The Wolverine

August 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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A By Chris Balas t the beginning of the 2012-13 basketball season, Michigan's players issued administrative assistant (now director of operations) and former point guard and captain C.J. Lee a challenge. They'd heard mention that the 5-11 Lee once had some "hops" and could even throw down a dunk or two when he wanted — so they asked him to prove it. Lee trained for weeks to get back in shape, and he finally made good on it during a winter practice to the delight of his teammates. Next up, possibly, should the big men get their way? Assistant coach Bacari Alexander. At 6-3, the Detroit native and former University of Detroit Mercy and Southwestern High star was not only solid in the post with the ability to step out and hit a jumper, but he could also throw down with the best of them. It makes sense, too, that they'd put him in the spotlight given the rapport he enjoys with his players. He's more than a coach to them, redshirt junior big man Jon Horford said during U-M's run to the NCAA Tournament championship game — he's also a friend. Watching Alexander rib Horford while his big man worked the clock at the recent team camp, it was clear just how genuine the relationship is. Even so, it will be a long time before they convince him to even try to throw down dunks like he used to, Alexander said with a laugh. "The only thing I can dunk right now is a donut in my coffee," he cracked. "Not even close, though I haven't made an attempt in a while. But I told the young guys, I haven't played the game in a while, but you'd better respect the game and get yourself to a level of conditioning where you can do that stuff. "Nowadays I just shoot a few jumpers and stay out of the way." Developing The Pedigree It wasn't always that way, though. After an outstanding career at Detroit Southwestern, where he battled the likes of former U-M big man the late Robert Traylor and others on the AAU circuit, Alexander earned a scholarship to Robert Morris University, earning Northeast Conference All-Newcomer honors in 1995. A coaching change led to his transfer to UDM, where he blossomed under former U-M assistant coach Perry Watson. A two-year starter, Alexander helped lead the Titans to a pair of Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) regular-season championships and secure backto-back NCAA Tournament berths in 1998 and 1999, including big upsets over St. John's and UCLA. Alexander was named to the MCC All-Defensive Team and received the President's Award as UDM's most outstanding senior student-athlete. His pedigree and personality made him a natural to become the next promising young coach to hail from Detroit, but it took a few years — one spent in the front office with the Detroit Pistons, another traveling

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