Following Michigan’s loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament on Mar. 14, soon-to-be senior Bernard Robinson expressed his excitement about the upcoming season. He said that with Michigan’s added depth and experience, the Wolverines could be a tougher team down the stretch, and a serious competitor for the Big Ten title.
Robinson will get an opportunity to lead this team to victory, as he, along with Colin Dill and J.C. Mathis, were elected tri-captains for the 2003-04 Michigan men’s basketball team by their teammates. Every player was given a vote except the graduating seniors. The announcement was made by coach Tommy Amaker at last night’s team awards banquet.
“We have a great deal of faith and trust in our players, and that’s why we allowed them to elect their own captains,” Amaker said.
Amaker spoke about team defense, and how with Robinson leading by example out on the floor, the Wolverines should keep opponents’ scoring to a minimum. The junior emerged a solid and dependable defensive stopper for the Wolverines this season.
“We take pride in our team defense. One person each game was going to be responsible to guard their highest scorer. I will be disappointed if you don’t win this award for the Big Ten next year,” said Amaker, as he presented Robinson with the team defensive player of the year award.
Each member of the team was acknowledged at last night’s banquet, as the Wolverines honored their departing seniors and took a glimpse into the future.
LaVell Blanchard was recognized, alongside freshman Daniel Horton, as co-MVP. Blanchard also took home some more hardwood – the Loy Vaught Rebounding Award for leading the team in rebounds for four consecutive seasons.
Blanchard hugged Amaker as he approached the podium to be recognized, but did not shed any tears. He did reminisce about his long and illustrious career.
“It seems like yesterday I was looking at a photo of five freshman walking down the tunnel,” said Blanchard about his freshman class. “I’ll be watching you guys for the rest of my life. I sat here with (Chicago Bulls guard) Jamal Crawford saying how this would never happen. But here it’s happening.”
Crawford did not attend the banquet because he was busy racking up 33 points and eight assists in the first half of the Chicago Bulls/Philadephia 76ers game in Chicago.
But if things go well for Blanchard in the upcoming NBA draft, he could be rejoining his former teammate in the professional ranks very soon.
Amaker also recognized Rotolu Adebiyi and Gavin Groninger, Michigan’s other departing seniors, for their effort, determination and leadership through the years. An individual video composed of season highlights was shown for each player.
“I didn’t know I had that many highlights,” said Adebiyi jokingly.