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Just The Sports: University of Mediocrity

Just The Sports

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

University of Mediocrity

This summer, University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin will need to sit down, turn himself towards a mirror, look deep into his own reflection, and ask himself honestly if he has a problem with the mediocrity virus that is running rampant around his university's basketball program. If he has nothing against putting a mediocre product on his athletic fields/courts and judging by his continued employment of Lloyd Carr he does not, then he should keep Tommy Amaker on as the head coach of the basketball team. If he wants to turn Michigan into a national basketball power, then it is time for him to head in a different direction.

Hiring Amaker at all was a mistake. When hiring a coach to return a program coming off scandal back to national prominence, it is best not to look to the coach from Seton Hall who only took one out of four teams to the NCAA Tournament and who seems much more comfortable in the NIT.

This season, Amaker's sixth as the head coach at the University of Michigan, also represents the fourth consecutive year Dion Harris, Courtney Sims, Lester Abram, and Brent Petway have been under his tutelage. Those four are not only seniors, but they are also the top four scorers on the Michigan team. In the four years these four have played for Amaker, Michigan basketball has improved to the tune of nothing.

Forget for a moment the non-conference creampuffs and largely useless NIT games and focus solely on how Michigan has performed within the Big Ten (11) Conference. Only in one of the four seasons (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07) I looked at, the 2003-04 one when the aforementioned seniors were not the main cogs of the team, have the Wolverines finished the year with a higher offensive efficiency than defensive efficiency (outscoring their opponents per 100 possessions) in their conference games. The worst indictment against a coach's acumen is when the players who have spent an extended amount of time with him never get better.

Amaker may have given the basketball program at Michigan a character makeover, but as a coach, his inability to make the players he recruits into better players overshadow his players' good behavior. Lest Martin forget for too long, this is a society that uses wins as the criteria for judging success.



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