Is 6'5", moot point I know... Nice post.
A Sisyphean challenge
The first Michigan basketball game I ever watched was the 1998 NCAA second round game against UCLA. Suffice to say, my Michigan basketball fandom has not seen as much success as my football fandom. To me, hearing older basketball fans proclaim, "Damn it, we should be competing for national championships!" is like hearing a 90 year old Minnesota football fan proclaiming the same thing.
I did not cry when Michigan lost the epic 1 vs 2 battle against OSU in 2006. Yet, for some reason I cried on selection Sunday in 2006 when I found out the Michigan basketball team, led by Senior Daniel Horton, did not make the tournament. I think it's because at that moment I felt like the Greek mythology character Sisyphus, rolling the Michigan basketball boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down, and finally realizing that it is my fate to repeat this task for eternity.
For me, Michigan basketball has always been a prime example of Murphy's Law. It's as if the Greek gods still existed, choosing me as the pitiful human to torture for fun. Whether it's Jamal Crawford leaving early, an NCAA ban, Daniel Horton choking his girlfriend, a chokejob against Minnesota, a whiffed dunk against Ohio State, or an Ekpe Udoh transfer, it's always been "something" that prevents Michigan from making the tourney. Whatever can go wrong has. I have screamed out in agony, "Why does this keep happening!" I just want Michigan basketball to be "back", whatever that's supposed to mean.
Going to Crisler this season has reminded me of one of those underdog sports movies like Hoosiers. An empty gym vs Michigan Tech, followed by more and more people and culminating with a court rushing vs Duke, the best sporting event I have ever attended. Then the inevitable crash back to earth happened. Missed 3 pointers, 6 foot 3 Freshman playing PF, a whole bunch of losses, and the dread of knowing the Angry Michigan hating basketball God is at it once again. I will not believe Michigan is in the NCAA tourney until it is a redshirt sophomore living on Geddes.
Then with on swift elbow to the nose early in the 2nd half yesterday, I realized that this season really is going to be one of those sports movie type seasons. It's now us vs the world. So over the next 2 months I will scream at every missed 3, go exstatic at every made 3, laugh my ass off at all Zach Gibson dunks, and most importantly, I will believe. Cause I guess what I am trying to say is that if I can still be on the Michigan basketball bandwagon and believe after these last 10 years then certainly you cranks old fucks who had the privelege to witness the Fab Five and the 1989 team play can still believe too. The stone will make it to the top of the hill.
I feel sorry for you. Because before you started following the team, they were a perennial NCAA tournament participant. I started following the Detroit Lions as a child in 1958, the year after they won their last championship, so I feel your pain.
The difference between a Minnesota fan and a UM fan talking about NCAA championships is that UM did win one in 1989. Minnesota last won one in football in 1960 when they finished the regular season 8-1. It was voted before the bowl games, and they proceeded to lose the Rose Bowl to go 8-2. That would not count in today's game. Their last undisputed one was in 1941, when they went 8-0.
Since the 60's, Minnesota has been a middle to bottom football team with an occasional good year, sorta like MSU but not even that good. UM basketball, on the other hand, was mostly a middle to top-level team for most of the 30 years before the scandal.
Anyway, take heart. They weren't gonna win it all this year anyway. And the trick is not to just get into the tournament, but to have a chance at winning it. Beilein should get UM to that level within a couple of years. The one thing missing is height. The Championship team of 88-89 had seven players 6-9 or taller. This team has only two who play at all.
Beilein will figure out how to get better players to come to Ann Arbor again. UM has had plenty of high quality players come through since the teams of Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin in the 60's, and they will start getting HQ players again. Hopefully tall ones.
I think the program is in good hands, and I think you will finally have some much better UM teams to cheer for soon. I wish I could say the same about the Lions.
This bid will come down to winning some big home games in February, so here's hoping your cheering rubs off....the team could use a game altering home court crowd.
And, while i agree with Tater's compare and contrast breakdown, I still chuckled at the Minnesota football fan reference. I think the analogy works.
Yes, it has been a bad 10 years. But has far as being a perennial national championship contender, I don't think that has been the case either. I started following UM basketball in about 75. If you saw the 76 reunion against Indiana, those was the players I remember. But there were a lot of years we were middle of the road at best. Some years even bad. That is one of the reasons we got the fab 5. We were so bad the year before.
But mostly we were competitive. Most games you thought we had at least a chance. That is what was so disheartening about the Ellerabe and Amamker years. Many times you knew we just didn't. Yes, and the Harris elbow and then ejection, you just knew after that we were done. But I still think in past years we would have been done way before that.
this team will have to do more than just win their big home games. They will have to win a road game or 2 plus make some noise in the Big Ten tourney. With the exception of the NWU game, they are getting blown out of games.
Hopefully the recently-approved and MUCH-needed facilities upgrade will help attract more talent. Let's face it... the b'ball digs at UM are a bit sucky. And you don't have to travel far to find major upgrades. Thankfully, help in that regard is on its way... but still a couple years off.
FWIW, I was here for all those years... the 89 title, the Fab Five... and I still believe. Never thought about not believing for even one minute.
And, I'm not a cranky old fuck.