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Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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We are very excited about participating in this season's NCAA Tournament.  Selection Sunday is such a great day for college basketball and we are thrilled to be a part of it for the third consecutive year.

Our team worked extremely hard this year to earn the highest seed possible. We are thankful for the opportunity to take on a very good South Dakota State team on Thursday in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

We believe the entire country was able to witness the strength of the Big Ten Conference this past weekend in Chicago. Our league is great and we believe that the conference schedule has prepared us for the NCAA Tournament.

Both our mindset and work ethic remains the same at this point in the season. We are confident and will diligently prepare for South Dakota State.

The stakes are the highest they can possibly be, but we are embracing the challenge of the "survive and advance" scenario.

To compete for NCAA Championships versus the best possible competition is why student athletes come to the University of Michigan.

We are thrilled to have a chance to compete in this year's NCAA Tournament and look forward taking on the Jackrabbits on Thursday at 7:15 pm.

Go Blue!
John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Big Ten Conference play is going to test your team. We certainly were tested last week after experiencing a tough loss in State College to Penn State.

We communicate to our student-athletes all the time that building a team is a process. Tough moments are going to occur over the course of the season, and the only thing you can do is face them and learn from them.

I sincerely believe that our ability to face and learn from the Penn State loss helped us compete with clear minds on Sunday vs. Michigan State.

Rivalry games in college basketball bring out the best in players. The memorable moment from Sunday's game against the Spartans was Trey Burke's steal and dunk in the final minute. Trey showed tremendous presence of mind to make that play when he did. The entire country got a chance to see the toughness Trey has displayed for us for two seasons now.

The last week of conference play has us battling the two Big Ten teams from the state of Indiana. We travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue at 7 p.m. tomorrow and we host the Hoosiers on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Coach Painter is a tremendous coach, and his guys will be ready to compete at a high level tomorrow night. We must exceed Purdue's intensity and grit in order to leave West Lafayette with a victory.

I am excited that a few of our guys will receive the opportunity to play in their home region tomorrow. With Glenn, Spike and Mitch all being from northwest Indiana, this homecoming is something that they and their families are looking forward to.

We can only play the games that are in front of us. Scoreboard watching and hoping for certain scenarios to take place cannot help us prepare for what lies ahead.

We will work hard this week to narrow the focus of our team. We are fortunate to be on spring break this week, and we will certainly use the time off the best we can. Right now, our thoughts are consumed with getting better and properly preparing for Purdue.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This past week served as an opportunity for us to get back on the practice floor without the need to exclusively prepare for our next opponent. We were able to get back to the basics offensively and defensively.

Over the course of a season, especially in the Big Ten Conference, your opponents demand so much of your practice time because of their skill level and style of play. Every coach will tell you that in effort to be prepared for the game ahead, you do not have the ability to practice all the things that you would like. Slippage is going to occur, but we were fortunate this past week to have the bye week to address some of those areas.

On Sunday, Illinois came into Crisler Center on a roll and we knew that they would be ready to play. I credit our team for playing tough the first half and for creating some separation in the second half by converting good defense into good offense.

Trey Burke went over the 1,000-point mark for his career. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Trey. Over the past two seasons, he has played some outstanding basketball for us.

Jordan Morgan played extended minutes on Sunday for the first time since his injury. Jordan's energy and activity were critical in our victory. I give him a ton of credit for his hard work and his determination with his rehab.

Our next opponent is Penn State tomorrow night in State College. Any Big Ten road game deserves the proper preparation and attention.

Penn State played tough here 10 days ago, and it will take a team effort to walk out of State College with a victory.

We look forward to the tomorrow night's opportunity to continue to push forward in the Big Ten Conference.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

College basketball seasons have their highs and their lows. Unfortunately on Saturday afternoon in Madison, we found ourselves on the wrong side of some incredible plays by the Badgers. Games like that make college basketball so compelling and so interesting from a fans perspective.

I have coached in a lot of basketball games and losing in any fashion certainly hurts. Games involving buzzer beaters seem to hurt more because of the magnitude of the shots but in reality, all losing is difficult because the margin between winning and losing basketball games is so small.

Every play is important when it comes to winning and losing. Execution is the name of the game, and we must credit Wisconsin for executing well in Madison.

Losing in Madison cannot spillover into our preparation for MSU. Our next opponent deserves our undivided attention, just like Wisconsin required our undivided attention after the win versus Ohio State last week.

Our staff has moved on from this loss. Our team has moved on from this loss also. We watched the game film yesterday and attacked the practice floor with the right attitude.

I am excited for the opportunity that we have in front of us. Michigan State is playing well right now, and I expect this rivalry game to be as intense as it has ever been. I am confident in our team's ability to be ready to play at 9 p.m. tomorrow night in East Lansing.

This is life in the Big Ten Conference. We must continue to stay connected as a program, and we will. Our core values of Integrity, Diligence, Appreciation, Unity, and Passion must continue to sustain all of our efforts.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The last two outings for us have been high level and extremely intense contests. The Indiana game and the Ohio State game are the type of games all college players dream of playing in.

Saturday night's game in Bloomington was a great battle between two Big Ten opponents. The environment in Assembly Hall was awesome, and we as a program embraced the opportunity to take on the Hoosiers in a game that received a ton of media coverage.

We did not get the result that we wanted in Bloomington vs. the Hoosiers. We give Indiana a ton of credit for the way they played that evening.

Indiana's timely scores and rebounds in the second half made the difference, in my opinion. Their energy and pace of play throughout the game was very impressive.

The game vs. the Buckeyes last night was incredible. The team wore the maize-on-maize jerseys for the occasion, and the environment in Crisler Center was electric from start to finish.

Tim Hardaway Jr. carried our team during a stretch in the second half with some outstanding shooting. Tim is capable of making a string of shots because the way he shoots is so consistent. From day one his freshman year, Tim has consistently shot the ball with great elevation, balance and spin. When you do these things, you always give the ball a chance to go in the basket.

Tim and Trey Burke made two critical blocks in the closing seconds that showed great toughness. When your most talented players also make gritty plays on the basketball floor, it does so much for your team.

I thought Ohio State played an intelligent game and didn't make it easy for us all evening. Their athleticism and size allow them to be so disruptive defensively. This athleticism and size coupled with Aaron Craft's tremendous defensive ability make them very good and very dangerous in the Big Ten.

Our next conference opponent is Wisconsin on Saturday at noon EST. We will tip at 11 a.m. CST, which means our guys will have to be ready for a Big Ten battle at a unique time.

