I haven't seen MAAR's postgame comments mentioned directly in any of the bball posts or threads. If I missed a discussion on this, moms feel free to delete. It's rare to get brutally honest admissions like this from players, so I thought it was worth discussion.
“I could just see that Derrick wanted it a little more than the rest of us,” said Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who was second on the team with seven rebounds. “I think we all have to get that and want it just as much as he does.” When it’s suggested that it’s time to stop simply talking about that, Abdur-Rahkman said, “I think so too. It’s just frustrating when you go out there and let a game slip like that.”
This space has talked about Michigan seemingly needing external motivation to play its best. Abdur-Rahkman was asked about that after the game.
“I think we’re all nice kids and we need something, that extra push to set us off and have that extra motivation going into games. … That’s what we’ve been trying to work on, trying to get that motivation from something else other than bulletin board material. … Get that from our inner selves.”
As much as I hate it, I think this goes back to Beilein. The best coaches are good at both finding kids who have the self-motivation, the drive to compete, as well as finding how to unlock the motivation for the kids who don't have that same drive. As time goes on, it looks more and more like Beilein lucked into players like Burke and Stauskas, who had incredible drive to compete, to improve their game, to go toe-to-toe with the best in the country.
At the time, I gave Beilein plenty of credit for recruiting those guys and for developing their game into lottery picks. But with a greater sample size, it's hard to defend that point of view (and gets harder every year).
Culture starts with the head coach and flows down from there. What example could be more clear than the transition from Hoke to Harbaugh? In his prime, Beilein was a fantastic head coach, but I think we caught him just as he was losing his coaching fastball, and keeping him on for another 2 or 3 years risks sinking the UM program for years to come.
The other facet of this is the brutal honesty of MAAR's comments. How often do you see a player publicly admitting that he and his teammates weren't that motivated? That they are, in fact, white collar and need bulletin board material just to play with full motivation? These aren't (all) freshman -- these are upperclassmen who are telling reporters that winning a game against a hated arch-rival in front of a home crowd isn't enough motivation to play with 100% intensity.