Smooth Sailing - Mar. 15, 2006

Smooth Sailing [Mar. 15, 2006]

In-Tom-petence creates March Madness in Ann Arbor

Tommy Amaker provides another shining example of how being a "classy" guy out-weighs the results on the court - or lack thereof.

     For those of you expecting a rant on the further inadequacies of Mr. Classic, I hope you won't be dissappointed by my tangential topic of his close relative: Mr. Intompetent. However, not to dissappoint my adoring fans I will show you some startling similarities between the two.  

     Why? Well, simply because I can and since the comparison is so glaringly obvious. As I reclined in my favorite chair watching us choke the living piss out of our best opportunity to make the big dance, I was enlightened by Michigan's #1 sports fan, aka Brent Musberger, that (and I'm paraphrasing here, but not by much) Tommy Amaker is a classy guy in Bill Martin's estimation and his job is not in jeopardy.

     Well, Tommy, I'm sorry, Mr. Intompetent, if you haven't heard the rumblings from Jim Spadafore and Angelique S. Chengelis, both of the Detroit News, and Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press, then I'm officially opening season on your classy ass.

     Now I'm not going into definitions like my fellow columnist did on Jan. 19, 2006 [see related column],  but the similarities are quite astonishing. Both Mr. Classic and Mr. Intompetent have injected respectability into their position, lest we not forget Gary Moeller and his arresting habits nor Brian Ellerbe's questionable recruits, but both of these bastions of class have failed to field any positive postseason success let alone cemented our programs as being elite in their respective sports.

     For those of you who wish to argue these points, I provide the following evidence. First of all, our football team has backed into it's two recent Rose Bowls and lost both and then followed up that amazing success of the 2005 season with a loss to Redneck Callahan and the Redneck Huskers in the Alamo Bowl. Secondly, Mr. Intompetent may have won us a 2004 NIT championship, but let's be frank, they might as well call it the Toilet Bowl Tourney sponsored by Dran-o Liquid Plumr, it's barely a banner of much respect..

     When have you heard a team start their season saying they want to win the NIT at season's end? Never. The NIT will always play second fiddle to "the Big Dance", heck, the NIT is lucky it's still alive and kicking after going to court with the NCAA over it's name. Oh, and how did we follow up our NIT banner year? With a big fat nothing, not even so much as an invite by the NIT the following year to defend our throne.

     Don't believe me? Check out the results at the NIT's own website!

     This type of stat, or lack thereof, only helps to reinforce my point that there is no progression at all towards re-establishing Michigan as an elite program. Now whether we were very elite as a basketball program can be debated to the ends of the earth, but I reason that we have been there with the likes of Cazzie Russell leading us and even in our championship year of 1989 with Steve Fisher taking over for Bill Frieder.

      Now I know the Steve Fisher era may be a sour one with some of you fans, but '89 was a golden year for our program. Bill Frieder was moving onto greener pastures and Our Beloved Bo would not stand for that (as the Athletic Director at the time) and replaced him prior to the tourney and 6 wins later Steve Fisher is destined for greatness.  

      However, that was not meant to be as Ed Martin (no relation to our current AD Bill, although I wouldn't be surprised if we traced that lineage back we wouldn't see some interesting relationships fester) quickly ruined what success was established by the Fab Five under Fisher and he was jettisoned out to San Diego State, where look, he's at it again, taking teams to "the Big Dance" while we were left with Brian Ellerbe. Whatever happened to him?

      On second thought, don't answer that. I don't want to know, and nor does the University seem to even acknowledge his participation in our program on mGoBlue.com - I dare anyone to defy me and find his listing in our history.

      So, with several years of our history unaccounted for, thanks to Chris "What, we're out of timeouts?" Webber for that and we're barely back in the picture with Amaker. Fabulous, this is a guy who turned over half the roster the year he inherited, is barely getting one solid recruit a year let alone any depth to turn our program around and apparently has no concept of offense.

      Now, is it just me, or has anybody else noticed our offensive discipline, or lack thereof, this year. Furthermore, his concept of defense isn't that far ahead of his offensive schemes. Witness exhibit A) Ohio State at home on Feb. 9th; exhibit B) at Ohio State on Feb. 25th; and exhibit C)  against Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tourney as evidence of our ineptitude.

      Exhibit A is fairly straightforward. We jump out to a comfortable lead early and then Mr. Intompetent has the brilliant idea to have our kids play zone defense. To that I say simply brilliant, OSU only shot 12-16 from 3pt range that half. Yes, you read that right, I almost didn't believe it myself when I checked the stat at Michigan's own site.

      Exhibit B is pretty much the opposite of Exhibit A even though it was the same opponent at a different venue. Both teams played miserable, and the stats will back this up, yet somehow despite every opportunity to win this game, on the road no less, and thanks to our non-existent offensive schemes, we pulled up lame.

      Finally, this brings us to Exhibit C, which is a perfect combination of Exhibits A and B. For the umpteenth time this season with a comfortable lead, Amaker makes us play zone defense. Slowly we see our lead dwindle in the first half and vanish in no time in the second. Even more inexplicably we continue to play zone defense well into the closing minutes of the second half with the uncertainty of a "big dance" ticket punched that even Steve Lavin, a coach who got exiled from UCLA (and is quite available Mr. Martin) became visibly upset.

      Equally as shocking is that on a team with a man named Daniel Horton, a "PTPer" that single-handedly lifted us to victory over Illinois (which poetically was our last victory), our offense resembled, well, I don't know what it resembled. I haven't seen offense that lost since I watched a Detroit Lions football game, or heck, a Wolverine football game (R.I.P Terry Malone).  

      After that dismal performance it came as entirely no shock to me that we're not dancing. Apparently Bill Martin needs us to generate more revenue by tanking games at the end of the season to create more home games through the NIT or Mr. Amaker is truly intompetent.

      As I watched the final minute of the Minnesota game interminably end, I could only hope that Bill Martin was becoming painfully aware of the lack of results that Amaker is bringing in along with the obscenely dismal on court product he is orchestrating. Furthermore, I hope he saw how available, competent and eager Mr. Steve Lavin looked on television.

     Once the game finally ended, I longed for the Steve Fisher era. I longed for a defensive double-down in the post (gee, we could've used that to shut down Terrence Dials on more than one occasion), and an offensive system. I longed for the attitude and talent of the Fab Five, not  the seemingly aimless wondering Amaker has promoted in his team.

     Even more I longed for a National Championship. However, after taking a dose of reality, I'd be just as happy if we went dancing. Instead, I am relegated to picking up my NIT tickets and hoping for a glimmer of a chance to scream at Mr. Intompetent in person. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and my seats will be next to Mr. Classic and we can catch up on old times.

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