We will need contributions from everyone in order to leave Madison with a victory. Coach Bo Ryan will have his team ready to go, and we will have our team ready to play on Saturday.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Coming off a tough stretch in our season, our young men have showed both mental and physical toughness. Both the 20-1 start and the current No. 1 ranking are very exciting, but it is important to reiterate that neither is our main focus. Fans should relish the victories, but what really matters is who the No. 1 team is when the NCAA Tournament comes to a close. We need to continue putting in the hours now in effort to be champions when it counts.

Wednesday night was a great win for us as we remain undefeated here at Crisler.

After beating Northwestern earlier in January, our student-athletes carried themselves with the appropriate level of confidence necessary to protect our home court. As a team they executed well, improved on the mistakes they made during our first meeting, and were able to grind out yet another win.

I'm proud of the team. The defensive execution was incredible vs. an extremely well-coached Northwestern team.

Our next priority is our game in Bloomington this Saturday night. Playing in a game like this one is the reason our student-athletes come to Michigan. We are excited about the opportunity to face such a tremendous team in Indiana, but we recognize that it is going to come down to 40 minutes of execution.

The effort will be there Saturday night in Bloomington. We are going to work over the next few days to make sure the execution is in order for the Hoosiers. College GameDay is broadcasting from Assembly Hall, and the 9 p.m. start should make it an exciting Big Ten battle for the nation to see.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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We used the last week in between games to get better as a team. Our bye week in conference came early this year, and our staff felt that our team used it productively on and off the court.

Last night served as a quality win in the Big Ten Conference for us. Purdue is a tough, athletic team that is extremely well coached by Matt Painter and his staff.

Protecting home court is a point of emphasis for our team. I sincerely believe that this mentality carried our guys last night through the tough stretches of the game. We knew going into the game that Purdue would not give up anything easily on the offensive and defensive end of the ball.

Our staff loved the unity that our team displayed throughout the game. Our staff consistently speaks to our student-athletes about being energy givers and not energy drainers. With a halftime deficit of one point, we felt our team showed great togetherness in what we would describe as the consummate team win.

Balanced scoring by our starters and positive contributions from our bench allowed us to pull away from the Boilermakers in the second half.

This next stretch of the season certainly serves as an opportunity for us to show our toughness. With games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday vs. conference opponents, we will have to manage our preparation and our team's energy level wisely.

In shifting our thoughts to Illinois, the first thing that jumps out to me is their skilled perimeter attack. With players like Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand, they are a versatile team that will challenge our ability to guard.

We look forward to traveling to Champaign this weekend to take on the challenge of playing a team whose shot-making ability makes them a dangerous match-up in the Big Ten Conference.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The last two games have served as wonderful game films for us to learn from and grow from. As basketball coaches, our job is to figure out the best ways to prepare our student-athletes for competition. Sometimes the best teacher is live competition.

I embrace the process of building a team. In the Big Ten Conference, games vs. Nebraska at home and the Buckeyes on the road are part of the process of building a team.

Nebraska served as a great challenge for us last Wednesday. I thought that they did a great job of utilizing the shot clock on offense and committing to stopping our transition game on defense.

The game in Columbus on Sunday shows us the importance of starting the game well. Credit the Buckeyes for coming out strong and building an early lead.

I loved the intensity and the heart we showed to claw back into the game. The only way to get back into games when trailing is one play at a time. I thought our guys did a great job of embracing this mentality in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, we did not have enough to take the lead and get a win.

Over the next few days, we will break down the film from Sunday's game as well as prepare for Minnesota on Thursday. The trip to Minneapolis serves as an opportunity for us to bounce back after our first loss of the season.

I have no doubt that Minnesota will be well prepared for us. It is our intention to play the Minnesota game with a high level of effort and execution. These things must come together in order to win games on the road in the Big Ten Conference.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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On behalf of the University of Michigan men's basketball program, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season as well.

The holiday season affords us the wonderful opportunity to get better as a team and devote extra time to individual skill development. With the student-athletes not in classes, we simply have more time to improve and more opportunities to grow as a unit.

This season's holiday break was the longest that I can remember in my years of coaching. Our guys had four days at home and they all came back energized and motivated to continue to get better.

Our game versus Central Michigan served as a good learning experience for our team. It is always great to teach after a victory and based on our staff's breakdown of the game film, we identified some areas that needed to be addressed as we headed into Big Ten play. Specifically, our team must continue to sustain high-level play throughout the 40 minute games in the effort areas like transition defense and knowing player tendencies.

We opened up Big Ten play last week in Evanston versus Northwestern, which is always a challenging match up. Our staff complimented our players after the game on handling a ton of information in our game preparation. I thought the energy level and the unselfishness we displayed at Northwestern was special and contributed to our victory.

On Sunday (Jan. 6), we took on a very good Iowa team here in Ann Arbor at noon. The early weekend games are always interesting in college basketball. Often times, it is the team that starts the game the fastest and the toughest that wins.

We certainly did not start the game in the fashion that we wanted to but I thought that we closed the first half and started the second half really well. These stronger segments were able to offset the slower start to the game for us.

So many people contributed to Sunday's win, but Glenn Robinson III's activity level was undeniable. To finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first Big Ten home game shows you the type of ability this young man has.

Each year shows and proves that Big Ten Conference play is unrelenting. We have two wins right now, but all of our attention has shifted to Nebraska. They are a tough defensive team and will certainly try to impose their pace and will on the game tomorrow night.

I look forward to getting back out on the practice floor with our team as we prepare for Nebraska. We can't wait to see our fans and hear our fans tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This past weekend, our team played well in a neutral-site test vs. West Virginia. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn served as a great venue for us to compete in. We cannot thank the fans enough that showed up and were extremely vocal, rooting us on to a victory.

West Virginia is a good team and will compete every night in their new conference, the Big 12. Their team physicality and toughness forced us in our preparation to concentrate on winning the battles within the game, such as 50/50 balls, deflections and rebounds. Winning the rebounding battle 32-29 showed that our guys matched their toughness and brought the type of competitiveness to the table that will help us in Big Ten Conference play.

Our backcourt was tremendous in Brooklyn. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. certainly performed at a high level. Each player is seeing the game better this season, and each player is drawing worthy attention from our opponents each time we take the floor.

Final exams concluded on Thursday here at the University of Michigan. We are pleased with how our student-athletes are executing in the classroom and on the court.

Last night, our team performed well in front of a great crowd in Crisler Center against Eastern Michigan.

