Fall Report: MichiganAnalysis
Michigan coach Erik Bakich isn’t one to mince words. He’s pretty disappointed his Wolverines, after reaching an NCAA regional final in 2015, failed to even make the NCAA postseason in 2016.
So, he’s looking to change that beginning with the culture surrounding the program.
There’s a learning curve for every younger head coach. Bakich’s former boss, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin, had moments that he needed to learn from. And Bakich, now four seasons into his tenure as the head man for the Wolverines, had one of those moments after the ’15 campaign. At that point, Bakich thought, moving forward, his program needed to protect a developed culture and mentality, never mind the fact that every team is different no matter how many returning starting pitchers or position players there might be. So, that approach took its toll last season, as the Wolverines actually put together a solid 36-21 record and finished just three games out of first in the Big Ten standings, but finished the year 2-9 in their last 11 games, effectively ending all hope of reaching the postseason.
“Nobody wants to hear injuries, so there’s no point in talking about them. But that’s something that impacted our team last season. If anything, that made us realize that we weren’t as deep as we needed to be. But every program has to overcome those things, and we’re no different,” Bakich said. “Coming off the 2015 season, I think I made a mistake, because I just assumed we were protecting a culture that still has to be built each year. So, now, that’s an area we’re investing a ton of time into. I’m not really looking at the results right now as much as I am looking at the energy, culture and overall approach from this team.”
Michigan’s collapse at the end of last season can be attributed to a lot of things. The first word that comes to the mind of most is a “soft” mentality, but Bakich feels like that’s taking it a little too far. Instead, he felt like the club lacked confidence down the stretch, and simply couldn’t turn that mentality around in time.
This fall, Bakich admits, has been incredibly challenging for his players. The Wolverines have had a hard-nosed approach from everything like conditioning to the drills they do on the field. They’re earning everything they get, and Bakich and his staff have even refused to use radar guns on pitchers thus far … they want their arms to master the intricate details of the game, not worry about what the radar gun reads every time out.
“I don’t even know what our depth looks like right now. I’m not even worried about our roles at the moment. We’re a lot more invested right now in the classroom environment, learning things and trying to build a culture and foundation for this team,” he said. “I just want to see all these guys blend in, contribute and build more of a camaraderie moving forward. We’re building our minds right now.
“I want there to be an edge about this team,” he continued. “We got a little bit caught up in the press clippings last year, people were talking about us hosting a regional, and what not. We just want these guys to be focusing on giving their best effort each day.”
Already a subscriber? Log In to access this article.