‘They were beasts’: Jim Harbaugh inspired by Michigan basketball team

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh

Ann Arbor – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been enjoying the Michigan basketball team’s NCAA Tournament run, and was more than impressed by the Wolverines’ sound beating of Texas A&M to advance to the Elite Eight.

“They were beasts,” Harbaugh said Friday night after spring practice. “I don’t think I’m going out too far out on a limb here – I think the way the team played the other night, they could have beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

“So exciting. It’s so exciting. Great inspiration, too. It looked like we were playing with seven players and they were playing with five players. I don’t know that much about basketball, but it had that feel. The guys were attacking on both ends of the floor, on the offensive side and the defensive side, and it was great. So much excitement. So happy for coach (John) Beilein, his staff, the team and onward. Can’t wait for (Saturday’s game).”

More: UM’s John O’Korn: ‘I’m most NFL-ready’ QB in draft

QB snaps ‘evenly distributed’

Shea Patterson, a quarterback transfer from Ole Miss, still does not know if he will be cleared by the NCAA to play this fall, but he is participating in spring practice.

Patterson, Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and early enrollee Joe Milton are sharing snaps that Harbaugh said are being “evenly distributed.”

“Did a good job,” Harbaugh said when asked about Patterson in his first practice. “As did a lot of guys. And for a first day, it was guys that studied, it wasn’t the first time they thought about the plays or the defensive calls or the punt protections. Our guys came out and had a high level of understanding.”

Harbaugh said he does not have a timeline for an NCAA decision on Patterson.

“I don’t have an update,” he said.

Newsome still out

Offensive lineman Grant Newsome has been working to return to football after suffering a severe right knee injury against Wisconsin in October 2016. Newsome is working out.

“But he’s not at the point to come back and practice with the team,” Harbaugh said.

Newsome said in February he felt good enough to play.

“It’s up to the doctors at this point,” Newsome said last month. “I feel confident that I could play right now and I could contribute to this team, but ultimately, it’s up to the doctors. Obviously, they’re going to make the decision that’s in my best interests and I’m going to respect that because obviously certain things are bigger than football.

“It’s up to them at this point. I feel like I’m in a good place in my recovery, and we’ll see what they say, if it’s clearance now or it’s we want you to wait a little bit or if it’s we want you to retire. It’s really up to them, but I have the utmost faith in them and their decision.”

Wheatley out for spring

Tight end Tyrone Wheatley suffered a fractured bone in his foot during practice on Friday and will miss the rest of the spring. Harbaugh said he will be back for the season.

Receiver Grant Perry, defensive lineman Luiji Vilain and linebacker Jameson Offerdahl also are not practicing yet this spring.