Mark Hughes remembers glory days at U-M, hopeful for another title for Wolverines
BY MARC OPFERMANN, MLIVE.COM
MUSKEGON, MI – Mark Hughes won’t be at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday night watching the Michigan Wolverines play for the NCAA basketball title.
But one of the all-time basketball greats in Muskegon basketball history will be there in spirit.
Hughes, a graduate of Reeths-Puffer High School who went on to serve as a captain for Michigan’s last national championship basketball team in 1989, will be watching the game at his home in California and rooting on the Wolverines all the way.
Hughes said he isn’t one to make predictions, but thinks Michigan is going to pull it off against Louisville, the tournament’s top overall seed, in a high-scoring game on April 8.
“I’m so proud of those guys,” Hughes said. “They are very talented and I love the way they play. John Beilein has done a terrific job. I think they’re going to bring home the title.”
Hughes currently serves as the director of pro personnel for the New York Knicks and just returned to his home in Roseville, Calif., outside Sacramento on Sunday after a scouting trip that included watching the McDonald’s High School All-American game.
Hughes wished he could be there in person to watch the Wolverines and just talked with former University of Michigan teammate Terry Mills on Sunday. Hughes said Mills, Mike Griffin and possibly Glen Rice would be in attendance.
Hughes was a key player for the Wolverines that got on a roll of their own in the 1989 tournament as Steve Fisher took over for Bill Frieder in a coaching change right before the start of the postseason.
“This is so different from when we won it,” Hughes said. “It’s amazing the support we got and how crazy it was. You could feel the vibe of the crowd. But it’s very different watching from the outside. It’s certainly special and Michigan has a chance to win another national title. I still have people tell me they remember where they were when we won. It happens every year.”
Hughes has followed the 2012-2013 team and had a chance to be around the program during the NBA all-star break in February. He returned to Ann Arbor for the celebration of the renovations at Crisler Arena.
He liked what he saw.
“It’s awesome. They’ve had some down years and the guys that came in to coach thought they could turn it around. The recruiting is getting the right kind of kids back in the program," Hughes said. "They are set to win for a number of years going forward. Coach Beilein loves the program and loves the state of Michigan.”
Hughes thinks good things are in store for University of Michigan basketball regardless if Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway declare eligibility for the NBA Draft.
“I really do. It starts with the coach and the staff and they work their tails off. (Mitch) McGary and Glenn Robinson should be back and they can reload by adding guys to the mix," Hughes said. "The confidence level of all those guys that come back will be high.”