After going 10-22 last season, the Michigan basketball team has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament this year.

Some might suggest that the returning players have adjusted to Michigan coach John Beilein’s system. He recruited players to fit his offense, and returning players have developed skills to properly execute it.

But they would be wrong.

The turnaround this year has nothing to do with the players on the court. It has everything to do with the people in press row. Rather, the people not in press row.

More specifically, me.

In my four-and-a-half years at the Daily, every team I covered was historically disappointing and improved the next season.

Last year’s basketball team set a program record with 22 losses, including one at Harvard to former coach Tommy Amaker. Heck, Oakland came into Crisler Arena and legitimately expected to win.

Three weeks into the season, this year’s team has already defeated two top-five teams and is on the verge of the top 25.

Now, you might think I have nothing to do with this. I don’t even cover the team anymore. The evidence says otherwise.

Two years ago, I covered the hockey team. That squad was one of the most talented teams Michigan coach Red Berenson has assembled in years. It featured three NHL first-round draft picks, five eventual All-Americans and two players who would become Hobey Baker finalists, including last year’s winner, Kevin Porter.

That team lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It didn’t just lose. It gave up 7 goals.

The next year, the Wolverines, with a much less talented team, were atop the rankings for most of the season and reached the Frozen Four.

I covered the women’s basketball team three years ago. It lost 23 games and didn’t win a single Big Ten matchup. The next year, it lost just 20 and fired its head coach. The Wolverines reached the NIT quarterfinals last year.

If you want to go even further back, the women’s cross country and men’s track and field teams both faltered when I covered them.

That brings me to this year’s football team.

Its problem had nothing to do with first-year coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense … his failure to embrace Michigan’s history … the lack of an effective quarterback, … a defense that gave up big plays like it was trying to … or four new starters on the offensive line.

I was the problem.

But in the course of covering such horrendous teams, I learned sportswriting is about much more than winning and losing.

It has given me experiences and opportunities no other club at the University could.

I traveled more than 28,000 miles covering events for the Daily.

The circumference of the Earth is about 25,000 miles.

Writing for the Daily gave the opportunity to cover the Michigan football team through Rodriguez’s first year, with the same access given to other media outlets. I was on the field after the Wisconsin win and later battled through hordes of Ohio State fans as they rushed the field in Columbus.

I wrote about the basketball team through Beilein’s first year in Ann Arbor. I got to sit courtside at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Daily talks with Berenson gave me an education beyond the game, although he never knew my name. I covered the team in Alaska and even went dog-sledding.

If I had gotten involved with the Daily to see winning teams, I would have quit long ago. Barring an epic disappointment familiar to teams that I have covered, I will graduate in two weeks.

Despite all the on-field struggles of the team’s I covered, joining the Daily is the best thing I did at school — and something you should do as well.

— Maybe, Robinson should apply for a job with the Columbus Dispatch. He can be reached at irobi@umich.edu.

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