Chemistry key for Sweet 16 Wolverines

Big Tournament
NCAA Tournament Michigan press conference 032819_1553802259938-873702558

Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis, from left, guard Charles Matthews and guard Zavier Simpson listen during a news conference at the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Michigan plays Texas Tech in a West Regional semifinal on Thursday.(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (WOOD) — At an age when most people are enjoying retirement. John Beilein appears to be hitting his stride. 

Energized by the young men he coaches, Beilein has built Michigan into a national power. He does it by teaching more than X’s and O’s

“Coach B always says, ‘One heartbeat,'” junior center Jon Teske said.

“If we didn’t have chemistry, we wouldn’t have as good a season as we did,” Kalamazoo native and sophomore guard Isaiah Livers said. “Everybody is sharing the same personality and goal of this team.”

It starts in the summer when freshmen, like Iggy Brazdeikis, first come to campus. He’s a big personality that could have trouble fitting in with the wrong team.

“They embrace me. I love every single teammate on this team. I feel like they love me too,” Brazdeikis said. “We created a brotherhood that we establish really early on. I’m just myself. Everywhere I go, I just have to be myself. I feel that’s what everyone should do.”

“We spend a tremendous amount of time talking about culture and being a great teammate,” Michigan assistant coach Saddi Washington said. “Once we get to the season, those habits are a part of our guys’ DNA. As the season evolves and goes along, we go from a coach-led team to a player-led team.”

The player doing most of the leading for Michigan is point guard Zavier Simpson. Beilein has empowered him. On Wednesday before practice, Simpson went from player to player with instructions from his coach.

“I embrace it a lot. I feel like the point guard is the leader of the team, is like the head of the snake,” Simpson, a junior, said. ” It’s important that I not only lead by my voice but also by example. I try to do that the best I can on and off the court.”

Michigan and Texas Tech tip off around 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday. The game airs on CBS. 

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