The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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could remain potent, Alexander opined. "One of the things you take from this is, what were some of the things throughout the season that made us successful?" he said. "What are some of the things that made us unsuc- cessful? Then go back to the drawing board in the offseason and grow. "We're taking positive steps for- ward as a program, and one of the things we want to do now is build on our Big Ten regular-season champi- onship and our NCAA Tournament appearances, now that they appear to be happening with regularity. We're still building a program here at Michigan." Alexander doesn't want the Wol- verines simply forgetting what hap- pened in Nashville. He wants them to use it. "With all of our returning players, as we continue to mature and grow, we'll be able to seize more opportu- nities to leap forward," Alexander said. "You go from a 21-win season last year to a 24-win season this year. The real key is appreciating this feel- ing of despair and using that as fuel to continue to move the culture for- ward, as we try to build a champion- ship environment." Novak insists its getting there. He Redshirt sophomore center Jordan Morgan averaged 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season, and he will be a key contributor for Michigan in 2012-13. next year. I know what this team is capable of doing. I have no doubt that me and Tim [Hardaway Jr.], or whoever it is, will step up as leaders and get the job done next year." Redshirt sophomore center Jor- PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN happen like this again." Alexander witnessed firsthand the dan Morgan proved one of the most vocal regarding next season in the aftermath of the early NCAA exit. Through his tears in the team's locker room, he vowed that Michigan's pro- gram would continue on the upward arc it's taken over the past few years. "That's all I'm thinking about," Morgan said. "That's all I'm thinking about right now. It's not going to be the same. It's not going to happen like this again. "I know me and the leaders we've ers in Burke and Hardaway, and its best rebounder in Morgan. The Wolverines did lose their most effec- tive three-point shooter in Smotrycz, who — along with fellow sophomore Colton Christian and freshman Carl- ton Brundidge — opted to transfer out of U-M after the season. Those returning will be encour- growth in Michigan's players, over the course of the two seasons he's been in Ann Arbor. He assured the Wolverines aren't planning on taking any steps backward, all thoughts of the incoming reinforcements aside. U-M brings back its two top scor- still got on this team, we're not going to let it happen again. We've worked too hard. We've worked way too hard in the offseason, way too hard in practice. We start back up again in these workouts, and it's not going to shakes his head over the leap for- ward from when he first arrived on campus. From the Crisler Center facilities, to Michigan's recruiting, to the results on the court, nothing looks the same. The three-year captain would have chosen a different ending than he endured in Nashville. At the same time, he sees the big picture — one that includes basketball beyond his time in Ann Arbor. "When we came in, the program wasn't in a good place," Novak said. "We always put the program ahead of ourselves. Whatever these guys do for the next couple of years, we might not be on the court, but we're going to feel like we're right there with them. "The losses next year are going to aged by their scramble to the Big Ten championship this season. They'll also draw motivation from getting bounced out of the Big Dance almost before they began. Combine all of that with lessons learned throughout, and the mix hurt us, still. When they win, we're going to be jumping up and down, going crazy. It's just a special group. That's why it makes it so hard. I love these guys." "My dad has always taught me, 'Leave it better than you found it,'" Douglass said. "I think we've done that." ❏ MAY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 41

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