The University of Michigan Wolverines suffered a devastating loss against the Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday night, but while there is a feeling of sadness, and maybe even disappointment, there are some things that leave a fan encouraged.
First off, Michigan was in a game with an elite team, regardless of age, for the game’s entirety and played well. If there was a game to show up for, this was the one. Their players rose to the occasion and answered a lot of questions in the loss, and were not embarrassed on national television, which is always a plus. It proved that Michigan could play with anyone in the country, if that was not already clear. Coach John Beilien had his men ready, and showed that Michigan deserved a place amongst the Nation’s elite, even in a loss.
Nik Stauskas will most likely not be on campus next year, probably jumping to the NBA next season, but nothing is set in stone. Jordan Morgan will also be moving on from the team, but he left his mark on a club, and was a true leader when his team needed him. Although they won’t be there to help the Wolverines, they have proven that rankings don’t matter, and the coaching staff has what it takes to take any player’s game to the next level; Trey Burke could also be thrown into that conversation as well. It proves to recruits that Michigan’s run last season was not a fluke, but a stepping stone for what could be in Ann Arbor.
A third take away from it was that Michigan basketball is relevant again. They were relevant all season, I’m well aware of the Big Ten Championship, but majority of the Nation did not truly see Michigan accomplished, so the tournament helped there tremendously. I am saying that people can now move on from the Fab Five team, and begin to talk about the Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas’s of the program now. Jalen Rose and Chris Webber put Michigan basketball on the map, and there’s no doubt about that; the Beilien era just revived it, and have put the program in the best position it has possibly ever been in.
It will be fun to see what kind of jump Zak Irvin, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert make next season, and who takes over for Stauskas’s production. LeVert had one of the most improved seasons in the entire NCAA and will most likely be back next season. LeVert is a pure scorer, and a good defender, so it should be cool to see how good he truly is. Robinson III is the same way, but more of an offensive player. It will be the third team in a row that will compete for a Big Ten Championship, but this team will have the highest expectations to meet of them all. There has been a program built now and it is incredibly encouraging.