I had the luxury of getting tickets to the Wizards-Pistons game last night, and was damn glad to see a huge Wizards win. Or should I say a huge win by the Eastern Conference leading Wizards. And last night was a perfect display of why I really believe this team has all the tools to come out of the East this season. Arenas shot 10-of-27 from the field, Caron only had eight points, and yet the Wiz found a way to win against a Pistons team that had been leading the conference until last night. Antawn had a huge night, pouring in 35. You can stop someone, but there always seems to be another person able to fill in the scoring void. And when it came down to it, Gilbert had some huge buckets down the stretch. Man, going into Detroit and getting a win showed me a whole lot. I really can't wait to watch this team now that the second half is upon us.
Now onto a team I really am not looking forward to watching anymore. Michigan dropped its second straight today against Indiana on the road. Its looking more and more like the Wolverines are headed down the exact same path as last season. But in all fairness: did I expect them to win either today or at Wisco on Wednesday? No. But if they plan on making the tourny, they've got to get one they aren't supposed to win. Pretty much every team that has NCAA aspirations has some kind of marquee win at this point. Michigan doesn't and it's the reason the NIT is more realistic. But this team has the talent to go places, they just don't have a competent coach. I'm just going to rundown a few of the errors Tommy has made simply in these past two road losses (mind you this isn't all of them):
-With Michigan trailing by seven at the end of the first half on Wednesday, Alando Tucker was on the bench with two fouls. To me, this would seem like the perfect opportunity for the Wolverines to make a little run to even it at half. So this was the lineup Amaker put on the floor. Jerret Smith, reed Baker, Ron Coleman, Brent Petway and Ekpe Udoh. There's literally no one in thaty lineup who can create their own shot.
-He wouldn't play Dion Harris with three fouls in the second half against Wisco
-Despite the fact that Wisco kept driving past Michigan time and time again, he continued to play high pressure man-to-man defense. Wisco's biggest deficiency is 3-point shooting, yet 18 of its 24 field goals on Wednesday were layups.
-With Indiana on fire from 3-point range, Amaker switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone, a defense known for allowing 3-pointers.
I'm not even going to begin to critique the offense, or lack thereof. When passes are being made 27 feet from the basket, you have to know something is wrong. During the telecast of the game, Rick Majerus kept referencing Michigan's "spacing" problems on offense. Rick, that wasn't a spacing problem, that's how the offense is drawn up. Tommy Amaker is literally the most incompetent offensive basketball coach I have ever witnessed on any level of competetive basketball. His offense is the biggest joke in the world. I'm pretty sure only Matt will understand this, but everytime I watch this team play I think to myself "Boy, if they only knew how to run the screen and go away, this team could be somewhere". I really want to call up George Brown and bring him on as an assistant here or something. Then maybe we'd have some semblance of both a man-to-man and zone offense. I guess this is just frustration coming out because I really have gotten to the point where I'm fed up watching a team where I like all the guys be sabotaged by a bad coach. Tommy shouldn't even be coaching at the high school level, let alone Division 1. So, yes, I do think his ass needs to be canned, and fast.
Only way to describe Amaker's
But the only problem with all this is the talent we have coming in next year. Apparently Manny Harris and Alex Legion are better than any player currently on the Michigan roster. These kids, along with Ekpe Udoh and Deshawn Sims, could start a renaissance for this program...but not with Tommy as their coach. It just won't happen because a bad coach will always stunt growth. That being said, Tommy needs to stay atleast another year or these kids won't come into the program. And for all the bashing I do of Tommy, he is a nice guy usually and inherited this program when it was at the lowest of the lows. He deserves credit for bringing Michigan back to relevance atleast. But he is not the coach to take the team to that next level. We need a new mind in here to infuse some creativity into a program that was once so mighty. This would be a dream job for any coach given the resources and notoriety at his disposal. The facilities aren't the greatest but like almost every naive Michigan supporter will tell you: "The Michigan name sells". But that's starting to not be so true anymore. In basketball, we haven't had a better recruiting class than Michigan State in years, and are routinely missing out on the best in-state recruits. Even with harris and Legion, State had a better recruiting year than us. And in football, this upcoming recruiting class may be the worst since 2000 (Thank God we locked up mallet early). The bottom line is that Tommy has given his best and it simply isn't good enough anymore. Hey, and if you're a glass half full kind of guy, maybe Legion and Harris are the saviors this program's been waiting for.
Alex Legion (top), Copperyale "Manny" Harris (bottom)