By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport
Sports Capital Journalism Program
SAN ANTONIO – When Michigan attempts to win its second national championship Monday night, fifth-year senior Duncan Robinson and senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will appear in their final game together. The two have been teammates since the 2014-2015 season when Michigan went 16-16 and failed to make the NCAA tournament.
Robinson arrived in 2014 and redshirted due to transfer from Williams College, a Division III school. According to Michigan, Robinson appears to be the first Division III player to transfer and receive a Division I scholarship. Abdur-Rahkman was a three-star recruit.
Due to injuries and loss of players to the NBA Draft, Abdur-Rahkman had significant playing time earlier than intended. As a freshman, he averaged 4.5 points per game in 29 games. He started in 13 of them. “He had to play,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “We weren’t terrific during those times, but it allowed us to be very good right now.”
The two have made their impact on the program. In the national semifinal victory over Loyola Chicago, Abdur-Rahkman became Michigan’s leader in career games played with 143, surpassing Zak Irvin (2014-2017) and Jordan Morgan (2011-2014). Robinson has played in 114 consecutive games for Michigan, never missing a game during his career with the Wolverines.
When Robinson scored his first 3-point basket in the national semifinal, he became the first player to ever hit a shot in both a Division I and Division III semifinal. He finished with nine points against Loyola. As a freshman, Robinson scored 30 points as Williams defeated Amherst, 98-69, in the national semifinal on March 21, 2014.
Michigan is 29-0 when Robinson scores six points or more.
Abdur-Rahkman’s career high of 71 3-point baskets is second on the team behind Robinson’s 78. Both players are 1,000-point scorers.
Abdur-Rahkman has been described as a quiet leader. “He doesn’t say a lot,” said graduate student Jaaron Simmons. “When he does, everyone listens. We know he’s been through it all with this team.”
Their teammates enjoy playing a part in their college careers coming full circle. “It was a tough time here for them when they first got here,” said sophomore center Jon Teske. “To be able to play alongside them has been amazing.”
Even though this will be the final game of his career, this is just another in a long line of “finals” for Robinson. “When you’re a senior there are a lot of finals,” he said. “Final first practice, final home opener, final practice and final game. This final game is for the championship, and who doesn’t want that?”
Their careers weren’t always easy, but Abdur-Rahkman will remember it fondly. “Duncan and I have been through a lot together,” he said. “We’ve grown with this program. Everyone wants their final game to be for a championship, and we are blessed to have that.”