Michigan’s debut as a Division I program began with a 12-9 loss to Detroit Mercy on Sunday.
Not the kind of start the Wolverines were hoping for with opponents like No. 3 Denver, No. 7 North Carolina, No. 11 Harvard, No. 13 Penn State, No. 16 Delaware and No. 18 Ohio State still remaining on the schedule.
And with 14 Division I schools installing new head coaches in the offseason, the emphasis on winning has never been clearer. But Michigan coach John Paul said he’s being given a certain amount of leeway to build the program.
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“Every time I’ve talked to our administrators, they’ve expressed a very clear understanding that this isn’t going to happen overnight and that they’re going to give us the time as long as we’re doing things the right way, which we’re committed to doing,” Paul said. “But believe me, as a coaching staff, we don’t want this to take a long time. And personally, I have a lot of pride in this place. I know what we can become, and I want to get there fast. We’re coming off of pretty high expectations for the program we had. We went 76-2 over four years [in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association] and won three national championships. I’m pretty used to that. That’s the kind of expectation I want to get back to.”
With just a few Division I-caliber players like sophomore midfielder Jason Davis (who transferred from Manhattan) and freshman defenseman Ryan Breen (who de-committed from Lafayette to attend Michigan) on the roster, there’s a considerable talent gap. But Paul stressed that there is no mandated win-loss record the team must achieve in its first season.
“We’re going to try to win every game,” he said. “But every decision we make this year is based on culture, and that will affect the win-loss record. … We know there’s going to be a huge learning curve for all of us. We know that. But we also know what we can become and this year’s all about laying the foundation for that.”