CHICAGO -- It was special and then it was over.
As the streamers fell and fireworks burst over the floor at the Georgia Dome following the 2013 national championship game, an 82-76 loss for Michigan at the hands of Louisville, John Beilein and the Wolverines knew they’d come up just short.
Just short of not only reaching that peach tree but picking it clean and realizing the fruits of their labor.
Just short of securing the program’s first national championship since 1989 and what would’ve been the first for Beilein, now entering his 37th season as a collegiate head basketball coach.
No one expected Michigan to make the run they did in that NCAA tournament, but when it happens it’s important to cherish it.
Whether Michigan emphasizes the Final Four during the season or not, John Beilein is eager to have another crack at a title, just like Wisconsin did in 2014.
“It's obviously difficult to get there,” Beilein said Thursday at Big Ten media day. “At the same time, once you've been there one time, and I assume you're talking about Wisconsin, I'm as hungry or probably hungrier than ever to get back there.
“So I think its great motivation for everybody because they've experienced that run. It's maybe not getting there, it's the way you get there and how you get there and those moments in between, the journey; it makes it so valuable.
“So yes, it's hard. You'd like to stay injury-free, and you also have to-- you're going to have-- I don't care who you are, it's very normal to have times during that year where you're not going to play well. You won't look like a Final Four team, and that's exactly what you may need in February or late January or even in March.”
Heading into the 2014-15 season, expecting Michigan to head to the Final Four might be unfounded, not predicted to finish in the top three in the Big Ten conference for the first time since 2011-12.
Couple that with a roster overhaul including seven players that have yet to step on the floor in a college basketball game, this isn’t surprising.
But Beilein has thrived on surprise in the past and there’s no reason to believe this group can’t do the same in a wide-open league.
Always to the point, always focused, Beilein wasn’t buying into the glitz and glamour of Chicago for Big Ten Men’s Basketball Media Day Thursday, the sooner it’s over, the sooner he, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht and jet back up I-94 to Ann Arbor to get back to work to try and do just that.
“Well, it is good to be here and get the season going again,” Beilein said. “We've been practicing for a little bit, but October 15th, yesterday, was the first day we really opened up camp and said we're in it now.
“This is the time of the year to get the media and all our obligations out of the way so we can really concentrate over these next four weeks to get ready for our first game.”
Publically, Michigan’s approach is and always has been one game at a time. Privately, and based on the significant, recent success the Wolverines have shared on the court, the goal can be much larger.