The balanced scoring and the 26 team assists that we compiled showed that our players executed the game plan vs. Eastern Michigan's 2-3 zone well. The 10 steals that we grabbed showed that the activity level on defense was high also.

Eastern Michigan challenges teams because the 2-3 zone greatly impacts the tempo of the game. Our staff thought that we combated this well by trying to beat the zone down the floor in transition.

This is a great time of year, and we certainly are happy to be 12-0. We are happy, but we are not satisfied. This team must maintain its humility and its hunger to learn from each outing.

Right now, our job is to continue to prepare diligently and to enjoy the holiday break with family and friends.

Happy Holidays and Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The 2012 fall semester here at the University of Michigan has flown by. It is amazing that the last day of classes is today and final exams begin on Thursday.

When our players reported to school in September, we explained to them that the semester seems long but it flies by because of how packed their schedules are with academics and athletics. Since the season began, it seems as if the each week passes even quicker, especially when we play multiple games.

The game this past Saturday against Arkansas was a good game for us. We respect Arkansas and knew that they would challenge us in a number of ways.

Our staff was pleased with how our team stuck together during the course of Saturday's game. Unity is one of our five core values, and our staff felt we showed great unity, especially when Arkansas cut our lead to one point during the second half.

Our execution down the stretch allowed us to secure the 80-67 victory in front of our home crowd. The balanced scoring and positive contributions from our bench stood out as points to be proud of.

What is nice about going to practice every day with this team is their commitment to improving. We are still motivated every day in practice because we desire to put together 40 minutes of Michigan Basketball.

Today, we take the court again to battle Binghamton at 7 p.m. There is no place like home, and we look forward to seeing all our fans this evening in Crisler Center.

We want to wish all Michigan students the best of luck on their final exams. We always tell our players to "Play Hard and Play Smart," so I encourage all of our students to "Study Hard and Study Smart."

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This past weekend we traveled to Peoria, Illinois, to face Bradley for our first official away game of the season. We were all eager to see how the team would perform under the pressures of an opponent's court.

Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III were key contributors to our win with 35 points between the two of them. Bradley's toughness helped them with a late run, but we were able to hold them off with our execution and free throw shooting down to the stretch.

It is always special in college basketball when a student-athlete gets to play in his hometown. Max Bielfeldt received that opportunity with our game in Peoria. His teammates and our staff were thrilled with Max's play last Saturday. With his family and many childhood friends watching from the stands, Max's activity on the court and on the glass in particular helped us tremendously.

Last night, we battled the Western Michigan Broncos in Crisler Center. With steady effort and execution, we were able to improve our overall record to 8-0.

Our point guard, Trey Burke, had a very solid performance last night. Our staff felt that he set the tone with his playmaking ability. He finished with 20 points, 7 assists, and 0 turnovers.

Our focus now shifts to Arkansas, which visits Ann Arbor on Saturday. We went down to Fayetteville last year and played a very entertaining, hard-fought game vs. the Razorbacks. We will take the next few days to prepare for Arkansas, which plays an up-tempo style with their very talented players.

We can't wait to see a packed and loud Crisler Center on Saturday at noon for tipoff.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving in New York City went well. We were able to secure a tournament championship by beating two very good teams in Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Both Pittsburgh and Kansas State are great rebounding teams and are extremely well coached. A point of emphasis in both games was team rebounding.

The game vs. Pittsburgh was the first game of the season that we trailed for a significant portion of the game. I thought our guys showed signs of toughness by continuing to stay the course during the game. Pitt did a great job of shortening the game by taking the shot clock down very low on the majority of its possessions in the first half and not allowing us many transition looks.

The game against Kansas State showcased some of our explosiveness on the offensive end. This team is capable of scoring points in a hurry, and we like the fact that we can build leads in games with solid halfcourt defense and quick strikes on offense. Kansas State did a good job of pressuring our ball handlers and taking away some of our passes.

I was thrilled that our team played well in Madison Square Garden. We wanted to make this a memorable trip to New York, and we are pleased that it resulted in a NIT preseason championship.

I would like to congratulate Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. for making the all-tournament team. I would also like to congratulate Tim on winning the Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament. Tim played tremendous basketball in New York, and we love what we are seeing from him.

Now that the NIT Season Tip-Off is over with, our focus is now on helping the Big Ten Conference win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. We have a ton of pride in our conference affiliation and we desire to represent the Big Ten Conference the right way. We have a lot of respect for our opponent, N.C. State, and look forward to battling them in Crisler Center tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in front of a packed arena!

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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We are pleased with the 3-0 start to our season. Our guys have responded well to the demands of competition. We have so much room for improvement and it is nice for our staff to have game film now to teach and instruct from.

The IUPUI and Cleveland State games served as good tests for our team. Each team challenged us in unique ways in Crisler Center this week. This will help us as we continue to go throughout the season.

If I had to point to one characteristic of our team that I really like right now, I would say that it is our team's unselfishness. The ball movement and flow have been very solid so far and will only continue to get better as our team gets more comfortable on the court.

The back-to-back game scenario in college basketball is rare. It usually only occurs in the preseason tournaments and conference tournaments at the end of the season.

The quick turnaround time puts a ton of pressure on the staff to put together a concise game plan and on the players to play hard and smart with limited rest time. Our team responded well to this early season scenario. They showed great maturity in their ability to handle their classes, game preparation, treatment/recovery needs, and the games over a two-day period.

Advancing to New York in the Preseason NIT is an accomplishment for our team. We are looking forward to heading to NYC because this will serve as the first opportunity to win a championship with the 2012-13 team. Our preparation over the next week will be driven by championship thoughts and aspirations.

For many of our players this will be first time playing in Madison Square Garden. Playing there is certainly special, and we look forward to the opportunity of taking on Pittsburgh next Wednesday (Nov. 21) at 9:30 p.m.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This evening, we will take the floor in the freshly renovated Crisler Center. The arena looks tremendous, and we thank all of those who have worked so diligently to get it ready for the season.

Michigan coaches on Halloween 2012

Our staff and our players are excited about taking the floor for the first time vs. Northern Michigan.

Our student-athletes have been working hard in the weight room, on the court, and, most importantly, in the classroom in preparation for the season. We will bring a ton of passion to the court, and we hope to see the seats of the Crisler Center filled with energized fans at 7 p.m. tonight.

Last night, after we finished our preparation for Northern Michigan, our staff and our student-athletes had a little Halloween Hysteria in the WDPDC. It is always good to mix in a little fun after a few days of focused attention on an opponent.

