March 24, 2013
Senior guard Josh Bartelstein is in his senior season and his third year writing the J-Bart Blog. He will give all Wolverine fans an inside look into the program and life outside of basketball during the 2012-13 season.
What's up everyone?
Dallas here we come!
What a weekend. I'm not sure where to exactly start, but the last two days are days I will never forget. I told the team about a month ago we can make memories that we can talk about for the rest of our lives, and while this magical ride is just starting, some memories have already been made!
I probably should start by talking about our fans. We had a huge home-court advantage. The Palace was rocking the entire game against VCU. There was more Maize and Blue in the stands than any other color, and we really appreciate that. Now we need all of you to come down to Dallas!
When we had our pregame talk before we took the court against VCU, Coach Beilein talked about all year long we have been preparing for this game. It started June 28 with the first drill we did this summer -- a pivoting drill. It has continued all season long.
Coach Beilein is huge on working on your fundamentals so we don't turn the ball over. That means landing on two feet, catching the ball with two hands and always playing off your strong foot. He had a ton of confidence in our ability to handle the press because we train all season long for it.
Personally, I have a ton of confidence when the ball is in Trey's (Burke) hands or Spike's (Albrecht) or Tim's (Hardaway Jr.) or Nik's (Stauskas). We don't have good guards, we have great guards, and you guys all saw the show they put on handling the ball against VCU.
The VCU game and really for the past couple weeks was the Mitch (McGary) show. I'm so happy for him because he has worked so incredibly hard. I'm not just talking about getting extra reps in practice, but he has changed his diet, and it has made a huge impact in his game. It isn't easy to not have a dessert when the whole team is eating ice cream at a restaurant, but those sacrifices really pay off in the long run. Mitch has all the talent in the world, at his height not many people can do what he does, and you are just seeing now a whole year of hard work coming together.
I wish our fans could have all been in our locker room after the game. To see how much reaching the Sweet 16 means to our team and our program, you guys would all be very proud. We set a goal in our first team meeting to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The NCAA Tournament is a funny thing. You get selected, and it feels enormous. You have 68 teams in, so many sites, and really you are just worried about winning that first game. I will never forget my sophomore year when we lost to Duke how close and real it all feels once you can see yourself in the Sweet 16. While you always take it one game at a time, in one weekend you go from 64 teams to just 16 left. The journey we all dream about is right there, and now we just need to go get it!
The other part of the locker room that was pretty cool was giving every member of our staff a standing ovation because of all they do for us. People always ask me what's so special about playing at Michigan, and one of the responses I always give is the amount of people who go out of their way to make our student-athlete experience special. So after the game, guys like Pete Kahler (video analyst), who hadn't slept in days breaking down film, Kyle Barlow (graduate manager), C.J. Lee (administrative specialist), Travis Conlan (director of operations), Tom Wywrot (media relations), Bob Bland (equipment) and Tommy Jones (academics) all got an ovation from the team because of how much they mean to us. Obviously, our four coaches did an incredible job with the game plan, and I am convinced they never slept! Really, we would come down after sleeping, and they would be in the same spots, same positions working.
With that, I hope you guys are all excited for the week ahead. Enjoy the whole process leading up to the game because I know I am. Keep writing in questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week and Go Blue!