Thursday, August 17, 2006

How to Lose Your Press Pass in 30 Seconds

First a massive hat tip to The Diag for putting this together. Ann Arbor News basketball beat writer Jim Carty unloaded both barrels on Tommy Amaker on WTKA-1050 AM two days ago. The phrase "gutless" was used to describe Amaker and Carty also had a few things to say about Michigan's back court as well. You've gotta read the whole thing that The Diag got transcribed:

"I've got a little complaint and it goes to the heart of what's wrong with Tommy Amaker. I had breakfast with Tommy a few weeks ago, but of course we talked about his staff. I said, 'I just can't understand why you won't shake up your staff'. He said, 'I'm not doing anything with my staff, I have total confidence.' So what does he do?

Not only does he shake up his staff, but he announces it while he's en route to Australia so he doesn't have to face any questions. It's gutless. Calculated, gutless, reverse of course, totally ignore what I said before, I'm going to do something else.

Be a man and release that on Monday when you're having media day and you can just say "This makes us better. I looked at it and I think it makes us better." What's wrong with having the conviction to defend your decision?

Let's say maybe that was "I changed my mind later." I think the lack of conviction to defend your decision.

I will say, I think Dave Pilipovich is a good guy, is he better as an on the floor coach and a recruiter than Chuck Swenson? Probably. But what bothers me about this is the same thing as what bothers me about when he put Andy Moore on the road is that in both cases, he didn't make any attempt to make any sort of national outreach and find the best person for the job. Tommy likes to elevate people he's comfortable with. I have no doubt that if Michigan basketball advertises they're looking for an assistant coach, you can get some pretty good guys for that position, but then of course you'd have to fire somebody and he doesn't want to do that.

"Let's just let Tommy go beat up on the Koala Bears and move on."

"We all know Lester can play, we all know Jerrett Smith can't play. If he lays off the donuts, maybe he can be a nice backup."

(Emphasis mine, MHT: The Diag. )

Whoa. Slow down there Jimbo. Put down the torch.

While Nathan Fenno has covered the Wolverines thoroughly and fairly during the season, Carty has had issues with Amaker for a while. Tommy's latest move appears to be the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Carty finally lost it. I'm guessing they won't sharing an English muffin and a Coffee Coolotta at Dunkies anytime soon.

Though the manner in which he chose to voice his frustrations may leave something to be desired, Carty is correct in his assertions. If Michigan put out an ad saying "assistant coach wanted" the athletic center would be flooded with resumes. Good ones. However, Tommy's blind allegiance to his staff seems to preclude that from happening.

Such loyalty on Amaker's part is admirable and upsetting at the same time. Loyalty is a quality you want to see in people in positions of power. You want to see they understand how to treat people, especially when they are in a position to help mold the lives of young men. Commitment, friendship, and respect are qualities that should be rewarded and qualities that should be passed on to our children. In that same vein loyalty must be tempered with reality. When loyalty becomes a hindrance to performing the job you were hired to do it must be reevaluated. After a year where so much was expected, and little of it delivered, bolder action was required.

Amaker need look no further than the offices at Schembechler Hall. Lloyd bid two friends adieu because it was in the best interest of the program that pays his salary and people he is coaching. Lloyd is nothing if not loyal. But if he can cut those ties, Amaker should be able to as well.

The in-house basketball coach shuffling is far more irritating to me than the in-house football shuffling. With football there are a number of different positions that requiring expert coaching. You can evaluate several candidates all at once based on their performances during the year. So at worst, your picking from a dozen candidates. To use that method in basketball where there are two maybe three assistant coaches makes no sense. You have to look outside your safety zone a find the most qualified people. That was what Bill Martin thought he did by going outside the Michigan Walls to find a qualified, clean basketball coach who could rebuild a shattered program. A program, I might add, that destroyed itself from the inside out.

The timing of Amaker's announcement also leaves something to be desired. But if I was going to expect this kind of reaction, well, I'd probably drop the memo the day before my vacation too. Even so, if you are the coach of a major Big Ten basketball team, no matter how far its fallen, you are expected to be accountable for your decisions. Amaker should have made the announcement when he was around to face the music.

While I don't disagree with Carty's opinion of the situation, he could have chosen his words a little more carefully. If you're going to get on a coach's bad side, do it by asking tough questions and not by calling him "gutless". Leave the name calling to those of us who don't make our living doing this.

