Good God, y'all:
(WCCO) Minneapolis WCCO's Mike Max has learned that the University of Minnesota may be close to announcing a new men's basketball coach, and the newest name in the mix is Tubby Smith of Kentucky.
In a meeting Tuesday night between Smith and University of Kentucky officials, a resignation from Smith was expected. Word is that Gophers athletics director Joel Maturi was on a flight Wednesday afternoon to Lexington to meet with Smith.
Confirmed and replicated everywhere. Good? Bad? Who knows? Minnesota is obviously acting fast as hell on this one in an attempt to get this over and done with before Smith seriously considers other options. Probably throwing a bucket of money at him, too. The choice between Smith and Beilein and Lowery and Miller is one of preference: Beilein has been successful recruiting nobodies; Tubby has been more successful -- vastly so -- recruiting the best talent in the country... until the last two years, when the rumor has it that a Smith fed up with AAU coaches burning him time and again cut ties and,not coincidentally, the rankings of players who sign up to play for UK. If you remove Smith's presence at arguably the premiere program in the country, how good of a coach is he? And did Michigan screw up by not throwing their hat in the ring here? I don't know. I'm sure Drew Sharp does and will come out with an article all about how this proves Michigan's irrelevance, but I'd rather not be forced into a decision right now about a guy who has some questions. (Yes, even though I strongly endorsed him earlier in the week.)
Update: Friend of Blog Russ Levine notes that the UK opening suddenly makes Michigan the second best job available, and second in the sense that Ohio State was second in the Not Fiesta Bowl. Potential impact on our coaching search? UK won't stoop to hiring a Miller or Lowery but might cast an eye towards Beilein. You have to think that they'll start with Billy Gillespie and work their way down before considering a guy who hasn't proven he can recruit at the level UK expects.
Who has? Well, what about Thad Matta?
Update 3/21: Linked to articles on NC DB Robert Blanton, NJ LB JB Fitzgerald (lol). Noted that GA DT Omar Hunter has his offer now. (woot) Moved MI OL Dann O'Neill to committed. Added IL RB Jason Ford, NJ LB Brendan Beal. Removed OH TE Kyle Rudolph (dropped us), OH LB Devoe Torrence (OSU). Moved PA DT Lucas Nix to OT, where he's getting recruited by a lot of schools. If he ends up here OT is a much more logical place for him to play.
Editorial Opinion: Lost in this weekend's Amaker firing, at least here, was the commitment of instate OT Dann O'Neill, which was expected sooner or later but is still nice to have given last year's fiasco. O'Neill seems like a solid four star at this point, a guy closer to the top 100 than three-star status. At 6'7", he's a tackle. Michigan has now locked up two of the top three prospects in the state. (The third is DCD RB Jonas Gray, who Michigan still hasn't offered, though Florida has. Gators lead...
Jonas Gray: Received a UF offer and almost committed. UF leads. Holds offers from Michigan State, Florida, Minnesota, Illinois and Colorado.
...or do they?
Jonas Gray: Now says Michigan State and UF are his top 2 of the teams who have offered.
Gray's offer list is surpassingly weird: CU, Illinois, MSU, Minnesota, and frickin' Florida. The only confirmed RB offers I've found are to CA's Darrell Scott and the incomparable Sam McGuffie. Wonder what the holdup is?)
Anyway: O'Neill is a hugely important pickup and the first of what should be a five or six guy OL class. And he's a tackle. Three cheers for all that.
Omar Hunter, the guy from Georgia who was so darn excited about Michigan a few weeks ago, has his offer. GBW claims we are the favorite:
He has numerous offers, but U-M has offered now and is his fav.
There's an opening on the DL all of a sudden.
Robert Blanton's Michigan quote in this Scout article is priceless:
"Michigan was my first offer," he said. "It was my sophomore year. I've been there two times. I attended their camp last summer and got to meet Coach (Lloyd) Carr and talk with him for a while. We went into his office and he showed me his custom-made putting green he has. I couldn't believe it. Then he told me I had the offer. That was great. I really like everything about Michigan. They have won more than any other team in college football...they dominate. I like that."
