I had one helluva few days there right after Thanksgiving Break. I left Monday afternoon from Potomac to go to Raleigh, NC to cover the Michigan-NC State basketball game. After I wrote my story at the RBC Center, I left Raleigh at like 1130pm, returning to Potomac at 4am. I then left for the airport to catch a plane back to Michigan at 530am. I returned to my room at 10am. Was it worth it? Well I did get to sit courtside at a nice arena, within arms reach of Danny Ainge. That was sweet.
But while at the RBC Center I witnessed a basketball team that I thought was NCAA Tournament-worthy get dissected by an NC State team that wasn't that good. I figure the Wolfpack are going to be a bottom-tier team in the ACC, especially now that Maryland is playing well beyond anybody's expectations. And Michigan just got crushed by them. The final score doesn't indicate it, but Michigan was completely outplayed by a team that had just six scholarship players on its roster. Then Engin Atsur, probably their best player, got hurt before the first TV timeout of the first half. And the Wolverines still lost.
As I sat there below the basket, I came to a realization about Michigan and Tommy Amaker in general. Amaker has this team playing high-pressure man to man defense just like the Duke teams he played and coached for in the past. He also runs basically the same motion offense that Duke plays. The only difference is that he just doesn't have the Duke athletes to pull it off. Time and time again on Monday night, NC State players would just blow by a Michigan defender for an easy layup. And on offense, Michigan's best interior scorer, Courtney Sims, simply couldn't keep up with the pace of the game. Watching him meander down the court, it was so obvious that he's just a big stiff. This game will come back to bite them in the ass because the WOlfpack just aren't that good. But that just means Michigan is worse. I see 18 wins for this Wolverine team. But even that will be misleading since 12 of those wins are going to come before Big Ten season. Michigan's non-conference schedule is a joke this year. They had/have all cupcakes except for NC State, Georgetown at home, and UCLA on the road. And I think it's pretty obvious that the GTown and UCLA games can be chalked up as losses right now. That leaves them at 12-3 heading into Big Ten season, and a 6-10 record in the Big Ten. Tommy Amaker, you are the master of mediocrity.