Wolverines Robinson, Hardaway, Horford expand family legacy - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

NCAA championship: Family ties bind Michigan to past 'Dances'

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Louisville goes for the NCAA national championship Monday in Atlanta. (Matt Quillen/RNN) Louisville goes for the NCAA national championship Monday in Atlanta. (Matt Quillen/RNN)
Michigan celebrates after their 61-56 victory over Syracuse on Saturday in the Georgia Dome. (Matt Quillen/RNN) Michigan celebrates after their 61-56 victory over Syracuse on Saturday in the Georgia Dome. (Matt Quillen/RNN)
Michigan's Glenn Robinson III discusses being a second-generation NCAA tournament participant. (Source: Matt Quillen/RNN) Michigan's Glenn Robinson III discusses being a second-generation NCAA tournament participant. (Source: Matt Quillen/RNN)
Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Wolverines speaks about his NBA All-Star father Sunday. (Matt Quillen/RNN) Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Wolverines speaks about his NBA All-Star father Sunday. (Matt Quillen/RNN)
Jon Horford and the Michigan Wolverines will play for the NCAA title down the road from where his brother, Al Horford, plays for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. (Source: Matt Quillen/RNN) Jon Horford and the Michigan Wolverines will play for the NCAA title down the road from where his brother, Al Horford, plays for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. (Source: Matt Quillen/RNN)

ATLANTA (RNN) – Michigan basketball is a program with a rich history of success. This year's team has only added to it, making it to the brink of a national championship.

The Wolverines squad also features players with another type of history: A legacy in the same setting other members of their bloodline began. Going into the final game Monday, some of them can lay claim to reaching a point in the tournament their family members never did.

"He can't say anything right now because he never made it this far," Tim Hardaway Jr. joked of his father Sunday. "He didn't play in the Big Ten, but his conference when he was playing was tough. He is just embracing the moment like I am, and he's riding along with it."

The junior guard's dad, former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, played four seasons at Texas-El Paso. In 1988-1989, he averaged more than 19 points and five assists per game and led the Miners to the Big Dance for his fourth straight season.

The elder Hardaway never made it past the second round of play, however.

Michigan freshman Glenn Robinson III's namesake can claim some tournament success, although he has been eclipsed in that regard, too.

"I haven't given him a hard time," Robinson III said with a smile. "A couple people told me to joke around with him since he never made it here."

The father, Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, played two stellar seasons at Purdue before getting drafted No. 1 overall to the NBA and making multiple All-Star teams. His best NCAA showing was in 2004, when the Boilermakers came one game short of making the Final Four, losing to Duke in the regional finals.

One Michigan player who can't make the same case is Jon Horford. The redshirt sophomore's brother, Al Horford of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, won two consecutive national championships during his days at Florida.

There is one advantage if the Wolverines win – Jon Horford can get a championship for a school in the brothers' home state.

"It will be nice to be able to bring a ring to the family table," the younger brother said.

Despite the differences in results, all three were glad to have another experienced resource to tap when facing a rare opportunity.

"The advice he gave me is to do what you're used to, do what you're comfortable with and make sure you have fun," Jon Horford said.

Robinson III said his father had been a calming influence. After Saturday's Final Four win, they talked about things other than what happened on the court.

"He knows he doesn't have to pump me up," Robinson III said. "He doesn't have to excite me. I think everybody should be excited for a national championship game. If you're not, something must be wrong with you.

"He has kind of wanted to relieve me, calm me, telling me to go out there and play as hard as you can like it's a regular game. These past couple of games I thought he's done a great job of that."

Michigan Wolverines (4) vs. Louisville Cardinals (1), 9:23 p.m. ET Monday

The Cardinals' signature is their pressure defense, which has caused high amounts of turnovers for whatever team they are facing. Yet in the national semifinal, Wichita State was able to get the ball past the halfcourt line without much difficulty most of the game, and the Shockers consistently found their way to the basket.

Louisville was without Kevin Ware, a key player off the bench, after the compound fracture of his leg in the prior game. Coach Rick Pitino said Sunday the remaining players were concerned with getting into foul trouble, and it caused them to play tentative.

"It affected us in the fact that guys were afraid to foul, and their pressure relented until we obviously had to try and win the game," Pitino said. "They were all trying to play very cautious and didn't get after people. Besides the great play of Wichita State, it was one of the reasons we didn't force turnovers."

Trailing late in the game Saturday, the Cardinals returned to form and caused Wichita to turn the ball over seven times in the last 6 1/2 minutes on the way to winning 72-68.

Russ Smith averages more than 18 points per game, and he can score from behind the 3-point line as well as off the dribble. Luke Hancock finished with 20 points in the Final Four contest, including some late baskets that helped the Cardinals get the win.

Point guard Peyton Siva has been the on-court extension of his coach, and is playing in his final game of his college career.

"To me it seems like yesterday I was a freshman, getting pressed the whole time in practice and turning it over every play," the senior said. "It's been a great run, a long journey, a lot of ups and downs. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Every day I treat it like it is my last game. [Monday], it definitely is. It would be great to go out on a win."

Michigan likes to play at a fast pace, and their run has been on the strength of their offense. Point guard Trey Burke made a sweep of the player of the year awards in the week leading to the Final Four; he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 assists this season.

Burke struggled against Syracuse in the semifinal, shooting 1 for 8 on his field goals and finishing with seven points. He said he expects a faster game Monday with a lot of points scored.

"It's going to be fun," Burke said. "You play against teams that slow it down and you're not able to get out and run as much as you want to, showcase your talent, it's hard to say but you kind of lose confidence. You don't want to take certain shots that are there. But when you're playing against a team like Louisville – that high-tempo, pressure – they play similar to [our] style.

"It brings out the best in both teams. It's definitely going to be a really good game."

Hardaway is the other half of the Wolverines' backcourt. He will assist in bringing the ball up the floor against the Cardinal defense and look for his shot from the perimeter.

Down low, freshman Mitch McGary has developed as a scoring threat since joining the starting lineup for the tournament. He has scored in double digits all five games and had 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the 61-56 win Saturday.

In 30-plus years of coaching, John Beilein worked his way through positions at high school, Division III, Division II and mid-major levels before taking over at West Virginia and then Michigan in 2007.

He said during that time he dreamt of getting teams and rebuilding them to make the NCAA tournament.

"I always thought if we just did our job, we would need breaks to go our way to get to this point," Beilein said. "Breaks have gone our way. I have some of the greatest young talent and players I have ever been associated with. That's helped more than all the breaks and all the coaching."

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