What the Deuce: Spare Change?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Spare Change?

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Bill Martin did that a few days ago. Its not a revelation that the program's facilities are below average - its been a topic of debate/concern for at least the last decade, if not longer. The problem is that justifying spending money on the basketball program has been like justifying going to class on a Friday.

Although there are donors for the football team's practice facility, no one has come to the forefront to help M Hoops. And there is no reason for them to. Its not necessary to rehash this past year or the year before, but its no mystery that most people aren't going to dump money into a losing investment, and Michigan basketball is just that.

The only way I could see anyone ponying up big bucks right now is if that person or those persons wanted to be forever known as the ones who helped return M Basketball to prominence because of the shiny new facilities. This, I think, is a stretch. Its one thing to convince an 18 year old kid to come to your school and help turn around the program. But its a whole 'nother thing convincing some millionaire to donate a sizable amount of money for something that may not yield dividends in the next 5 years.

What's the worst part about all of this? We are soon approaching, if we aren't already in a situation where the M Hoops program is faced with a circular problem. No donations = no facilities = no high level talent = no wins = no donations. Someone has to break the cycle and its Tommy Amaker.

Wins bring in fans and fans bring in money. That's a given. Now assume, for a moment, because of where the program is that for all intensive purposes, its a tier 2 program (tier 1 being UConn, Duke, Gonzaga, and even MSU). Tier 2 programs can get to the 2nd or 3rd round of the tournament consistently - Mark Few did it with Gonzaga and mid majors do this all the time. Yes, generally the mid majors that are able to consistently get to the 2nd or 3rd round play in lesser conferences in the Big Ten, but the average team in a power conference should be able to do the same. If Amaker can do this, something he hasn't done since being hired, the money will follow. Its Amaker's duty to bring in players that fit his system. Its his job to squeeze every win out of them possible. If he can do that, the money will come.

Unfortunately, given his track record, I don't think Amaker is the right guy for this program and hopefully Bill Martin will realize that soon enough. Amaker's record in Ann Arbor and his lost recruits are enough evidence that he isn't getting the job done. Until he can consistently get into the NCAAs, the program is going to be stuck in its current position.


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