Dre's Blog: Michigan's Winning Culture

Nik Stauskas by Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines have had an outstanding season this year and a lot of that is due to this team's closeness.

“It is good to have a team where everybody has confidence and trust each other, Michigan assistant lavall jordan said after Michigan’s 64-63 victory.

I am a firm believer in a team’s success on the court is directly attributal to their success off the court. Watching Michigan’s basketball team further validates that belief. Nik Stauskas… Michigan’s best player and Big Ten player of the year… had the ball at the end of the game with the weight of winning or losing it on his shoulders.

If he would have shot no one would have criticized him for it, but he trusted his teammate Jordan Morgan with a pass and Morgan rewarded that trust scored the winning basket. According to Jordan that type of trust in each other is part of the program’s DNA.

“I think when you get to know each other you feel a connection, and to be honest you don’t want to let the guy next to you down. I think this team has a unique connection all of our teams have this is part of our culture. I think the adversity of the season everyday practicing and learning it helps you bond even closer.”

Michigan has worn shooting shirts that say “the team, the team, the team” at various points this season, obviously borrowing from the iconic locker room speech from legendary football headman Bo Schembechler.  No one is ever above the team, regardless of how good they are. It always comes back to helping your teammates. After the game Glenn Robinson III was asked about well he played. His response was a reflection of th culture the Wolverines have cultivated.

“We have a lot of different guys that can score and my teammates did a really good job of finding me in my right spots,” said Robinson.

That mentality hasn’t been hard Derrick Walton Jr.  to adapt to.  After all, he is a young man who already was already use to trusting teammates when he played at Chandler Park under his father Derrick Walton Sr.  He understands camaraderie and trust. That much is evident when you look at him and Spike Albrecht pulling for one another.

“They love each other,” said Jordan.  “There are times when we are yelling for Spike to go in the game and he will say, ‘no, leave Derrick in because of how well he is playing.’ Derrick has done the same thing for Spike as well, so that is really fun when you have guys committed to the team like that.”

The credit for this goes to Coach John Beilein and his staff and how they have built their program. When recruits come on visits the coaching staff uses input from their players as part of the vetting process.  They tell their coaches whether they think a visiting prospect will fit into the culture in Ann Arbor and their assessment is given a lot of weight.  At the same time during the summer months of open gyms camaraderie and trust within the players already on the team is strengthened even more. It is during those times that the play that Nik Stauskas made passing to Jordan Morgan for the winning play.

It is the reason they’re playing Saturday against Ohio State.

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