What the Deuce: March 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

MidWeek Roundup

Lots of things on the docket. Let's get right to them.

Dancin Machine: An all around good guy at Michigan, people knew Dhani Jones for his love of poetry, painted fingernails, attraction to Indian girls, and most importantly, his free spirit. Apparently, the Miami Beach Police didn't find his free spirit as endearing as his classmates did during his days in Ann Arbor. I wouldn't read too much into this; Dhani is a fun loving guy and, from personal experience, the law enforcement in Miami is attrocious - not a good combination. I had class with Dhani my freshman year, when Michigan won the National Championship, and every time I hear his name I think of this story: After winning against OSU at home, Dhani came to Econ 101 late. Not many people in the class knew who he was, but the professor did. As Dhani took a seat in the back corner of the lecture hall, our professor looked straight at Dhani, smiled and flashed a "thumbs up."

Not So Sweet Success: Good win for the hoopsters last night against ODU. I was worried in the first have as ODU went ahead, but I must admit, Michigan played a great defensive second half to pull away with an easy victory. Sims played like a man, for once, and it showed. If they could get this kind of production out of Sims all the time, this would be a much better team. I'm excited that they are playing tomorrow night for the championship and here's an interesting fact: The winner of Thursday's game will set the all time mark for consecutive wins in the NIT, 10. What does this mean? Simply, that both Michigan and South Carolina are underachievers. One of the analysts on ESPN said its not a record to be proud of. Well said.

Stop Freaking Out: Law school is an interesting place. My regular readers know I am not a big fan of law school. I'm not a fan of many of the people either. You have the law school dorks who argue about statutes for fun and draw all of their professional experience from being on law review. And then, you have the 1Ls. Scott Turow, of Presumed Innocent fame, coined the monkier 1L in his book about his first year at Harvard Law School. I haven't read the book but I can tell you why I don't like 1Ls. They mill around the classrooms after class is over for no apparent reason. They swarm professors after class, like college students to a keg, in hopes of making a good impression on the professor, in hopes of getting an A. They walk into already occupied classrooms before their classes start, to set up their laptops, and sneer when they realize there's already a class in the room. Finally, they ask stupid questions and subject everyone in the room to these idiotic questions.

Yesterday, we had a meeting for a class that is offered in the fall. Since demand is high and supply is low, the professor in charge gives preference to those who commit to a clinical placement. Some girl decides to ask about the clinical placement, but none of her questions were in relation to the class. Instead, they questions were specific to that clinical (the SEC placement). Even though she knew she was there to get information about a class, she kept asking questions about the SEC placement - subjecting us to all of her idiotic questions. Why in God's name couldn't she have just asked them afterwards? Did she really need to subject us to questions that were particular to her situation?

Listen 1Ls - get a life. Understand that everything doesn't revolve around you and be considerate of the other law students that go to school with you. The upperclassmen don't care about what you're going through. We all went through it our first year. You are not special. When you realize law school isn't life, you'll understand.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Charmin Soft

"When I grew up, my mother told me to clean my plate, because people were starving in China and India. Now I find myself telling my children, 'Do your homework because there are people in China and India Starving for your jobs'." - Thomas Friedman in Wired magazine

Of late, Americans are losing jobs to India and China; this is a fact. Call centers are moving to Banglore and professionals from overseas are being brought to serve as programmers and IT specialists. Its a trend that started in the 1990s and which is prevalent today.

I am a child of Indian immigrants and being first generation, I still have plenty of family in India. This has given me an opportunity to travel to my parent's homeland multiple times. On my most recent trip, in 2002, I really understood why Americans are feeling the the pressure of a global society. Of course there are the economic factors. But there is something else, something that can't be measured using traditional metrics that is causing this phenomenon.

Simply, it seems that people in India have more desire and are more competitive than their American counterparts. This isn't to say that Americans aren't competitive. In fact, some of my friends and classmates are the most competitive people I have met. But on the whole, I really think that people in India, from top to bottom are more competitive because of the sheer number of people fighting for a finite number of jobs. If you aren't the best, you aren't going to get a good paying job, and you aren't going to make it. Its definitely a dog eat dog mentality in India, more so than it is here in US.

