Behind the Scenes with the Wolverines: NCAA South Regional
March 31, 2013
Follow the University of Michigan men's basketball team throughout its trip to Arlington, Texas, for the NCAA South Regional at Cowboys Stadium.
Sunday, March 31 :: It's Our Time!In the waning minutes, Matt Vogrich came off the bench to hit a three-pointer, and Michigan closed out the victory, 79-59, to earn a trip to the Final Four in Atlanta, where the Wolverines will play Syracuse. Nik Stauskas led all scorers with 22 points, while Trey Burke finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Mitch McGary added 11 points, nine boards and five steals. It marks the first time the Wolverines have advanced to the NCAA Final Four since 1993.
Sunday, March 31 :: Back and Forth AgainThe two teams traded mini runs during the middle point of the half before Michigan put together an 7-0 burst to open up a 21-point advantage, 65-44, at 8:45. The Wolverines and Gators continued to trade baskets until the five-minute mark. Backup guard Spike Albrecht came into the lineup in the second half and contributed to the win with seven points, one assist and a pair of steals that led to layups. The Wolverines headed into the final media timeout at 3:37 with a 74-54 lead over the Gators.
Sunday, March 31 :: Florida Starts Second Half Strong, Michigan RespondsFlorida made a quick surge to start the second half, scoring the first six points and eight of the first 11 as they trimmed the deficit to 50-38 at 15:41. The lone basket for the Wolverines was Nik Stauskas' sixth triple of the contest, giving him 22 points. That basket started a 9-2 run for the Wolverines that extended the lead to 56-38.
Sunday, March 31 :: Locker Room at HalftimeMichigan entered the locker room with a strong mindset that there was still another half to play. Vocal leader Corey Person told the team, "This game isn't over. We need to play with great intensity and a strong mindset. Let's set the tone in the first five minutes." The players were encouraging each other and kept saying "Stay in the moment and play tough every possession." The coaches went through second-half adjustments and talked to the players about what they could see from the Gators in the second half. They continued to stress defense and getting back on transition so there are no easy baskets. Coach John Beilein told the team before leaving the locker room to "Keep attacking and play to win!"
Sunday, March 31 :: Halfway HomeThe Wolverines played a strong opening half and grabbed their largest halftime lead of the tournament, 47-30. The Gators cut the margin with a late 13-4 run. Two excellent inbound plays for the Wolverines got Nik Stauskas to the line for three shots with 0.4 seconds remaining. He knocked down 2-of-3 to finish the half with a team-best 19 points including 5-of-5 from three-point land. When it was suggested to announcer Steve Kerr that Stauskas looks like him shooting in his day with the Chicago Bulls, Kerr said, "I never shot like that in this tournament. Wow, he is knocking them down." The Wolverines shot 51.4 percent in the first half (19-37) while the Gators shot 41.4 percent (12-29).
Sunday, March 31 :: Quick Start by WolverinesMichigan won the tip and started hot with a 7-0 run before Florida took a 30-second timeout at 18:03. After a Tim Hardaway Jr. miss on the first possession, the Wolverines found Mitch McGary on consecutive possessions and Nik Stauskas knocked down a three to gain the advantage. Michigan continued to roll, scoring the first 13 points of the contest, and held an 18-4 lead at 13:52 of the half. The freshmen contributed 13 of the first 18 points, with McGary scoring eight points, Stauskas nailing a three, and Glenn Robinson III adding two.
Sunday, March 31 :: Pregame Hype, Calm TeamOne could feel the intensity from the moment the players stepped onto the court at 12:19 p.m. Prior to that moment, the team was calm and relaxed as they stretched out and listened to their favorite music in the locker room. Beilein and radio announcer Matt Shepard spent eight minutes taping their pregame radio show, and the coach went to the whiteboard to put up his notes for the game. The Wolverines left the court 34 minutes before tipoff for their final words from the coaches. Coach John Beilein went through the key points for the game and afterward stressed the team unity and toughness that got the team to this point of the season. Beilein reiterated to his players that "It's our time, our team!" He told them to stay together and play as hard as they can for 40 minutes. Each of the assistant coaches had a message for the players, with Bacari Alexander giving his usually interesting pregame motivational talk. Alexander put a Pringles chip on the left shoulder of each starter and told them, "The way to beat a Gator is to play with a chip on your shoulder. Go get it!" The Wolverines charged out of the locker room ready for the game against Florida.