Unfortunately Carty did not stop with Tommy. His frustration got the better of him and he took a small swipe at Jerret Smith. Lay off the donuts? Again, while I don't disagree with his assessment of Smith's talents and shortcomings, there are better ways to phrase it. I've spent a substantial amount of time questioning Smith's playing abilities. I've gone so far as to say Reed Baker might challenge him for playing time. Still, Jim, if you're going to call a player out of shape, say it. Don't get cute and leave a phrase hanging in the air that can come back and bite you in the ass. The coaches, however, are fair game.

What's more troubling is that is only one of a string of recent articles slamming Tommy (HT: MGoBlog), despite what is widely perceived as an EXCELLENT 2007 recruiting class. The most consistent theme of these articles seems to be accountability.

Maybe Amaker should take note of that, 2007 class or not.

In Other News

The Men's Basketball Schedule is up. Michigan has somehow snuck onto national TV for 10 games this year with 4 ESPN appearances and 1 CBS game.

The Big Time games are:
Sat., Dec. 23 UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. 11:00 a.m. CBS
Sat., Jan. 27 Indiana* Bloomington, Ind. Noon ESPN
Tue., Feb. 6 Ohio State* Columbus, Ohio 7:00 p.m. ESPN
Tue., Feb. 13 Michigan State* East Lansing, Mich. 9:00 p.m. ESPN
Tue., Feb. 27 Michigan State* Ann Arbor 7:00 p.m. ESPN

Possible Extra ESPN/CBS Games
Wed., Feb. 28 Michigan State* Ann Arbor TBA ESPN Networks
Sat., Mar. 3 Ohio State* Ann Arbor TBA CBS

Lester Abram Is Good

Despite dropping its first game Down Under, the Amaker led Big Ten traveling team has wrapped up its Aussie tour 3-1.

Here's how Jarret Smith and Lester Abram played in the games

Game 1

Name

FG-A

3FG-A

FT-A

REB

AST

BLK

STL

PTS

Lester Abram (Michigan)*

4-11

0-2

1-1

4

1

0

1

9

Jerret Smith (Michigan)

4-11

0-2

3-5

3

1

0

0

11


Game 2

Lester Abram (Michigan)

5-13

0-3

8-9

1

2

0

0

18

Jerret Smith (Michigan)*

0-2

0-0

0-0

2

3

0

1

0


Game 3

Lester Abram (Michigan)*

5-8

2-4

0-0

0

0

0

0

12

Jerret Smith (Michigan)

2-5

0-1

1-2

2

3

0

2

5


Game 4
Lester Abram (Michigan) 9-9 0-0 4-5

7

2

0

2

22

Jerret Smith (Michigan)*

5-5

1-1

0-0

2

6

0

1

11

* indicates starter for that game

It's nice to see that Abram had a good, productive time in Australia. Its also nice to see that he's able to play with any injuries biting him (knock on wood). It's a little less heartening to see Smith's stat lines. They are maddeningly inconsistent. We're going to need a lot more out of him this year.

No more basketball for a while. Please god. It's Football season.

7 Comments:

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Sean said...

I really hate how Carty does this over and over again. Like you said, you can point out that a coach is doing the wrong thing or a player isn't lean enough by saying it a little more blountly.

Plus, I really don't like Carty that much anyways as I had setup an interview with him 2 months ago and he agreed to it then never got back to me.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Maize n Brew Dave said...

He blew off your interview? What a D-bag. If you're not going to do something, then be up front. His passive aggressive style, interspersed with black stabbing, just irritates the hell out of me. Of the writers, Fenno seems to be the best at staying on topic and objective. Carty seems to have some issues.

The worst thing about Carty is the guy is a pretty good (not great, but pretty good) writer. His pieces on Horton and Tony Pape were well done. But to go off on the coach and a young player on air is pretty crappy.

Coaches, well, they're used to it. Kids that at best see ten minutes max a game, not so much. Critize their game, their effort, but don't say things that can be perceived as calling their character into question. Its hard to maintain trust with the people you're covering when you unload on them when they're not around to defend themselves.

Just bad, bad form.

BTW, great Zoltan interview.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Thanks. Unline Carty, Mesko was very nice and easy to work with. I may try the Carty interview again, but who knows.

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Whoops, should read "Unlike Carty"

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Well, I take back what I said earlier today. I decided to e-mail him again since we were talking about the interview and he got back to me in a couple of minutes and said that basically his e-mail crashed earlier this summer. So, that's probably what happened with that.

The interview is back on now.

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Maize n Brew Dave said...

Very cool.

Congrats on the interview. Hope it goes better than his last on air interview!

I'll look forward to reading it.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Johnny said...

great work dave, and thanks for pointing out the stuff on Abram. i'm still a few miles from "maybe basketball season won't suck this year", but this is definitely a good start.

 

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