TALLAHASSEE – The Michigan men’s basketball team’s emotional season came to an end last night with an 87-66 loss to Florida State in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament.
As the program begins the process of preparing for next year, it’s uncertain how different it will look.
Michigan will lose four starting seniors, and questions abound about Michigan coach Tommy Amaker’s job security.
“We’re going to keep doing our jobs,” Amaker said of himself and his staff. “The next step for us is to get back to Ann Arbor, figure out things with our current team and then look at recruiting and then move on in that direction.”
The game was already in hand when Florida State’s Uche Echefu hit a 3-pointer to end the first half and an 18-7 run by the Seminoles.
“They had the momentum going throughout the last half of the first half, and then they came out in the second half and stepped the momentum up,” Harris said. “We got behind and we weren’t able to recover.”
For most of the first frame, Michigan (22-13) was competitive and physical.
With bodies continuously crashing to the ground, the Wolverines built a 16-8 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers from senior guard Dion Harris. But after Harris’s shots, Michigan began to lose its momentum and unraveled in front of the 6,033 screaming fans at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Florida State star forward Al Thornton brought the crowd to life when he followed Harris’s 3-pointers with an alley-oop dunk. From that point on, the Wolverines failed consistently to take care of the ball, and Florida State (22-12) took advantage.
With Michigan holding a three-point lead later in the half, a Harris pass toward the basket bounced off the rim and into the hands of the Seminoles. The turnover allowed Florida State to score and pull within one, 19-18.
The Wolverines committed a shot-clock violation on the next possession, and the Seminoles made a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to take their first lead of the game. Michigan never led again.
The Wolverines held Thornton under his season average, but allowed five other players to score in double digits. Florida State guards Isaiah Swann and Toney Douglas led all scorers with 15 points a piece.
Harris and Abram paced the Wolverines with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
With the season finished, the four seniors have an opportunity to reflect on their careers. And despite the roller-coaster ride, it’ll be the good moments that will stay with them.
“I just look back on my four years and think about the fun times,” senior forward Brent Petway said. “Once you’re done with your career, there will be some times that will linger in your head, but you don’t want to think about the worst times, you want to think about the time you had fun on the court and off the court with the guys.”