Some of you may not know, because I try to keep my blog bias-free, but I am a die-hard Michigan fan, which most times, is extremely disappointing. I’ve witnessed some great moments in Michigan sports history, going back as far as I can remember, beginning with Mario Manningham’s game winning catch over Michigan State (I was five), only to get man handled by USC in the Rose Bowl later that year. I’ve witnessed Trey Burke’s 35-footer to send the game into overtime against Kansas in the 2013 sweet sixteen and I also saw Spike Albrecht’s 17-point coming out party in the National Championship Game, in person. But, the dream was crushed by Luke Hancock’s four straight threes, and a very questionable foul call on Trey Burke where he absolutely pinned Peyton Siva’s layup to the glass (that take isn’t biased, there are pictures as evidence). In fact, I was even in the Big House when Michigan punter Blake O’Neil (one of the best punters in the county at the time) botched the snap, that allowed Michigan State to go for a game winning scoop and score as time expired. Oh, and let’s not forget the year following the heartbreaking National Championship loss, when our dreams were crushed again by another Kentucky school. A three by Aaron Harrison with just a couple of seconds left, sent the Wildcats to Dallas, and the Wolverines back home. I think you get the point now, it’s exhausting. And, I’m only 15 years-old. Since that moment, the Michigan basketball program has spiraled, until now.
This run is different than 2013 and 2014, for many reasons. First off, this team is a cinderella story, the other two were not. Next, those teams were led by Sophomores Trey Burke in 2013, and Nik Stauskas in 2014. This year’s team is fueled by the experience and heart of Seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin. Yes, age is just a number, but I can see it in Walton and Irvin’s eyes, they are willing to do anything to play another game together, in a Michigan uniform. And that is special to see.
But, this story isn’t your George Mason, VCU, Butler type of Cinderella story, this is a completely new breed. This team was a mediocre tournament team who just had a near death experience during their takeoff to Washington, DC for the Big Ten tournament. And they had a choice, forfeit the game and try to cope with what just happened, or conquer their fears, get back on the plane, and go compete for a Big Ten title. The Wolverines then went on to go do something neither the 2013 or 2014 teams did, win four games in four days and capture the Big Ten title. That day, was a great day to be a Wolverine. The title was so great, because you didn’t expect it, and it also showed you these kids can conquer anything, mentally and physically.
Most Michigan fans and I feel extremely close to this team, Walton and Irvin have contributed and given this program their all for four years, which is a long time in college basketball. They’ve been so good to us for so long and we almost feel like we know them personally. This team has been very good to an extremely uneasy to please fanbase, so I think it’s time to give them the respect they deserve. Thank you Team 107 for letting us come along with you on this exhilarating post-season ride, it’s been more than we could’ve ever imagined.
Thank you Walton for doing everything and more for this team. Thank you Irvin for making the most ridiculous shots at the best times. Thank you DJ for boosting the teams swagger with your curls and leg sleeve, while turning yourself into an NBA prospect. Thank you Mo Buckets for being the most energetic international basketball player I’ve ever seen. Thank you Abdur- Rahkman for bailing us out late in the shot clock (way too many times). Thank you Duncan for being the best three point shooter in Michigan history since Stu Douglass (and even that’s debatable). Thank you X for carrying the load while Walton is on the bench, and for providing us with a bright future at the one. Thank you Dakich for being the best player-coach in all of college basketball. Thank you Camp Sanderson for finally allowing our guys to be able to bang with the big boys down low. And finally, Thank you to Coach Beilien for your heart, leadership, dedication and for recruiting a team full of sharpshooters so we can run an extremely entertaining offense, when we’re shooting well. I love everything about this team and hope we’re not done yet, but honestly, I can’t ask for any more, this team has given me more than enough.