After watching Michigan State rise to dominance, primarily on its strength of in-state recruiting, new Michigan coach Tommy Amaker has made a conscious effort to connect with Michigan high school coaches. He tried to further bridge the gap Saturday morning with his first annual Coaches Clinic at Crisler Arena.
After opening remarks from Amaker, former Wolverine and current Clarkston High School coach Dan Fife as well as Detroit Pistons coach Rick Carlisle gave lectures to over 200 Michigan high school coaches. They gave advice, discussed their coaching philosophies and answered the coaches” questions.
“We just got a flyer in the mail, a good chance to know Michigan basketball a little bit,” Aaron Fernalb said, as he explained why he bothered to make the two-and-a-half hour drive from Cass City High School. “He sends mail all the time to all the high school coaches. That”s kind of nice to receive that type of stuff.”
Amaker expressed his hope that the clinic will be able to draw even more people in the future.
“Coach Amaker is going to get this program under control,” Burr Oak High School coach Ray Bohm said. “The clinic is going to grow as Michigan basketball becomes more popular and successful.”
Fife advised that one of the best ways to learn coaching skills is to observe other teams” practices, saying he himself learned from watching current Texas Tech coach and former Indiana coach Bob Knight and former Michigan coach Steve Fisher.
Amaker has made it known that the doors are always open for local coaches to see the Wolverines practice, including a practice session to end the clinic.
“We”re looking forward to get to know you a lot better,” Amaker said. “We”re hoping for you to come out and see us.”
Fife also pleaded to those in attendance to see the importance of keeping their players in state. His son Dugan played for Michigan, but his younger son Dane is currently a senior at Indiana.
“We don”t want that to happen again, for a Michigan kid to leave our state,” Fife said.
Amaker also spoke about his expectations for the future of Michigan basketball.
He recounted a lot of the changes that have already taken place, such as the new floor and student benches for a more traditional look, a new lockerroom for the comfort of his players and the banners at Crisler being moved back so they can be more easily seen.