2023-24 Season

Game 29: Michigan at Rutgers Recap

Michigan suffered another blowout loss on Thursday night that was somehow more disappointing than the last. The only thing encouraging from Michigan’s 82-52 loss at Rutgers, a game it trailed by 25 points in the first half, is that it is one step closer to the end of one of the worst Michigan basketball seasons in modern history.

It feels like the time for narratives, and one that I’ve seen tossed around quite a bit in recent days surrounds the notion of a mulligan season and the deserved opportunity to set things right. The most common example is Jim Harbaugh or John Beilein, and how they both had a chance to hire new coaches, make adjustments to their programs, and right the ship.

And that’s true. Both coaches had that opportunity. Everyone knows the Harbaugh story, and Beilein missed the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2015 before getting things back on track with a new staff a year later.

The idea I’ve seen tossed around is that the same logic applies to the Michigan basketball program at this present moment.

There’s just one problem. The time for a reset was 11 months ago. Last season was the mulligan — not this year. Michigan took two pros and an All-American to an early exit in the NIT, then watched its best players leave out the front door.

That was the time to adjust approach, staff, recruiting — anything, really. Michigan made no adjustments. The same staff returned for another year, another transfer pledge was lost to admissions, and the final roster didn’t have a starting two guard, a full allotment of scholarship players, or enough talent to compete.

This isn’t a hindsight-aided opinion; I wrote about it when last year ended. One bad season is forgettable, but a head coach has to do everything imaginable to prevent it from becoming two. Otherwise, it is too late.

Howard hasn’t only let one bad season become two; the second has gone worse than anyone could have imagined.

Michigan didn’t change course; it accelerated further and faster in the wrong direction. Less than a year later, the program has gone so far off course that the thought of tweaking a few things and going again feels laughably short.

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