Sunday, March 4, 2007

The End of an Era (hopefully)

June 19, 2008 Note: This is a post that originally appeared on Golden's Football Rankings and is reproduced here for posterity.

The regular season ended for the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday afternoon with a game against the number one team in the country. For a wolverine team that has been frustratingly inconsistent all year, the game offered an opportunity to gain a signature win that their tournament resume had been lacking. Crisler Arena was sold out for only the third time all season, and even though the students were on break, the place was rocking. The team came out playing well, took care of the ball, and played good defense in the first half to take a three-point lead at the break. With just under four minutes left in the game, they had grown that lead to six points. Ohio State called a timeout and Ohio State coach Thad Matta told his players, “We have them where we want them.” Michigan went scoreless the rest of the game, and OSU won by four. Why was Matta so confident down by six late in the game? Because he knows what everyone else in the Big Ten knows, Tommy Amaker teams cannot finish.
The last three Michigan possessions couldn’t have been more representative of the Amaker reign if they were scripted. The 6-10’ senior center, a four year starter, misses a wide open dunk. The senior shooting guard, another four year starter, and the team’s best free throw shooter, misses the front end of a one and one. Finally, the sophomore point guard, the only one that Amaker has been able to recruit in six years throws the ball to no one in particular in the backcourt. Ball game over. Upset bid over. NCAA chances over. Again.
The amazing thing is that this is the exact same thing that happened last year. Needing only a win over a ranked Indiana at home to make the big dance last year, Michigan gave up a 10-0 run to end the game to lose by four. They then lost to a Minnesota team in the Big Ten tournament that they had beaten twice during the regular season. Guess who they play next week in Chicago.
They say that one of the definitions of insanity is seeing the same thing happen over and over again and expecting a different result. How many times do we have to watch them come up short in the clutch and in the end to realize that a change needs to be made?