Above all else, what this Tournament run did for us was to finally knock down the last remaining "Barriers to Enrty" that sood in the way of us returning to ongoing elite status.
All the issues the program had that may have kept the top recruits from considering us are completely gone:
- No more crappy facilities that clearly implied basketball was an afterthought at Michigan.
- No more being boxed into a Princeton-esque system designed to hide a lack of talent.
- No more walk-on team mates in key positions,
- No more passion-less dead environments and indifferent fans in Crisler.
- No more constricted pipelines to the NBA.
- No more shadow of the Fab Five and scandals from another era.
- No more Final Four and Big Ten draughts.
These things were already in progress, but the Tournament run showed it off for the world to see.
I wasn't just impressed with how we made our Tournament run, but also with how downright cool we looked doing it.
Dare I say it . . . Fab Five cool.
After this Tournament run, any top recruit in the country is going to give a strong look when Michigan calls.
I was six, and my dad was listening to Bob Ufer's call of a Michigan game in our backyard. My memory tells me it was a beautiful sunny September day in Southeast Michigan. I didn't have the attention span to listen to a whole game, but my ears heard Ufer getting excited about something so I strolled over expecting to hear him celebrating another Meechigan victory. Instead, I witnessed the classic Ufer meltdown. I do not have an independent memory of Ufer's words, but I remember my dad explaining what happened, and I remember my dad's heartache. My most vivid memory is hearing the name Harry Oliver and knowing that this Notre Dame kicker ruined a perfectly good Saturday afternoon for me and my dad. In my heart, I thought nothing this bad could happen again to Michigan. I have never been so wrong.
I have been on this earth for nearly 40 years, and the Harry Oliver moments hurt exponentially more the longer we go without a national championship in football and basketball. Michigan has had so many great teams in football and basketball, but they always seem to break my heart. I was in Michigan Stadium for Minnesota in 86, Colorado's Hail Mary, Rocket's returns, Desmond's trip, The Horror and many more heartbreaks. Plus, I have lived through Webber's timeout, two second round exits by great basketball teams in the mid 80s, the "holding" call that ruined Bo's last game and on and on and on. Michigan has been in the championship game five times in my lifetime and have only sung The Victors once. Even the 97 football championship had to be polluted by a retirement gift for Tom Osborn.
During my lifetime schools like Florida, Alabama, Duke, UNC, Penn State, MSU, USC, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida State, Kentucky and Louisville have won two or more national championships in basketball, football or both. Too many times I just have to tell myself that Michigan could have beaten those teams if a blown call, dropped pass, half court heave or miracle kick did not keep us from having our chance to play for the championship.
I'm sick of what ifs and next years, Michigan is a special place that I love with all my heart. I want the Treys, ACs, McGarys and Desmonds to be the last men standing. Forty years, two national championships and infinite heartache.
Louisville is Harry Oliver, and my inner Ufer is screaming in agony. I am six years old. The sun is shining. I once again am telling myself that nothing this bad can happen again to this MEECHIGAN of ours. Go Blue!
Good article by Shane Ryan over at the Triangle and Grantland.
That sense of composure, even amid the tears and the reality of the loss, was what stayed with me after I left. The situation in the locker was not ideal, but the sport makes money because people care, and because people care, journalists have to ask their questions, and the players have to answer. And even though the players aren't compensated like professionals, this particular bunch behaved like them. There's strength in that, and you can't help but be impressed. It's a measure of their character and John Beilein's.
Not usually a fan of Shane Ryan but I felt this article was a good summation of the fact that there is still a lot to be proud of with this team even after the loss.
I am STILL on Cloud 9...I live in Atlanta and attended both the semis and Final!..I was SO PROUD of this team, the coach, the players and the fans..It was CLEAR to me that Michigan fans showed up in droves in Atlanta and we had the most fans of any school. I still cant believe we made it this far and how GREAT was it to be in it till the end and not just home watching someone else...When I walked into the Georgia Dome and saw all the Maize throughout the Stadium and I mean ALL THRU THE STADIUM it reminded me of why....
ITS GREAT TO BE A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE !!!!!...way to represent i n Atlanta Blue fans!!
I will admit when I was reviewing Louisville the guy who got hot the Witchita game was an afterthought but of course last night he was the difference maker especially in the first half when we were out front by a ton and he single handidly brought back Louisville with a 4-4 3 pt barrage.
I looked him up during the game and saw he was at George Mason despite making it into the NCAA tournament with the team transferred to Louisville. At that moment someone in liveblog mentioned he was a Michigan recruit post transfer. I was a bit shocked.
But here is the post
How a small twist in fate could change things so much eh? If he had come to be Blue, not only would he have not been there to be a cyborg to destroy our lead (and not get a 4th foul called on him and instead draw a 4th foul on Mitch - not that I'm bitter), but he would have been on our side hitting some 3s. Could see him as Stauskas backup (or starter while Stausksas came off bench as a freshman) and you know how lethal the 3 point shot is in our offense with the dish and drive by Burke.
Anyhow its another feather in Beilen's cap of "identifiying talent" in my eyes. A lot like Burke - someone who was a decent player who Beilen saw something in, but then again so did Rick Pintino.
But who knew back then this would be one of the biggest decisions in the fates of the two teams! Wow.