Saturday, December 6, 2008

DeShawn Sims is quickly becoming one of my favorite Michigan Basketball players

It's not just his improved play this season that has endeared him to me, it's some of the things he's said off the court. Before the Maryland game, he told the Detroit Free Press,

"People want Michigan to succeed. As much as the nation and everybody around wants us to succeed, we have to do the job by succeeding and making it happen. I look around and see so much Michigan stuff everywhere I go. It just puts it in my heart that we have to bring the program back for the fans. We're playing for more than ourselves."

Then today after the huge win over Duke, he told the Detroit News:

"Sometimes you start to question yourself when you're not getting a lot of minutes. Coach Beilein believed in me. He's building a foundation and I'm glad I'm a part of it. He puts the c, the o, the a , the c and the h in coach. And he coaches you on an interpersonal level. It's amazing. I'm a better player than I've ever been and I know more than I've ever known."

In those quotes I hear a young man starting to grow up and starting to find his home. It reminds me a little of conversations I've had with some of the UofM students I've worked with in Academic Games. No matter where you come from, or what your major is, there is something special about being at school when the world opens up for you, and you realize that you can make a place for yourself in the world. Over the last few years, Sims has had a lot of times when he could have left Michigan, and nobody would have blamed him. Heck, it took a big leap of faith for him to even come to Michigan, when his former HS coach won't even talk to the Michigan coaching staff now.

It's clear that this team is going to be significantly better than any we've had in a long time, and has a good chance of actually going dancing. But equally important, this team is taking a look of a team that you want to root for, that you feel good about representing your school. Given the recent history of the UofM basketball, that is the perhaps the most important development.