The Wolverine

May 2014 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 76 of 153

J ohn Beilein and most of his roster from this year know what it's like to go to the Final Four. They were so close to doing it again, they could almost smell the oiled leather from the boots deep in the heart of Texas. It didn't play out that way, of course. Kentucky hit the big shot, the Wolverines hit one too few, and the end arrived in jarring fashion in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional championship game, 75- 72. Tears weren't lacking in the quiet of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapo- lis, but the emotion might not have matched the scene of a year before. Why? That's easy. Last year, the Wolverines' exit came less than a handful of plays away from a na- tional championship. And while this team certainly harbored some hopes along those lines, it wasn't even ex- pected to win the Big Ten, much less surge forward to this stage of the game. "With the way this team has come together this season, with everyone doubting us when Mitch [McGary] went down," sophomore Nik Staus- kas mused, pausing to reflect. "I'm really proud of everyone on this team, with the run we made, win- ning the Big Ten, and throughout the tournament. I can't be any more proud of these guys." U-M head coach John Beilein felt the same, echoing some of his feel- ings from a year earlier. "The sun will come up tomorrow," he said. "I'll have a cup of coffee. It won't taste as good as it might have tasted, as it tasted the last few games. But I'm really pleased with the pro- gram, the direction of the program, and we've got to keep it going." Plenty of his players vowed to do just that. Freshmen Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin, major contributors in their first winter in Ann Arbor, both offered up heartfelt regrets over not extending the career of fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan. At that same time, they realize   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL John Beilein, Wolverines Look Back With Pride And Forward With Hope After the season ended, Beilein said, "I'm really pleased with the program, the direc- tion of the program, and we've got to keep it going." PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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