the ball at the
end. We were lucky enough to
be able to finish out those 4.3.
seconds."
When the teams tipped off just
after noon, an upset alert was
unthinkable. The Highlanders
turned the ball over on each of
their first four possessions, and
though the Wolverines started
just 3-for-8, they led 8-0 early
on and appeared to be off to the
races.
But NJIT chipped away at the
lead and wouldn't let Michigan
pull away. That eight-point
deficit was the largest of the
game. Before long, the upset
alert was on.
JLSHtOMAN/Daily Michigan fans won't forget it
inst NJ/IT. any time soon.

"

NJT, which joined Division I in 2006, is the only Division I team in the country without a conference.

Michigan lost at home for just the third time in two seasons agaii

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BULTMAN
. From Pg1 B
his son was "too small" to get an
offer from Michigan.
"What happens if they win?"
he was asked.
"There's no if," he said. "It's
gonna happen."
The Highlanders huddled
together, at first without their
coach. They gave each other the
usual words of encouragement,
"let's go," and "we got this," but
the real message was in their
eyes. Not one of them flinched.
When Engles joined them,
they passed around a white
towel, wiping off thick drops
of sweat and catching their
breath. They were hunched over,
gathering all the air they could,
watching their coach draw up
an inbounds play to try to seal
a momentous upset with 13.6
seconds left.
"It's the most confidence I've
seen every person on our team
have in a while," said guard Ky
Howard. "Everybody counted
us out, so we went into the
situation knowing, if we lose, it's
expected. If we win, we shock
the country."
The Highlanders didn't
win off the inbounds. Daquan
Holiday got fouled and hit two
free throws to go up by three,
smirking the whole time he was
at the line. And eventually, after
an eternity of free throws and

swallowed breaths, the buzzer
sounded and their celebration
began. They jumped; arms
blurring with legs, while their
cries of joy replaced the air they
had just sucked out of Crisler
Center.
In a moment like that,
everything is a freeze frame.
"I honestly wanted to cry,"
Howard said. "The coaches, the
guys - we've worked so hard to
prove ourselves over and over.
We felt like, honestly, earlier
this year, when we were at
Marquette, we were close. And
now, to get one of those games
that we really wanted, it's a
blessing."
Added Highlanders forward
Terrence Smith: "Right when it
happened, it was amazing. We
tried to be calm and wait to the
end, but we couldn't. At that
point it was like, 'Yo, we did it."'
Smith didn't play a minute in
Saturday's game, but he still felt
on-top of the world.
In moments like that, it
doesn't matter who played the
most, or who scored the points,
or who hit the free throws or
who was recruited by whom.
Every one of those unwanted
players knocked off Michigan.
Right in the middle of it was
Lynn, the undersized guard from
New Jersey who would have
gone to Michigan if he could
have - if they had wanted him.
"A lot-of people doubted me,"
he said. "That chip is on my

shoulder for the rest of my life.
Everybody doubted me I'm not
doubting myself, though."
In Engles' post-game press
conference, he joked about not
being accepted into a conference
yet.
"We're trying to get into the
American East conference," he
said. "I want to get into the Big
Ten. How about openinga spot
for us?"
While all of this was
happening, Smith and Howard
walked up the court in the now-
empty arena, crossing the spot
where freshman guard Aubrey
Dawkins took a last-ditch heave
that fell short. They walked to
the block 'M' at center court and
looked around.
A man packing up equipment
flagged them down, so they
walked over. For an autograph?
For a congratulatory handshake?
Nope. He saw the two players,
fresh off the biggest win of
their lives, and handed them his
phone. He wanted them to take a
picture of him and his son.
Things aren't going to change
for NJIT overnight. It still won't
get the respect it craves, and the
Highlanders might still be kept
out of the America East.
But they had their moment,
and they made a hell of a sales
pitch.
Bultman can be reached at
bultmanm@umich.edu and
on Twitter @mbultman.

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