The school that gave the Michigan basketball program its only national title has now given the Wolverines a new coach.
Seton Hall basketball coach Tommy Amaker has agreed to a five-year deal to coach the Wolverines and will be introduced as Brian Ellerbe”s replacement, likely tomorrow, but possibly as soon as today. Amaker resigned from Seton Hall yesterday.
“This is now a team that can be restored to some of its past glory with this guy on the sidelines,” freshman center Josh Moore said last night. “We have enough talent and we have the right coach to get it done.”
Seton Hall Athletic Director Jeff Fogelson released a statement yesterday, saying “I appreciate all that Tommy has done to position our basketball program among the best in the nation. I”m sure that he”ll do the same for Michigan.”
Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin spoke with Amaker several times in the past week and flew to Philadelphia where Amaker attended a memorial service for the brother of Seton Hall freshman Eddie Griffin on Tuesday to meet with him.
Martin said the 10-person screening committee he formed to search for a new coach helped narrow his candidate list down to six.
“It was immensely helpful,” Martin said. “When I put it together, I didn”t realize how helpful it”d be. Our conference call was three hours long.”
The committee was headed by former Michigan star and current Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. The committee met last week and those who couldn”t attend joined via conference call. Sophomore forward LaVell Blanchard missed the meeting but later met with Martin to discuss the decision.
Fellow committee member and teammate Chris Young said yesterday that he is pleased with Martin”s decision.
“I think he”s an excellent coach,” Young said. “I heard he is a players-type coach. He yells when he has to, but he also knows when to sit down and talk with you.”
When asked if he or any of his teammates would transfer, Young said, “I don”t think so.”
One player who promised not to transfer is freshman guard Bernard Robinson, who was recruited by Amaker in high school.
“I like the decision,” Robinson said. “He was my favorite candidate because I knew him in high school. He”s a good all-around guy and a great, young coach.”
After reporting that Amaker was coming to Michigan, ESPN said last night that he was having second thoughts about leaving Seton Hall. That report was refuted by Martin, who received a phone call from Amaker confirming that he was coming. He also called ESPN to refute the report.
Amaker, 35, was 68-55 in four seasons at Seton Hall, including a Sweet 16 appearance in last year”s NCAA Tournament and three NIT appearances.
The Pirates, who started the season ranked in the top 10, struggled all season and reached their low point when junior Ty Shine and freshman Eddie Griffin were involved in a fight in the locker room after a game.
Michigan was 10-18 last year and finished in 10th place in the Big Ten. It was the Wolverines worst showing since the 1981-82 season.
None of Ellerbe”s assistant coaches have been fired yet and Martin said it will be up to Amaker to decide if he wants to retain the same support staff.
Michigan”s lone national title came against Seton Hall in 1989.