On a more personal note, on October 26, my daughter Seana and her husband Ryan blessed us with our second grandchild, John Griffin Hendricks. John was rocking a block M skullcap within hours of his birth.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This has been a productive week for the program. Fall break afforded us the opportunity to get some good work done on the court on Monday and Tuesday. It also gave us an opportunity to visit the St. Louis Center in Chelsea, Mich.

Visiting the St. Louis Center with our team was a great experience. Serving in the community is something we value as Michigan Wolverines. As a basketball program, we recognize how fortunate we are to compete for a school like Michigan, and we recognize that our reach must extend further than the basketball court and out into the community. Putting a smile on the St. Louis Center residents' faces was tremendous for me and our players.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let Wolverine Nation know that I am partnering with the American Cancer Society with their Cancer Prevention Study-3 in Ann Arbor. I am joining the study as a community champion and my plan is to enroll in the Cancer Prevention Study-3 at Washtenaw Community College on Oct. 27, 2012.

I am committing to this study because I, like many people, have had family and friends who have been touched by cancer. It is important to me to do everything that I can to help find ways to prevent cancer and ultimately put an end to cancer. This study is part of that effort, and I couldn't be more excited about helping out.

As I stated in my last Beilein Weekly, I am going to begin tweeting some of things that I believe as a basketball coach. Here is an idea of some of the content that I intend to tweet.

I Believe ...
  1. Lots of shooting in practice (at least 20 minutes)
  2. Video tape individual shooters every few months to let them understand their technique
  3. I believe in videotaping every practice and I usually watch at least half of it a second time

We are looking forward to this weekend's matchup vs. MSU in the Big House. We wish the Wolverines the best of luck. We all will be rooting hard for them in the stands on Saturday.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Basketball officially begins today! Our first practice is this evening at 5 p.m. and we are looking forward to it. The players have finished up their preseason skills testing and now it is time to translate all of their off-season efforts into success in-season.

Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein at his desk

This first practice is especially exciting for our five freshmen who have not yet experienced a complete Big Ten practice. On the practice floor, we establish good habits. The habits we establish will determine the type of team that we will be. I can't wait to see how our guys attack these first couple of practices. We are confident that they will bring the appropriate level of intensity and focus.

During this time of the year, basketball activities allow me to get into a nice rhythm for work. Most days start out with me watching film or planning practices very early in the morning. When I arrive to the office, I usually try to spend the morning handling any office work that needs to be completed. After lunch at my desk, I usually meet with the staff to finish planning practice and to discuss other basketball matters. Practice usually begins every day in the late afternoon with a film session before we take the practice court.

Stay tuned to my Twitter (@JohnBeilein) over the next few weeks as I tweet some of the things that I believe as a basketball coach. These beliefs have emerged out of my time as a basketball coach from the high school level to the Division I level.

Go Blue!

-John


Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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After the excitement of the Staff vs. Student-Athlete softball game a few weeks ago, things around here have finally settled down and it is back to business. We are looking forward to official practice starting this week, but for now the players are completing their preseason skills testing.

Preseason skills testing serves as a way to assist our guys in their on-the-court development. The summer months serve as the time for players to work on their games. Skill testing holds them accountable working on their game. Our staff loves preseason testing because it becomes very evident who has invested time into working on their game.

Last Wednesday, I went to watch the Detroit Pistons practice in their facility in Auburn Hills. I am a big fan of Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank. We were very fortunate to have him speak at our coaches' clinic last year and I appreciated the opportunity to watch his team practice last week.

In watching NBA players move up and down the court, it is amazing to me how quickly space disappears and is taken up by world class athletes. One second a driving or passing lane looks open and the next second it disappears.

In watching Lawrence Frank conduct practice, I was amazed at how we echo many of the same things that Coach Frank teaches his players. When a teammate hits the ground, help him up quickly and enthusiastically. Point guards are the quarterbacks and must always know the time and score. Communication is critical on defense, especially in ball screen defense.

The amount of information NBA players must retain is tremendous. Basketball truly is a thinking man's game. Watching Lawrence Frank run practice further lets me know that at the highest levels, the mental edge and capacity that a coaching staff can foster in a team helps separate the team from its competition.

It is not about what the coaching staff knows; we can't execute the plan. It is about what the players know and are able to execute.

We look forward to kicking off the start of official practice on Friday. Guys were able to put on their uniforms last week for picture day in Crisler Center. Seeing our players in their uniforms is exciting for the players and for the staff because it signals that the season is drawing near.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This past Saturday, we had our first annual Staff vs. Student-Athlete softball game. The game took part within the friendly confines of the Oosterbaan Fieldhouse due to inclement weather.

Let me give you some of the highlights of the two inning showdown.

First Inning Recap

The student-athletes got off to a quick start thanks to a two run homer by Detroit's very own, Jordan Morgan. After this two run shot, the offense stalled thanks to some stellar defense by the staff. Spear headed by Jeff Meyer's diving effort to attempt a double play, the staff used this tone-setting play to hold the student-athletes scoreless for the remainder of the inning.

Staff Student Softball Game Staff Student Softball Game

Other highlights included a triple play by the staff, much to the amazement of the student-athletes.

The bottom of the first inning included an offensive explosion by the staff. C.J. Lee led off with a single, warming up the bats of the staff. The bats did not cool off until a total of seven runs were scored, much to the dismay of the student-athletes. Ben Belanger and Damon Grosz both hit two run homers to lead the staff's effort. Other highlights included me tweaking my hamstring on the way to first after a beautiful single through the middle infield. The staff also utilized some strategy, secretly planning for Bacari Alexander to strike out, causing mass laughter by the student-athletes. The plan worked to perfection, resulting in the student-athletes putting their guard down and Damon Grosz supplying the two-run blast to end the inning in a 7-2 score.

Staff Student Softball Game Staff Student Softball Game

Second Inning Recap

Taking advantage of some throwing errors by the staff, the student-athletes thought they would have enough to close the scoring gap. With their backs against the wall, they managed to produce three runs at the top of the second inning but ultimately fell short of their goal of tying the game or taking the lead.

With the victory in hand and nothing to play for, the celebration was on. The purely ceremonial bottom of the second inning resulted in the complete cooling of the bats for the staff. A pitching change executed by the student-athletes replaced Peoria's Max Bielfeldt, who was torched for seven runs in the first inning, with Lake Forest's Matt Vogrich, who threw a one-hitter in relief.

