Comments from Coach Tommy Amaker and
Michigan Men's Basketball Players
Following the NCAA Tournament Selection Show
Note: Michigan did not receive an at-large NCAA bid. The Wolverines are one of four No. 1 seeds in the National Invitation Tournament and will host the Lipscomb/UTEP winner in the NIT first round Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
Opening statement ... "Obviously I have not heard what our guys said [since the selection], but I am sure you could see the disappointment in their faces and their bodies and in their words. I certainly echo those disappointments. As we told our players immediately following the selection, we certainly had our opportunities. I know we are down and disappointed about not being selected as a team for the NCAA Tournament field. We certain realize that we held a lot of cards to play to put us in the tournament field and we certainly didn't make it happen. We take responsibility. There is no other place to look or to point. We are hopeful we will get an opportunity to continue to play in postseason with the NIT field, which will be announced later tonight. So that is kind of where we stand. Hopefully we will have the spirit and the attitude we had a couple of years ago to fight and claw and extend our season as long as we can."
On the reaction of the team when they were not selected ... "We watched it together and then we met in the lockerroom. We kind of got away from that setting and got into another one. I didn't try to lift them up. I told them that I was disappointed for them and that I was disappointed with them. I certainly understand the feelings that they are going through. We all have those feelings. As I have just mentioned, we have no one to blame. That is what I wanted our kids to know. We didn't close the deal. I am here as the leader of our program, as the point person, the head coach and I am ultimately held accountable and that is the way it turned out. What can we do with it now I told our kids we didn't finish strong and it looks like that was a very weighted variable in us not being selected. I told our kids we didn't finish strong, but I want us to finish right. I am hopefully we can try to finish this season in a right, or proper, manner that gets the taste out of our mouths that we have lost three in a row. Hopefully we will get a chance to play in the other tournament... the NIT. We don't know at this point. If we get the opportunity, hopefully we can take charge of that and do very well."
On whether he feels it was fair that he didn't get into the NCAA Tournament ... "We are emotionally tied to what we are trying to do. I am sure there were a half dozen other programs around the country in the same situation that we are in right now ... disappointed in not being thought of as one of the top 65 teams in the country to play in the NCAA Tournament. I know there are 34 at-large bids. That is a difficult task [determining who gets in]. The process they [the committee] have to go through to decide which team deserves and which team does not deserve to get in, I cannot even image the difficulty that would be. I cannot argue with fair or unfair. We had the opportunity to do it ourselves. That is where our self-analysis is ... looking at our program, our kids and obviously myself. It didn't happen for us. Let's see what is next and if there is an opportunity to continue we are going to try it."
On if he feels he let anyone down ... "I can speak for myself right now, that we have let a lot of people or I have let a lot of people down, I can say that. That is a natural and normal reaction. We represent this university, we represent this state, we represent a lot of people who are Michigan fans or alums, who were certainly like we were ... sitting on the edge of our seats hoping that we would be selected to continue our season in the NCAA Tournament. I feel I let a number of people down, but the people I am most concerned would be the kids in that lockerroom, that senior class. That is the area that bothers me the most."
On areas of the program he feels they need to improve on to get to the next level ... "We did a lot of good things this season. I think it is obvious. It is well documented some of the positives we have had and some of the shortcomings that we have had. The most obvious thing we did not do well, it appears that is was a strong factor in us not being selected, was not finishing well. There are a number of things we can evaluate, point to and at some point try to come up with the answers to of why we didn't finish well. Certainly that has a lot to do with your conference, who we're playing and a number of different variables there, but I think that the biggest thing is that we did not finish this season strong in the way that was probably needed for us to be an NCAA Tournament team."
Senior Forward Graham Brown
On how the Wolverines finished the season being a factor for not being selected ... "That very possibly could be one of those things. I think it was one of the things that they weighed heavily and I think that looking at our last 10 games we didn't show a very strong performance and I think that's one of the things that hurt us. I think that we brought this on ourselves and we lost a lot of a significant amount of our last 10 games and think that really hurt us. But we may have another chance here, this may not be the end of the season and we're hoping that we get another chance and we'll be able to play some more games."
On how disappointed he is ... "It's real disappointing. This is something we've strived for for four years and we were hopeful this year it'd change and it was something that we really wanted. It's something that I've always strived for, like I've said, it's a tough situation right now. We have a couple days here to prepare and I think that if we get the opportunity to play in the NIT I think we'll come out and hopefully have a good showing there, but we're in a tough situation right now. It's a tough pill to swallow right now, but we've got to move forward and try to move off it."
On what happened in the room ... "We're just sitting there together, everybody's talking about the teams we think will get in; the teams we think won't get in, but it was basically when they revealed each different regional we were thinking, if we could possibly be in that regional that would be -- we were just thinking -- putting numbers with our name anywhere we could. There's a scenario in which you couldn't wait to see your name and if it didn't happen, it was going to be tough to do. But in the end, it was kind of a somber moment, I think that everybody was kind of disappointed, but like I said we brought this on ourselves. We lost a good portion of games the last couple games and that's a tough thing for us, but like I said, we'll have to build off it."
