New Michigan men”s basketball coach Tommy Amaker discussed his coaching philosophy and vision for next season with members of the student body at a “team meeting” last night in Crisler Arena.
Amaker also fielded questions from students on everything from reintroducing the old uniforms to remedying the influx of Spartan fans at Crisler when the team plays Michigan State. After Amaker”s speech and the question-and-answer session, students were given an opportunity to meet the new coach individually and play ball on the court of the arena.
“I thought it was great,” Amaker said after the presentation. “I was very proud and honored that students were here to support our team. I really appreciate them coming, and I hope this is the start of something very good the start of a relationship with our students being more involved with our team.”
Amaker”s address to the students was preceded by introductions from Michigan Student Assembly President Matt Nolan and Athletic Director Bill Martin. Martin told the crowd of approximately 500 that there would be a new seating arrangement next year at Crisler, in which the pull-out seats behind the team benches would be replaced by seven or eight rows of bleachers. He also said students, rather than public season-ticket holders, would be given the seats closest to the floor.
“The No. 1 goal is to bring the students right down on the court,” Marketing Director Tom Brooks said. “They”re our backbone. If we can get them visible, get them right up front, their spirit is contagious. It helps the whole venue.”
Michigan alum and former “Superfan” Jeff Holzhausen said the student body and athletic department were committed to Amaker but challenged the new coach to make a commitment to “us.”
“I”ve been impressed with him since he rolled into town, and I think he”s saying everything we need to hear right now,” Holzhausen said. “It”s nice to see this much excitement for a season seven months away. I think the crowd is into it and everyone believes in him, but the proof is in the pudding. Let”s see what happens when the rubber hits the road.”
Amaker reiterated to the students what he discussed upon accepting the job: his five principles of passion, honesty, preparation, fun and “being Michigan.”
While answering a student”s question, Amaker explained that he prefers the name “Maize Rage” to anything that plays off his own name, such as the “Tommy”s Troops” shirts worn yesterday by some Maize Ragers.
“Our name is Michigan,” Amaker said.
While there was a generally positive buzz from both Amaker and the students, the players understand that it takes more than a pep-rally to generate excitement and energy at the games.
“Coach can”t just come in here and expect the fans to just respect us and give a lot of enthusiasm when we”re not out there producing,” junior center Chris Young said. “So we have to produce in order to get the fans to be loud. I definitely think they”re not loud enough, but that”s more on us than it is on them we”ve got to give them something to be loud about.”
But both Young and teammate Bernard Robinson Jr. said they felt good about last night”s festivities and Amaker”s interaction with the fans.
Amaker is “a laid-back type of guy,” said Robinson, a freshman forward. “He”s willing to make you laugh, and he”s not really stiff. So I think he showed the fans who he really is. I felt it was good. I think Tommy put his impression on everybody.”