Fatigued Wolverines get some extra rest on Thursday
Brooklyn, N.Y. — By most accounts, the Wolverines were more well-rested than the media.
Then again, the media has spellcheck and editors.
Michigan won’t have such safety nets when it meets Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament tonight at Barclays Center.
“We had the latest wake-up call ever at noon for our players,” coach John Beilein said Thursday.
Most basketball teams are running on fumes this time of year, just like Michigan.
Tonight’s game will be its fifth in nine days in three states.
After Wednesday night’s 67-62 victory over Tulsa in Dayton, Ohio, Michigan arrived in New York shortly before 3 a.m. By the time the players got checked into their hotel and got up to their rooms, it was closer to 5 a.m.
They got to sleep until noon or 1 p.m. before heading over to Barclays for news conferences and practice.
“In this environment, on this stage, if you can’t energize yourself, you’ve got something wrong with you,” Duncan Robinson said.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, is playing its first game in a week.
That can be an advantage and a disadvantage.
Michigan players felt like they had the edge in the Big Ten tournament when they had a game under their belt before meeting Indiana, which was playing its first game.
Still, Michigan is dealing with fatigue.
Beilein said he saw it in Zak Irvin during Wednesday’s game — before he made the winning shot. Mark Donnal. Derrick Walton Jr. Robinson. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. All the starters have played more minutes than anticipated because of the lack of depth after the losses of Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht.
“It was definitely a long trip for us,” Irvin said. “Got a lot of sleep this morning, which was nice. Got to catch up on some rest, just trying to fight fatigue.”
It’s been a while
Michigan and Notre Dame, football rivals, haven’t met in basketball since 2006.
“I think it’s exciting for both fan bases,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “There’s no question the Michigan-Notre Dame thing runs deep. I think it’s got both fans bases — and our players feel that. They feel that.
“I think it gives a little added energy to it, and we kind of had a week-long building even though Michigan still had to win, and they did a heck of a job winning a close game.”
The Wolverines won the 2004-06 matchups.
“Football’s been a great rivalry for years,” Beilein said. “Maybe it will be again. But I think if Mike and I, if we didn’t have schedules that were so fixed right now, it would be a great game in basketball, as well.”
Michigan leads the series 15-7, with Notre Dame winning two of 14 since 1970.
Dakich gets ‘part’ of this
He began the year as a redshirt.
But because of the injury to Albrecht eight games into the season, Andrew Dakich joined the active roster. And on Wednesday, he was playing in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s very surreal, getting a chance to play is kind of a dream come true because this was kind of our mission from the beginning,” the junior guard said.
Dakich played five minutes.
He didn’t allow himself to get caught up in the moment, however, because Michigan had a game to win. But before the game, that was a different story.
“It happened during the warm-ups. They played the ‘One Shining Moment’ at the top,” Dakich said. “I was like, ‘I’m a part of this now.’ It was pretty cool to see all the highlights from the years past.”
Around the horn
The Michigan-Tulsa game averaged 2.2 million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated First Four game. All four games drew 5.3 million viewers.
... Notre Dame freshman Rex Pflueger, on facing Michigan: “A dream come true. When I visited Notre Dame, it was during a football game against Michigan.”
... Beilein admits he doesn’t like seeing anybody dressed in green. Thursday, thousands of New Yorkers were out early celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
... Common opponents for the teams were N.C. State, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Notre Dame went 3-1, losing to Indiana. Michigan went 3-3, with two losses to Iowa.