Grateful fans of the U-M men’s basketball team filed into Crisler Center on April 9 to welcome home the Wolverine players and coaches, 16 hours after the team fell just short of winning a national basketball championship.
“We don’t even know what to say, we’re so grateful,” head coach John Beilein told the crowd. He added that while the basketball program in recent years has made incremental steps to improve, “In the past four weeks we have made giant steps.”
The Wolverines fell to Louisville, 82-76, after staging an inspiring run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and making it to the title game for the first time in 20 years.
More than 600 maize-and-blue-clad, yellow-pompom-waving fans cheered the team as the overhead video screen showed highlights of a season to remember and “The Victors” played over the arena loudspeakers.
“I just want to thank all of you. It was an emotional night last night,” sophomore guard Trey Burke told the crowd, as players and coaches took turns offering brief remarks. He said the fans’ support has lifted players’ spirits. “We’ve been through a lot this year.”
Freshman guard Spike Albrecht told the crowd it meant a lot to the team for fans to show their support. “We couldn’t have done it without you guys. Go Blue,” he said.
Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III told the crowd, “All these guys sitting down here had a goal, to put Michigan basketball back on the map.”
Among the fans filing into Crisler was Tyler Eisenmann, a freshman from Saline in the School of Kinesiology.
“We’re just excited to celebrate a great season. They came up a little bit short, but there’s no reason not to celebrate,” he said.
Kathy Brady of Ann Arbor, a former U-M staff member, said she took her daughters — Meg, 9, and Maren, 6 — out of school to show support.
“We’ve got to tell the guys we’re so proud of them and thanks for a great season,” she said.
Karen Simpson, student financial assistant, Student Financial Services, on the increase in technology in her 35 years at U-M: “When I first came here we were typing student checks on typewriters. Now, everything is very modernized, very streamlined.”
“Crazy for You,” 7:30 p.m. April 18, 8 p.m. April 19-20 and 2 p.m. April 21, Power Center for the Performing Arts.