"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
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When Manny Harris fouled out yesterday, my first thought was I hate these refs. My second thought was oh my god if we somehow pull this out John Beilein's benching of Manny Harris during the Iowa overtime will go down in Michigan basketball lore.
At the time of the benching, most fans were pissed because they thought his coaching arrogance had cost us a trip to the tourney. JB claimed he did it becuase it was "best for the team in the long run". Yesterday showed us what JB meant by the long run. The Iowa overtime gave the team experience playing important minutes without Manny. Remember, the first time Manny missed important minutes (after the ejection), the team totally imploded and quit. JB wanted to teach the team that they are capable of competing against good teams without Manny. Although they got smoked in the overtime against Iowa, they never quit during the overtime, just as they never quit yesterday (while also going against shit refs in both games). JB's most controversial coaching decision almost resulted in the team going to the sweet 16.
In fact, I think this, more than anything else, proves why John Beilein is such a great coach. John Beilein's most controversial decisions, such as benching Manny Harris during the Iowa overtime, recruiting two low rated Hoosiers over Detroit leftovers, and inserting CJ Lee into the starting lineup, end up being his most applauded decisions in the long run.
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.
Although right now I may be down on our 2009 team's chances, inevitabely between now and August 30th hope will spring eternal and I will believe Michigan is going to some awesome bowl in 2009. What reasons am I going to have for deluding myself?
1. 11 returning starters on offense
2. If a true frosh starts, that will mean he is better than Threet, so the qb play will be improved no matter what.
3. I'll be subjected to another 9 months of EEEE BARWIS talk and all the players talking about how much they've improved physically.
4. The players will work on fielding kicks. That alone probably cost us 2 games this year.
5. We will have even more ninja slot dudes. Although we all like Tay, we have no one else to compare him to, so we don't know how good he is compared to the other electrons Michigan recruited.
6. The offensive line will have a lot more experience, along with some good 2008 recruits contributing and hopefully the return of Zirbel.
7. I believe in Gsimms. Whenever I am down on the defense, I read Gsimms, and somehow he is able to get me to rebelieve in Schafer. Even with the loss of 6/7 starters, In 4 months I will honestly believed we will be improved on Defense.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...
8. Rivals practice videos. I'll be able to watch Tate and Beav throw the ball around with no defense, Fitz Touissant truck someone in the M drill, and our defense practicing scoop and score drills. Then I will exclaim OMG WE ARE SO GOOD!!!