Obviously, we can partly solve the competition problem by better education our citizens. Schools definitely need an upgrade, especially when our students lag behind in math and geography. We can also do something else - instill that dog eat dog mentality in our kids, reversing a frightening trend I see permeating our society.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, for one thing we can stop doing idiotic things like this. Although I don't find Jay Mohr funny, I couldn't agree with him more in this case. Oh yeah, props to him for landing Nikki Cox - how that happened, I don't know. But I do know this, if Mohr can land a woman like her, there is hope for all of us.

I find it ridiculous that we are emotionally softening up the young members of our society by creating sports leagues where there are no winners and losers and there are no homeruns. I find it incredulous that there are school districts where kids don't play dodgeball because if its inherently competitive nature. I find it appalling there is a gym teacher in America who doesn't use jump ropes in his class because it could make some students feel inadequate if they tripped. What does he do? Imaginary jump rope. What the hell is that?

I understand that if we want kids to get involved in sports we should make it fun for them. I also agree that sports have, in certain situations, gotten overly competitive. But to go to this extreme is unnecessary. Sports teach kids to win and lose. They teach kids how to be good sports and win with class. Kids can learn things from losing. They can learn that life goes on. They can learn to be motivated by their shortcomings. Like Mohr said, its a parent's job to help kids learn these lessons, life lessons.

If we teach kids that we are all equal all the time, a dangerous precedent is set. What happens when a kid finally has to try out for a team and gets cut? What happens when a kid applies to his dream school and is denied? Sports teach kids how to deal with these situations. Granted they can learn to deal with life's bumps in other ways, but sports to seem to be the arena in which these lessons are most likely to be learned, because of the inherent competitive nature of sports.

Kids need to know that some people are good at sports and others are good at music. They need to learn that life is not always fair and that hard work is needed for success. They need to know that life is competitive and that there are winners and losers. If we don't teach our kids about these things at an early age, I'm sure they'll learn when they are older from the Chinese or Indians.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Sky Is Falling

The last few days, between the MZone - Colin Cowherd fued and Michigan's victory in the NIT have been very interesting to me. I know I'm a little late commenting on both, but give me a break, I'm in law school and I work. Without further excuses:


I'm excited Michigan is going to the NIT Final Four. I don't want to say its deserved, but its nice to see the seniors with an opportunity to finish their careers at Michigan on a high note. I'll admit that my interest level has slowly gone up as the team advanced through the post season. I was ticked that the game was on the U and had to keep track of the score via ESPN News. Withou a doubt, I'll be watching them next week, hopefully twice.

With that being said, I don't see Michigan winning this tournament if they get to the finals against Louisville. Rick Pitino is a much better coach than Tommy Amaker, like comparing Sam Adams to Natty Light. What's even better about this match up is that it will get Michigan fans to see what life may have been like with a talented coach (not talking about getting to the NIT but they way he coaches). The most interesting thing about this potential matchup is that Michigan could have had Pitino five years ago and from what I've been told, he was pretty close to taking the Michigan job until one Bo Schembechler said, to the effect, that Michigan is a football school and that basketball would be a second class citizen. If this is true, not only is Bo's philosophy killing us in football but basketball too. Mind you, what I have commented on is purely hearsay, so take it with a grain of salt.

Going back to the Miami game, the win kind of worried me too, in a Chicken Little "the sky is falling" kind of way. Why you ask? Attendence at the game was above 8,000 - not a sellout, but solid support. Why is this bad? Because the point of college athletics is to make money and I'm concerned with the backing the team received, the powers in charge will think "Hey, people still support us when we go to a secondary tournament, why change anything?" My concern is the support gives the AD a false sense of success and gives them no incentive to make changes that will further the basketball program. I think a M stands for mediocrity mentality has already taken a hold in the Athletic Department and could be perpetuated by fans supporting results that can be easily classified as underachievements.

