Dear Mom and Dad, Clear a space at the dinner table and take
that old exercise equipment out of my room — I’m coming
home to New York.
No, I didn’t drop out of school. It’s not Spring
Break either. You see, Michigan’s playing in the NIT
semifinals at Madison Square Garden next Tuesday.
I know, I know. It’s short notice. I would’ve let
you know sooner, but this one really hit me by surprise. You saw in
the paper how I picked Michigan to lose in the first round of this
tournament. I had no idea.
But the Wolverines made it happen with some of their best
basketball of the season. They shot the lights out at Crisler Arena
last night, putting up 88 points — their second-highest total
of the season. They dished out 18 assists, including Daniel
Horton’s crowd-pleasing alley-oop to a soaring Brent Petway.
They even made 17-of-19 free throws against Hawaii.
“Michigan hasn’t played in the postseason in a long
time,” senior Bernard Robinson told me after the game.
“So when you get that opportunity, you have to savor
That being said, I don’t think anyone could have predicted
how much the Wolverines were actually going to savor it. At least I
As Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said, the team has matured on the
court over the last few weeks. Sure, the Wolverines still make some
mistakes (see: 14 turnovers last night), but they’ve been
smarter with the basketball down the stretch in the last three
games. The Wolverines only turned it over five times in the second
half against the Rainbow Warriors. And because of that, they
avoided one of those long offensive droughts that have plagued them
many times this season.
The NIT committee must’ve really wanted me to spend a few
nights back in my old room, too. They let the Wolverines play three
games at home, where Michigan is now 16-3 this year. They even made
Hawaii fly for like 12 hours after its second-round win on Monday
to tire the team out. That must’ve been rough.
“We were fortunate to have home games and our crowd really
helped us,” Amaker said. “But certainly our players
realize that they played in a manner that allowed our crowd to
really get behind them.”
Now Mom and Dad, keep in mind, I’m not sure how long
I’ll be staying. The team has struggled outside of Ann Arbor
this year — the Wolverines are just 5-8 at buildings other
than Crisler Arena.
When the Wolverines showed up to play at Madison Square Garden
in early January against Fairfield, they weren’t exactly
They had a tough time shooting free throws, because they said
that it was harder to gauge the distance to the rim, making just
6-of-19 from the charity stripe. So I might just get one night to
eat some of that home-cooked food.
“That was a long time ago,” Horton informed me.
“Guys just have to focus. The depth perception is different
than playing at home. That just means that guys are going to have
to focus and be ready for that challenge.”
On the other hand, the Madison Square Garden crowd might not be
very hostile to Michigan. When the Wolverines were there a few
months ago, there were quite a few fans donning maize and blue and
rooting Michigan past Fairfield, 66-43.
“We get to go to New York,” Robinson told me.
“It’s the Big Apple. We get to play in Madison Square
Garden. You can’t ask for more than that.”
If Michigan gets comfortable and plays the way it did last
night, you guys may need to stock up on some extra food. I could be
in town for a few days, so be prepared.