Season In Review: Michigan WolverinesPosted by KTrahan on April 22nd, 2013
Now that the season has wrapped up, we’ll do a quick look back at each Big Ten team’s season, as well as a look at the future. Next up are the Michigan Wolverines.
What a roller coaster season it was for Michigan. The Wolverines headed into the season with a lot of hype, eventually vaulting to No. 1 in the rankings. After a short stint at the top spot in the polls, the team struggled to stay there — even falling to Penn State along the way — and dropping to a No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, John Beilein’s team hit its stride at just the right time, as freshman Mitch McGary became a superb interior presence to give Michigan the lift it needed in late March. It’s incredible how many offensive weapons this team had between McGary, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III (lest we forget Spike Albrecht!). Ultimately, though, the Wolverines fell in the national championship game to a team that was simply better than them. However, it was a heck of a run through maybe the toughest path to the Final Four that any team had to face.
It’s crazy how fast people will get over losses once you start winning. After another defeat to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan was labeled a relative disappointment, considering its inability to close out big games and its fall from No. 1 to fifth place in the conference standings. However, once the Wolverines won their way to the Final Four, none of that talk mattered. So you could consider it “bad” that Michigan lost six of its final 12 games in the latter half of the Big Ten season, but that rough patch has already been largely forgotten. The other bad? The Wolverines finished No. 2 in the nation, not No. 1. That’s disappointing, but an incredible season for Beilein’s program nonetheless.
Already we know that this was likely the best Michigan team in quite some time — a run to the national championship game will tend to elevate a team’s standing. With the losses of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA this summer, next year’s team won’t be as talented across the board, and it certainly won’t be on the perimeter. The 2013-14 outlook depends largely on the progression of sophomores Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary and whether someone can step up and provide great leadership at the point guard position in the wake of losing the NPOY at that slot (four-star guard Derrick Walton will get a shot at running the offense). We can assume that Robinson and McGary are going to be on just about every Preseason All-Big Ten list, but John Beilein will have to find a way to de-emphasize the perimeter in favor of getting more touches to his star players inside and on the wing. Michigan isn’t going away, though. The program, under Beilein’s tutelage and with another top 15 class on the way, is in great shape heading into the future.