The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 85   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL never regain the skills that made him a Division I athlete, he put in the work, played in five games and scored one career point to make his way into the Michigan annals, a free throw in a December 2014 win over Coppin State. He'll graduate this year with a de- gree in organizational studies with hopes, still, of becoming a doctor. He and Cole will get married up north this summer, and Beilein and his wife, Kathleen, will be in attendance. Hatch brought more tears with his words on the Crisler Arena court fol- lowing the win over the Buckeyes. "Obviously, [mine is] a unique situation, a tough situation, but I wouldn't change anything about my four years here, and that all comes back to you guys," Hatch told the Crisler fans. "They always say the ultimate measure of a man is how he treats someone who can't repay him. "… I'll never be able to repay Coach Beilein and the staff and ev- eryone, but I'm extremely grateful, and I've done my very best to show my appreciation." — Chris Balas MICHIGAN CONTINUES TO THRIVE DEFENSIVELY Head coach John Beilein's Michi- gan teams have almost always been known for their offensive efficiency. This year's group, however, has been winning with defense, and individ- ual improvement has a lot to do with it. Fifth-year senior wing Duncan Robinson was a liability on the floor last year, for example. This year he was asked to help shut down Ohio State's Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Keita Bates-Diop, and he responded by holding him to 5-of-17 shooting Feb. 18. "It's senior night, and everyone thinks he'll hit some threes," Beilein said after U-M's 74-62 win over Ohio State. "He should be known for the job he did on Bates-Diop. He was absolutely terrific. "He and [freshman] Isaiah Liv- ers didn't shut him down, now, but changed the momentum of the game when they took the top scorer in the league and marginalized him a little bit." Robinson scored only four points, but he and sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson were dominant de- fensively. The Wolverines were tops in the Big Ten in scoring defense as of Feb. 18, allowing only 63.5 points per game. "What I've learned over time, and I'm embarrassed to say this … I was so much into technique and things like that," Beilein said. "There's a care level and want to on defense, and my assistants have gradually worked with our team to get to that point. "It's gotten better and better every game, every year. You get down to it and all the pretty plays, all the three- point shooting doesn't win games. You've got to be able to defend. "Earlier in my coaching career I was into technique and scheme. Now it's, 'You've got that guy. … Who's going to win?' I think we've taken that on." Robinson's improvement has been one of the big reasons for U-M's strong showing on that end of the court. "He's challenged himself and we've challenged him to say, you can do this,'" Beilein said. "It's a matter of having a 'They're picking on me' type of attitude, which they do. "You look at him out there, watch them say, 'We're going to attack that guy.' That was the M.O. on him, at- tack him, and he took that challenge on this year … A big reason we've had success in February is Duncan Robinson's defense." — Chris Balas Sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson and the Wolverines led the Big Ten in scoring defense (63.5 points allowed per contest) through games played Feb. 18. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Michigan's 74-62 win over then-No. 8 Ohio State Feb. 18 snapped a three- game losing streak to its hated rivals. Prior to that three-game skid, though, U-M had beaten OSU in four of the team's previous five meetings dating back to 2013. • The two highest-scoring games of senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur- Rahkman's career have both come in West Lafayette, Ind., against Purdue — he scored a career-high 26 points there earlier this season Jan. 25, and poured in 25 there on Jan. 7, 2016. • Michigan's 83-72 win at Wisconsin Feb. 11 was its first victory at the Kohl Center since picking up a huge 77-70 victory there over a No. 3-ranked Badgers squad on Jan. 18, 2014. — Austin Fox

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