John Beilein can zero in on the precise moment that kept his 2015-2016 men’s basketball team at Michigan from having a great year, its final half in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“A better second half against Notre Dame, and we would have considered that a heck of a year, because we would have been advancing again,” Beilein said Thursday at Big Ten Basketball Media Days in Washington, D.C.
But he can also zero in on what held Michigan back. It was its collective health.
Michigan’s NCAA tournament appearance came after a rocky Big Ten Conference schedule in which the Wolverines finished 10-8 and lost six of their final nine regular-season conference games, yet tore through the conference tournament to earn a tournament berth.
The Wolverines also finished 23-13 with guard Caris LeVert limited to 15 games due to a foot injury. Michigan will have to do it again without LeVert, who is now with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. And they’ll have to mesh in hopes of not sustaining any major injuries.
In addition to LeVert, former Michigan guard Spike Albrecht was sidelined with injuries to both hips, and forward Mitch McGary had back problems in his final season at Michigan in 2013-2014.
“We’ve got to stay healthy,” Beilein said. “That’s been the key to the last three years that has got us. Two of those three years, but this would be one year where the injuries … it would be difficult if we had significant injuries, like the two last years. All three of the last three years.”