Michigan senior co-captain Colin Dill is
more than willing to joke about entering the NBA draft after the
year is done — a pretty unrealistic plan. The truth is that
Dill plans on attending law school when he’s done with his
undergraduate degree at Michigan.
Dill’s sense of humor is prevalent in much of what he does
and has become a way to lighten up his team and those around
“It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure,”
Dill said. “Guys get really stressed out, and I think
we’re a better team when we’re not too
Last month at a practice that was open to media members, Dill
was answering questions over his cell phone. After Dill hung up,
one reporter asked him who had been at the other end of the
“It was Dan Patrick — he wanted to get a few quotes
from me (for his ESPN radio show),” Dill joked.
All in the Family
Dill can be more serious when the situation calls for it off of
Since the start of his Michigan career, Dill has had to cope
with the death of each of his four grandparents.
Though painful, these experiences prepared the captain for a
very tough task — helping his roommate and teammate, senior
Bernard Robinson, cope with his father’s death after a
year-long battle with cancer over winter break.
Spending Christmas with the Dill family, Robinson was in Saginaw
when he heard the news of his father’s death, which came on
Christmas day. Unable to make the long trip home to Washington,
over many vacations, Robinson spent extended periods of time with
Dill and his family.
“I think they treat me as if I’m a part of their
family, with a lot of love,” Robinson said.
Even though Dill had gone through similar grieving periods with
the deaths of his grandparents, it was much harder to deal with the
passing of a good friend’s father. Dill’s parents were
able to initially comfort Robinson.
“I was shocked and unprepared when Bernard told me what
had happened, so I was fortunate that my mom and dad were there to
help him out and to talk to him,” Dill said. “I felt
just as bad as he did, so I was glad they were there to help him
Robinson also recalls being thankful that the Dills were there
to support him.
“I was glad I was at a situation like that when I found
that news out, rather than being alone, and not knowing what to
do,” Robinson said. “It was tough. They showed a lot of
care. It kind of surprised me that they cared that much. It was
definitely tough, but they wanted to know what was going on, and
they showed care.”
After getting over the initial shock of the bad news, Dill
comforted Robinson by helping him keep his father with him in the
“What they’ve told you and what they’ve taught
you is how they’ll live on in your life forever,” Dill
said. “That’s how they stay involved in your
The Odd Couple
Although they’ve gone through some rough times together,
most of Dill and Robinson’s relationship is much more
lighthearted. The two have lived together for three years and have
grown accustomed to each other’s mannerisms and actions.
Robinson studies with the television on. Dill would rather study
in a quiet, library-type setting.
Dill says that Robinson eats all his food and uses all his
toiletries. Robinson is quick to point out that Dill dominates the
Robinson doesn’t shut the lights or the television off.
Dill has to turn everything off for the both of them when they
leave the house.
But neither fails to own up to his own faults.
“I don’t have the desires to walk over there and
turn the TV off (when I leave),” Robinson said. “I
figure I’ll be back, (and) the TV will be on when I get
No chance of using the remote to turn it off?
“Sometimes you can’t find the remote, or sometimes
it’s by the TV, so it defeats the purpose,” Robinson
said. “I always come back and its off, so I know Colin turned
it off. He’s been doing it for three years, so he can do it
for one more year.”
Robinson also has issues with Colin and the temperature at which
he keeps their apartment.
“He definitely keeps the air on about 40-below zero, all
the time,” Robinson said with a smile. “I know when
it’s cold, Colin turned it down, so I turn it back up until
he turns it down again.”
Dill and Robinson are comfortable enough with one another to
playfully rib each other now, but it wasn’t always as easy
living together. During their first year as roommates, Robinson and
Dill’s contrasting styles led to some minor disagreements
during their sophomore year.
“That happens with anybody,” Robinson said.
“Any person who lives with a person for the first time,
isn’t used to certain things. Then, once you get used to
them, you’re used to them.”
Now, the biggest argument is over who is better at
“It’s kind of a rivalry that we’ve been having
back and forth,” Dill said. “He thinks he’s the
better jumpshooter, but I’d say that I’m head and
shoulders above him when it comes to shooting and playing
Growing up, Dill was always in the game when it was all on the
line. So coming off of the bench and being one of the team’s
last options was a tough change for him.
But the senior exhibits a very mature, team-oriented approach.
If it gives the team a better chance to win, Dill welcomes being
one of the last guys off the bench.
“I was a player who, when I was younger, was that go-to
guy, and I’ve seen it now from both ends,” Dill said.
“I kind of feel like I know what I have to do to make sure
that this team performs at the highest level.
“This has always been a lifelong goal of mine. To play
here, and then to be named captain — it’s kind of like
I’m living out a dream right now.”
Dill’s role might not show up in the box score, but his
leadership is paramount to the team’s success.
“I think he recognizes and embraces and enjoys his role on
the team,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “He
recognized that it won’t be so much on actual playing time,
but it will be on more of a daily basis and things behind the scene
that everyone else won’t see.”
The team’s two co-captains, Dill and junior J.C. Mathis,
have contrasting styles. Mathis’s style is very direct and
very loud — he often yells energetically at all of his
teammates in a group and is one of the loudest voices in the
Dill’s style is more personal and more one-on-one. You
won’t see him yelling in the lockerroom, and you’ll
rarely see him yell at a practice.
“In practice, I definitely have more of a hands-on
role,” Dill said. “I’m actively out there on the
court, talking to guys, pushing them and trying to lead by
Said sophomore Graham Brown: “You can tell that he really
cares about his teammates. You need somebody like that, who really
cares about his teammates and will do anything for you. And just
knowing that, gives a little more stability on the team.”
And every Wolverine knows that Dill can play the game.
He’s been known to “light it up” in practice,
according to Brown, and often plays the role of the other
team’s best shooter on the “scout” team that
plays against the Michigan starters every day in practice.
Despite playing in just 22 games in his career, Dill has gained
experience from spending nearly four years on the team and going
through the rigors of a tough schedule as a student athlete.
Dill doesn’t believe that seeing such little game action
throughout his career is a strike on his record.
“I might not have played in these games, but I’ve
been through all of them, and I’ve gone to all these
gyms,” Dill said. “I can prepare (my teammates) and
tell them what they can expect to see. So I think that’s
probably what my game-day role has (become).”
Although most of Dill’s teammates have seen more game
action, they still have a tremendous amount of respect for the
“He’s a lot older than me, and he’s been
through a lot more than me,” freshman Courtney Sims said.
“I might’ve played more minutes than he has, even in
his career, but he’s still been through a lot more than me,
so he always has a lot of advice to give me.”
Dill is used to being surrounded by great players. As a
sophomore at Detroit Country Day High School, Dill played on the
same team as Shane Battier, who went on to be a captain at Duke and
now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Dill also picked up some pointers on being a captain from his
father, Craig, who was a captain and an All-American while at
Michigan from 1964 to ‘67.
Whether it’s at practice or at home, in a serious
situation or a lighthearted moment, Dill keeps his life in
And even if Dan Patrick or an NBA team doesn’t come
calling, Dill hopes that his leadership and experience gained in
his time as a captain will help him one day in the courtroom.