Those of us that have been around for a while don't need to me reminded of how second rate things had been on the hardwood in Ann Arbor for a long long time. It's obvious from the deep tournament runs, Big Ten titles, and shiny facilities that the glory days are back. John Beilein has assembled an amazing staff and together they've reestablished Michigan basketball as elite. But this rise hasn't just been about good hires (of which Beilein was the most significant). Michigan's makeover has been much deeper than that. It's been cultural... spiritual even. Rewind the tape seven years and you'll understand just how much.
While thinking about the announcement of the raises for the basketball assistants I remembered writing a "State of the Program" series after Tommy Amaker was fired. In that series the true depth of the neglect of basketball in Ann Arbor was highlighted. For all of the coaching issues that were cited, there were three times as many culture and commitment issues.
I remember when the administration wouldn't even allow the hiring of a basketball strength coach. Now Jon Sanderson is a rock star.
It's been an amazing metamorphosis.
Imagine a better coach/recruiter, with a talented staff at his side, with a committed administration behind him. If Michigan doesn't take a passive approach to the program AFTER it hires a coach, Wolverine fans will soon be looking upon the powerhouse again. One truly deserving of the description "Leaders and Best." If it maintains the attitude that allowed its basketball program to go stale, it stands a good chance of seeing it stay that way.
It makes one appreciate the return to the ranks of the elite that much more.
The State of the Program (Part One)
The State of the Program (Part Two)
The State of the Program (Part Three)