Behind the Scenes with the Wolverines: NCAA Final Four
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MGOBLUE
MGOBLUE

MGOBLUE

April 5, 2013

Follow the University of Michigan men's basketball team throughout its trip to Atlanta, Ga., for the NCAA Final Four at the Georgia Dome.

Michigan Men's Basketball
Saturday, April 6 :: Departing for the Game
The players and coaches began arriving downstairs between 6:50 and 6:57 p.m. and we're greeted by a crowd of fans that included the pep band and cheerleaders. Tim Hardaway Jr. made it to the bus before remembering that he forgot his game shoes. Tim ran back to his room to grab them. He returned at 7:01 ready to tackle the task at hand. Coach John Beilein walked to the back of the bus and asked, "Everybody ready?" He got a response of "Yes, sir." John stated, "Okay, let's go!" And with that, the bus rolled out of the parking lot at 7:02 behind the police escort. The coaches discussed possible plays to start the game, and the players sat quietly in the back listening to their music and mentally preparing for the Orange. The bus arrived at 7:17, and when it stopped, trainer John Do gave his customary "Let's go Blue!" to get the players pumped up for the game. "Do what we do best!" said John to the players as they got off the bus before him. The players, coaches and Beilein made the 175 steps to the locker room.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Saturday, April 6 :: Heading Out Early
A Michigan delegation headed over early to scout the Louisville-Wichita State semifinal, led by assistant coach LaVall Jordan, Pete Kahler, radio play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard and basketball PR director Tom Wywrot. The group departed after the film session that included fast facts. The quartet left at 5:10 p.m. after they finished pregame meal.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Saturday, April 6 :: Final Preparations
The Wolverines gathered for their final preparations in anticipation for the national semifinal against Syracuse. The first person to arrive was trainer John DoRosario and the team's two University police officers at 4:04 p.m. Captain Josh Bartelstein was the first player to arrive at 4:18 p.m., followed by assistant coach Jeff Meyer and all of the managers. Spike Albrecht and Nik Stauskas arrived eight minutes later with Jon Horford, Eso Akunne and Tim Hardaway Jr. about 20 steps behind the freshman duo. Coach John Beilein walked into the room at 4:27 p.m. and talked with director of athletics Dave Brandon and sport administrator Brian Townsend, saying, "I just took a great nap. I was reading a good book and fell asleep." Beilein told play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard, "We are going to work our plan. This is a great plan and we are going to work it." The rest of the team arrived at 4:32 p.m., and Beilein made everyone drink an entire bottle of water before he would start the meeting. He started by going over the keys to the game and led the fast facts session. The team went over film of Syracuse's personnel and ended with each player reciting out loud one of the key fast facts for the game. Beilein told the team, "Stay poised and composed throughout the game. Play hard and play solid." Jordan Morgan said a prayer before the team headed for the pregame meal, and the meeting finished with a team highlight video that ended with "OUR TIME." Assistant Bacari Alexander gave a sneak peek at his pregame speech, "What would you do if you wanted something really bad?" Stay tuned for BA's motivational talk.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Saturday, April 6 :: Game Day!
The Wolverines woke up knowing that today was game day, the time they had waited for since winning the South Regional last Sunday. The team gathered for a brief film session after eating a big breakfast at 9:45 a.m. Coach John Beilein led the film session with input from the assistant coaches on key aspects that needed to be emphasized. After a brief break, the players and support staff departed for a shootaround at the Georgia Dome while Beilein remained back at the hotel for some additional film time. He also made time for his large extended family that came to the Final Four and visited with some of the Regents that made the trip to Atlanta.
Friday, April 5 :: Film Study Before Heading to Bed
The Wolverines returned from dinner ready for the task at hand, a film session with the coaches, before having smoothies. John Beilein directed the 18-minute session with the players before releasing them to spend free time with their families. Many of the Wolverines mingled with parents, extended family, friends and fans in the lobby of the hotel for a while before heading to their rooms for bed check at 11 p.m. Tim Hardaway Jr., Corey Person, Mitch McGary and Josh Bartelstein hung out in the lobby for approximately 30 minutes before leaving for their rooms.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Friday, April 5 :: Pep Rally at the Hotel
The Wolverines fought through heavy traffic to get back to the team hotel for the pep rally. The police escort helped the team bus get through stopped traffic that stretched for miles, and they returned to the hotel by 5:20 p.m. Coach John Beilein talked to the team about what to wear to the alumni and donor event and let the players have some free time before they were scheduled to return by 6:20 p.m. After director of athletics Dave Brandon introduced the Wolverines, Beilein made some opening remarks before handing the microphone to his players, assistants and staff to introduce themselves to the crowd of close to 1,000 fans. Afterward, Beilein had a player for each class speak to the crowd: Mitch McGary, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Before he introduced the senior speaker, Eso Akunne, John had the five seniors step forward and he thanked the so called "Investment Group" for their hard work and leadership throughout their careers. Tim led the team and crowd in "The Victors" before the team departed the event for their Italian dinner at La Tavola in the heart of Atlanta.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Friday, April 5 :: Michigan Arrives at Georgia Dome for Practice and Media
The Wolverines arrived at the Georgia Dome around 1:53 p.m. for their media opportunity and open practice. The five starters went to the breakout interviews for 15 minutes before heading back to the locker room for the 25-minute media session with all the available media. Coach John Beilein, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. participated in the full media interview just prior to the open practice at 3 p.m. The biggest news from the media session was Syracuse guard Brandon Triche stating that "We think we've got mismatches at every position." The media tried to stir the pot and get Michigan's players to bite on the controversy, but the players stayed composed. Jon Horford said it most diplomatically: "Brandon Triche is a nice young man. And I would love to have tea with him to discuss matchup issues." The Wolverines decided to let their play do their talking.

