The Michigan basketball team’s season may have ended weeks ago with a disappointing 11-18 record, but that didn’t stop the Wolverines from celebrating their 2001-02 campaign in grand style Thursday night in Crisler Arena.
The annual bust was hosted by the M Club, and Frank Breckman, the team’s play-by-play announcer, served as master of ceremonies.
A couple hundred diehard Michigan fans dropped down the $40 price tag for a catered meal and a chance to listen the Wolverines’ seniors (Chris Young, Mike Gotfredson, Herb Gibson, Leon Jones and Ron Garber) give their final goodbyes.
Young, who was named team MVP earlier in the evening, gave an emotional speech thanking everyone who made his stay at Michigan so memorable.
“The best compliment I can give, goes to my coaches,” Young said. “It was an honor to play for you guys.”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker, who was visibly touched by Young’s comments, spent a significant portion of his time on stage paying tribute to the Wolverines’ star center.
“Chris was the anchor for us all year,” Amaker said. “He took 17 charges, played 32 minutes a game, and he was a great leader. We always needed him on the floor. His play, production, effort and leadership showed that he really was a Michigan man.”
A sixth senior, forward Rotolu Adebiyi opted not to speak, but he had a very good reason.
The Ann Arbor native announced that he would be returning to captain the Wolverines again next season, as a fifth-year senior.
“I’m really excited,” Adebiyi said. “This is a great opportunity for me. I can’t wait for next season.”
He will be joined by the two new tri-captains, LaVell Blanchard and Gavin Groninger.
Despite leading the team in scoring this season, Blanchard made just a brief appearance on the awards podium, when he accepted his third consecutive Rebounding Award.
“He better make it four next year,” Amaker quipped as he handed out the plaque.
Two other seniors, Mike Gotfredson and Ron Garber, were named to the Academic All-Big Ten team on Friday. Gotfredson also took home Michigan’s Award for Academic Achievement along with his third straight Hustle Award.
After Jones won the Outstanding Defensive Player Award, the man they call “Hollywood” proceeded to challenge Peter Vignier’s record for the longest final speech in school history.
After the parade of awards and thanks was finished, Amaker gave his perspective on the season, calling out fans to help support the program.
“When this year started, I told my players that I don’t drink. I told them ‘don’t make me start now.’ We were getting close at times there … but I think we improved in a lot of ways and we proved that at the end of the year,” Amaker said.
“Sometimes you need love and understanding most when you deserve it the least … We didn’t win as many games this year as we will in the future, and we didn’t win as many games as we wanted to this year. But we are building this into a first-class, winning program, and we need your support at this time.”