We have a lockdown on any and all recruits who want to play putt-putt in the head coaches' office. Pimpin' Lloyd Carr aside, Michigan must really want Blanton to offer him as a sophomore. He's from Jamar Adams' school and we've got a good shot at him, but he's playing it close to the vest.
(Is this further evidence to throw on the Charlie Weis is a Enormous Tool pile?
He asked me how I'd feel if I got an offer from Notre Dame. I told him it would be amazing, I would love to get an offer. Then he said 'okay you do.'
I just can't envision that going down. "Son, how would it feel to get an offer from Notre Dame?" ...as if he expects the recruit to break down and start blubbering as if his life's one true goal had been accomplished. I'm pretty sure I would regard Weis with the same scorn no matter where he coached, but could he coach anywhere other than Notre Dame? "Son... how would it feel to get an offer from Purdue?" Yeah. Not so good.)
JB Fitzgerald has us in his top three:
"I can't say I have a strong favorite or favorites," said Fitzgerald, who reports a 4.7 forty time. "I want to see what each school has to offer before I rule anyone out. Right now, I'd say I like Rutgers, Michigan and USC. If I got an offer from the Trojans, that might change things a little bit.
"I took an unofficial to Michigan the second week of February," he said. "I liked the program a lot. They really showed off their tradition....how much of a part of life it is to them. I got to sit down with Coach (Lloyd) Carr for 20 minutes and that's when I got the offer. Then he sat with me and my dad at the basketball game that night. I can't say enough about what a great guy he is. He is so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. All the coaches are like that there."
"Easy to talk to"... some Detroit beatwriters might like to contest that description. Fitzgerald goes on to talk about USC in an alarming fashion. Trojans haven't offered but if they do I think they become solid favorites.
We lead for NY S Brendan Smith, though slightly:
"I grew up following Michigan," Smith said. "I just love their style of play. They are a fast-paced team and they know how to control the game. They also have really good academics and are well respected in both football and academics.
"They are the only school that has told me what position they want me for," he said. "They are saying safety. Everybody else is telling me that I'm an athlete."
JB Shugarts has a telling quote:
They are reconstructing their facilities and the campus is really nice," he said. "The program is really family-oriented and I like that coach Jim Tressel will be around for a long time."
Dollars to donuts our competition is hammering the Carr retirement thing into the ground... what an odd thing to say unless someone else isn't going to be around a long time. It's a valid thing to bring up; we just have to hope that the other attractions of Michigan can bring classes good enough to keep us afloat until Ron English becomes head coach and turns us into an OMG shirtless beacon on a hill.
The Detroit News recaps the recent shenanigans within the program; mostly stuff you've heard before except for this bit:
And backup defensive end Eugene Germany was ticketed for marijuana possession in Ann Arbor on Feb. 12, according to court records. But Germany, who admitted responsibility and paid a $50 fine, recently was granted a release from his scholarship so he can transfer.
With the assumed dismissal of Butler, that would bring us to two of the three bad actors called out in the spring press conference already gone; now we're just waiting on Arrington's fate. Dude: you're from Iowa. Let's get some sensibility up in this place. You can either return to the land of cows and corn or play in the NFL. This is not a hard decision.
Gracias to commenter RossMBA, who pointed out that my assertion about the unimportance of the Germany possession charge was really wrong here.
...but, like, 25% less than usual.
Now would be a good time to explore the wonders of MGoStore; yea, verily there is a sale ongoing with a secret code. Merely enter "SECRETBLOGSALE" in the text field designated for such things when you check out and 25% will be hacked off the price of your dozen shirts.
But wait... there's more! There actually isn't. Sorry. But it's still pretty awesome. Sale goes until March 31st. Click for store:
Eugene Germany ticketed for weed:
University of Michigan defensive end Eugene Germany was ticketed for marijuana possession last month, according to 15th District Court records. Germany admitted responsibility and paid a $50 fine on Feb. 20 at the court in Ann Arbor.