Sunday, March 31 :: The Quiet Before the StormCoach John Beilein was the last to board the bus for the ride to the stadium. He walked to the back saying, "Everybody good? Everybody good? Everybody good? Okay, let's go?" The bus rolled out at 11:24 a.m. with the police escort leading the way. It was very quiet with the players listening to their music and mentally preparing for the game during the 25-minute ride to Cowboys Stadium. The managers, equipment manager Bob Bland and Travis Conlan departed first followed by players Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert to the security check point. The final player off the bus was Josh Bartelstein. Beilein greeted every player and told each of them, "Have fun today." The Wolverines walked the 125 steps to the locker room for pregame warmups.
Sunday, March 31 :: Final Preparations on Easter MorningCoach John Beilein was the first to arrive in the team room at 8:30 a.m. He greeted the first player, captain Josh Bartelstein, with a "Happy Easter!" and "It's a great day for Michigan." Players, managers, assistant coaches and support staff continued to trickle into the room in preparation for the team's brief film session and walkthrough starting at 8:50 a.m. The players were very attentive and listened to the game plan with great focus and enthusiasm. Assistant coach LaVall Jordan continued to watch film of the Gators, and director of operations Travis Conlan worked through the logistical aspects of the day while the team continued their final preparations. Beilein, Jordan and assistant coach Bacari Alexander directed the 15-minute walkthrough of defensive sets and finished with assistant coach Jeff Meyer running the team through inbounds plays.
Saturday, March 30 :: Eve of Elite Eight vs. FloridaThe coaches worked to make Saturday night identical to every previous evening before a road game. The players had the afternoon off before convening for a team dinner at 6:45 p.m. The Wolverines were treated to a meal at Hibiscus, a steak house that made a special pasta dish for the team. Michigan returned to the hotel for a 40-minute film session featuring the offensive game play at 9 p.m. The players enjoyed smoothies immediately after the meeting before heading to their rooms. The coaches continued to pore over film of the Gators into the wee hours of the night in order to give the Wolverines the maximum chance to claim victory.
Saturday, March 30 :: Practice at the StadiumMichigan slept in a little longer this morning after a late night. The team had breakfast at 9:45 a.m. and watched some film from last night's game and Florida before departing for Cowboys Stadium and its 90-minute practice session. The Wolverines ran through a spirited practice which included the regular day before routine and played a couple games of knockout in the NCAA jump circle. The practice ended with the players selecting Jon Horford for the dunk and Jordan Morgan for the three-point attempt. Eso Akunne tried to go between the legs and off the backboard to set up Horford, but the pass was awkward so Horford picked it up and did a reverse slam. Morgan started taking three-point attempts and assistant coach Bacari Alexander walked over and stated, "Pull up a chair. We might be here awhile." Morgan missed his first eight shots, with a few spinning in and out, before knocking down the ninth attempt. The Wolverines gathered their items and headed to the locker room and media room for 60 minutes of media. The players played cards, listened to music, and talked among themselves while waiting for coach John Beilein and a few players to finish interviews with CBS before returning to the hotel.
Friday, March 29 :: The AftermathWell after the game was over and everyone was out visiting their family and watching the Florida-Florida Gulf Coast game, John and Kathleen Beilein took some time to relax and share some time together with their son Andy. John and Kathleen sit in the Michigan locker room and look at text messages and listen to voice mails left by family, friends and colleagues after the victory. The team left Cowboys Stadium and returned to the hotel just before midnight. Coach Beilein talked to the players about the schedule for Saturday and told them again how proud he was of their effort and that focus would be needed starting first thing in the morning. The Wolverines enjoyed a quick meal before heading to bed for the night.
Friday, March 29 :: Locker Room CelebrationThe coaches met as a group before addressing the team postgame. The smiles on the faces were visible across all 15 players but they quickly talked about how the mission was not done and that their goals were still ahead of them. This was for the seniors the players kept saying and it brought Corey Person to tears in the locker room. Trey Burke commented, "We were determined those last five to seven minutes. This win was not about my shots, this was a team effort." The coaches talked about how proud they were of the players and their TEAM EFFORT.
