By: Dan Leach
Follow Dan Leach on Twitter @dtmleach
I was right behind the Michigan bench, surrounded by friends and family of the team that many wrote off just a few weeks ago as they clinched a spot in the National Title game, one win away from history. They were too shaky, too timid, not clutch enough when it mattered. All those doubts were answered yet again, this time against a Syracuse team that had literally shut down everyone they had played in the tournament, including many people’s favorite to win the title, Indiana, making them look silly.
It has been a long time since the Fab Five Era, the last time that Michigan basketball was truly relevant until John Beilein took over the program. After all the dead years, the banners being taken down, the apathy. Beilein built the program from the ground up and did it the right way, the family way.
They might have the best player in college basketball in Trey Burke, but he was off tonight, so the rest of the team picked him up. Spike Albrecht and Caris Levert played some amazingly important minutes and without the 12 points they scored early, Michigan likely would have lost. Then there is Mitch McGary, who has almost single handedly transformed this team, from one that knew they were good, to one that just refuses to lose.
Michigan has faced many situations this season in which many other teams would have folded. The heartbreak against Wisconsin, the stunning loss at the end to the Hoosiers, down 10 with 2:20 to go to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. Each time when all look lost, the Wolverines found a way to persevere.
I truly think that begins and ends with what Beilein has taught this team from the start. That it is about believing in each other cherishing each other and the moments that can be so fleeting in life. As I watched the Wolverines celebrate with their beloved coach, all I could think about was just how lucky we are to witness something special like what Michigan has done in this NCAA Tournament. The team stands on the edge of history. One win away from sweeping away all the angst and disappointment from the past 20 years. One win away from truly bringing the program back to greatness. One win away from history.
WE ON…..The way to the National Title game!!