Whether it”s high school coaches around the state or his new players who are riding his hype and enthusiasm like a magic carpet, the consensus seems to be that new Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker can do no wrong.

Paul Wong
The One and Only<br><br>Joe Smith

But it will be interesting to see the results when the games are actually played. That”s when we”ll find out how good a coach Amaker really is.

He”s done an admirable job so far, but he”s also been dealing with aspects of coaching that tailor to his strengths. He mended some bridges with high school coaches in the state with his personable and caring nature. He brought in a top-10 recruiting class for next season. He”s trying to bring energy to a previously lifeless Crisler Arena with an overhaul and has tried to connect Michigan with its storied past.

All of this is part of turning the program around, but we all knew he”s a savvy recruiter from his history at Duke and Seton Hall, where he helped nab posterboy prospects like Shane Battier and Eddie Griffin. Plus, he knows how to “play the game” with fans and media something former coach Brian Ellerbe could never figure out. So of course he”s a breath of fresh air to Michigan fans.

Amaker seems to bring stability to those who in the past three seasons witnessed four of Michigan”s five most humiliating losses in its history and a number of offcourt antics that tarnished a once-proud program.

Amaker was brought in for his image, his background with Duke where he won two national titles as an assistant coach and for what he accomplished with Seton Hall one Sweet Sixteen appearance in four years.

Imagewise, the Michigan basketball program is definitely better off than it was before with Amaker at the helm. But what do we actually know about Amaker”s coaching ability? We know he has four years of head coaching experience, has one Sweet Sixteen appearance, and a 68-55 record.

That”s just six more wins than Ellerbe had in his four years at Michigan (62-60) before he was run out of Ann Arbor.

As for the Pirates” run to the Sweet Sixteen, seven other coaches in the past five years who”ve reached that pinnacle have since been let go. Amaker, on the other hand, was promoted to the Michigan job.

“Of the 319 coaches in college basketball last year, no performance was as suspect as Amaker”s,” Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News said.

Whether it”s high school coaches around the state or his new players who are riding his hype and enthusiasm like a magic carpet, the consensus seems to be that new Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker can do no wrong.

But it will be interesting to see the results when the games are actually played. That”s when we”ll find out how good a coach Amaker really is.

Whether it”s high school coaches around the state or his new players who are riding his hype and enthusiasm like a magic carpet, the consensus seems to be that new Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker can do no wrong.

But it will be interesting to see the results when the games are actually played. That”s when we”ll find out how good a coach Amaker really is.

He”s done an admirable job so far, but he”s also been dealing with aspects of coaching that tailor to his strengths. He mended some bridges with high school coaches in the state with his personable nature. He brought in a top-10 recruiting class for next season. He”s trying to bring energy to a previously lifeless Crisler Arena with an overhaul, and has tried to connect Michigan with its storied past.

All of this is part of turning the program around, but we already knew he”s a savvy recruiter from his history at Duke and Seton Hall, where he helped nab top prospects like Shane Battier and Eddie Griffin. Plus, he knows how to “play the game” with fans and media something former coach Brian Ellerbe could never figure out, so of course he”s a breath of fresh air.

Amaker seems to bring stability to those who in the past three seasons witnessed four of Michigan”s five most humiliating losses in its history and a number of offcourt antics that tarnished a once-proud program.

Amaker was brought in for his image, his background with Duke (where he won two national titles as an assistant coach) and for his Sweet 16 appearance at Seton Hall.

Imagewise, the Michigan basketball program is definitely better off than it was before Amaker. But what do we actually know about Amaker”s coaching ability? We know he has four years of head coaching experience, has one Sweet 16 appearance, and a 68-55 record.

That”s just six more wins than Ellerbe had in his four years at Michigan (62-60) before he was fired.

As for the Pirates” run to the Sweet 16, seven other coaches in the past five years who”ve reached that pinnacle have since been let go. Amaker, on the other hand, was offered a more lucrative job.

“Of the 319 coaches in college basketball last year, no performance was as suspect as Amaker”s,” Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News wrote.

Critics point to how Amaker lost control of his Pirates last year. Griffin punched junior Ty Shine in the face in an argument over whether the freshman phenom was getting the ball enough in a double-digit loss for the Pirates. Seton Hall which started the season ranked in the top 10 finished with a 16-15 mark, and a disappointing 5-11 record in the Big East.

Knowing that, Amaker is smart to preach “passion and patience” with Michigan fans, saying that his goal is “improvement” rather than guaranteeing an NCAA Tournament appearance.

After all, it”s still in debate whether he has what it takes to make it happen.

Joe Smith can be reached at josephms@umich.edu.

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