ARLINGTON, Texas — One night, and one more time
Thanks for the memories
Maybe the Fall Out Boy hit was just a part of the Kansas pep band’s routine playlist, but maybe — with the Jayhawks leading 63-52 during a timeout at the 9:59 mark of the second half — it was an early tip of the cap, an ode to the end of the 2012-13 Michigan men’s basketball team. And why not? Kansas was dominating all facets of the game and well on its way to the Elite Eight.
So thanks for the memories, cheerleader Alexandria DeLuca. You’re a senior, so it appeared to be your final game cheerleading for Michigan, and you knew the tears were on their way.
Thank you, LSA junior Zachary Salander. As a mellophone player in Michigan’s pep band, we’ve heard you during each and every home game, though we wouldn’t recognize you if we passed you on the street.
And thank you, Josh Bartelstein and Matt Vogrich. The pair of senior guards battled day in and day out in practice and provided invaluable leadership but played sparingly this season. Both of your basketball careers looked to be over, and in nine minutes and 59 seconds, your real-world lives were set to begin.
But most importantly, thank you, Trey Burke. You were the catalyst behind an improbable Big Ten Championship last season, and as college basketball’s best player this year, you put the Michigan basketball program back into a spotlight that hasn’t shined on Ann Arbor since the Fab Five days.
But as the song goes:
One night, and one more time
Thanks for the memories
Even though they weren’t so great
For much of Friday night, as the Wolverines couldn’t keep up with the Jayhawks, it was time to reflect on the memories of a season full of ups and downs, and of course, Burke’s illustrious two-year career. Before he bolts to the NBA, he was supposed to lead the Wolverines deeper than just the Sweet Sixteen, but by the 9:59 mark, Burke was shooting just 4-for-12, good for just eight points after being held scoreless in the first half. His time in a maize-and-blue jersey was fleeting as each second ticked away on the massive Cowboy Stadium jumbotron.
Kansas continued to pour it on, eventually stretching its lead to 14 with 6:50 to play. Meanwhile, not even lottery-pick money could buy Burke a shot in the game’s first 38 minutes. The sophomore missed 12 shots on Friday.
But then something changed. Staring down an eight-point deficit with 1:22 left to play and stuck on 10 points, Burke channeled his inner Jordan — yeah, that Jordan.
“I grew up watching Michael Jordan,” Burke said in the locker room nearly an hour later. “I’ve seen him make so many shots, and I’m not comparing myself to him, but — ”
He paused to collect himself, before referencing his favorite MJ quote.
I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
“I think that described me tonight,” Burke said calmly.
At the 1:15 mark, he nailed a 3-pointer: five-point game.
With 14 seconds left, a layup: three-point game.
And with six ticks left, after Elijah Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-one, Burke pulled up from around seven feet behind the 3-point line: tie game.
“The moment it left my hand, I knew it was good,” Burke said.
So from Bartelstein, who was so confident that Burke’s shot would go in that he jumped out of his seat while the ball was at the peak of its arc, thank you, Trey Burke.
“That’s not how it was supposed to end. I’m not even sure what happened,” Bartelstein said.
His phone was ringing, and Zack Novak was on the other line. It was past 3 a.m. in Zwolle, Netherlands, where Novak had stayed up to watch the game, but Bartelstein didn’t take the call, joking that he wouldn’t be sleeping much on Thursday night, either.
“I don’t recommend normal people taking that shot,” he continued. “It was an iconic shot from an iconic player.”
And thank you, too, from Vogrich, the veteran whose minutes have decreased in each of the past three seasons.
“I just want to sit here forever,” he said aloud, but to no one in particular, from his seat in the locker room. A few minutes later, as he was still reveling in the moment, his dad texted him an underwhelming message that called Burke and teammate Mitch McGary “good.”
“We’ve got the best player in the country on our team,” Vogrich said. “I never thought it was over. But that’s the greatest game I’ve ever seen. Unbelievable. That was nuts, man.”
And Trey, Salander would like to thank you, too, for giving him the “perfect angle” to the end of the “craziest game I’ve ever been a part of.”
“I was right under the basket, and he shot it and I was like, ‘It’s going, it’s going, this is going in, this shot is going in the bucket!’ And then it went in,” Salander said. “It was just absolutely insane.
“I jumped and screamed and like, I — I just went crazy.”
Salander and the rest of his bandmates had to regain their composure to play ‘The Victors’ just seconds after the shot, when Kansas took a timeout, and then for the ensuing overtime session. After a brief celebration when the overtime clock read zero, and Michigan had escaped with an 87-85 win, he calmly walked off the floor.
But the moment he stepped into the tunnel, hidden from the public’s view, he jumped and let out a feverish scream.
“Oh my gosh, it was just total excitement,” he said. “It was hard to contain myself.”
And then there was DeLuca. The tears that, as Michigan trailed throughout the game, she expected still did stream down her face.
“There were actually two moments that I cried,” she said, noting both the immediate aftermath of Burke’s game-tying 3-pointer and Kansas’ buzzer-beating miss in overtime.
“It was overwhelming,” DeLuca said. “You don’t want it to be over, so I was really just hoping that we could pull it off, that it just wasn’t over yet.”
It wasn’t over on Friday night, and come Saturday morning, when Bartelstein, Vogrich, Salander and DeLuca could’ve been boarding planes back to Michigan, they’ll instead still be in Dallas.
So the journeys of these four, out-of-the spotlight upperclassmen will continue until at least Sunday afternoon, where for at least one night, and one more time, we’ll say to you, Trey Burke, thanks for the memories.
Daniel Wasserman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @d_wasserman.