Kameron Chatman has seen the rings.
“They’re nice, too,” he said.
Sometimes the coaches wear theirs. On special occasions, he knows some of his older teammates wear them.
And the freshman forward wants one of his own to wear. But he knows the process to get one is a journey.
That journey, the one for a ring, starts Saturday for the Michigan men’s basketball team when it opens the regular season against Hillsdale at 2 p.m. at Crisler Center.
Before the game begins, Chatman and his fellow freshmen will watch last year’s team receive their Big Ten championship rings. Chatman has talked to his peers about the experience of watching their older teammates and returning Wolverines get their memento.
He knows such an experience will affect him.
“Derrick (Walton Jr.) was talking about it last year where Caris (LeVert), Nik (Stauskas) and all them had their banner put up,” he said. “It put some fire in their hearts to get one. So I think I can speak for all the freshmen when I say it’s really going to amp us up to see them get their rings and put another banner up.
“We want to keep the tradition going and hopefully get another ring next year.”
Junior guard Spike Albrecht knows the feeling. He remembers being at Michigan coach John Beilein’s house and watching him hand out Big Ten championship rings.
“(That was) just something that sunk in,” Albrecht said. “We were all just like, ‘We want some rings.’ ”
While the excitement will be present during the pre-game ceremony, especially with the likes of the families of Stauskas, former Wolverines Mitch McGary and possibly Jordan Morgan, — though none of the three men will be there in person — Albrecht and the rest of the team know as soon as the ceremony ends, the focus will shift back to the game and the new season.
For Beilein, the moment of joy will last even shorter than for his players. Though he did uncharacteristically enjoy Michigan’s post-game celebration following last season’s regular-season finale against Indiana — something he said he might not have done 10 years ago — that was about the peak of his reflection. Now, he doesn’t have long to reflect.
“I think when that banner goes up, I think they’ll be some fleeting moments besides a Hillsdale back screen that I’ll be thinking of,” he said.
With four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Beilein thinks the consistency “every coach is trying to establish with his program” is present. In his mind, Michigan has even exceeded such a level since it has been able to throw in two Big Ten titles in the last three seasons.
“They have probably one of the most consistent Division II programs not only in the state of Michigan but in the country,” he said. “We thought (they’re) very similar to some of the teams we’re play this year and the fact is, two years we played Slippery Rock and won 16 games to start the season — one of our closest home games was Slippery Rock. They scored the most points, I think, in the whole first semester.”
Against Hillsdale, Michigan will face a team that emphasizes the use of the swing offense — much similar to Wisconsin’s system.
But none of that matters once the tipoff occurs.
“They’re a really good team, just from watching the film,” Albrecht said. “They execute their offense, they can shoot the ball. You can’t take anyone lightly. Division II, Division III, you can’t take anyone lightly, because if you’re not playing well, anyone can beat you.”