WHERE WAS I WHEN THIS LAST HAPPENED?
This week, I wanted to take a break from statistics-based musing and stop to reflect on this coming weekend, when we will see Michigan do something that it has not done in twenty years – play in a Final Four game.
Granted, I am not the oldest member of the MGoCommunity, but I am old enough to remember well what I was doing and where I was at in my life around this time of the year in 1993. Coming from a Michigan family and having been a fan since I was a wee lad, these appearances were huge events in my house. My parents had a Final Four party in 1993 as well as a party for the Championship Game, which of course we did not win.
So, the question I asked myself may sound a little lame, but it was interesting to consider – How has the world changed for me since the last time Michigan was in a Final Four game?
In the spring of 1993, I was not quite fifteen years old and still figuring out high school. I was excited about the potential to get a learner’s permit in a time when all that was required in Michigan was proof that you lived in the state and maybe a pulse. In my bedroom, I typed papers on what was the pinnacle (well, not really) of computing at the time – a Mac Quadra 950 - and I printed them on an Epson MJ-500 inkjet printer. I had an e-mail account and access to what there was of an “Internet”. I accessed these on a dial-up connection facilitated by Compuserve and through a US Robotics 14.4K modem.
In 1993, I wanted to go to Michigan more than anything, but it would be another two years before that acceptance letter which changed my life came in the mail. As for my sports life, the options for viewing were growing, but still comparatively limited. For example, the Tigers games which weren’t on WDIV were sometimes on PASS, and PASS was a channel that I had to beg my parents to add to their cable package, along with Cinemax (that one was for admittedly selfish reasons as well, albeit different reasons). Part of that package was ESPN, which was a single channel then, and not in HD (because nothing was).
On April 5thin the year 1993, a rather awkward but unashamed nerd who had no clue at the time he would rise through the MGoRanks to help moderate threads on what is arguably the most influential Michigan site out there watched Chris Webber try to call a timeout when none were left and get rewarded with a technical. There was always next year, right? I was a forgiving soul.
So, here is that “next year” that I’ve waited for – 2013.
The players on that team which I watched on a 28-inch Zenith all those years ago are now hovering around 40 years old. I was accepted at and have since graduated from Michigan and even picked up a masters along the way. Several of the players on the team we will watch on Saturday were still about a year from being born when we were last in the Final Four, never mind played in the Championship Game.
I have, in that space, passed up some of the so-called milestone ages – 18, 21, 30, to be precise. Indeed, I will be 35 in July. In those intervening decades, I’ve married and am coming up on my 9thwedding anniversary. I have two beautiful children who now watch these games with me if they are awake. I’ve gone from occupying a drafty room above the garage of a house in Saline to owning my own home. I have gone from being taught to being the teacher, at least when my employer dares to let me teach people statistics. The Mac Quadra and the US Robotics modem have been replaced with an iMac and Comcast Xfinity broadband. Fox Sports Detroit and the multiple iterations of ESPN have created a situation where I have gone from being forced to watch certain games if I wanted to watch sports at all to feeling tormented over which games I should watch out of the 300 that are on at any given moment. I’ve gone from wishing I could drive to cursing the lack of mass transit in Metro Detroit too.
Why this weird trip down LSA’s memory lane, right?
Part of the fun in the ride of the current team, at least for me, has been this realization that it somehow builds a bridge back to what was a relatively carefree time for me, as well as a previous time when Michigan basketball was at the forefront and in the spotlight. It was awesome then, and it is awesome now.
I see in this current team a youthful energy and flair, and although I am always hesitant to make direct comparisons of what are two different eras of the game, those traits remind me of watching that team back in the early 1990s. It’s difficult to make good statistical comparisons, but the energized feeling that I have when watching is definitely the same.
Whatever happens on Saturday, I would consider this season successful because I believe that, at this juncture, we’ve made the circle back and achieved that general level of performance. Further, I believe John Beilein has set this team up through recruiting for a rather nice string of potential tournament runs here. Without speculating on how far we go in coming years, of course, I think that Beilein has built a program that will be seen as one not to be overlooked as a serious contender when March comes around.
My parents even said, as I sat there after the loss to North Carolina in 1993, that they would be there again next year and to simply be patient, but I will say this – come what may, this is one weekend for which it is difficult for me to wait.