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Sunday is a big day for the Michigan basketball team. They finish their regular season with a home game against Indiana. This game not only can give Michigan its second consecutive Big Ten championship, but also is important for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament, the NCAA Tournament, and just happens to be Michigan's Senior Night. Many will be focused on the outcome of the game, but the Wolverines will be graduating 5 seniors this year that were instrumental in setting up the current Michigan team and in revitalizing the program.
Last year's seniors (Novak & Douglass) get most of the credit and attention for Michigan's resurgence, but the seniors on this team deserve a lot of credit as well. Some of them have actually been here longer than Novak and Douglass and have been forced to provide much of the leadership for the youthful Wolverines this season. Michigan is one of the youngest teams in the country and there are only three players (Hardaway, Morgan, Horford) that have been here for any serious length of time and contribute on the court in a significant way. That leaves a leadership void and the 5 seniors of the 2013 class have done a great job filling that gap. Let's take a short look at each senior:
Akunne actually comes straight out of Ann Arbor and attended Gabriel Richard. His career has been up and down during his four years. He averaged 5.4 minutes during his freshman season, but his number dropped slightly in his sophomore year to 2.5 minutes per game. A part of this drop-off was no doubt due to the emergence of Darius Morris during Akunne's sophomore year. He trended upward in his junior year, but his numbers definitely got hurt later in the season when an injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. Michigan and Trey Burke could have used him later in the year, but were still able to win the Big Ten. This year, his time has been more limited, but he has had a few bright spots including his game against Central Michigan. He may not have been the most talented point guard in any of his seasons at Michigan, but he was an important bench player for the team.
The captain of this year's Wolverines. Bartelstein is from Highland Park, Illinois. Unfortunately, Bartelstein has never really been able to get significant play on the court, but being named as the captain of a team with this much talent is definitely a big accomplishment. He is the kind of player that may not get a ton of credit from the fans, but does the work behind the scenes that elevates everyone's play. The players were tremendous in supporting Bartelstein for captain and even last year's seniors (Novak & Douglass) expressed their support. He's done a lot for the team, program, and will have a lot of success off the court in the future.
If there's a fan favorite out of this year's seniors, it's McLimans. He comes from Hamburg, New York and brings a lot of excitement to his play. Though he hasn't gotten a lot of play this season, he was important for Michigan's 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 teams. He played in many of the early games in the 2010-2011 season including a game against a tricky Clemson squad and in 2011-2012, he was instrumental in a late season game against Northwestern where Michigan won in overtime. If he had not been able to help Michigan to that victory, the Wolverines would probably have not won the Big Ten title. He's been beloved by fans and although he may not have stats that will set the world on fire, his contributions have definitely been important.
The dancing leader of the Wolverines. Person is from Kalamzoo, MI and is probably best known for his pregame ritual of dancing in Michigan's team huddle. Even ESPN Magazine did an article on his dancing skills and career on the team. He, like many of the other seniors this season, does not have record-breaking stats, but during his five seasons at Michigan, he's seen a team without an NCAA Tournament appearance for a decade make the tourney, win the Big Ten title, and now have a chance to repeat and make a deep run in March. He's a symbol of the progression of Michigan's team and has been there contributing and leading the Wolverines the entire way.
Out of all the seniors, Vogrich probably has the most on-court contributions. Vogrich is from Lake Forest, Illinois. His numbers have dropped in each of the last two seasons, but during his sopohomore year, Vogrich averaged 14 minutes and 3.2 points a game. Not bad for a guy off the bench. And on top of this, arguably the highlight of his career was starting 6 games at the beginning of this season. It's hard to say a player hasn't contributed to a program when he starts 6 games for a team ranked in the top five. Even though Vogrich was never quite able to get back to the outside shooting he did early in his career (42.9% from outside the arch), he still made a lot of contributions and helped Michigan reach the NCAA Tournament, a Big Ten title, and its first #1 ranking in decades.
-THE 2013 SENIOR CLASS
Overall, this isn't the kind of class that is going to get headlines or sell out bookshelves, but it is a group that did a lot for this team and the Michigan program. They took a team that was still reeling from NCAA sanctions and a new coach and turned it into a team that can not only compete in its conference, but also on a national level. Much of the attention of Sunday's game will be on Indiana and Michigan's potential for a Big Ten championship, but these seniors deserve a lot of respect. So as Josh Bartelstein said in his blog this week, "arrive early and be loud" on Sunday to send these seniors out with a bang.
This post was edited by Thomas Beindit on 3/8/2013 at 11:09 PM
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Michigan senior guard Corey Person may not play many minutes, but he's known for his dance moves in the center of every pregame huddle. In ESPN The Magazine's One Day One Game issue, Everett Cook talks to the Wolverine about his fifth and final year.
Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit
Great read Thomas!!! I cant believe no one has commented! I think all those guys are so overlooked because they dont play all the minutes like many seniors out there.
Keep articles like this coming because they can be humbling to our fan base and really show where we have come from!
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