John Beilein’s first year at the helm of Michigan basketball looked like more of the past, only worse. The Wolverines started 4–8, including a loss to perennially awful Harvard—now coached, ironically, by Beilein’s predecessor, Tommy Amaker. Michigan went on to lose nine of its first ten conference games, winning only against Northwestern. Beilein’s team ended up losing twenty-two games in all—a sort of magical number, since Tommy Amaker had won twenty-two games in each of the past two years before he was fired.

With a record like that, fans might assume the only light at the end of the tunnel is from an oncoming train—but they’d be wrong. A weird thing happened at the end of last season: in their final ten conference games the Wolverines were ahead nine times in the latter parts of the contests—and won five, suggesting that Beilein had finally molded the green Wolverines he inherited into something that might be called “competitive.” This year Michigan lost center Epke Udoh in a bizarre and pointless transfer to Baylor, but otherwise the team is intact. Recruiting is going well, the players are learning the Beilein system, and they even seem to like each other. For the basketball Wolverines, the light at the end of the tunnel just might be—the light at the end of the tunnel.