Impact: minimal. This is probably the reason he's being held out of spring practice and is already factored into his tenuous status.
Airing on Comcast ch. 8 in the Ann Arbor area, viewers can watch the Wolverines tangle with North Dakota on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Comcast Local will air at 1 p.m. a taped-presentation of the final from the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, where top-ranked Notre Dame and Michigan State are playing.
At 3:30 p.m., Comcast will carry the Northeast Regional championship game live from Manchester, N.H.
As it is scheduled now, the station will air the East Regional final from Saturday on tape at 6 p.m. and air Sunday's West Regional final on tape at 8:30 p.m.
Should Michigan get past UND, the regional final against Air Force (ha!) is currently scheduled for tape delay. For some reason. I can't imagine Comcast Local has anything better to show.
...and probably Chris Richards, who is apparently named "Christian." He's not acting very Christian these days. From MLive:
Two University of Michigan football players are accused of attacking a fellow student in the West Quad residence hall for no apparent reason on St. Patrick's Day.
Carson Butler, 19, and Christian Richards III, 19, were arraigned today in 15th District Court on one count of aggravated assault and one count of assault and battery each. They were released on $5,000 personal bond and have a pre-trial hearing March 27.
Richards had some unreported legal issues earlier this year:
In addition to the charges stemming from Saturday's incident, Richards has another case pending. He was charged with illegal entry on campus last year. Richards failed to appear for his arraignment on that charge, and a bench warrant had been issued for his arrest.
With Butler already hanging by a thread -- he was one of the three who were "possibly... maybe not probably" going to get back this year -- this has to end his career at Michigan. Richards is probably also going to get the hook, what with the breaking and entering and skipping out on arraignment and then beating the crap out of a random student. Scholarship count for '08 now at 15.
Update: hey, these are our first Fulmer Cup points ever. Too bad it's not something innocuous like speeding tickets and will actually cost is a potential starter.
Door #2! Though he's old and hasn't ever recruited a kid with so much as four stars next to his name, West Virginia's John Beilein is hard to overlook when articles like this fawning Adrian Wojnarowski piece seem more the norm than the exception:
"A lot of guys can sit down at a table and X and O, talk all about it, but most can't touch John in his ability to teach it on the floor and get guys to do it," Thorn said. "What he's done with this year's team is especially remarkable. They lost all their players, and he's got guys who didn't play last year, or weren't big recruits â€“ and it's just amazing how they still carve people up.
"He's an amazing teacher of the game."
Though West Virginia's status as an NIT team the year before he (hypothetically) becomes Michigan's coach is a disturbing parallel with Amaker, there's a difference between this WVU team which lost Pitsnogle, Gansey, and the rest of the crew that took the 'Eers on their remarkable two-year tourney run and the Seton Hall team that brought in the nation's top recruiting class, returned most of its contributors, and totally imploded. (How on God's green earth did Amaker recruit notorious malcontent and car-masturbator Eddie Griffin, by the way? Griffin's one of the few NBA players who actually warrants the excessively-applied term "thug," and Friendly Mr. Coachy reeled him in? Strange times.)
Beilein is a virtually no-fail candidate. He's worked his way up from coaching community colleges to his first D-I job at Cansisus, where he was a success, leading the Whatevers to an NCAA tourney and two NITs. He was then hired by Richmond, where he replicated his performance at Cansisus. Then West Virginia and their resurrection. We should expect a similar performance at Michigan even if Beilein's recruiting doesn't improve, though it should via simple proximity to talent.
Uh... what? Eric Lacey throws out a ridiculous name in his latest Free Press article:
. What about Michigan State assistant Jim Boylen?
A . That would be something if he were hired, wouldn't it? He is a Michigan guy with tons of NBA experience and is well aware of the rivalry. And Boylen appears to be interested in the job.
My only question is whether Michigan truly is interested in him. If officials wanted to make a splash and rock the entire state, then this could be an option. Boylen could potentially steal a lot of recruits from the Spartans. It's still unclear, though, -- at least to me -- where he stands compared to the rest of the field. If U-M wants Boylen, it might have to act fast, since he's scheduled to interview with Utah this week.