At 2:55 p.m. the media session ended and Michigan headed to the court and huddled in the tunnel just prior to being introduced to the crowd. Michigan was led onto the court by Blake McLimans and Eso Akunne for their practice in front of approximately 5,000 fans. The Wolverines went through their normal day-before-game drills and had some fun dunking and knocking down deep threes.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Friday, April 5 :: Practice at Georgia State University
The Wolverines departed at 11:21 a.m. for practice at Georgia State University. The 14-minute ride to the practice gym located on the second floor of the school's athletic complex. The players changed into their practice apparel and jumped on the floor. Nik Stauskas and Blake McClimans were the first two players to get shots up on the court. The team spent time shooting around until coach John Beilein and Trey Burke showed up 15 minutes after the entire team had arrived. The tandem came from a live TV appearance on ESPN's College GameDay set where Trey was named the Wooden Award National Player of the Year. Beilein gathered the team together before practice and discussed the plan for the 76-minute session. Practice included offensive and defensive sets against Syracuse and inbounds plays for the game. This was the final team practice involving the game plan that the Wolverines would have before tomorrow night's national semifinal. Practice ended with a free throw shooting contest between the five starters, Jon Horford and captain Josh Bartelstein and the eight reserves/team maize scout team. The blue team won 11-8.
Friday, April 5 :: Team Prepares for Practices
Michigan had breakfast starting at 9:15 a.m. followed by a film session led by the assistant coaches at 9:45 a.m. The film session lasted approximately 20 minutes, with the coaches drilling the players on the game plan and keys against Syracuse. U-M women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico and her son Trevor, in town for Kate Thompson's appearance in the three-point contest, had breakfast with assistant coach Jeff Meyer and interacted with assistant coach LaVall Jordan and director of athletics Dave Brandon.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Friday, April 5 :: Early Morning Departure for Trey and John

Head coach John Beilein, guard Trey Burke and PR director Tom Wywrot left the hotel at 8:15 a.m. to attend a pair of award presentations for the Wolverines guard. The first was a press conference announcing Trey as the Oscar Robertson Award winner as the player of the year by the USBWA. He met Oscar Robinson and was able to have his parents, sister and grandparents present for the award presentation. Immediately after the Robertson award announcement, Trey and John traveled to Atlantic Station where they spent mid-morning with the ESPN GameDay crew. Trey was presented with the Wooden Award as the national player of the year during a live hit on ESPN at 11:15 a.m.

