Oh, that Coach K.

Mira Levitan

So tricky.

Just days after Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker announced
that students who had season tickets last year would receive free
tickets this year, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to tip
Amaker’s hand … sort of.

It’s been no secret that “Coach K” and Amaker are close (with
Amaker likely in line to be Krzyzewski’s eventual replacement at
Duke if he wants to be), so when the Blue Devils’ head man speaks,
people in Ann Arbor should listen.

And when Coach K spoke at a banquet in Ypsilanti Monday, he
addressed the “anonymous” donor that allowed the Maize Ragers to
sit in Crisler Arena for free.

“I think if you would search on that, I think that you would
find that the mystical powers of Tommy Amaker being involved,
looking out for the students,” Krzyzewski said. “I really believe
it’s something that Tommy’s been pushing for, forever.”

You get the feeling that Coach K was about two seconds away from
saying something along the lines of “If you keep pulling the
thread, the whole sweater will unravel” and then slink off into the

Anyway, if you read between the lines, Krzyzewski makes it sound
like the donor whose name is anonymous, may actually be named
something closer to Tommy Anonymous.

Whatever the situation, Amaker’s decision to use money to get
the students free tickets signals yet another impressive step to
get the Ann Arbor community excited about the Wolverines.

Last year, despite Michigan’s inability to go to the NCAA
Tournament, Crisler Arena reached excitement levels not seen in

The crowd stormed the court twice, once after Michigan rallied
from 15 points down with 5:30 left for a win over Wisconsin, and
then when the Wolverines finally knocked off Michigan State.

Expectations are even higher this year, and there’s no doubt
that much of that has to do with Amaker.

“Our students are a critical part of our program,” Amaker said
after the free- ticket announcement.

And nothing he’s done since being named Michigan coach has
spoken otherwise.

Let’s face it – most people around here were begging for Rick
Pitino to make Ann Arbor his new home, and most were disappointed
when he chose Louisville.

But, hindsight being 20-20 and all, it’s apparent that Amaker is
the best thing that has happened to Michigan basketball in a long

From his efforts to reach out to the students, to weeding out
bad seeds and recruiting good athletes and good people, to winning
some ball games, Amaker has the program on the verge of restoring
its greatness.

Unfortunately, the Big Ten schedule has thrown a bit of a monkey
wrench into Amaker’s desires to cram Crisler Arena every game.

Michigan’s most important stretch of games all year could be
from Feb. 22-29 when Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State
travel to Ann Arbor.

The ugly thing is that, at that same time, many Wolverine fans
will be traveling out of town on Spring Break. Maybe Amaker took
this into account when he decided to give out the free tickets,
feeling that he owed something to the fans.

Regardless, Amaker has to be hopeful that he can come up with
some magic again to pack Crisler with Michigan fans for those dates
as well, as the home court advantage would, no doubt, be critical
during that week.

But in spite of the scheduling conflict (that also includes five
home games over the Thanksgiving and Holiday breaks in November and
December) this latest ticket move is clearly another positive step
in bringing Michigan fans back to the program.

It’s not really important whether the “anonymous” donor was
Amaker or not.

What is important is that Amaker has proven once again that he
is committed to doing anything to revive Michigan basketball.

Now if only he can convince students to spend their breaks in
Ann Arbor …

Chris Burke can be reached at














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