ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - It wouldn't be fair to say the Michigan basketball team has ever appeared starry-eyed or overwhelmed this season. From the outset, this group has responded to challenges, answered adversity and persevered through struggle.
Few times could you point to inexperience as a factor in any failures they experienced.
That's why the tenor and message from Tuesday's last practice at Crisler Center was no surprise, the players conveying a calm confidence and focus that seems beyond their collective youth.
"It will probably get more difficult, but it hasn't been as difficult, really," said Trey Burke, who was named AP and John Wooden All-American today. "I definitely think that's what special about this team. Though it's a lot going on right now, we understand how important it is to just stay in the moment and just stay focused on the game."
"This is where we're supposed to be," said Tim Hardaway Jr. "We haven't been here in a long, long time, twenty years, and everybody's just wanted to get to this point. We've reached one of our goals and that's to get here. So we're just going to try to do a great job of going in there, playing the same way we've been playing all tournament long."
"When I committed here, I told Michigan fans or whoever was watching when I committed on TV that I wanted to come here and win a national championship," said Mitch McGary. "We're right there. A couple more wins away and we've got it, but we've just got to keep working,"
McGary's burst onto the scoresheet throughout the tournament has been a major reason why Michigan has advanced to its first Final Four since 1993. His energy and enthusiasm has been infectious and his contributions have been paramount.
"I try to stay humble," said McGary. "I try to stay level-headed, stay in the moment. I credit all my teammates for this rise. They're the ones getting me open, they're the ones feeding me the ball and getting the assists and I'm just doing the easy part and putting the ball in the basket."
Nik Stauskas, who exploded offensively in Sunday's win over Florida, has already turned the page.
"We were really excited to get a chance to play in the Final Four, but now we're practicing, we're realizing Saturday, we're playing," said Stauskas. "We're playing for a national championship. It's just a good feeling and we're all ready."
"We're going to try to stay in the moment and not look ahead to the championship game," said Burke. "We're definitely a young team, but that's why we play with a chip on our shoulder."
Credit goes to the coaching staff.
When the players could have had their heads in the clouds after an emotional win over Kansas, they didn't. The fast start against Florida dictated the Gators fate and the Wolverines never trailed en route to a 79-59 victory.
"I enjoy the process of getting ready for this game," said head coach John Beilein. "Once we get to Saturday and the hay is in the barn, so to speak, I wish we played at 12 o'clock, once you've got your team prepared.
"I'm always looking for extra thoughts of what we can do to prepare during the week. So I don't mind having the extra day."