Link between 89 National Champs & years of Michigan B-Ball Futility

Submitted by StephenRKass on March 18th, 2009 at 9:58 AM

There's a great article in today's Michigan Daily on the link between the 1989 National Championship and the years of basketball futility at Michigan. (

Being an old fart (pushing 50), I vividly remember 1989, and the years leading up to it. It was well known in basketball circles that Frieder wasn't in control, and things were shady under him. He simply didn't run a tight ship. Fisher seemed such a breathe of fresh air, and after those 6 wins and the championship, how could Bo not hire him? (As an aside, it's interesting that Fisher is almost at the top (just behind Beilein, iirc,) in terms of coaching efficiency in the NCAA's. Those 6 wins will do that for you.) But I digress.

Fisher probably wasn't the best coach, and wasn't strong enough to control the team. He might have been too successful with recruiting the Fab Five . . . and the inmates were running the asylum. Fisher had more than he could handle. And what a mess with Ed Martin. BTW, I have to believe the same thing still happens in big time b-ball circles, but is just more hidden. But with Frieder, Fisher, and Ellerbe, there was a lack of institutional control and team control. Even with the 89 team, there was the talent to win, but they rarely put it all together during the season, yet another sign of a team with mediocre coaching.

I will take Beilein, and winning the way he is winning, any day over Fisher and Frieder. There was a post yesterday about the kind of players we want at Michigan. (one and done stars like Greg Oden and Derrick Rose, or players who stick for four years, albeit with less raw talent.) Thinking back to the past at Michigan, even before the last 10 - 15 years, we have had too many players with the wrong attitude. I will take hard working team players with solid talent who stick 3 - 4 years any day over prima donnas who barely tolerate the coach, and are here only as a stepping stone to the pros.

There was an awesome analysis in the NY Times last month highlighted here and at UMhoops about former Duke player Shane Battier ( He is EXACTLY the kind of player who fits Beilein, and who wins. Not a glory hound, not the first one everyone sees, but a great player. What a shame, that coming out of the Detroit area, he never even considered playing for fellow Dukie Amaker. I bet he would have listened to Beilein. Another player from this mold is Scott Skiles. Yes, Skiles wasn't squeaky clean, but man, he played hard and was prepared. He willed his teams to win. Not the most talented, but solid talent, hard work, and a winner. These are the kinds of players we want.

Under Beilein, I see more players like this coming to Michigan. The future's so bright, we'll have to wear shades.



March 18th, 2009 at 10:20 AM ^

I'm not sure I would have wanted Skiles on those Tarpley teams back in the 1980s.

There would be have tons of fights over who is stealing who's stash.

Then again, maybe everyone would have been friends after a few tokes.

His Dudeness

March 18th, 2009 at 10:24 AM ^

A) Oden and Connely (1 and done guys) took osu to the NCAA finals. I would "take that."

B) Simply because a kid chooses to get a paycheck for his abilities (I only assume you get a paycheck for your abilities) doesn't make him a "prima donna." If anything it makes him perfectly normal.

His Dudeness

March 18th, 2009 at 10:52 AM ^

You don't recruit one and done guys. You recruit kids and they choose what they will do with their lives. It is called free will. No kid says to their coach "Hey coach I will play for you for one year, but then I am out of here." Kids go to school for a year (because they have to) and judge their abilities agianst the abilities of others and conclude what their best option would be. Other notable "one and done guys"
Bill Gates & Mike Dell. Do you have a problem with those two guys?


March 18th, 2009 at 7:28 PM ^

In one sense, you're right most of the time. You recruit kids, and they make their own choices, presumably what's best for them. No one can see the future, and whether kids are going to stay or go.

Having said that, I have to believe that coaches and recruiters have a sense of what a kid wants to do, and the risk of him running or staying. From a purely selfish perspective, Michigan is better off with kids who stick. We are better off with Shane Battier than with Derrick Rose. Rose may (or may not)be the better player, but Battier would be better for us. Or let's put it in terms of "stars." A four star who sticks is better than a five star who has no intent of doing any more than the bare minimum. And you're telling me that OSU didn't know going in that Oden would be one and done?

Now, realistically, I suppose that many (most?) kids don't give a rip about classes. But something bugs me about Oden basically skipping all classes second Semester. He wasn't going to stay in school, so why work at it? I suppose this is my problem. That's life.

But there's something else. I get the feeling that Beilein needs kids to learn his system. I don't know how well a highly athletic and talented kid who doesn't really learn his D and offense would be at Michigan.


March 18th, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

So let's see, you're willing to denigrate the '89 National Champions based on flimsy connections to a few shady characters, but you have no problem getting past the fact that Scott Skiles was a drunk and coke-head? Players like Rumeal Robinson, Glen Rice, Loy Vaught, Mark Hughes and all of the players on that team combined have not broken 10% of the laws that Skiles did in his "career". I know of nothing attributed to those players before, during or after their time at Michigan that impugns their names. Simply because they played for a couple of loose coaches and because they played after a coke-head (Tarpley) and before the Fab Five (I'm sure you just hated those cocky kids and their baggy shorts) you have no problem degrading their accomplishments.

Somehow Scott Skiles, who endangered countless lives while racking up records for drunk-driving arrests is your hero. I have no huge beef with Skiles. He was a kid when he did most if not all of that stuff and he seemed to eventually pull it together. Yet the fact remains, the members of the '89 National Championship team kept their noses clean and won a title while Skiles arrogantly and habitually disregarded serious laws and won nothing and you're tipping your hat to him. Right.


March 18th, 2009 at 11:08 AM ^

Can someone please explain to me the concept of "one and done vs. gritty hard working 4 year player"?