Final Score: Staff 7, Student-Athletes 5

Staff Student Softball Game Staff Student Softball Game

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In response to the buildup, intensity, and outcome of the game, a few members of our program issued the following remarks.

Catcher, Bacari Alexander, Assistant Coach.  "U CONSCIOUS!"

Left Fielder, Travis Conlan, Director of Basketball Operations. "There were reports of an unidentified flying object in left field, making all kinds of winning plays. The players thought Megatron only played football."

Right/Center Fielder, Peter Kahler, Video Analyst. "Fellas, stick to hoops!"

Shortstop, Tim Hardaway Jr., Student-Athlete. "Yeah, we lost. I can accept that. But anyone who strikes out twice can't say anything to anybody. U CONSCIOUS!"

First Basemen, Jordan Morgan, Student-Athlete. "No comment."

Staff Student Softball Game Staff Student Softball Game

All in all, the event was tremendous. We had a great time and we will laugh for a long time about some of the moments that took place. We are all about making memories for our student-athletes here at Michigan!

Go Blue!

- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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It has been a quiet week inside the basketball offices here in Ann Arbor but a busy one for the program as a whole. The coaches, including myself, have been traveling extensively on various recruiting trips, working hard to bring the best and brightest here to Michigan. Our players, on the other hand, have been balancing their time between schoolwork and workouts now that classes are in full swing.

We are all gearing up for an exciting football matchup this weekend as our Wolverines take on the Fighting Irish this Saturday. Last year's nail-biting victory here at the Big House under the lights was so memorable. The game certainly lived up to the buildup.

The last couple meetings between Michigan and Notre Dame have come down to the final plays. We certainly will all be on the edge of our seats for this upcoming game.

We have a very special event planned this weekend with our student-athletes and our staff. We are going to see if the talents of the student-athletes and the staff extend further than the basketball court. I will fill you in on the details in next week's Beilein Weekly.

Best of luck this weekend to all the Michigan teams that are competing.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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If you have not driven by Crisler Center in a while, I encourage you to do so. It is really coming along and we can't wait to see the finished product. We thank the men and women who are working very hard to complete the Crisler renovations. We are thrilled that our fans will be able to experience big time college basketball within a big time venue.

Since my last post, school has begun and we have officially kicked off preseason workouts. The first couple of days in the classroom and on the court are organizational days. We instruct our players to really focus during these first few days because understanding now helps application later.

As our players are getting in shape to perform at a high level, Jeff Meyer and I have our own friendly competition going on in the weight room. We both are attacking our workouts to get in better shape for healthy living. I vow to keep working out five to six days a week all year long.

Jeff is a morning guy who prefers to get his workouts in early. I like the afternoons so I have been working out at the conclusion of the work day. It is nice to have a friend to push you to work out. Jeff is being a good teammate right now, and I am doing my best to keep up with the all planks, pushups and stretching he is doing.

The first home football game this weekend marks the first time we have the opportunity to bring in recruits. Football games serve as a great time to get to know prospective student-athletes and their families. The location of the William Davidson PDC gives us the opportunity to show recruits our facilities and at the same time let them enjoy a Big Ten football environment.

Go Blue!

-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Camp season is officially underway for Michigan Basketball!

We began last weekend with a successful Father/Son Camp in the William Davidson Player Development Center. During the camp-opening lecture, it occurred to me that the 2012 Father/Son Camp marked the first camp in program history to take place in the Davidson Center. We are very excited to utilize this wonderful facility in our summer camp program.

This weekend, we will host 100 teenagers at the College Practice Camp. We enjoy this camp because it simulates what we put our student-athletes through during the course of a practice session.

"Fathers Only" Session with Coach Beilein.Campers taking it easy between drills.


The online registration capability for camps is a step in the right direction for us. So far, the feedback we've received has been positive. Please continue to be patient with us as we work to make the camp experience a pleasurable one from start to finish.

As a staff, we are thoroughly looking forward to this summer with our student-athletes because of the new NCAA rules that allow us to work them out on the floor. The little time that we have is so valuable and we are so appreciative for it because it gives us an opportunity to lay out a foundation and establish expectations with our players.

Skill work and development.Engaging and interactive lectures.


Most of my time recently has been spent preparing for the return or arrival of all our student-athletes. I have done a fair amount of traveling over the past few weeks, so this week I am also catching up on some office work. With the construction taking place at Crisler Center, it makes us realize daily how blessed we are to coach basketball at the University of Michigan.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Wolverine Nation, it has been a while and I am excited to update you about what is going on in the Michigan Basketball Program.

Since the winter term concluded, the majority of our student-athletes have traveled home for some much deserved rest and relaxation. Their time away from campus with family and friends is just as important as the time they spend here during the school year.

For the last few weeks, the William Davidson Player Development Center has been shut down because of the ongoing construction at Crisler Center. The construction workers are extending the Crisler concourse to make room for improved concession stands, restrooms, and much more! The expansion happens to extend right over the roof of the William Davidson Center, and it has forced us to leave the premises for a few weeks. We can see the giant cranes working on the Davidson Center and are excited about the changes occurring right before our eyes. Crisler Center is going to be an amazing venue when it is completed!

In the meantime, we have been working out of temporary offices in the Michigan Stadium press box. This temporary work environment has energized our staff. We have enjoyed watching the men's lacrosse team practice in the mornings or afternoons in the Big House. It is amazing the similarities in practices across the different sports. The emphasis on proper passing, proper catching, and proper spacing in lacrosse is amazingly similar to that of basketball.

We have also enjoyed seeing individuals and special tour groups run out of the tunnel and leap to touch imaginary "GO BLUE M Club Supports You" signs in Michigan Stadium.

I want to take this opportunity to once again welcome Kim Barnes-Arico to the Michigan family. We are thrilled that she is the new leader for our women's basketball program. I believe Kim is a tremendous coach, and she brings instant credibility and excitement because of her knowledge, style and experience.

Stay tuned for more updates about Michigan Basketball. I will do my best to continue updating our friends and fans on what is happening with the program throughout the summer.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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The weeks directly after the end of every college basketball season are always very interesting. Decisions and speculation about future decisions make just as much news as a great win or a tough loss during the season. I want to take this opportunity to give our friends and fans an update since my last post two weeks ago.

First, I would like to note that Wednesday's reports of Trey Burke's decision to enter the NBA draft were premature.

My coaching staff and I have met with Trey and his parents several times over the past two weeks. Collectively, we have gathered and shared with each of them some necessary information that we feel will help Trey make the most informed decision for his future.

