WASHINGTON — Michigan wore practice uniforms Thursday against Illinois because the usual duds were stuck on a plane back home. What the Wolverines wear on the court at the 2017 Big Ten Tournament isn’t the only looming clothing concern.
Michigan’s arrival in Washington was delayed a day because its plane aborted the takeoff Wednesday and skidded off the runway at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Wolverines flew out of Detroit on Thursday morning instead, and arrived at Verizon Center less than two hours before their game, a 75-55 victory against Illinois.
When they arrived, their typical game uniforms were not with them, so Michigan wore practice gear against the Illini.
“I don’t know whether we’ll be able to get them here logistically,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “We have washers and dryers here in D.C. Our equipment manager, Bob Bland, through this whole thing, was incredible. If it was a one-game series, we would have had other uniforms to wear. But we got all three sets on that plane.”
All of their regular uniforms were stuck in the original plane. Because there was an aborted takeoff/accident, an investigation is underway and the luggage under the plane could not be removed.
That also included everyone’s personal luggage.
“Some other things you’re not going to see, any more suits by me,” Beilein said. “I got one of my suits here. The rest of them are under that plane. You couldn’t repack. I might have to make a visit to the drugstore, get some toothpaste, the whole thing. We’re here, bare-bones.”
Michigan advanced to the quarterfinals with the win against Illinois and will play No. 1 seed Purdue. If the Wolverines upset the Boilermakers, they would play Saturday against either Minnesota or Michigan State.
It would also mean there could be some interesting clothing decisions, or some people working overtime on the laundry. A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board told Land of 10 that “all cargo and materials were taken off the plane by (Thursday) afternoon.”
When and how Michigan can get said cargo and materials to Washington remains to be seen.
“We got an outfit for today, kind of hoping that we will get our clothes back,” Michigan senior Zak Irvin said. “I got some family here. Hopefully my mom can help me get some stuff if I need it.”
A spokesman from MDen, a Nike/Jordan retailer for Michigan gear in Ann Arbor, told Land of 10 that basketball practice jerseys are not available for the public to purchase, but some Wolverines fans had inquired Thursday about them.
A couple of players said that wearing the practice uniforms helped the team stay loose and kept the situation lighthearted after a stressful Wednesday. As for what Michigan is going to wear on the court moving forward, junior D.J. Wilson is all in on the practice threads.
“I like it. I liked it a lot,” Wilson said. “I think if we get our bags back and we get our regular uniforms, we should still rock these. It kind of just, we just kind of embraced it. It shows what we’ve been through.”
Jordan Poole, a 2017 Michigan commit from Milwaukee, agreed.
“Man! I thought they had two options: If they win, then they’ll be considered tough … if they lose, then they’ll be considered soft,” Poole said with a laugh. “But to win in practice uniforms, and by 20 … I think they need to stay wearing them.”
Land of 10 writers Rachel Lenzi and Brandon Justice contributed to this report.