My only question is whether Michigan truly is interested in him. If officials wanted to make a splash and rock the entire state, then this could be an option. Boylen could potentially steal a lot of recruits from the Spartans.
It's still unclear, though, -- at least to me -- where he stands compared to the rest of the field. If U-M wants Boylen, it might have to act fast, since he's scheduled to interview with Utah this week.
Q: Is Jim Boylen more or less ridiculous as a candidate than Tom Crean?
A: It's hard to say. They have equal Izzo-related loathsomeness. Boylen is obviously making a lot less than Crean and would presumably be less of a ripoff if this goofy suggestion ever came to pass, but he has vastly less experience. In fact, he has less experience than... uh... everyone, having never been a head coach on any level. Plucking current assistants is a strictly small-time move and unless Michigan is suddenly demoted to the Mid-Continent Conference it won't happen, especially after ten years of getting burned.
If you made me choose I'd probably go with "less," but only because Crean is literally the most implausible name in the country.
Ouch. Yeah, Joey didn't like Tommy Amaker:
If success in college basketball were determined by things like trying hard intermittently, occasionally playing well enough to blow a game late, getting embarrassed on a regular basis, being well-intentioned, and dressing like you had always come from Sunday brunch in 1992, Tommy Amaker would be running the best college basketball program in the country. He or his team excelled at all of those things.
Positives are discussed, too. Promise. (They are just of the "clean up the program, thanks, please shut the door on your way out," though.)
Numbers: Stolen in whole from Varsity Blue:
Stevie Brown #3
Kevin Grady #24
Doug Dutch #35
James McKinney #44
Ryan Mallett #15
Vince Helmuth #32
Artis Chambers #38
Austin Panter #54
(I'm pretty sure McKinney was already #44.) I hate it when guys change midstream. Now whenever I see a running back wearing #24 I'm going to be all "Jerome Jackson has been hitting the Krispy Kremes too hard."
Come on, now. Simmons has been banging on the Big Ten ever since he started paying more attention to college basketball because the Celtics were busy punching him in the face over and over, and while he's right that the league plays slow, unattractive basketball it doesn't necessarily mean they're bad at it:
6. The Big Ten: Did I tell you or did I tell you? If that foul was called on Oden, there would have been ZERO Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16. I love being right. It happens so rarely. Anyway, don't fret, Big Ten fans -- you can still get your fix of defense and fundamentals by watching the women's tournament.
Wisconsin was a disappointment, but they were missing Brian Butch. All other Big Ten teams have acquitted themselves well: Indiana, Purdue, and Michigan State all won first round games as 8-9s before running into 1-2 seed buzzsaws -- and Purdue gave Florida everything they wanted. Illinois was one late, athletic-director-imploding collapse away from upsetting Virginia Tech. As of right now the conference is 6-5. Does Big Ten bashing have to continue nonstop no matter the situation? Did someone attach some sort of rider to the port security bill when I wasn't looking? If so someone should let me know and I'll stop bothering with it.
Etc.: OJ Mayo is kind of weird; this guy analyzes NFL draft history and concludes "don't draft Michigan skill guys."
Yes, things are different around here. I've finally moved to the new Blogger. This brings with it some neat features:
- Functional archives that don't take up epic amounts of space.
- Convenient feed integration.
- The ability to list all the labels I've started using (and badly need to organize).
The new template I'm using has some other features I may or may not get around to deploying.
You'll note a second sidebar. It was necessary to cram in the other stuff I want to get up and going. At the moment you'll find my last five Fanhouse posts plus something I'm calling "mgo.licio.us," which is basically a constantly updated list of things I come across that may be of relevance to Michigan fans with some brief commentary. Some of these things will end up in UV, but some may not -- there's always a bunch of stuff that gets buried and then is no longer timely. Hopefully this will put a stop to that. I also plan to create a similar widget that highlights recent comments of interest.
