back when the man said
its the team the team the team
who knew who listened
It is not surprise to my readers (and I know I am thinking positive when I use the plural) that I follow the sports teams of the University of Michgan.
It truly is in my blood.
My Grand Father, Roelof Hofman, the first one in that part of the family tree to be born in the USA, was also the first one to graduate from Michigan in 1911 as Dr. Robert Karl Hoffman, DDS. (Yep Americanized the name).
My Dad graduated from Michigan in 1942.
Me and my brothers and sisters make up the largest group of siblings, nine, to ever graduate from Michigan.
So I come by it honestly.
For a big chunk of my life, Michigan was Michigan Football and Michigan Football was Bo Schembechler.
He was the guy who when asked what made Michigan special, responded with three things.
The team, the team, the team.
So now for my deep dark secret.
Michigan Basketball has always been closer to my heart than the football team.
Sports teams have batters, pitchers, quarter backs, left wings, spin bowlers and stars.
Don’t get wrong as basketball has stars and teams led by stars.
But basketball to me, when played by a team, as a team, is something wonderful to behold.
Michigan is famous for its FAB FIVE.
A team of 5 superstar high school players who all agreed in 1991 to sign up at Michigan at the same time and create a legend.
Like so many legends, the movie has a bad ending.
It ends with Chris Webber calling timeout in the Championship Game when there were no time outs to be called.
When the demise of the legend is the stuff legends are made of, you know its a legend.
Oddly enough the head of the athletics at Michigan at the time was none other than Mr. Schembechlor.
He was NOT impressed with the FAB FIVE.
The shaved heads.
The baggy pants (yes those are part of the legend AND the start of a new look in uniforms).
The black socks.
“What did they win? NUTHIN!”, said Mr. Schembechor.
Something I always thought a bit disingenuous on his part but I digress.
But they were a team.
A member of that team was Juwan Howard.
A young man who went on to play 19 … NINETEEN … years in the NBA.
Now Mr. Howard is the basketball coach at Michigan.
And he has a good team.
He has a good TEAM
The basketball effort at Michigan has been very team oriented in this century.
Under Coach John Beilein, the team was the plan and Mr. Beilein found the players to fit the plan and it worked.
With 2 final four appearances, it worked rather well.
Then comes Coach Howard.
I am not sure what the Coach Howard plan is.
This is what it seems to be.
Get the best players possible.
Then get those players to play better than they thought they ever could.
Get those players to play defense.
Get those players to play defense better than they ever thought they could.
Get those players to play better than they thought they ever could play and play together as a team towards a team goal.
Sounds easy right?
Let me tell you if this was easy other coaches would do it.
Get players to play better than they themselves know how to play.
And play as part of a team where the team the team the team is what matters.
This team is fun to watch.
Somewhere along the line I was told to try and watch the game away from the ball.
My senior year at Michigan, we had season’s tickets in the 2nd row of Crisler Arena.
Boy howdy but you could watch the game away from the ball from down there.
This is hard to do on TV and the TV follows the ball but the other night I tried to watch the game between Hunter Dickinson and Luke Garza.
It was quite a game.
This is fun team.
Basketball is a team sport.
I think the Piston’s Bad Boys.
I think of the FAB FIVE.
I think of the Ben Wallace Pistons.
I think of basketball teams that play basketball.
The team, the team, the team.
It seems that Juwan Howard was listening.
Coach Schembechler would be proud.