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A farewell to Novak and Douglass

It probably wasn't the way either had chosen to end their college careers.

Zack Novak and Stu Douglass will never again wear the maize and blue. They go out with Michigan the victim of a round-of-64 upset at the hands of Ohio, 65-60. The senior duo was a combined 3-13 from the field, scoring 10 points few than their season average.

When asked after the game what it was going to be like remembering their final game struggles, Douglass had a simple answer.

"Very tough," he said. "I really don't even know how to answer that. It's going to be hard to swallow."

Coach John Beilein said it was hard to watch his seniors go out that way.

"It's difficult because they've been the heart and sould of this team for four years," Beilein said. "You hate to see that, this happen when they end like that."

But as painful as this loss may be, the reality is that only one group of seniors gets to ride off into the sunset satisfied each season. Novak and Douglass will be remembered as the senior class that started to bring Michigan back from a low point, still suffering from the aftershock of the Ed Martin scandal.

A pair of Indiana kids who were virtually ignored by the in-state schools, Novak and Douglass have led the Wolverines to an 81-54 record, including 38-34 in the Big Ten and a share of the 2012 conference regular season championship.

The year before Douglass and Novak arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan was 10-22 and didn't even make the NIT.

"It sucks (to lose Douglass and Novak)," Tim Hardaway, Jr. said after the loss to Ohio. "They've been leaders since their sophomore year here. They're gonna leave a great legacy."

Coming into this season, when Darius Morris left early for the NBA many wrote Michigan off. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment Novak and Douglass achieved was earned a share of a Big Ten title when few picked the Wolverines to do so.

"We proved a lot of people wrong," Novak said. "We won the best conference in the country."

Words like leadership and legacy have been thrown around a lot in reference to the Wolverine's class of 2012. Neither were ever All Big Ten or won many individual awards. Neither ever averaged 10 points a game or even made a lot of highlight reels.

But Zack Novak and Stu Douglass did a lot to help make the Wolverine program a winner again. By all accounts, they did things the right way. And in the process, they earned the respect of the conference. They were the identity of Michigan basketball and things will be different without the two of them draining threes in the Crisler Center in the future.