MZone v. Colin Cowherd

Read about the fued here. I'm going to keep my comments short. Without a doubt, I support the gentlemen at the MZone. In my opinion, the issue isn't so much the MZone getting credit for their work, but rather a multimillion dollar news corporation following the basic rules of journalistic integrity. Furthermore, Cowherd didn't help his cause by firing off less than professional emails in response to the "hate mail" he received. No matter what people write to Cowherd, he as a professional, should know he is in the public eye, and that any emails from him, containing personal shots at people, would quickly surface on the Internet.

I'm in law school and am interested in Copyright law. Unfortunately, the Internet, in the words of Bill Simmons, is currently the Wild West in terms of journalism because the law in this area is still developing. I'll give Cowhed the benefit of the doubt when he says he received the Wunderlic from someone (although the audio clip reveals otherwise) but when he received an email from the MZone, he could have simply said "I'm sorry, I'll correct my mistake."

What gets me upset in this situation is this: As an attorney, doctor, lawyer, engineeer, garbageman, we all have professional responsibilities in what we do. Cowhed didn't follow those for journalists and that's disappointing. In law school, a student can be expelled for plagarism and possibly put his bar application in jeopardy. A doctor who leaves a sponge in a person can get sued for malpractice. A banker can lose his career for cheating his clients. Simply, I'm saying, we all have rules to follow and it would be nice to see someone working as a journalist would do the same. Personally, I wouldn't have been upset if the MZone would not have been given credit (hey, its a nice plug and admittedly these guys aren't in it for the money). I'm upset because the man claimed the work as his own, a no-no in his profession.

Its Saturday morning, and MZone is saying that Cowherd will give them credit on Monday's show, but I think its in ESPN's best interest to discipline him and/or his staff. It happened at The Free Press with Mitch Albom. And if ESPN can suspend Michael Irvin for his non-ESPN troubles, they should reprimand Cowherd in this case.

Okay, my comments on this may have gone longer than intended but I think it was worth it. To the guys at MZone, keep up the good work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Has It Really Been This Long?

Wow! Its been a long time since my last post. A combination of laziness, apathy, and spring break. But now I'm back and I have a couple of things on my mind, so here goes:

Detroit Lions Football

During spring break, the Lions made some personnel moves with the most interesting being picking up Josh McCown and Jon Kitna. This move pretty much signaled the end of the Joey Harrington era and at first blush, I couldn't be happier. Harrington never evolved to the quarterback the Lions thought he could be when they drafted him in 2002. Yet, when I think about it, I think most of the developmental issues fall on the Lions and not Harrington.

First, at Oregon, Harrington played in a completely different offense - one where he threw the ball downfield unlike in the West Coast he ran in Detroit. Second, I think anyone the Lions would have drafted would have failed because the offensive line is a seive. Too many times Harrington was getting leveled in the backfield or chucking the ball off his back foot. He just looked rushed back there, like he knew if his first option wasn't open, he was going to get sacked. Maybe that's why he used to dump off the ball so much. Third, even though the Lions put receivers around Joey, those receivers never lived up to their hype. The Williamses have been injured frequently and Charles Rogers is a waste of a draft pick for obvious reasons.

What's really interesting about the QB moves in the past week is that when Mike Martz came to town he felt Harrington had the raw skills to be a good quarterback. Less than a month later, Harrington is on the way out. Either Joey is not as good as Martz and Joey supporters thought he was or Harrington forced his hand to get out of Detroit.

I don't really have much hope for the future. The Lions still need an offensive line and neither QB acquired is a star. Kitna had success because he was surrounded with offensive talent. I'm not sure about McCown because he played in Arizona, but he did show he has talent (but that was against the 49ers). Simply, both QBs had a lot of help and I don't see that with the Lions. Now that Harrington is gone, I think the Lions need to address the receivers' attitudes. It 's been said that the receivers are lazy and prone to goofing off during practice. These guys need to grow up and be professionals. They need to know that in the NFL they aren't going to get by on sheer talent. Hopefully, the new coaching staff will instill discipline in the younger guys. And let's not forget, Roy Williams and Charles Rogers have something to prove. This will be Williams 3rd year and Rogers 4th. Time is running out on them. If the skill players don't develop more than they did in the past few years, its going to be a rough season offensively.

