ATLANTA — When Michigan guard Spike Albrecht burned a timeout with 1:51 remaining in Saturday's game because he couldn't find an open teammate on an inbound play, the Wolverines suddenly found themselves in strangely familiar position.
They had no timeouts remaining in their first Final Four game since the infamous 1993 national title game.
"In the huddles and on the bench, we all looked at each-other and said, 'We have no timeouts. No timeouts,'" Michigan forward Jordan Morgan said. "We did not want to make that mistake again."
Most coaching staffs are careful to remind their players when they're out of timeouts since the penalty for calling one in that situation is a technical foul, but it's no surprise Michigan players and coaches were especially vigilant. Twenty years ago, Chris Webber cost the Fab Five the chance to win a championship when his timeout on Michigan's final possession in the 1993 national title game earned North Carolina two free throws and the ball.
"I made sure it was stressed in the timeout," Michigan's Nik Stauskas said. "Everyone was saying we had no timeouts left, so we made sure everyone was aware of it."
The challenge of holding off Syracuse's rally in the final minutes became more difficult because the Orange were pressing but the Wolverines couldn't call timeout. Nonetheless, Michigan did not commit any turnovers in the final two minutes and survived 61-56 despite missed free throws by Albrecht, Mitch McGary and Jon Horford.
How often did the Michigan staff remind its players of the timeout situation? Assistant coach Bacari Alexander would only say it was a point of emphasis.
Said Alexander, "We work really hard to not relive past failures."
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