Monday, April 8, 2013

One More Time

I get asked a lot, how I can write about Michigan sports 5+ days a week?  It's not that easy and as many of you know, "I mail it in sometimes".   It's a labor of love and sharing my thoughts with all of you is something I look forward to everyday.   If I wasn't eating my breakfast on my keyboard, something would be wrong. 

In the 5 years or so I have written this blog, I have never come across a night like tonight.   I'm old enough to have been around for Michigan's latest 3 trips to National Championship Game in the NCAA Tournament.   I have never been so nervous in my life watching sports, with Rumeal Robinson shooting two free throws with a National Championship on the line.   Rumeal was a dynamic point guard but he wasn't a good free throw shooter and to his credit he knocked down both shots.  

The NCAA can say the Fab Five's run to back to back National Championships games has been removed from the records books, but they can't remove them from our memory.    A numbers runner from Detroit, can't change history.  Because the Fab 5 created it.  They created a new type of basketball where freshman could play and could play very well.   They even changed the way basketball players wear their uniforms all over the world.   The Fab Five lost both championships games, one in a blow out to Duke another in a time out they didn't have to North Carolina.   The Fab Five motto was they were going to "Shock the World", that didn't happen but they sure as hell "Changed it". 

It has taken 20 years for Michigan to comeback from the greed of a now deceased numbers runner.   He threw the first punch if you will in the decline of the program but the University of Michigan didn't do much to help it rebound.  It was clear Michigan was football school and not much was happening with the basketball program.   There were terrible head coaching hires in the likes of Brian Ellerbee and the miss with Tommy Amaker.   We blame a ton on "Sailboat" Bill for his replacement of Lloyd Carr but the day he hired John Beilein this program changed for the better.  It's ironic that Rick Pitino had accepted the Michigan job (before they hired Amaker), Dicky V even reported it on ESPN before Rick changed his mind after his wife didn't want to leave Kentucky.

Michigan invested in their basketball program with a new practice facility and gave Crisler a new face lift.   Recruits noticed how John recruited and his goal of getting them shots, they also noticed how Michigan was getting serious about basketball again.   Michigan has the Gatorade Players of the Year in the state of Michigan and Indiana coming in next year.  Tonight is the proof that the investment has paid off.

There were the Zack Novak's of the world who weren't recruited by really any major program that helped build this program.  But the Michigan Basketball Program changed again when John Beilein convinced a Penn State commitment from Columbus, Ohio to come to Ann Arbor.  It's funny how a couple superstar Ohio players have had a positive effect on Michigan National Championships.  I believe there could be a clear analogy if Michigan wins tonight between Charles Woodson and Trey Burke, both players from Ohio.

We fast forward to tonight and what's at stake.  I make the argument that the really important things have already been accomplished.   There isn't any questions remaining if Michigan Basketball is back.  I know many of you have skipped basketball season for probably the last 10 years, like I have.   That is no longer the case.   We are again NCAA basketball fans and we can thank these young men in Maize and Blue.  

Tonight is the cherry on top of the Sundae that you will never forget.  There is nothing more then I want then a win tonight but I also have a feeling this journey isn't complete, it's just beginning.   The only thing we might lose tonight is that superstar from Columbus and that sharp shooting guard from Miami.  

Let's hope our team makes history tonight and if they don't you can sleep easy this program will again, only like Michigan can. 


Keys to the game:

I believe both teams are very similar.  They both have athletic guards and dynamic big men.  Louisville is a bit better defensively and Michigan has the edge on the offense.   Michigan has more NBA prospects and Louisville has more experience.  

The experts that like Louisville will say they press like VCU and play a zone like Syracuse.   Yes, they do press but I didn't see it on Saturday until they were down with 5 minutes or so to go.   You know what?  I don't care.   I want to talk about Michigan. 

  • We need Trey.  We need him to break the press and deliver some assists and play great D against Louisville's quick guards.   I have noticed the strategy has been to get Trey winded on the court.   He can't play all 40 minutes and will need some rest at strategic times.   If he has his legs, I like our chances.

  • Shoot the 3 For You and Me.   We heard a little bit that Nik was struggling with a migraine on Saturday night.  Let's hope he is feeling better and 100% ready to play.  With that said, the lights might be to big for him tonight.   We need Hardaway to go crazy from 3.   It could be his last game in a Michigan uniform and he wants to put on a show when everyone is watching.   I don't want him to dribble, just shoot lights out from the 3.    Get in the zone big fella. 

  • McGary needs to control that 7 footer.   Over power that guy, get boards and easy put backs.  Be yourself and have some crazy fun tonight.

  • Don't Turn The Ball Over - every team Michigan has played in the tournament has lived off turn overs.  If we don't do it, we can win this game.

  • Don't leave points on the floor - make those shots, when you get fouled.

  • Jump over the Moon - GR3 with a few dunks, rebounds and blocks.   Do what you have done all tournament.   We also need some defensive stops tonight.  Check that guy with the beard, he went off against WSU.

This is the same game you have played a thousands times, nothing more nothing less.  Go play ball, play smart, play loose, have fun.

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