The Burke family has been very receptive to our assistance and appreciates that we have encouraged Trey to take his time and look at all of his options between now and the April 10 deadline.

With only one full week of classes remaining, Trey and his teammates, like all students at Michigan, are working diligently to complete their assignments and prepare for final exams.

The entire team has really worked hard in our postseason practice over the past few weeks. I love the progress of our returning talent; they are playing with great confidence and swagger. The leadership roles are evolving in a very positive way as the veterans step up and lead the team. The attitude has been great and the energy very high for each and every workout. Our three redshirt athletes have all had some very impressive moments in recent drills and scrimmages as well.

Stu, Zack and Corey have also attended many of our team workouts as they prepare for the opportunities they may have after graduation later this month. Those three have brilliant futures waiting for them down whatever path they choose.

We are all looking forward to seeing so many of our friends at the celebration of our Big Ten championship on Tuesday, April 10, at the Annual Awards Celebration Dinner. The Celebration is a sellout and will be held for the first time at our beautiful new William Davidson Player Development Center.

GO BLUE!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Last Friday we suffered a disappointing loss and end to our season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. We knew prior to the game that Ohio University was a good basketball team, and they proved to be a difficult matchup for us.

Our staff and players all felt that we had the right ingredients to make a run in the tournament this year, but the Bobcats came out and played a great game against us. Ohio was certainly deserving of the win.

Although it is difficult to send our seniors out on a loss, we have not let this diminish our pride for all that we have achieved this season. All season long our team remained focused on winning a Big Ten championship, and we were able to accomplish that goal for the first time in 26 years!

We are thankful for our seniors who have guided and carried the program through both the high notes and rough patches during the past four years. They will surely be missed, but we know team leadership and ownership will emerge in the coming months as we work toward next season.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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We are continuing to enjoy the Madness this week as we prepare for the NCAA Tournament. After returning from Indianapolis on Sunday, our team watched the selection show together and we were thrilled to be selected as the fourth seed in the Midwest Region.

In preparing to play the very talented Ohio University, we will benefit from the experiences of a tough conference season and a challenging non-conference slate of games.

During this time of year more than ever, college basketball is about exploiting matchups and making adjustments. The Big Ten Tournament this past weekend certainly proved this point as well as provided us with some teachable moments as we game plan for Ohio University.

Minnesota played with incredible quickness in our first game that took us some time to adjust. I was very proud of how our guys fought back and maintained their poise, even when the momentum and energy of the game wasn't going our way. The team kept their focus and managed to knock down some much-needed shots to put the game into overtime.

In the semifinals, Ohio played tremendous basketball and dug us into a hole early. When you're playing a team with as much talent as they have, it's difficult to come back. However, the loss gave our guys a taste of the disappointment of a run cut short, and we will use it as motivation as we look to achieve our NCAA Tournament goals starting this Friday in Nashville.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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This week started with a great finish in our regular season with a victory over Penn State and winning a share Big Ten regular-season title! We are thrilled about the regular-season championship. It is a wonderful accomplishment and a true testament to the hard work and dedication of our players.

As great as it is to a share the Big Ten regular-season title, our season is not over. Our next challenge is the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis this weekend.

We gave our guys some time away from the gym in order to recharge for this next stretch of our season. Our focus has shifted from the regular season to the postseason.

We are currently preparing for a game against either Minnesota or Northwestern. Both teams pose unique challenges for us; we will have our hands full with either team.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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March is here and the stakes are high in the college basketball world. We are thrilled to be part of the "Madness" and are working hard to advance our program one day at a time.

Last Saturday, we took on a tough Purdue team that came into Crisler and played well. I thought we did a good job of countering their runs until the closing minutes of the second half. Credit Purdue for playing hard and making more plays than we did down the stretch.

Coach Painter's team executed their game plan at a high level, and Robbie Hummel looked like the All-Big Ten player that he has been for his entire career.

Senior Night is always special, and we couldn't have been happier to honor Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Corey Person, Ben Cronin and Josh Mack before the game. The game did not end with the result that we wanted, but we are appreciative that there is more meaningful basketball ahead of us.

Our team bounced back vs. the Fighting Illini in Champaign last night. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke gave us great lifts when we needed points, and the team defensive effort was outstanding.

I spoke to the team yesterday about having great faith in their ability and in our group as a unit. Without question, our staff saw a confident team take the floor in Champaign and we were pleased to pull out a victory.

Penn State is our next opponent as we close out the Big Ten regular season. While on Spring Break this week, our schedule has afforded us the opportunity to work with guys individually as well as with the team as a whole.

As we prepare for Penn State, we will continue to maximize each day in order to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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What a tremendous weekend it was in Ann Arbor! The game, the crowd, and the atmosphere surrounding College GameDay made last Saturday a memorable day for our program.

I knew from the minute I arrived at Crisler and saw the number of fans already lined up at 6:45 a.m. that the day was going to be special. The excitement and enthusiasm carried throughout the entire day and made the game against Ohio one of the loudest and most passionate I have ever experienced at Crisler.

Our players felt and played with that same passion to not only beat their rival, but to take another step towards our goal of a Big Ten championship. We had not one but a number of guys make tough shots when we needed them, and as a team we held strong to our defense to stay in the lead for all 40 minutes of the game.

We are thrilled to have beaten such a talented basketball team, but we must keep the win in perspective. Tomorrow we play at Northwestern in the first of three remaining road games on the schedule. We will need to play each of our games leading up to the Big Ten Tournament with the same level of energy and enthusiasm that we had this past weekend.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Another week of difficult Big Ten match-ups is behind us. Nebraska and Illinois were each challenging opponents in different ways. It was great to come away with wins against both teams.

Without any experience playing against Nebraska before, we had to start from scratch in our preparations. Yet, I thought our guys did a tremendous job, especially considering we were on the road. Our defense was really strong throughout the game and played a big role in limiting baskets for Nebraska.

It was also great to see Zack score his 1,000th career point. Not very many young men are able to accomplish that in their collegiate careers, but he has certainly worked hard enough over the past four years to attain it.

In both games I was pleased with the contributions from our bench players. Matt Vogrich got things going at Nebraska with three big three-pointers in a row. He, along with some of our other guys, had been in a bit of a slump, but his confidence seemed to spread and carry over into our game against Illinois on Sunday.

Tim and Evan both found a rhythm in the game and really stepped up to help us get the win. Illinois has some very quick and talented players, but I loved how we had a lot of guys contribute and really played together as a team.

