Where Was I When This Last Happened? A Personal Final Four "Then And Now"

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on April 4th, 2013 at 10:39 AM

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.

Comments

JeepinBen

April 4th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

As a 6 year old in 1993, I had no idea about anything that wasn't hockey. But I think this could be a fun thread. Where were you last time Michigan went dancing?

justingoblue

April 4th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

when we go to the way back machine and JeepinBen gets there first. CenterIce should comment to complete this "probably the exact same experience" demographic, although at least you and I were watching good hockey in 1992-93. Rangers with 79 points and 40 points off the leaders in the Patrick Division, yikes.

Also needed: CooperLily21 to stop talking POLITICS down on the board and make a joke about "rising through the ranks".

justingoblue

April 4th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

I would watch the occasional Michigan game when I was in the state visiting family, but my first non-snippet memory of watching an entire football game wouldn't be until years later in the 1998 Rose Bowl (not a bad "first impression"). Other than that, I remember random bits of some Bulls games during that time but probably 95% of my sports memories at that age were watching the Red Wings/Blackhawks and listening to Michigan hockey when I could.

Your 1997 and 1998 experiences were my own, definitely. Any earlier and I probably would have thought that was a typical season, any later and the magic wouldn't have been quite the same.

itauditbill

April 4th, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

I was in school for the last official one as well as both of the redacted appearances. I was a freshman in 1988-89. Is there any better time to expeience this than as a Freshman? I watched the championship game in Frank and Curtis' room on 2nd Hamilton (Home of the Human Pile, don't ask) in Bursley. Then the next day I went out and bought my gear and was part of the quickly assembled band to welcome the team back to Crisler. (As the Basketball band was on the plane and we wanted to welcome the team back as soon as the team arrived at Crisler)

For 92 and 93 I was in year 4 and 5 of the education and living in the Bait's houses. I understood that Webber wasn't coming back after the 93 game. It was fun to watch that team, but you knew that it was different, they had changed the game.

I didn't know that would be it at the time. 3 final 4's in 5 years can make you a bit jaded. Of course I didn't know that Michigan was on it's way into a pit of despair.

Now I'm 42 with a son who is watching the games with me. I made it to a game earlier this season and was blown away by the arena. (So much better than when I was there). Anything that the team gets this weekend will be gravy for me after the last 20 years. I watch this team and am proud that they are representatives of Michigan. I love their work ethic, their attitudes and the coaching staff.

This has been a fun run and I believe that there will be more. I believe in Coach Beilein.

 

M-Wolverine

April 4th, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

I was always jealous I wasn't born a year earlier; and still regret not staying for a 5th year even if it had been 93-94. If you can any way afford it, stay five years....lighter class loads, better grades, and an extra year of fun. But everyone is so anxious to grow up and move on....sigh...

So yeah, last time I was a senior. In our apartment with all our roomies. And crushed. Remember wandering down to South U for weak tear gassing, and going around it, to head down to the athletic campus, by myself, not believing it happened AGAIN. Got back late to our place to join in the cracked open sorrow beers.

I hope seniors this year get a different experience. Just go easy on the China Gate awning, ok?

M-Wolverine

April 12th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

I think when I passed by South U they were rushing the line of cops, then getting pushed back...so I just sent past, down past the Law Quad to the athletic area.  When I wandered back it was trash and remnants of tear gas in the air.  Headed back to the Geddes-Hill apartments where they had already cracked open the beers. And now that they knew I was still alive handed me one.

I think I actually made it to my morning class the next day. I think it had less to do with whatever we needed to do in there as the hot girl in the class. Who asked me why I looked so down and I just pointed the the cover of the Daily.

MikeCohodes

April 4th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

and not yet a Michigan fan, and 7 years away from being a Michigan student.  (if you're curious you can read my mgodiary post about my journey to Michigan obsession beginning after the 1994 Colorado hail mary game here: LINK

As an 11 year old growing up in Chicago, I idolized Michael Jordan, and was rooting for his alma mater North Carolina in their game against Michigan. I remember watching with shock when Webber called the timeout he didn't have. That was my first taste of the insanity that March Madness features on an annual basis.

This year I can't wait to watch Michigan in the Final Four. A win by them Saturday guarantees my finishing in the money in my pool, with a shot at winning it all depending on the other game and the title game. But even more importantly, this is the moment I've been waiting 18+ years for as a Michigan fan, a chance to see them in the Final Four and be cheering for them not against them.

By coincidence, the last 3 UM games this tournament have taken place while I was at an airport. The VCU game happened while I was at O'Hare waiting to fly out of Chicago, the Kansas game started as I was landing in Manila on a flight back from Tagbilaran in the Philippines, and the Florida game was playing in the terminal when I landed back in Chicago.  So, to guarantee Michigan wins the next two games, I need to be flying on Saturday and Monday.  Too bad I'm broke after my vacation.  Anyone want to chip in to help me get tickets to somewhere?

SeattleWolverine

April 4th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

I was just a few years older than you and still in high school at Pioneer and like you I wound up being an LS&A student a few years later. My dad was still teaching in the business school and we had had season tickets for years. Because of that, we were actually able to get faculty tickets to the Final Four and amazingly the seats were better than our upper bowl seats at Crisler. We were behind the Michigan bench in about the 25th row which was great there were some places in the Superdome that were a long way from the court.

