ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When your team is down 10 points in the second half of a basketball game, let alone a Final Four game, there’s only one thing to do.
“You cheer extra hard,” said Josh Jung. “If they’re going to hear anyone, it’s going to be the guy with the megaphone.”
Jung, a former Michigan cheerleader, doesn’t carry around a megaphone anymore but he and others gathered at the Michigan Union on Saturday night were cheering extra hard as the Wolverines rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat Loyola-Chicago 69-57 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Michigan will play for the national championship Monday night against Villanova.
“I’m a super diehard fan, which is why I was a cheerleader in the first place,” said Jung, a native of South Korea whose family moved to Ann Arbor when he was 8 years old. He graduated last April and plans on applying to medical school. “Seeing the team push through adversity this entire tournament, there’s nothing like it. Especially growing up in Ann Arbor, I’ve always been a Michigan fan. It’s great when we win.”
The only disappointing thing for Jung was that he never experienced a Final Four himself. He joined the cheerleading squad in 2013, the fall after the Wolverines last played this deep into the season. In his first basketball season, the team lost to Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Michigan didn’t make the NCAA Tournament the next year. Coach John Beilein personally apologized to the cheerleading squad.
“Beilein is what any Michigan fan would call a ‘Michigan Man.’ A great guy. Great values,” Jung said. “He’s always appreciative of the fans, of the band, the cheer team, the dancers and especially when it comes down to the end of the season, it truly feels like we’re one big community. He certainly makes us feel that way.”
Watching the game Saturday on a big screen projection, Jung watched his former teammates leading the cheers from the baseline. It’s a perspective few others can appreciate.
“Doing the stunts and being able to cheer on Michigan was one of the best experiences as an undergrad,” Jung said. “To actually be able to cheer them on, on the floor where literally if they fall down after a layup, they’re falling on you. You’re out there and it’s a great experience. I never got crashed into but I’ve had the ball thrown at me multiple times.”