“I know one thing. After going through this, there’ll never be a win that I don’t enjoy the rest of my life. In some years, it’s been lots of wins. And a lot of times, I was upset how we played afterward. And that’ll never happen again as long as I live.”

– Men’s basketball coach John Beilein

It has been a tough season for Beilein, tough enough for him to redefine his perspective on winning after 30 years of coaching.

I hope he gets to the point where that changes, and Michigan is good enough to allow Beilein to find disappointment in wins. But that’s in the distant future.

For now, he’s leading the Wolverines in what will likely end up as their worst season in nearly 50 years. I’m not happy with this team’s progress, but it is where it is. And considering what has transpired, there’s some satisfaction to be found in its recent play.

Saturday’s win over Penn State and Tuesday’s competitive loss at Ohio State were back-to-back inspiring performances for Michigan.

Playing well in consecutive games shouldn’t excite Michigan fans, but it does, because the Wolverines hadn’t been impressive in two straight games since their first two of the season – wins over Brown and Radford by an average of 21 points per game.

This was Michigan’s 11th straight victory over the Nittany Lions.

Fans shouldn’t be excited about cleaning up against Big Ten bottom-feeders.But they are, because the Wolverines lost to an Ivy League bottom-feeder.

Despite letting Penn State take the lead with a 12-0 run to start the second half, Michigan battled back.

Fans shouldn’t be excited about a game where the Wolverines had another one of the lengthy mental lapses that have killed their offense.But it is exciting because Michigan still won and it’s been oh so long since that happened – 28 days since a win and 59 since a home win.

As senior Ron Coleman dribbled out the final seconds, the crowd erupted, seeming to break free from a box the team’s failures had stuck them in.

The Wolverines’ schedule, youth and the challenge of learning a new system may prevent wins. But they should be better than they’ve been most of the season. The players are talented – not the most talented, but more talented than 6-17.

Keeping up the energy they had the last two games would be a huge start in improving their play.

The players talked all season about getting that vigor. Last week, they had a players-only meeting to talk about it some more.

It’s too early to tell if that talk has actually made them play harder, but they did the next two games.

Can they make it three in a row at Iowa?

That might be pushing it.

It’s hard to fathom how low expectations have fallen.

But they have, so now fans must search for some baby steps.

– Feldman can be reached at danfeld@umich.edu.

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