On whether he felt that he should show people they deserved it ... "I think this one may be different in the fact that we had a better run -- I think -- I don't know. I think we were a younger team at that point, we were satisfied at the possibility of making the NCAA tournament, but we were really satisfied with the NIT also, making any postseason. I think that was a year that we had our NCAA bans turned over so we could make the postseason, we were happy to be in any postseason. I think this year, we were really focused on trying to making the NCAA tournament and now that that's not working out, we're hopeful right now that we'll be able to get in the NIT, it will be a good situation and hopefully we'll get a couple games at home in that. So we're just hoping to get to play some more basketball and hopefully our season doesn't end like this."
On whether, in his view, the committee made a mistake ... "Well, you know, you can't really view -- I mean, I don't know what they weight everything on, I don't know how they handle everything, but I don't think they made any mistakes. I can't put that burden on them. There's many different teams around the country that also didn't make it in, too, so you can't really focus on if they made a mistake. I think you just basically have to place it on us. We have to be mature about things and we have to put the blame and the responsibility on ourselves and I think that's what we have to build from. I think we have a veteran group and I think everybody realizes their responsibility that is held throughout the season and I think that's something that we understand."
On what Coach Amaker said to the players ... "At this point, he knows that everybody's disappointed at this point. He knows that everybody wanted to be in there including him and the staff and he knows that we're in it for the long haul. We still have, like I said, have an opportunity still to play some games after this and if the opportunity does come we'll have to try to make the best out of it and at this time ... there's not much to be said at this time. He knows the feeling everybody has and that there's a somber feeling throughout the whole program. But there's still an opportunity that can come with us and we're hopeful that we'll get that opportunity."
On whether this season is a disappointment ... "Is it a disappointment Not at all. I don't think it's a disappointment. Especially coming from me, this being my last year, it's not a disappointment at all. I feel like we've had good times, we've had bad times, but that's just how things happen. I think that it's by far, by no means, a disappointment. We've played good basketball, we've beaten some of the best teams in the country, we've beat a lot of good teams that are in the tournament right now. So by no means is this a disappointment. It's a little disappointing at this time, it's a disappointment to coach Amaker because we didn't make the NCAA tournament, but you can't call this season a disappointment."
Senior Guard Daniel Horton
On how disappointed he is ... "It's disappointing. I feel like we didn't achieve one of our goals we had set out from the beginning, but like Graham [Brown] said, you have to kind of look you in the face and realize you're a part of it. We didn't finish the season well, I think that hurt us."
On how optimistic he was ... "We were pretty optimistic, but it just goes to show that nobody really knows what they're talking about outside of the selection committee. We feel like we left it in somebody else's hands. We had a chance to finish strong and we lost a couple close games toward the end but we were pretty optimistic, but like I said you have to look yourself in the face and take it for what it is."
On whether there was one team that came up that they realized it wasn't going to happen ... "Not really. Because we really don't know what teams they compared to each other and whatever. But as you see, a few of the teams that you read about comparing with us, they didn't make the tournament either. Teams that weren't even in the discussion ended up making it. So you never really know what goes on in selecting teams. So we were never at a point where, 'This team didn't make it so we didn't make it.' We were just watching hoping our name got called."
On how hard it was to go through four years here and not get to an NCAA tournament ... "It's tough, but I think that at the same time if you know me, if you know a few of the guys on this team, that we've like this challenge -- we wanted this challenge coming here. And it didn't work out. We didn't end up making it, but we've still done some good things here. Like Graham said, we might still have a chance to hang another banner in Crisler Arena. So anytime you have a chance to wear this uniform again and do some good things you kind of cherish that."
On whether this season is a disappointment ... "Not at all. I mean, not for us as a team, but especially not for me as an individual. For what I have had to endure and what this team has had to endure over the last few years, for us to bounce back the way we were this year ... we didn't make the tournament but it's still a step forward compared to what happened last year. So I don't think this season is a disappointment at all. Like I said, we didn't achieve some of our goals, but you don't win all battles and everything doesn't go your way. So I think that's one thing that makes this group of seniors and this program special is that we've had to fight and battle through a lot of stuff and through all that we're still here and we're going to keep fighting."
On how hard it is going to be to get up for the NIT ... "Like I said earlier, it's not going to be hard at all. Any time you have a chance to wear a Michigan jersey, that means a lot to us. I don't think other people see it that way because everybody views making the NCAA tournament as the end-all-be-all, but we feel like any time we have the chance to represent this school and this university out there on the basketball court we are going to do it to the best of our abilities and we're going to be happy doing it."
On whether there's something that he's learned over this experience -- have something slip away ... "Yeah, it's kind of real close to the stuff that Coach and I talked about a long time ago when I was going through my situation. He said that sometimes you have to do things or make decisions about things that are in your hands the way that it doesn't be left up to someone else. That kind of reinforces that. We didn't do what we should have done and we placed our future in the hands of somebody else. We didn't have the things like we should have had and we didn't win a few ballgames toward the end. But like I said, it's another life lesson. This is not the end of any of our lives, it's not the end of any of our careers here at Michigan, we hope. So we just have to hope for the best deal as the night goes on and hope that we get a chance to play in the NIT."
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423