The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MAY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 21 the award as the Associated Press' National Coach of the Year. He ad- mitted he still couldn't think about next season realizing the opportunity missed. "It's been less than 48 hours since I sat down and had an opportunity to think about any of that," he said. "My mind has still been going on about UCLA and what I could have done better to put our guys in a position to win that ball game, so I haven't given any thought to our roster or about what's going to happen with our as- sistant coaches." He did know, however, that he led a special group this season. Though several were set to leave, Brooks was seriously considering coming back for one more season, taking advantage of the free year offered by the NCAA due to COVID's effect on the 2020-21 campaign. There might never be another sea- son like this one with the sacrifices and shutdowns, and Howard mar- veled at his team's resilience. "Our seniors were great leaders, teaching a lot of the younger guys what it's like to navigate through col- lege life," he said. "Now, we have a young group coming in next year, the culture — we're not for everyone. "Our seniors understand that our culture cannot be broken in any type of way. They're going to be the great examples of coming back and letting the younger guys know what it's like to be a part of the University of Michigan culture, so I'm just forever in [their] debt." ❏ The final NCAA Tournament game could have been the last at Michigan for sophomore guard Franz Wagner (left) and senior counter- part Eli Brooks — but both could also return for one more campaign. Neither had officially announced their plans as of April 12. PHOTO BY JAMIE SCHWABEROW Elite Eight Heartbreak In addition to this year's loss to UCLA, Michigan has lost six other times in the Elite Eight, often in heartbreaking fashion. Here's a look at U-M's handful of other performances that ended in defeat: 1947-48 — Holy Cross 63, Michigan 45: Only eight teams made the tourna- ment this season, but Ozzie Cowles' team was one of them. The Wolverines got drubbed but bounced back to beat Columbia in the East Regional third-place game, 66-49. Michigan finished 16-6 overall, led by team MVP and two-sport star Pete Elliott. 1965-66 — Kentucky 84, Michigan 77: Dave Strack's team entered 18-7 and earned a berth in the Elite Eight after a bye and a victory over Western Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Michigan averaged a whopping 95.4 points per game to top the conference, led by senior All-American Cazzie Russell's 30.8 scoring average, but trailed 42-32 at the break and couldn't come back. Adolph Rupp's team was led by future legendary NBA coach Pat Riley, who matched Russell with 29 points. 1973-74 — Marquette 72, Michigan 70: Johnny Orr's squad finished 22-5 and 12-2 in the conference, beating Indiana in Champaign, Ill., to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Wolverines knocked off Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 behind phenom Campy Russell, the Mideast Regional's Most Outstand- ing Player after averaging 28.5 points and 16.0 rebounds per game, but lost a heartbreaker a game short of the Final Four. Michigan led at the half, 39-37, but couldn't finish the deal despite holding Marquette to five total assists. Russell led Michigan with 21 points but made only seven of 18 shots. 1976-77 — Charlotte 75, Michigan 68: Orr's team began and ended the cam- paign ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 20 and finished the season No. 1 according to the UPI, too, topping the poll for eight total weeks. The Wolverines, led by guard Rickey Green and forward Phil Hubbard, handled Holy Cross and beat the University of Detroit by five before falling in what's known as the "Cornbread Maxwell game." Cedric 'Cornbread' Maxwell notched 25 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in a dominant performance for the underdog at Kentucky's Rupp Arena, stunning U-M in running out to a 13-point lead. U-M made an attempt but couldn't come back. Green notched 20 points, six assists and five steals in the loss, while Hubbard added 14 points and seven rebounds. 1993-94 — Arkansas 76, Michigan 68: This game was closer than the final score indicated, but U-M missed shots at the rim in the final few minutes and the Razorbacks closed it out at the line. Juwan Howard's last game in a Michigan uniform was a monster — 30 points and 13 rebounds — but the third-seeded Wolverines went only 3 of 17 from three-point range, while Jalen Rose made only 7 of 19 shots in the loss. The top- seeded Razorbacks beat Duke in the championship game, 76-72. 2013-14 — Kentucky 75, Michigan 72: Kentucky freshman Aaron Harrison hit a three-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining and Caris LeVert's hand in his face to give the Wildcats a three-point win. Michigan entered as the No. 2 seed and Kentucky No. 8 in their Midwest Region, but U-K was humming. Nik Stauskas scored a game-high 24 points for Michigan, which finished the season with a 28-9 record. — Chris Balas

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