Friday, March 29 :: Burke, McGary Dominate OvertimeIt was the Trey Burke and Mitch McGary show in overtime, with the duo scoring nine of the Wolverines' 11 points. The game-winning though came for a different Wolverine as Glenn Robinson III knocking down two free throws with 52 seconds remaining to push the lead to 87-82. Elijah Johnson responded with a three to cut the deficit to two, 87-85, with 45 seconds remaining in overtime. Michigan was unable to extend its lead and won the game on defense as Kansas' last second three-point attempt by Naadir Tharpe hit the front iron. Burke scored the first five points of overtime and McGary scored the next four as Michigan grabbed a five-point advantage following the Robinson free throws. Michigan prevailed down the stretch and won the first overtime game of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Friday, March 29 :: Burke Knocks Down Game-Tying 3 with 4.2 Seconds LeftThe Wolverines fought to the end and sent the game to overtime with a 20-8 run over the final 6:52 to get the game into overtime. Trey Burke's three cut the deficit to 74-67 at 1:12 and after a defensive stop Glenn Robinson III converted a layup with 28.9 seconds remaining to make it a one possession game. After two free throws from Kansas' Elijah Johnson, Burke scored a layup with 14 seconds to cut the deficit to three, 76-73. After Johnson missed the front end of the 1-and-1, Burke came down the court and nailed a deep three-point attempt with 4.2 seconds remaining to knot the score at 76 apiece. Kansas' last second chance to win it in regulation hit the front rim and the game extended to overtime. Burke scored 18 points in the second half, including 10 points during the big run. "We fought so hard to come back," said Burke. "It really didn't matter how far the shot was. It was either all or nothing. The season flashed before our eyes those last two or three minutes. I had a lot of faith in that shot. And it went in. Once it went in, there was four seconds left still and we still needed another defensive stop."
Friday, March 29 :: Burke Starts to Heat UpTrey Burke ignited the Wolverines' second-half comeback with eight straight points for the Wolverines and cut the deficit to two points following a made free throw at 15:48. Burke hit a deep three to get into the scoring column and converted a pair of drives to the hoop, including a three-point play. Kansas went on a 12-4 run following Burke's run that pushed the lead back to 10 points at the 12:43 mark.
Friday, March 29 :: Game Time Against KansasThe first half was a back-and-forth affair for the first six minutes, but Kansas opened up a 20-11 lead at 11:09 following an 8-0 run. The first 22 points for the Jayhawks came in the paint, and they finished the half with 34 of their 40 points in the lane. The Wolverines continued to fight and clawed back to cut the margin to 40-34 after the first 20 minutes. Mitch McGary led the team with 11 points and five rebounds in the half followed closely by Nik Stauskas with nine points. Trey Burke contributed five assists despite being held scoreless on four shots, including three from beyond the arc.
Friday, March 29 :: Pregame Prior to Kansas Match-upThe Wolverines headed out of the locker room 57 minutes before tip to warm up for their NCAA South Regional semifinal with the Jayhawks. The players went through their normal pregame routine before returning to the locker room at the 30-minute mark for coach John Beilein's last-minute directions. The players joked with the staff that the trip to the locker room was too long and that next time they were going to walk. Each of the coaches provided a little inspirational message for the team and left the final message as, "One game, one win. Have fun." The Wolverines returned to the floor at the 2:15 mark looking ready for the match-up with Kansas.
Friday, March 29 :: A Little R&R Before Game TimeThe Wolverines went through a brief walk-through and film session before eating their pregame meal at 2:30 p.m. The time prior to the walk-through and after the meal was available for the players to rest and relax. The players were greeted in the lobby of the hotel by cheerleaders and marching band prior to their departure at 4:40 p.m. The team bus was quiet until it reached its destination at Cowboys Stadium at 5:09 p.m. Trainer John DoRosario provided his customary "Let's go Michigan!" shout and it was time. The Wolverines exited the bus and headed to their locker room. Coaches began writing the game plan on the board while the players began their pregame stretching.
Friday, March 29 :: Shootaround at Cowboys StadiumMichigan arrived at 11:45 a.m. and was led into the stadium by coach John Beilein. The players went over to their bench, put on their practice shoes and stretched out before the balls were released to them at 11 a.m. Nik Stauskas was the first player on the court, followed by captain Josh Bartelstein, Spike Albrecht, Matt Vogrich and Blake McLimans. The team did its normal day-of-game workout with a heavy emphasis on inbounds plays and different game situations. The 60-minute session ended with free throws and seven minutes of free shooting.