You don't check a fucking box or something and only recruit one or the other - the majority of players are not one and done, so the majority of recruits won't be either. There's nothing wrong with taking a guy with NBA hopes for one year if he fits in with your team. Nobody takes a full class of one and dones every single year. The argument is asinine.


March 18th, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

If Conley wasn't on Oden's team, he might have stuck around. Everyone expected BJ Mullen to be OSU's next one and done, but that's looking more and more doubtful. Who knows? Stu Douglass and Ben Cronin will be gone if M hits the Sweet 16.

Other Andrew

March 18th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

I swore off of Michigan basketball sometime during my junior year (95-96). The team was as talented as any in the nation, but played like a bunch of assholes. I was too big a basketball fan to support them. The fact that Robert Traylor couldn't box out, even by accident, was too much for me to deal with. I was also greatly bothered by the fact that Maurice Taylor never got any better than his freshman year of college. Both were clear signs that there was no coaching going on.

I switched my basketball loyalties back to my home state and Illinois, and have never regretted the decision. Obviously with football, hockey, and every other Michigan sport I remained an ardent fan. But seeing Albert White try to a baseline dunk only to completely miss the rim and send the ball to the third row on the other side of the court (yes this happened in a game), was just far too much for me.

However, Beilein has very quickly won me over. I spent last year in a steady transition back to Michigan and by the end of the season, it was no contest. This is a kind of basketball I can get behind. In sum, GO BLUE!

Also, unless I'm mistaken, Battier originally verbally committed to Michigan and then changed his mind. So he did at least think about it.


March 19th, 2009 at 2:36 AM ^

I don't meant to attack you, but I can't really understand how you can sit here and write GO BLUE a paragraph after you describe "switching loyalties". You rooted for Illinois against Michigan? Oh but you stayed with our football and hockey teams during that period.

So basically, from 1995 until 2008, you only supported the winning programs? And rooted against us in basketball.

But now that we're back in the tournament, you're a Michigan b-ball fan again. Great.

Other Andrew

March 19th, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

I understand your point of view. I realize how it sounds. But you have to understand that Michigan basketball disgusted me. And that had nothing to do with all the shady dealings (and constant fear that all those shady dealings would lead to problems for the other sports). It was the fact that their style of basketball play offended me. I grew up rooting for Illinois in basketball (including 1989, btw), and I couldn't support my own school. I wasn't happy about that. It had nothing to do with "winning programs", and everything to do with the galling display on the court. During that stretch, Illinois was the worst team in the Big Ten at one point.

When I first changed my mind, I thought it would last until Fisher was gone. But then it continued. I always wanted to come back, but outside of a handful of devoted players, nobody ever gave me the slightest reason.

I overstated things in my second to last paragraph. I support the team, but I wouldn't really describe myself as a Michigan b-ball fan. I am rooting for them now. I say GO BLUE because I want them to win. I never stopped wanting them to be good, and continued to root for them against every team but Illinois. Last year that balance was in question, and this year I shifted completely in those games. It wasn't that conscious.

Again, I see how this is offensive to you, but I was offended 13 years ago. That's what caused the problem in the first place.


March 18th, 2009 at 1:11 PM ^

I don't like playing "one and done" players at all. First of all, I always wonder how many of them are playing for the highest bidder. Taking a paycheck in the NBA doesn't reflect badly on a player's character, but taking one while in college does, because it is specifically against the rules.

It is my belief that those players who intend to go immediately to the NBA after their one year "waiting period" do not have any incentive to fulfill the "student" part of "student-athlete," and can therefore have a disruptive influence on teammates who are trying to do just that.

Most importantly, the most obvious and talented one and dones have a tendency to attract Ed Martin types, ala Chris "two and done" Webber. Webber was a great example of the prima donna who only went to college to enhance his profile. Chris Webber, not the 1989 team or even Steve "lassiez-faire" Fisher, was the main catylist of the scandal. It was Webber who started taking the money. This set the precedent that turned UM into a dirty program for a few years.

The right one and done would be a decent addition to a team, but you build a program with players who will stay for three, four, or five years. The best of both worlds would be to have a program that is one player away from the final four and have a one and done who can get you there.
But I really don't think a one and done would ever fit into Beilein's system well enough to benefit UM.


March 18th, 2009 at 1:14 PM ^

If you could provide me with like one example of these "one and dones" that took money or got their program in trouble that would be fantastic.

So far you've got Webber, who was here for 2, and it's at Michigan.

Did I miss KSU going on probation because of Beasley? OSU because of Oden? USC because of Mayo? Texas because of Durant? Syracuse because of Melo? Could you please provide ONE SINGLE SOLITARY FUCKING piece of evidence this is a problem?

Or are you a vile troll that just makes up stuff, believes it to be fact, and then spins reality to match your notions?


March 18th, 2009 at 6:43 PM ^

BTW, I have to believe the same thing still happens in big time b-ball circles, but is just more hidden.

It's not necessarily more hidden; it's just that the NCAA lacks the manpower (and, more importantly, the supoena power) to seriously investigate most cases. The first time they investigated us (1996-97) for the Martin scandal, they hardly turned up anything. It was only when the FBI went after Martin a few years later, forcing Webber et al. to testify, that they found the dirt.


March 18th, 2009 at 8:27 PM ^

I have nothing against Belien but I often wish this team had a little more Jalen Rose or even Jimmy King in them. Weber and others took money and disgraced the university and it was on Fishers guard so it's also on him. Other than that I don't see anything intrinsically wrong about the way Fisher and Freider won -when they were able to win. Those freshmen didn't get to the final game without some good coaching. People forget the next best recruiting class ever was in their 3rd year at North Carolina when we played them for the NC. They also had the highest rated point guard from the fab 5 class. I have never understood the - "didn't play up to their ability" argument for the fab 5- they where sophomores and yes, they often played like it. They also often played much older than their years.