In the totally cosmetic department, there are now nice rounded headers and footers on all posts. These employ the transparency features available in Firefox, IE7, Opera, and Safari and are broken on IE6... but how broken I don't know because I haven't figured out how to test IE6 on this machine that already has IE7. So, if you're one of the approximately 35% of people still rocking IE6, please inform me if the resulting breakage is unreadable or unattractive and I'll get on it.
There's a bunch of broken crap. Working on it. It's really late. So I'm working on it later.
And they're off. Internet speculation has settled on three candidates: WVU's John Beilein, SIU's Chris Lowery, and Xavier's Sean Miller, with Beilein's buyout and age posing issues for his candidacy. (BTW: the buyout is $2.5 million, not three as reported last year. It declines by 500k each year of his contract. Also, the Martin interview referenced earlier has this quote about Amaker's buyout:
Q: Are you going to pay him the buyout?
Martin: Of course we will. Understand that has been funded every year and that accumulated.
Odd question. It's basically "Are you going to get sued for doing something stupid?" Interesting answer though: the 900k Amaker is owed has been rolled up already and isn't an unexpected expense coming out of the U's coffers. Further evidence that Michigan is ready and willing to pay a competitive salary, as the 900k sitting around was earmarked for the basketball coach either way, be it in the form of a buyout or a raise.)
Of the three mentioned, Lowery is my preference for reasons outlined in this USA Today article:
"They invade your personal space," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg was saying the other day. "I love their attitude. I think it's their mindset."
So this time, the underdogs are bringing their defensive nightsticks, You will find no more intriguing clash of style in the Sweet 16. The unstoppable force will be wearing white, the immovable object maroon. [this passage incorrect, since Kansas has the best D in the country and an average offense, as pointed out by Wonk -ed]
"I don't think we sell them on defense. We sell them on winning," Lowery said. "Defense is a part of that."
"Anything time you drive," Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell said, "you can expect to be cut off by another defender."
That's the whole idea. Ruin passing angles, interfere with flow, be ready to help, never quit. Not until the shot clock runs out, or a brick clangs off the rim.
"The biggest thing is," Lowery said, "they trust each other."
On its weekly notes, Southern Illinois includes testimonials from past victims. This from Missouri State coach Barry Hinson, on preparing to play the Salukis:
"We run down to the police station and we get all the German Shepherd attack dogs and we just bring them onto the floor, and we rub meat juice all over our arms, and we just get ready to practice."
"People say we slow down," Lowery said. "We don't slow down. We just make you catch up, and stay at a pace of intensity on defense throughout the game. At the other end, we're not gong to let you breathe."
(We should bring Barry Hinson along as Designated Guy To Give Awesome Testimonial Quotes if we hire Lowery, no matter the cost.) There are some concerns. SIU does play slow-down: Kenpom has the Salukis 312th in adjusted pace. The accusations that Big Ten basketball is basically the Carlisle Pistons versus the Riley Knicks are not likely to decrease if he's hired.
But good God, y'all:
Raw Efficiency : 104.4 (135) 93.5 ( 18)
Adj Efficiency : 109.2 ( 81) 86.7 ( 12)
Effective FG% : 52.1 ( 85) 47.7 ( 80)
Turnover Pct. : 22.3 (229) 24.3 ( 25)
Off. Rebound% : 31.4 (241) 28.9 ( 12)
Free Throw Rate: 31.9 ( 22) 49.8 (326)
3-Point FG% : 37.4 ( 61) 34.9 (180)
2-Point FG% : 49.8 (130) 45.4 ( 61)
Free Throw Pct.: 69.1 (172) 70.6 (248)
Block Pct. : 8.5 (130) 11.1 ( 64)
Steal Pct. : 10.7 (235) 10.5 (115)
3PA/FGA : 36.0 (118) 32.7 (122)
A/FGM : 54.9 (179) 51.3 ( 62)
Lowery's offense is plagued by turnovers -- ugh -- and awful offensive rebounding. Everything else is at least okay. Now consider this: SIU has one senior and no one playing significant minutes taller than 6'7". More impressive than their tourney run has been their ability to lock down a Sweet 16 seed from the MVC. SIU is a legit team that has an identity without anyone who will even sniff the NBA. He's the guy.
