You would think breaking a 10-game losing streak would be reason for celebration. And it is.
But Michigan’s 63-48 victory over Penn State last night was actually filled with bittersweet moments. Everything from sophomore Dion Harris’s 24 points and six assists all the way down to the little things like the Michigan Dance Team’s senior farewell at halftime was enough to leave just a little twinge of sadness to go along with the joy of any Michigan fan. Enough to leave plenty of sad questions.
Shouldn’t this team still be in Tournament contention? Why couldn’t Dion have played like this all year? How has the Dance Team been able to smile through this entire season?
A better question might be, how has anyone been able to keep smiling this season?
It’s certainly been a roller coaster of emotions for the Wolverines to ride since the streak began. Conveniently enough, their last win came against the Nittany Lions in State College on Jan. 15. If that seems like a long time ago, it was.
Back then, Michigan still had a chance at making the NCAA Tournament, sitting with a record of 12-5 and 3-0 in the Big Ten. It had just picked up its second conference road win of the season, matching its total from the year before.
The drama that would be Daniel Horton’s indefinite suspension wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen yet.
Today, the Wolverines have a 13-15 record (4-10 Big Ten) and are still waiting for that third conference road win. The Wolverines have actually been losing so long that the Horton matter has surfaced, blown up and settled down, all in one month.
So in the shadow of a tumultuous season that no one could ever imagine, the Wolverines found a reason to be genuinely happy. They won a basketball game.
“For what we’ve been through and particularly what our kids have gone through, they should feel good,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “They should be able to enjoy this and finish it off the right way.”
It’s really the only joy the Wolverines can muster up at this point of a long, dismal season. No one can lie and say that this season can still be salvaged. It can’t. A few more wins might make Michigan eligible for the Postseason NIT, but it already has one of those banners. Would another NIT Championship somehow turn this season into a success? Not at all.
The only thing Michigan had to play for last night was a win over Penn State. It might sound clich