We've got five days ahead of us before we get back on the court. Our guys will use these next couple days to get refreshed and then we'll put all our focus into preparing for Ohio on Saturday.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Indiana and Michigan State proved to be challenging opponents this past week. We were pleased that we protected our home court and earned a victory versus Indiana. We did not play our best game versus the Spartans in East Lansing and we must give credit to the Michigan State team and coaching staff for their great effort.

It is always nice when you get off to a great shooting start. Versus Indiana, we put together a tremendous start and I believe it set the tone for us the rest of the way.

Indiana made runs to get back into the game but our guys responded well to each run. To grab another Big Ten Conference win in front of our home crowd was great for our team.

Michigan State played with a ton of energy and their execution on Sunday matched their intensity. I felt our effort was there on both ends of the court but our execution was not.

In order to win on the road, especially versus a rival, you must play well. We did not execute the details of the game to the level that we needed to in East Lansing.

We will learn from the Indiana victory and we will learn from the Michigan State loss. We are at a point in conference play where every game has Big Ten championship and postseason implications.

We will continue to take things one day at a time. That is the only way we know how to coach our team.

Our next game is versus Nebraska on Wednesday. In order to get a victory in Lincoln, we must have tremendous focus, energy and execution.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Life in the Big Ten Conference is a ton of fun and it is also extremely taxing. Mental, physical and emotional toughness is tested in each training session preparing for games as well as in moments of competition. We constantly speak to our team about embracing the process of becoming a good team.

This past week, we took on a good Purdue team in West Lafayette and a strong Ohio State team in Columbus. The conference schedule is relentless and in order to be a good team, you are going to face some of the best teams in the country on the road.

Last Tuesday, Purdue made us work on both ends of the floor. Coach Painter always has a team that competes hard and plays tough. This Purdue team is no exception and we were pleased to come out of there with a victory.

I loved the way our seniors, Zack and Stu, carried themselves throughout the game. I believe their assured play rubbed off on our team and carried us to the eventual win.

Last Sunday in Columbus, we played an Ohio State team that was incredibly active on the boards and very good on the defensive end. They are a talented team and in order to beat them, we must play well and at the same time limit their easy baskets. I thought the difference in the game was their ability to convert second chance points and convert off our turnovers.

Indiana is our next conference opponent on Wednesday. We can't wait to put on the Michigan jerseys again in front of our home crowd in Crisler Center. We have to play well in order to beat Indiana. They are coming off a game where they scored over 100 points so we expect a confident and well prepared team to take the Crisler floor.

Look for a piece from me after the Indiana game later on this week.

Go Blue!
-John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Our team played a couple of thrilling basketball games last week. The win against Michigan State last Tuesday at Crisler was truly a battle.

After being down four late in the game, our guys stepped up on defense and really showed their toughness to get us back in the game. But most importantly, they played smart and as a team to come away with the win.

Our players are always driven to win. The stakes seem higher in a rivalry game because of the emotion but it still is just a basketball game. The emotion can only carry you so far. Execution wins in the end.

Michigan State is a tremendous team and our guys knows that the entire conference slate of games is important to earn a Big Ten championship.

The game at Arkansas on Saturday served as an opportunity to play an out of conference match up in January. Their speed, pressure, and the atmosphere in Bud Walton Arena were all good for us to experience.

Arkansas really came out strong and had the momentum on their side after making their first 11 shots. Winning on the road is tough and we certainly showed some toughness by climbing back and having a chance to win it at the end on Trey's three.

The trip to Fayetteville was a great test to prepare us for our Big Ten road games at Purdue and Ohio State this week. Right now our focus is all on beating the Boilermakers.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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Last Wednesday, we won an overtime game versus a well coached Northwestern team. We made plays on both ends of the floor when we had to and that is encouraging to our staff. Northwestern puts a ton of pressure on a defense because they run their actions with great pace and precision. As evident by their win over Michigan State on Saturday, they are a challenge to game plan for and teams have to be locked in defensively.

We met another tough team in Iowa on the road on Saturday. Unfortunately, we did not play one of our better games. We must credit Iowa for protecting their home court and for executing the details of the game better than us. Playing from behind is never a good thing, especially on the road. These are lessons that are learned over the course of a season and we expect our team to learn from the Iowa loss.

The reality of conference play is rarely do you have much time to dwell on losses. You certainly learn from them but you must move on to the next opportunity. There is no time to dwell on the loss to Iowa because we have another tough opponent coming into Crisler tomorrow.

There's never a need to get our guys pumped up for the MSU game. The challenge will be to play with high levels of intensity and execution because that's what it takes to win rivalry games like this one.

Go Blue!
- John

Inside Michigan: Beilein Weekly

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I've said it before, but after last week I think it's worth repeating. The Big Ten Conference is extremely competitive and there are no nights off.

Playing at Assembly Hall will be one of the toughest atmospheres we will face all year. There's a reason why Indiana has stayed perfect, even against No. 1 and No. 2 ranked foes, at home.

Our staff was impressed with how hard our team played and that they never gave up in Bloomington. We were down by double digits late in the second half and our guys rallied to make it a one possession game and we had several shots to take the lead.

As impressed as I was on Thursday, I was even more proud of how the team used the loss as motivation to get the win at home against Wisconsin on Sunday, despite the short turnaround. It was special for the whole team to help our seniors get a win over the Badgers in Crisler.

The entire weekend was a treat because we had our Player Development Center dedication. Former players, former managers and donors were treated to a weekend of events and fellowship. It was great to see so many familiar faces and to interact with people who absolutely love Michigan and how it has impacted their lives.

We had several former players in attendance at the game, making the win over Wisconsin even more special. Cazzie Russell, Phil Hubbard and Rudy Tomjanovich all spoke to the team in the locker room before the game. The pride and passion these men spoke with about Michigan provided our guys with a boost going into the game.

Our next opponent is Northwestern on Wednesday in Crisler at 6:30. We then travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes on Saturday. It does not get any easier!

Go Blue!
- John

Cazzie Was Right Man at Right Time for U-M

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Here's an interesting question: If the Detroit Pistons had won the flip to see who got first pick in the 1966 NBA Draft, who would be the mayor of Detroit today?

I know that sounds a little out of the box, but that's the first thing that went through my mind Sunday when I read an article about Cazzie Russell's induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The short story is that the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks had to flip a coin for the right to pick first in the '66 draft. The Knicks won and selected Russell. The Pistons had the No. 2 pick and drafted Dave Bing, a guard out of Syracuse.

The longer story is more convoluted.