Friday, March 29 :: Game Day Against KansasThe Wolverines got an extra few minutes of rest this morning before gathering at 9:15 a.m. for breakfast. The players were fresh and ready to go with a businesslike approach exhibited by all. Tim Hardaway Jr., LaVall Jordan, C.J. Lee and Peter Kahler sat and watched Kansas film in the breakfast room before heading downstairs to get on the bus. Trainer John DoRosario uses his makeshift training area in the breakfast room to tape up players for the shootaround. With police escorts leading the way, the team headed back to Cowboys Stadium for its morning shootaround.
Thursday, March 28 :: Players Relax Before Team Film SessionMichigan players had the afternoon to rest and take care of their studies before convening for a 6:30 p.m. team film session led by coach John Beilein. The freshmen had a study hall prior directed by academic counselor Tommy Jones and administrative assistant C.J. Lee. At the outset of the team meeting, Beilein talked about how important playing good defense and communication would be against Kansas. The team watched 40 minutes of film from practice yesterday in Ann Arbor and from this morning at UT Arlington. Afterward, the players changed and headed to Carbone's for an Italian meal on the eve of their "Sweet 16" match-up with Kansas. They returned to the Sheraton afterward for smoothies and a restful evening.
Thursday, March 28 :: Hitting the HardcourtThe players were in awe of the Cowboys Stadium scoreboard with a few stating, "Wow! I want that screen in my house." But after the initial impressions of the facility, Michigan got down to business on the day before their South Regional semifinal match-up with top-seeded Kansas. The Wolverines took a team picture at midcourt and stretched out before the NCAA official turned over balls for the 50-minute workout. U-M went through a spirited practice in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000 onlookers from all four regional teams. The practice ended with a team free throw competition and 10 minutes of shooting on the court. The Wolverines went from practice to their locker room for a box lunch. Coach John Beilein, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Mitch McGary represented the team at the press conference before returning to the locker room and the 30-minute open media session. The Wolverines packed up and headed back to the hotel at 2:10 p.m.
Thursday, March 28 :: First Glimpse of Jerry's WorldImmediately following its practice at UT Arlington, Michigan boarded the buses and headed down the street to Cowboys Stadium. The bus pulled into the stadium and the players unloaded and went through security. The Wolverines walked into the locker room and had 25 minutes until their open practice began. Coach John Beilein went through the schedule of drills for the open practice and talked to the players about their preparation for five minutes before the NCAA allowed Michigan to leave the locker room early and get up onto the court for their first glimpse of Cowboys Stadium.
Thursday, March 28 :: Practice at UT ArlingtonThe Wolverines went through an efficient 60-minute workout at College Park Center, the practice facility for UT Arlington. The session began at 10:10 a.m. with coach John Beilein providing directions and goals for practice. The team went through individual shooting and stretching drills, two-on-two drills, defensive alignment and spacing, and offensive sets that they want to run against the Jayhawks. The final 15 minutes of practice was full 5-on-5 with the maize (scout) team running Kansas sets against the starters and key reserves. The roles reserved at the conclusion of drills with the starters going through their offensive sets. Beilein even snapped off a no-look lob to Jon Horford for a dunk after not seeing one of the players run the play the way he wanted him to.
Thursday, March 28 :: Breakfast of Champions!The players, coaches and staff grabbed breakfast at 8:30 a.m. before heading to a light practice at UT Arlington. Jon Horford is one of the first to eat and get taped and was the only player remaining in the breakfast room until the team departed for practice. Horford sat and talked with assistant coach Bacari Alexander and announcer David Merritt. The Wolverines will run through some game preparation before driving over to Cowboys Stadium for their first glimpse of the competition venue.
Wednesday, March 27 :: Arrive in DallasThe Wolverines arrived in Dallas, Texas, at 9:49 p.m. CDT. Players, coaches and support staff were on bus one with the families of the coaches and administrators on bus two. After loading the luggage, the buses headed to the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, the team's final stop on the trip. Coach John Beilein and his extended family gathered in the lobby after retrieving their luggage. They were welcomed to Dallas by the committee hosting the NCAA South Regional. The players had a light snack before heading to bed for the evening.
Wednesday, March 27 :: Depart Ann ArborMichigan held its last practice in Ann Arbor before boarding a bus at 6:50 p.m. for Willow Run Airport. Players, coaches, managers and administrators ate takeout from Outback Steakhouse in the atrium of the William Davidson Player Development Center or took it with them for the plane. A very polite Mitch McGary was smiling from ear to ear and talked about how much fun he and his teammates were having competing in the NCAA Tournament.