Maize and Blue....Holla at 13
Sunday’s showdown against in state rival Michigan State at Crisler Arena is the most hyped, anticipated and intriguing game in my four
years at this sunny metropolis we call Ann Arbor. Michigan (12-6, 5-0) has miraculously run off a string of twelve straight victories (currently the second longest win streak in the nation), and is looking for lucky 13 against the
Spartans (10-7, 2-3).
Levell Blanchard is finally getting some love after four years of losing.
After 5 years of dominating Michigan, and one National Championship later, State finally looks vulnerable. They have been plagued by early defections of Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, and Marcus Taylor (rumor has it he is washing dishes at Bob’s Big Boy in Lansing).
Tom Izzo’s star recruits (Kevin Torbert, Paul Davis) have been slow to develop and State is experiencing the off year that almost every high profile program is susceptible to these
A Michigan victory on Super Bowl Sunday would further invigorate the program. It will improve
morale, boost ticket sales (first sellout at crisler since Duke in ’99) and give Coach Tommy Amaker further credibility and momentum for the future. Not to
mention, the Maize and Blue might find themselves in the AP polls for the first time since '97.
So the insightful reader (thankfully nobody who is reading this falls into that category) should be asking: How far has the program come
in the last few months and how far do they have to go to get back to the respectability and success that Michigan has enjoyed through its rich basketball history.
A win tomorrow may very well be the highlight of this season. Michigan can also set goals
such as Big 10 regular season champs, and winning the conference tournament. Hopefully, the dull, hopeless days of walk-ons in the starting line up
and empty seats outnumbering the listless crowd are behind us.
Michigan is on a self-imposed probation resulting from Ed Martin running number and throwing the Fab Five C-notes like he was playing
Monopoly. They are banned from post-season play for this season. Furthermore, next month they have an
NCAA hearing where further punishment is a possibility.
Although, Mary Sue Clark and Tom Martin have already bowed down to the Hitleresque reign of the NCAA by self imposed sanctions, I would
not be surprised if the NCAA further sanctions Michigan. The case is so highly publicized, and especially with Chris Webber and Ed Martin entangled
in federal legal matters relating to these violations, the NCAA will have little mercy and may severely punish Michigan for having to clean up this mess. Possible sanctions may be reductions in scholarships or post season bans for future seasons.
Off the court problems aside, Tommy Amaker seems to be doing a credible job restoring pride to Michigan Basketball.
He has rid the program of Ellerbe’s s**t by dismissing
Disgruntled players Josh Moore, Avery Queen and Dominic Ingerson. His first recruiting class
has had an immediate impact with the leadership of rising star Daniel Horton. Lester Abram, Graham Brown and Chris Hunter should also blossom into
respectable Big 10 players. It looks as though these players are here to stay for a while, something Ellerbe was never able to accomplish with his
In swingman Dion Harris, Amaker has landed the top recruit in the state for the first time since Level Blanchard stayed in town for
college. Courtney Sims is a 6’10” true center from Dedham, Mass. who has the potential to develop into the inside force that Michigan has been
lacking for years. In addition, two red shirt players will be active next year. Center Amadou Ba and transfer J.C. Mathis.
Mathis a NYC product is a PF that started at Virginia last season. He should be able to step into the starting lineup and produce from the start.
The best-case scenario is that the NCAA acknowledges Michigan’s ignorance of the entire scandal, and their willingness to correct the
wrongdoing and lets them off without further punishment.
On the court, Horton and the freshman continue to develop. Next season the Wolverines are
able to overcome the departure of Blanchard, as Horton becomes the leader of the team with the bulk of scoring shared between him, Abram and Bernard Robinson.
Michigan perennial weakness inside becomes strength with Hunter, Brown, Simms and Mathis adding toughness to the team.
Finally there may be some light at the end of the tunnel (or in Michigan you could say some sun at the end of this frozen tundra).
This is a far cry from a month ago when the team was 0-6, and had little sign of hope. Nobody would have ever thought that the Maize Rage would be charging the court, Crisler would be
rocking or my dumb ass would be seen by millions on TV celebrating victory. Even this esteemed author ridiculed the program for sanctions that would never affect them, and called them the worst
team in Major College Basketball.
Goes to show you, LittyHoops talks out of his ass. But then
again, so do Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale and they actually get paid.