More. Sun-Times article on SIU's efforts to keep Lowery:
He put me and Tony [Young] and me against each other, and I thought he was trying to run us off, make us transfer schools," said Jamaal Tatum, the Salukis' leading scorer. "... He made things difficult for us. But he expects so much out of the players that he will push you. I'm thankful he did because I've become a lot better player."
Southern won consistently before Lowery got there, so it is realistic to think it could win without him. But why take chances?
"He's the total package," Moccia said. "He's 34 years old. He has such a great floor demeanor. He can recruit. He's a great family guy. And he's unbelievably, wildly successful. That's kind of a rare thing. That's why we really want to keep him."
And why a lot of others might want him.
Lowery made approximately 300k this year. If we go after him SIU will probably increase that significantly, but I doubt they can go as high as we can.
Even more Lowery. From a pre-NCAAs PC this year:
REPORTER: Both of you, I know I'm putting you on the spot because your coach is sitting next to you, but what's special about playing for Coach Lowery?
YOUNG: The biggest thing about playing for Coach is he's one of the coaches that understands his players. You've got a lot of peopl
e that push you to do things you don't want to do, he gives us the freedom to go out and play the way we want to play but within his offense and the things he wants us to do. And he really rides us and makes us strive to be the best we can be as far as people, as far as players, really just all around. He doesn't settle for us being second best. He doesn't let us settle for it either.
TATUM: I'll agree with Tony on that. He definitely pushes us. When he came back from Illinois and we got our first workout with him, he put me and Tony against each other and I thought he was trying to make us transfer schools or something the way he came at us, but he was just expecting a lot out of us, he knew it was going to be a big year and he knew that he had some shoes to fill and we had some shoes to fill and that we had to be a good team and we were a great team that year and he came back and he really put it on us and made things difficult for us. That's the thing about him, he expects so much out of all his players that he will push you and I'm thankful for what he's done because I've become a lot better player under him.
"Young" and "Tatum" are two starting guards.
Two notes. Amaker has been all class as the outgoing coach. Reports are he called Legion and encouraged him to stick with his LOI, and he's also sending out notes to various people associated with Michigan. This went out to some alumni association presidents:
I just want to sincerely thank you for the opportunity that I was given to be the basketball coach at this tremendous university. I will always be grateful for it.
I truly loved teaching and coaching at the University of Michigan. I loved representing you, and I wish you all well.
Please continue to support the team and the new coach--they need you and deserve you!
Thank you so much for everything, and GO BLUE!
A similar email went out to the Maize Rage:
I just want to thank all of you for all of the support that you've given our basketball program and me during my time at Michigan. You've been phenomenal, and I will always be grateful for your support and enthusiasm for our team.
I truly loved coaching and teaching at Michigan, and I will always be grateful to have had this opportunity. I loved representing you, and I wish you all well.
Please continue to support the team and the new coach--they need you and deserve your support!!
Thank you again for everything you've done for me and Michigan Basketball, and GO BLUE!
Yes, this makes me feel a bit heelish for the constant snark, if you're asking.
All fixed now. Deadspin found hilarious video of a Kansas State player eating popcorn on the bench during an NIT game:
Far be it from us to understate the importance of the NIT -- no place is more dangerous than Crisler Arena in mid-March! -- but during the Kansas State-DePaul game the other night, an injured Wildcat sat on the bench eating popcorn.
Yeah, that momentary pang of sympathy is all better now.
Facilitate this. Article in the Freep yesterday from Mark Snyder:
"Usually the perception within the fan base is higher than the reality, like with football fans at Alabama who think they should go 12-0 every year," said Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel. "With Michigan basketball, it's the opposite. The perception in the fan base is, after so many years of the program having excuses made for it, the fans' view is lower than the reality college coaches put on the program. College coaches say that's a top 10 job."