Professional basketball was relatively new in Detroit. Fred Zollner brought the Pistons here from Ft. Wayne, Ind., in 1957, and the sport was trying to find it niche in the Motor City. College basketball, on the other hand, was just starting to realize the impact of television and racial equality.

At the time, Wolverine head coach Dave Strack already had the makings of a pretty good team, but he knew Cazzie could make this team a national contender. He made an all-out push to get Russell signed.

Today, head coach John Beilein would bring a young Cazzie and his family on campus. He would proudly show off the new Player Development Center, let them see the beautiful changes inside Crisler Arena and talk about Michigan's plans for expansion with a smile on his face.

Strack wasn't as proud of his facilities. He brought Russell in from Chicago's Carver High School, showed him Michigan Stadium then took him over to Yost Field House. He told him the facility was locked and he couldn't find his keys. Russell never did see the inside of Yost until he started as a student. It was a great move on Strack's part.

In 1963, Loyola of Chicago won the national championship with a thrilling 60-58 victory over Cincinnati. At the time, it was the largest TV viewing audience to watch a collegiate game. Loyola also had four black players starting. In the semis, the governor of the state of Mississippi and its state police tried to stop the game from being played due to an unwritten rule disallowing teams from Mississippi to play an integrated team.

As for the professional game, player recognition was important. The NBA used what was then called "territorial rights." If an individual played in or near the pro team's location, the NBA team could request the territorial pick from the league office. They wanted the same players who had made their mark at the university to make their mark with the local pro team.

In 1965, the Detroit Pistons used their territorial selection to take another U-M star, Bill Buntin.

Of course, the NBA would not allow a team to have that luxury two years in a row. But with Russell now available in 1966, the Pistons requested to have the pick for a second consecutive year. The NBA denied the request, and thus the flip of the coin took place with the Knicks getting Russell.

The Detroit Pistons and local Michigan fans were not happy. For three years, the name Cazzie Russell was synonymous with basketball in southeast Michigan.

In many ways, Cazzie was the Earvin "Magic" Johnson of his time. He was the player who could do everything -- he was a playmaker, he could shoot, hit the boards, handle the ball -- and he was 6-5. At that time, there were few if any players who could do everything Cazzie was capable of performing.

It was easy to see why Detroit needed his brand.

This Michigan team led by Russell was the first TV basketball team of its time. WKBD-TV, channel 50, was the first all-sports station in the city and Wolverine sports were one of its mainstays.

Each game was an event at Yost and on TV. The fans couldn't wait to watch the Wolverines even before tipoff. The Wolverines would run out of the tunnel, head straight for the basketball, and slam dunk as many times as they possibly could to fire up the crowd.

What Cazzie did for Michigan basketball is truly amazing. He put the Wolverines on the national map and laid the foundation for years to come.

The induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is a testament to his skills and popularity. He was an amazing basketball player and is still an amazing Michigan Man.

Congratulations, Cazzie!

True Grit Turned U-M's Hoop Fortunes

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Watching the Michigan men's basketball team over the last few weeks has given us all plenty to cheer about. Four wins in the last five games is a run that has excited the crowds and has made many "experts" take note.

During this run, certain moments stand out. Zack Novak's emotional pitch in East Lansing, Darius Morris' layup and deep three in the comeback against Penn State, Jordan Morgan's 11-of-13 shooting and 27-point performance against Northwestern are just a few of the memories I have of the recent success.

But as a team, the last five minutes of last night's game at Crisler Arena against the Wildcats showed me the tenor of this young team.

With U-M leading 67-52 with five minutes left, Northwestern went on a 14-0 run. A three-pointer by JeShon Cobb, then a quick steal and an easy layup by Cobb just 12 seconds apart cut Michigan's lead to one with just 2:20 left.

This young U-M team didn't wilt. It showed poise, determination and true grit.

The Wolverines scored the game's final eight points for the 75-66 win, keeping the team's momentum going.

Yes, momentum can change on a dime. Just 14 days earlier, the struggles of Big Ten play and a long season were taking their toll on these young players. The Wolverines had lost six straight games. This is where a veteran team learns to cope with the ups and downs.

But what about a young team?

This young U-M team proved it's a tough-minded bunch. Last night, they pulled together when they could have easily folded. They are pulling together with much more consistency. They are becoming an exciting, fun team to watch.

The pendulum of momentum turned quickly, and it turned in favor Michigan. Now, the final days of the season will be harbinger of what the future might hold for this group of young men.

Snow, Snow, Snow

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The snowstorm of the century (according to news reports) has hit the eastern half of the United States, and here in Ann Arbor we are fortunate that we didn't receive the full brunt of the storm. We had the high winds and cold weather, but the snow accumulation was around half a foot, much less that many areas in the storm's path.

Living in Michigan, we are familiar with the inclement weather that plays a role in everyone's life, so we have plans in place for when the weather hits, and today in Ann Arbor those plans worked well.

This is a long way from the days when the athletic department had fewer staff, fewer teams and a smaller budget.

In the mid 1960s, a snowstorm hit Ann Arbor late in the football season. Fritz Crisler and Bump Elliott mobilized the student-athletes to shovel out Michigan Stadium and clean the surrounding area to make sure the game could be played.

In the early 1970s, another winter snowstorm hit and the Indiana-Michigan basketball game at Crisler Arena had to be moved back a day or so. The Hoosiers and coach Bob Knight were in town, but we could not get our fans safely to Crisler.

Today, we have more staff. We also have more teams and more ancillary issues (e.g., television). Fortunately, we do not have any scheduled events for tonight, but that didn't lessen the concerns as the storm approached.

Travel plans for the men's basketball and gymnastics teams plus a real concern for the Penn State women's basketball team to make it here safely from Happy Valley for Thursday night's game at Crisler Arena weighed heavily on our staff.

The men's basketball team was scheduled to bus to Columbus, Ohio, this evening. Instead the team left Tuesday night for tomorrow's televised game at Ohio State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Tomorrow's important women's basketball game at Crisler Arena (7 p.m. ET, BigTenNetwork.com) was also worrisome. Penn State was planning to arrive in Ann Arbor tonight. At the last minute, the PSU administration found a Tuesday evening flight, and the team is now awaiting Thursday night's game in an Ann Arbor hotel.

Fortunately, the "Snowmageddon" turned out to be a minor inconvenience in our area, and both basketball games will be played with few if any problems.

But the plans were in place just in case. And this time, we did not have to marshal any student-athletes to clean any stadiums.

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