Dec. 8, 2012
By Alex Lozier, U-M Public & Media Relations
In the locker room, following each win, the University of Michigan men's basketball coaches chose one player who had a standout performance to stand on a chair in the middle of the team huddle and lead the team in the singing of "The Victors." Today was different -- head coach John Beilein announced that no one would stand on the chair; today's game was a team win.
Almost in unison, however, every player responded, telling coach Beilein that it was his turn to stand on the chair. To celebrate his 100th win at Michigan and how hard he had worked to bring the program back to national prominence, the players wanted to recognize him.
"I don't know if I've ever been up on a chair before like that, but I love our players for doing that," Beilein said. "All the schools that Kathleen and I have been able to be at, they've been so good to us and Michigan is no exception. To have the opportunity to coach here for just over five years, I'm just hoping that the next 100 come faster than the first," he said jokingly.
The scene in the locker room summed up the unselfishness displayed in the team's 80-67 win over Arkansas just minutes earlier as all five starters finished the game in double-digit scoring.
"It doesn't matter who scores for us, we just want to get the best shot for the team," stated Jordan Morgan. "Everybody embraces their role. Everybody's in the gym, especially our shooters, working to knock down shots. Our bigs are working to finish, we just want to do whatever we can to help the team."
"We're all unselfish; we all don't care who scores the ball. And at the end of the day the team goal is to win games," added Nik Stauskas. "I think that's why we put coach Beilein up there. It was his 100th win today, and we did it all as a team. The starters played well, the guys off the bench played well. So I couldn't ask for anything more."
Michigan's victory did not come easy, as Arkansas quickly depleted Michigan's 10-point halftime lead. After the Razorbacks cut U-M's lead to just one point with less than nine minutes to play in the game, the team regrouped and nailed three-straight assisted baskets to take a seven-point lead, from which Arkansas would never recover.
"I think that was an important part of our process. There's a process you go through to be a better team. And part of the process is being tested and having adversity. That was some adversity," Beilein said. "We haven't been behind in a game in the second half in a long, long time. And all of a sudden they're right there, they're going to get there and we responded."
"It also helped that we had a nice home crowd behind us. They were really good for us today," Stauskas commented on the team's recovery. "But we just stayed positive, no one got down on their self. We went in the timeout and we just said, 'Let's run our stuff and stay calm. Let's do what we know how to do.' And we went out there and we executed and were able to make shots."
The win improved Michigan's record to 9-0 for the first time since the 1988-89 season, when the Wolverines went 11-0 to open what would eventually be the program's first national championship season. Although hanging another banner in the rafters at Crisler Center may be a goal for the Wolverines, their mentality will remain the same as it's been every season under Beilein -- get better every day, play as a team and take it one game at a time.