Wetzel noted that the state of Michigan has incredible talent and there are more than enough players for Michigan and Michigan State to both thrive. He said Michigan kids are still split 50/50 on Michigan and Michigan State, with that number leaning heavily toward U-M in Detroit.
The bluster about Michigan's limited facilities and disinterested fan base is not a driving factor, Wetzel said.
"Michigan can recruit nationally," he said. "It's an unbelievable school and campus; the only thing missing is structural advancements. Those are down the line. You can get guys out of major conferences to take this job. You can get a coach out of (the) ACC, Big 12. You can't get them to leave North Carolina, but from most places, you can."
There are further quotes from Jay Bilas, who's telling anyone who will listen that Amaker walked into Beruit six years ago and made it a happy bunny meadow:
"It's a high-level job, it's a Big Ten job," said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who coached with Amaker as assistants at Duke. "Now it's on a solid foundation, starting at the starting line instead of 20 yards behind like before (Amaker) arrived."
Bilas said the facilities are a significant problem and one could "make an argument" that the Minnesota job -- another high-profile opening -- would be competitive with Michigan because of its recent small-scale renovations.
"What they need to do is to find the best possible coach without regard to some type of template that the media likes to throw out," Bilas said of Michigan. "The bottom line is there are a number of coaches available. But in order to have an outstanding basketball program, you have to show a commitment to basketball, not just a coach but the entire community. Michigan hasn't made that commitment, and until they do ... they'll have issues to face."
Crap, I say. Amaker did walk into a bad situation, but no one held it against him when his first two years were miserable. The NCAA sanction cloud was always overblown -- after his first year, which everyone gave him a mulligan on, Michigan faced no significant recruiting restrictions -- and the facilities argument is being blown way out of proportion. Did Crisler Arena turn it over twenty times a game more often than not? Did the lack of a practice facility offer Smith and Coleman as sophomores? Was the brick in the locker room unable to improve Michigan's players? The overwhelming reason Michigan was not good at basketball the past two years was Amaker's lack of coaching ability, and anyone offering up weak facilities arguments is covering for a very, very nice man who can't coach.
The most irritating thing is that the facilities meme espoused by people trying to find any reason to argue for Amaker has spilled over into the mainstream media as a major reason the Michigan basketball program sucks. It's not. Since Steve Fisher left in the wake of Martingate, Michigan has been run by Brian Ellerbe and Tommy Amaker. Ellerbe does not and never will have another D-I job, and I'd bet you a dollar Tommy finds himself in the same boat. Ten years of mismanagement by coaches is the reason the Michigan basketball program finds itself brought low. And since the all-encompassing ennui around the team has discouraged financial contributions for a freakin' decade -- one in which the facilities race really got started -- there has been no money with which to build the hypothetically opulent palace in which Amaker still would have been a very nice man who can't coach.
The AD at Michigan doesn't operate like the AD at other schools. They won't take on debt and they are self-funding (including 70% out-of-state scholarships at 30k per year -- you can make the argument that the AD helps support the university, not vice versa). When local columnists opine that Michigan must shell out for the program they neglect to mention where this money is going to come from.
Take the baseball program, which brings in almost no revenue. Rich Maloney showed up, looked at a decrepit and uncompetitive situation, and im
mediately started raising capital for a new stadium. At this very moment a multi-million dollar replacement of Fisher stadium is underway because Rich Maloney went out and found the money for it. If you really want to blame someone for the supposedly sorry state of the basketball facilities, you can find him wearing a mock turtleneck on the next bus to Durham. In this case: win, we'll come, and you'll build it.
Mr. Basketball. Is recruit Manny Harris, who says he's still a recruit... probably:
"I'm going to wait and see who they hire," said Harris, the 27th winner of the prestigious award, selected by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in conjunction with the Free Press. "But my heart is still with Michigan."
Further bit about Amaker being all class:
Amaker had some advice for Harris.
"He told me 'Michigan is still Michigan,' " Harris said. "It's still a good school."
More on Harris from a Rise article earlier this year.