Michigan Basketball

I'm a little late with this, but Michigan Basketball was an utter disappointment this season. Finishing 2-7, they missed the NCAAs and headed to the NIT at a top seed. Joey of Schembechler Hall does a good job of verbalizing this frustrating season.

Skip ahead a week and half to today. Tonight, our beloved hoops team takes on Miami (FL) in the 3rd round of the NIT in a rematch of the BigTen/ACC tournament earlier in the season. I was fortunate enough to watch that game, a Michigan victory. I'm not going to break down the match up or anything like that; rather I'm going to say a few words about Tommy Amaker and the program itself.

Like a lot of people feel, I think its time for Tommy to go. I have to agree with Joey that Amaker basically got this job because of his ties to Duke and not because he's proficient as a coach. Just to rehash some statistics:

- Career Record: 132-155 (8 years prior to current season)
- Post Season Record: 59-73
- Best Post Season: Sweet 16 (2000)
- In 8 years, Amaker has been to the NCAA's just once and the NIT 4 times (Michigan wasn't eligible in 2003 but had a 17-13 record)

This stats hardly justify the first line in Amaker's bio on MGoBlue.com which reads, "
Amaker has had great success in his eight years as a collegiate head coach." I don't know what the constitutes success in the Athletic Department, but going to the NIT and finishing 8-8 in the Big Ten with a senior laden team, in my mind is not successful at all.

I'm going to echo Joey's sentiments and say that I think the biggest problem is that Amaker has not developed talent and is forcing players to run an offense for which they are ill suited. A sign of a good coach is his ability to make adjustments and I don't think Amaker has done that during games or during the course of the season. What I don't understand is why Amaker isn't changing his offense or recruiting players that are better fits.

In college, a coach doesn't have to worry about free agency or trades so he can build a program around a system that he likes; just look at Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Coach K, and Tom Izzo. It would make sense that a coach can succeed using the same system year after year, as long as he has players that fit in the said system. Thus, I would imagine, while recruiting, these coaches and their staffs targeted players that would immediately mesh or grow into the system during a collegiate career. They would not get players that were not good fits and they would be able to see a high school player and correctly evaluate his ability in relation to what the coach needed. My question is twofold: Is Amaker just recruiting the best players he can get with the hope things will work out or is he not a good evaluator of talent? Assuming he is a good evaluator (a prerequisite for coaching D1 basketball), are his assistant coaches just horrible at developing the talent they acquire? Or is it a combination of poor evaluation and poor coaching?

Whatever the problem is, it needs to be fixed. Amaker has had 5 years to get his players and install his system and it just hasn't worked out. Everyone on this team is an Amaker recruit and the best he has accomplished is the NIT. I understand injuries have hit the program hard in the last year, but a good team, with as much depth as Michigan, should be able to win games even with players missing.

I'm just really surprised that Amaker hasn't been able to land better recruits or that he didn't change his offense. With Dion Harris and Daniel Horton, I would imagine that an offense similar to the Pistons' would be effective. This team has 3 big bodies to set picks and Horton is an above average PG that can get to the hole. Running Harris and Abram off picks for open shots would seem an obvious strategy but I don't recall it being employed (correct me if I'm wrong; I didn't get to see many games this year).

Lastly, Joey makes a good point that the problem might not so much be Amaker but AD Martin himself. He seems more concerned about being a class program than winning. Don't get me wrong, I don't want an FSU or VT situation but I think being a state school with a national reputation, it shouldn't be so hard to succeed and be classy at the same time. Its been done before and it can be done again. Maybe its time for a change at the top, but I'll reserve judgment for another year.

I'm going to end this post by saying I hope Michigan wins tonite and gets to go to New York. It just be much better had they been preparing to get to the Elite 8.