Michigan's unlikely hero Chatman: 'It felt good when it left my hands'
Type “Michigan” and “game-winner” into Google and the top result is a YouTube video of Michigan State football kicker Michael Geiger hitting a game-winning field goal to take down undefeated Ohio State. Chances are that will change here soon after Kameron Chatman’s buzzer-beating shot to take down No. 1-seeded Indiana at the Big Ten Tournament.
Chatman, a former highly-touted recruit who hasn’t seen much playing time in his first two seasons in Ann Arbor, drilled a 3-pointer right in front of the Michigan bench as the buzzer sounded to shock top-seeded Indiana, 72-68, on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
According to Michigan head coach John Beilein, it was a long time coming for the Wolverines’ seldom-used forward.
“He’s spent a lot of time on the bench sitting down with us, but this is a kid that just works so hard every single day,” Beilein said. “For him to finally be rewarded like that, with that big shot and that moment that he will always remember, it’s worth it for me.”
Take a look at his season stat lines and you understand how Chatman’s heroics were so unlikely. His season-high in points is 10 in a blowout win over Delaware State back in mid-December. His season-high in field goal attempts? Five, in a 86-82 loss to Maryland. And Chatman had not played more than eight minutes in a Big Ten game this season.
But here he was, waiting in the corner as Derrick Walton Jr. drove the lane and kicked it out to him as the clock trickled down.
Three. Two. One. Jubilation.
“I told myself that I was going to be ready to shoot it, but I didn’t know Derrick was going to pass it to me,” Chatman said. “I hesitated a little bit, but then I just let it go and it felt good when it left my hands. It felt really good.”
The shot was incredible, but it was the situation Chatman’s Michigan team was in that is the real story here. The Wolverines were considered a bubble NCAA Tournament team headed into Friday’s matchup with the Hoosiers. A loss, and their tourney chances were likely over. But a win over the top-seeded team in the Big Ten Tournament would likely give them a boost into the Big Dance.
Indiana senior Yogi Ferrell can relate.
“They were basically in the same situation we were in last year,” Ferrell said recalling how Indiana advanced to the 2015 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals before falling to No. 2-seeded Maryland. “We knew how they wanted to go out there and play desperate, play hard, play physical.”
Michigan’s players were well aware of what was on the line. And of course, Beilein was as well.
“It was a big moment for us to make that play after all we’ve been through this year,” said Beilien, who was without seniors Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert for much of the season. “”When I pack it in some day and I just look back at all the great shots I’ve been apart of, I will remember that one a lot.”
Beilein has seen his fair share of incredible shots during his time at Michigan. Chatman now has one of those shots to his name, and with this boost of confidence, he could make a few more during his time in Ann Arbor.
And yes, you will be able to Google them.