 

We actually had to stay in Mississippi and drive in because we couldn't find any hotel rooms in New Orleans (or perhaps they were all insanely priced). Kentucky fans were everywhere, thousands of them were there even though they did not have tickets. UK and Pitino had won their first 4 games by something like 120 points and were a heavy favorite. We had really struggled in the first four rounds even though we were gifted a really easy path to the FInal Four (unlike 92). Remember that UCLA game? Great comeback. Then we had to beat a #12 and a #7 in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

 

The early game Saturday was the Kansas UNC game and that was not that exciting. Kansas was not as good as the other 3 teams as they had good guards with Jordan and Walters but did not have the front court skills of the other teams. When our game tipped off it it seemed like the whole arena was from Kentucky. But we led early and that game was back and forth. It went to overtime and in the end we won. The Kentucky fans were just so incredulous that they could lose. Mashburn, Travis Ford, Rodrick Rhodes, Jared Prickett, Dale Brown, Tony Delk, that team was loaded. I know some people say the Duke Kentucky game the year before was the best basketball game ever. That may be, I really don't know. I am convinced though that the Michigan Kentucky game was the best college basketball game that Michigan has played in in the last 30+ years in terms of the quality of play and being an exciting game. Other games like Kansas this year can perhaps compete based on how exciting they are but the quality of play was off the charts. Webber was awesome.

 

The National Championship game...what can you say. Donald Williams had a career night on the biggest stage possible. Webber was great again and I really thought we were gonna win partway through the second half. Jimmy King played well. I loved Ray Jackson because he was not as talented as the other guys but he had a tough night and fouled out. When the free throw was missed you just felt that it was destiny for Michigan to either tie it and send it to overtime or for Rose to penetrate and kick out to either King or Pelinka (was it Pelinka or Voskuil who was in the game?) for a 3. Everyone was in such shock that Webber was not called for a travel and the arena was still up in arms about that before we all realized what had happened with the timeout. Such a sad ending. To not even have a chance at the tying shot was just so disheartening. And then after the game you felt like well at least the starters will all be back next year and even better. That was a ray of hope since the 93 team was so much better than the 92 team and you felt we had to win in 94. Back then no one went pro until after their junio year. But Webber left and Arkansas beat us by 4 in the Elite 8 on their way to the national championship the next year and that was the end. So close...but not quite. Great times and exciting basketball even if the ending wasn't the same as 89. I'll feel the same way about this team. Even if it doesn't end up with two more wins it was still great fun to watch the ride.

Feat of Clay

April 4th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

I was here at Michigan, in my first year of grad school.  I did my undergrad at a southern woman's college and sports just weren't really on my radar screen.  Football games, for example, were a chance to get dressed up and tailgate at a neighboring school, no one actually watched  down.  

I didn't get basketball tickets but most of my cronies did, and there were a ton of games where someone couldn't use their ticket so I went in their stead.  That said, for all the time I spent in Crisler I just wasn't that much of a sports fan then.  I enjoyed the experience of going to the arena and hanging out with my friends, but I didn't really follow along that closely.

What I do recall is that I loved Chris Webber but Jalen Rose unnerved me, what with his shaved head and frequent scowls.

How things have changed.  Now I am a much bigger Michigan fan.  It helps immensely, I believe that sites like this enable you to better understand player's personalities and backgrounds.  I love Jalen Rose; I have a tough time summoning any good feelings about Webber.  And this team has been a blast to follow.  I don't go to Crisler as much now (I watch from home) but we did have one hell of a tour of the PDC this fall from Coach Alexander, so now I feel like I own the place.  LOL

snarling wolverine

April 4th, 2013 at 7:10 PM ^

I was in middle school.  I was a huge fan and had tons of Michigan gear that I wore all the time to school.   (I guess I'm starting to revert back in that regard - my M wardrobe is getting pretty extensive nowadays.)  I had newspaper articles of the team clipped and taped to my wall.  I remember cutting out a life-size image of Chris Webber's hand that the Detroit News ran.  I was absolutely, positively convinced we would win the national title all season.  It seemed predestined.  When we fell short that night after the timeout, I slumped in my bed and sobbed.  Probably my toughest moment as a sports fan to this day.  The wound from that loss never really healed for years because our hoops program fell apart, but now it's like we're finally experiencing redemption.  

Being back in the Final Four is incredible - literally.  I can't believe we're back.  This week has been fantastic.  I'm trying to soak it all in.

 

ILL_Legel

April 5th, 2013 at 7:48 AM ^

Junior year. I watched the game at a very small but drunken chaos party in Viscount apartments. Still one of my favorite nights in my life.

The two things I most clearly recall from 1989 are the national championship and the movie Do The Right Thing.

1989 the number
Another summer
Get down
Sound of the funky drummer

The opening to one of my favorite songs to this day!

MichFan1997

April 5th, 2013 at 7:58 AM ^

But I didn't become interested in watching sports until I was 8. So I just barely missed out. Therefore, this weekend is a pretty huge thing for me as I've never seen a Final Four other than those ones without Michigan (which aren't as cool I'd presume lol)

MMB 82

April 5th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

event at a swanky hotel in Chicago the night of the semi-final vs Kentucky, me and several other UM grads were conspicuously absent for a major portion of the event, being up in someone's room drinking, shouting and watching the game. We caught a bit of shit from my department head for missing most of the event. Two night later, I was on obstetrics call as an anesthesiologist for the same hospital, watching the final as quietly as I could in my call room, with the double anxiety of the game as well as praying that I wouldn't get called for an epidural or something until after the game was over. So what happened? A STAT C-section, about 30 seconds before Webber walked (after rebounding the missed free throw- how come everyone else on the team was already up the court?), then called the timeout. Missed that last minute, and there was no way around it; even worse, spending the next hour in the OR not knowing how it turned out.....

Gameboy

April 5th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

Drove all day to get to New Orleans with my buddies and stayed at some cheap motel in NO. The scene at the French Quarter was just Cray.

I was never so high as I was after the Kentucky win. You know the rest.

Still one of the best weekend of my life.