"It was a great experience and something I will never forget," said Trey. "This is something that I share with my teammates and coaches and it's special to be honored this way."
Michigan Men's Basketball

Thursday, April 4 :: Another Quick Evening
The team took the 20-minute bus ride back from the salute and went into a brief five-minute meeting with the coaching staff. Coach John Beilein outlined the next day for the team before releasing them for the evening to get some rest and school work done. He implored that they stay off their feet as much as possible. Some of the players visited with their families briefly before administrative specialist C.J. Lee did a bed check at 11 p.m.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: 2013 NCAA Final Four Salute
The NCAA put on a great show for the players and coaches associated with the Final Four and the teams playing for the Division II and III national championships. A special event hosted by Jim Nantz celebrated the 75th anniversary of the tournament. The gathering started with the Clark Atlanta University drum line leading the teams from all three divisions of the NCAA into the theater. Each of the players and coaches was introduced to the crowd. The coaches for the Final Four did a roundtable interview with Nantz, and one player from each institution spoke with the CBS announcer. Trey Burke represented the Wolverines and talked about the honor of winning the Associated Press National Player of the Year and what his team was doing to prepare for Syracuse.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: Enjoying Some Time to Play
Immediately after the practice, the Wolverines changed clothes and headed for some entertainment at Bracket Town. The players got something to eat and played a wide variety of sports games. The NCAA had different basketball courts and basketball skill challenges from sponsors. In addition, the Wolverines checked their abilities in soccer, golf, lacrosse and football. In fact, the players really got into the football stage -- making diving catches into a pit before Mitch McGary and Trey Burke went together and got stuck in the air mattress. At 6:30 p.m., the players and coach John Beilein lined up for the entrance into the Final Four Salute.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: Hitting the Hardcourt
The Wolverines got their first look at the court inside the Georgia Dome. The team drilled for 90 minutes on the floor, spending a lot of time working on getting accustomed to their surroundings. Michigan worked on offensive sets against the Syracuse 2-3 zone, its own defensive game plan, and the transition game before finishing the practice with free throws and individual shooting.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: Media Rights Holders Video, Photo Shoots
The players and coach John Beilein spent almost two hours doing specialty video, scoreboard, TV and radio interviews, and still photo portraits for CBS and Dial Global. The Wolverines enjoyed the experience so much that they requested to do these type of shoots back at Michigan.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: Beilein's Busy Day
Coach John Beilein headed via car to his press conference at the Georgia Dome. He had a pear and a Balance Bar to eat while finishing his practice plan for the afternoon session in the Dome. Beilein joked, "This is practice plan No. 106. I'm not sure we've ever had this many before." The NCAA drove Beilein from the locker room to the press conference via golf cart. He answered questions from the media at the podium for approximately 15 minutes before spending time with ESPN's Andy Katz. Beilein took an additional five minutes with the assembled media before ducking into a room for the interview with all four coaches for CBS/Turner. He made the rounds with all the media rights holders before heading back to the locker room to finish the practice plan and meet with the coaches.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Thursday, April 4 :: Morning Preparations
Different groups associated with the team headed for meetings with the NCAA during the first morning in Atlanta. The public and media relations staff headed to a mandatory NCAA meeting at the Georgia Dome, while the basketball administration team met with the NCAA and the security group at the team hotel. The players woke up at 9:30 a.m. and headed for breakfast at 10 a.m. Coach John Beilein ran a morning film session with clips from the team's final practice Tuesday at Crisler Center and some film that included Syracuse. He discussed the goals for the afternoon practice and talked about what he wanted the team to focus on regarding the Syracuse game plan. The Wolverines had a short period of free time before the bus left for the Georgia Dome at 12:30 p.m. for media and practice.
Wednesday, April 3 :: Film, Walkthrough and Snack
After an hour to get acclimated to the hotel, the team met at 9 p.m. for a film session and brief walkthrough of plays in the ballroom. The Wolverines had a light snack of sandwiches before heading to their rooms for the night. The first evening was a quiet one as the team tried to get their legs back. Michigan players were in their rooms by 11 p.m. for bed check.
Michigan Men's Basketball
Wednesday, April 3 :: Departure for the 2013 NCAA Final Four
The team, coaches and families departed for Atlanta at 4 p.m. The Wolverines bused to Willow Run Airport and, after going through security, boarded the MD-83 for the 87-minute flight to Atlanta. The Ameristar Charter Company was assigned by the NCAA. The plane landed in the rain at 7 p.m. as listed on the team itinerary and taxied to the tarmac at Landmark Aviation. The Wolverines touched ground in the Peach Tree state and boarded three Champion Coach buses for the 28-minute ride to the Renaissance Waverly Hotel, the team headquarters for the duration of their stay in Atlanta. The police escort helped the Wolverines bypass heavy traffic on I-75 north en route to the hotel.
Michigan Men's Basketball


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