Friday, January 09, 2009

Congrats Tommy

I know this is a little belated, but I figured I rag on him so much, I've also got to be the bigger man when Tommy Amaker does something remarkable. The Harvard Crimson defeated their first-ever ranked opponent, beating Boston College, 82-70, just a few days after the Eagles had scored an upset over previously undefeated UNC at the Dean Dome. Here's what the AP thought was the most memorable Tommy quote afterwards:

“Obviously it’s a special night for us and for our basketball program,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.

Ahhh, quintessential Tommy. And obviously and a special and very little else. But the final score got me thinking, how the hell did Harvard put up 82 points. Aren't they running the same "Tommy swirls his finger in the air and then the team proceeds to pass the ball around about 30 feet from the basket before desperation sets in with the shot clock expiring followed by a desperate heave" offense. I mean, it's patented Amaker so I figured he brought it with him to Cambridge, Mass.

I'm guessing the Harvard "fist" offense is the new version of the patented Michigan "swirly finger of death" scheme he used in Ann Arbor.

Well I started to wonder, just how many times did Tommy eclipse 82 during his six-year tenure at Michigan. I went back and looked. It's actually more than I thought, but still not that great a number. He did it 19 times. But let me list the teams he did it against and you'll realize an Amaker-coached team scoring 82+ points against a team like Boston College is a rare feat that should be celebrated ...

In 2001-02, Tommy's first year in Ann Arbor, the team scored more than 82 points against Fairfield, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (yes I looked it up, it is in fact an actual school), Eastern Michigan, and in a LOSS to Duke. In 2002-03, they did it against Bowling Green, Charleston Southern, Eastern Michigan, and IUPUI. In 2003-04, it happened against Oakland, High Point, Central Michigan, and OMG a Big Ten team by the name of Iowa. In 2004-05, they never scored even 82 points.

The high point of the Amaker regime (if there is such a thing) came in 2005-06 when Michigan appeared on the brink of an NCAA berth and then blew it down the stretch, culminating in a first-round Big Ten Tournament loss. That season coincides with the best offensive production during Amaker's time. The team got 82+ points in games with Central Michigan, Miami (OH), Chicago St., Wisconsin, Ohio State (this was a loss though), and Notre Dame in the NIT. The year I covered Tommy in 2006-07, the Wolverines only eclipsed 82 points against Wofford.

So if we throw out games against the creme de la crap of Division I basketball, i.e. teams from one-bid leagues that leaves us with five legitimate instances (loss to Duke, Iowa, Wisconsin, loss to Ohio State, and Notre Dame) where Amaker's squads put up more than 82 points. But if we take out losses from that equation, we're left with three times in six years ... and one came in Amaker's first season when he recruited none of the players on the roster.

I guess what I'm trying to get here is savor this one Harvard. As much as you want to believe program building wins like this will become the norm, it's more like an anomaly. I just love piling on Tommy. Give me a good reason why he doesn't deserve and maybe, just maybe I'll stop.

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