After the Michigan men’s basketball team wins, it sings “The Victors” in the locker room. But this weekend, there was a bit of confusion about the lyrics.
Granted, that might be expected on a team with nine underclassmen.
“We make the freshmen turn around and look right at the upperclassmen, and they’re lip-syncing a little bit with (senior) Ron Coleman,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.
That organic leadership makes Coleman – the lone senior with significant playing time before this season – the de facto captain on this year’s team.
Even if he doesn’t have a distinguishing “C” on his jersey, he has taken the lead in offseason workouts and has been a more vocal presence than previous seasons.
The team named Coleman the captain last season, Beilein said. But the official roster doesn’t list him as such.
“He’s been the leader from when we got here in the summer,” redshirt freshman Anthony Wright said. “He’s been the leader ever since coach Beilein stepped foot in the locker room.”
Even though Beilein says Coleman will fulfill a captain’s duties, he expects a certain level of leadership from every player.
“The most important thing on a team is having leadership and having guys that have their own self-leadership,” Coleman said. “He wanted everybody to be a leader within himself, saying that you know ‘There’s younger guys on this team or whatever. But don’t just look up to seeing me as the one leader. Everybody else can be leaders, too.’ “
With a new offensive system in place, players had to take initiative this summer in fine-tuning the 3-point-shooting skills Beilein emphasizes. Sophomore DeShawn Sims did not make a 3-point basket last season, but he already made four in two games.
Just two games into his career, freshman Manny Harris has said he envisions himself as a leader on this team.
“I want to be a leader,” Harris said. “But at the same time, I know I got experienced guys over me, so I take stuff in from what they tell me, but I still feel like I’m a leader.”
This year’s team has taken a much simpler approach to naming captains than last year’s.
Following team tradition, then-coach Tommy Amaker named tri-captains Lester Abram, Dion Harris and Brent Petway at the team’s season-ending banquet in April 2006. But before the season began, Amaker decided to go with just Abram.
This year’s team doesn’t put the responsibility on a specific leader, but rather on taking the leadership responsibilities upon themselves.
“We want everybody to think, ‘How can I help lead this team?’ ” Beilein said. “Everybody has got to find a different path to help lead this group.”