Thursday, March 23, 2006

And The Run Continues

One of the great joys of living in a place like Chicago is running or biking down by the lake front. Its absolutely beautiful. As you run or ride south, the lake stretches out to your left and the city skyline scrapes the heavens before you. The pristine waterfront trails seem to go on forever. I cherish those days and afternoons when I can spend a little time riding my bike or simply walking down by the lake. Just to take it all in. It may not be the Boston Marathon I'm running. It may not be the Tour de France I'm riding. But, when I am lucky enough to take it, it is the journey I am on. And I am better for that.

Much to my surprise and delight, the Michigan basketball team seems to have finally grasped this concept. In defeating Miami 71-65 last night Michigan maintained control from start to finish. Apparently there were smiles. Apparently there was jubilation. Apparently they are enjoying this NIT journey for what it is, not for what it should have been.

Michigan's two senior leaders seem to exemplify this concept. Daniel Horton followed up a 29 point night with 19 points and 5 assists against Miami. Chris Hunter continued his draft day push with 16 points and two more blocks. These two young men could've packed it up, and packed it in. Instead, they are playing with an abandon and intensity in NIT as though it contained three different letters. I my mind evidence of character is accepting what has happened in the past and calmly moving forward on the path that those events have left you. Sometimes it brings you success. Other times it brings you failure. But you don't know what it brings until your venture down path laid out before you. Regardless of where the path leads, it leads you somewhere closer to yourself.

Conan O'Brien said in his commencement address to Harvard that he felt the reason got the Late Night slot on NBC was because he went into the interview armed only with the knowledge that he had no real chance of getting the job. This allowed him to be free. To take chances. To be himself in a way he never could've been, were he the favorite for the job. It is in those moments where expectations are minimal that we all seems to shine the most. Not because we shun the spotlight. Far from it. But because we are free not from the expectations of others, but from our expectations of ourselves.

This team has freed itself from itself. They now play with a "come what may" attitude that we all wish they could've found earlier in the season. They are healthy. They are happy. They are playing when their Big Ten counterparts, NCAA or otherwise, are not. They have come to know themselves and their abilities more truly. There are no expectations on them because its the NIT not the NCAA. They don't have to carry the weight of an entire fanbase's thirst for NCAA glory just because they snuck into the tournament. No. They just have to walk with each other a little longer.

The lake is to their left. The city, directly infront of them. Its not the Marathon, le Tour, or the Tourney. Its where they are. Frankly, it ain't that bad. I'm glad they've been able to realize that.

Game Notes:

Unfortunately, due to the fact that the game was on ESPNU, and that I had a hockey game of my own, I missed Michigan's victory. So, if you've got thoughts, comments or simply know something the rest of us don't, post it in the comments section.

Last night's game marked the final game Michigan seniors will play at Crisler Arena. According to the Ann Arbor News this victory erased the sour taste left by Michigan's Senior Night loss to Indiana.

The Detroit Free Press, in addition to an excellent game wrap up, reported that OMG uber recruit Patrick Beverly of Chicago attended the Michigan victory.

The Detroit News didn't miss much either, giving us a whole section on the Beverly visit following their game summary. The News also reported that Crisler was going nuts. That has to be good for Tommy and his recruiting push. Beverly is currently Arkansas top target as well. Cross your fingers.

In other recruiting news, the Diag is reporting that super center, 7'2" Jason Bennett who Amaker has been recruiting heavily may have made up his mind to go to Auburn. You're kidding me right? SEC v. Big Ten hoops? A chance to start right away in a true power conference? Bennett apparently has two scheduled trips (one to Michigan and one to Bama) still on the calendar. We'll keep you updated.


At 7:20 PM, Blogger Pat Mobley said...

Well put. I just wish winning the NIT would make me feel as good about the program as I did the last time it happened. You're right about the seniors, though. Those guys deserve to go out as winners and it pains me quite a bit that they'll be second-class ones.


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