Monday, March 31, 2014


Mister Fantastic tried his absolute best. (Dustin Johnson/
Dustin Johnson captured many amazing shots of the Regional Final, which I recommend checking out here before going forward.  But this one stands out, because it speaks to the hardest part about being a sports fan.

Sometimes, the other guy just makes a play.  Your team didn't do anything wrong, the other guy just does his job and it works.  Aaron Harrison was one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country last season and sometimes talent just overwhelms.

Look at what else is going on in that shot.  Look at all of that Kentucky Blue in the stands, punctuated by hints of adidas highlighter yellow.  Kentucky is actually a touch closer to Indianapolis than Michigan is, especially the heart of Michigan country relative to the heart of Big Blue Nation.  Big Blue Nation was out in force, they wanted to see the battle royale with their in-state rivals in Louisville, and now they were back here in the House that Peyton Built to see their prized class, the pre-season #1, their beloved Wildcats try to prove everyone wrong by advancing to the Final Four.  The only team younger than Michigan in the tournament, they had grown up quickly, or so we had been told.  Sometimes talent can find its way.

Sometimes statistics are defied.  Kentucky shot 7-11 on three pointers, or nearly double their season average, whereas conversely, Michigan shot just a shade under their usual 40% on threes.  (Side note: If they call LeVert's shot in the first half a three, which could have gone either way, then Michigan shoots 42% for the game, or just a shade above their season average.  It also puts Michigan up one after the putback, which may have changed any number of things, but that is speculation at best.)

Sometimes, your luck runs out.  Michigan had not lost a game by fewer than double digits since their two point loss to Arizona back in December.  When Michigan had lost, it had lost big, at Indiana, at Iowa, to Wisconsin, to Michigan State, it was rough outings.  Conversely, Michigan has won thirteen games by single digits, seven by three points or fewer.  Michigan had lived on the knife edge on Friday night against the Vols and survived.  This time, they lost their margin of error that they had had throughout the tournament was not there, and it was over.  It was gone.

Sometimes you don't appreciate you have until it's gone.  Which is why I am thankful we were able to send off Jordan Morgan on a high note.  Morgan is exactly what we want our players to be, tenacious, hard-working, always working to be better, and, oh yeah, a pretty damn good student to boot.  To see all of the #ThanksJMo tweets after the game is to know that we didn't lose sight of what was going to end when Stauskas's last shot fell short.  We know we're probably also losing some other players, and we'll deal with that when the time comes, but for now, we appreciate what we had, because it was fun.  It was just fun.

So a tip of a cap to Coach Beilein and his staff for making us care again.  A salute to the Wildcats for a well-earned victory.  But most of all, a thanks for the memories that this team created, ones not soon forgotten.

No comments: