Tommy Amaker Talks Michigan

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Former Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker was available for a conference call today and I was able to hop on and see what he had to say about the upcoming game on Saturday at Crisler. Amaker coached Michigan from 2001-2007. Amaker’s 5-1 Harvard team is on a bit of a roll, winning their last five games after dropping their first game on the road against George Mason. Their best win to date is the 82-66 drubbing of Colorado at home. Here’s what Amaker had to say about his team, what he’s seen from Michigan this year, and coming back to Ann Arbor.

  • Thinks Michigan is coming off its best win of the season. Had time to watch some of the game and thought the Wolverines played very well.  Looked confident and shot the ball well, will “certainly be a handful for us.”
  • With the talent Michigan has, should be a team that does well this year.
  • Not worried about crowd reception, doesn’t think about and doesn’t notice it.
  • The game was scheduled before he got to Harvard. Had it not been, playing at Michigan probably wouldn’t have been “high up on anybody’s list,” but “these things happen.”
  • Thinks his team is playing well and is coming off their own “best win of the season thus far.” Thinks this game could be very competitive.
  • His team has some experience against “BCS opponents”, having already played Colorado at home and beaten them badly.
  • Looks at the Michigan game as an opportunity for his team to make a statement early in the season and also looking for the Crimson to gain some confidence.
  • Said his team needs to play well in order to win — not good enough yet to play poorly and still eke out a victory.
  • He feels no bitterness toward Michigan, understands how the business works. Always loved the opportunity to represent Michigan. His Michigan teams tried their best, that’s all anyone could ask for. Feels good to have had a chance to be at Michigan.
  • Harvard is young (like Michigan), still trying to find themselves. Feels like they’re gaining ground and getting better.
  • Need junior forward Keith Wright’s production in the post in order for them to have “good balance.”
  • Champswest

    I hope that the UM fans give him a warm welcome and I think that they will. He is a class act and represented Michigan very well.

    • Adam

      Agreed. I’ll be disappointing in the fans if they give him anything less than a warm reception.

      • tin mad dog

        I was about to write the same thing. While he didn’t give us the results we would’ve wanted in the W/L column, he was a class act at Michigan and did try to build a rowdier environment at Crisler by moving the students behind the benches.

        On that note, hopefully the arena will be at least close to full.

  • Gary

    I hope we don’t have a let-down after the Clemson game. I would really hate to see a second loss to Harvard.

  • http://@ufl.edu Mattski

    Agree with Gary, and think it may be a tough game. Tommy’s in a unique position to do well at Harvard–much better positioned than he was here. I admired him, thought he had done better than given credit for, and also loved the move to Beilein. I think in the long run–if Beilein succeeds, especially–it will be seen that Tommy took us partway back down (up?) a pretty hard road to redemption.

  • AG2

    There’s no point in dwelling on the Amaker Era anymore, so I’m not going to badmouth the guy or anything. That being said, Michigan cannot afford to lose this game. Harvard, Oakland, and Utah are the 3 key games that will tell us where this team is at headed into Big Ten play.

  • Section13Row15

    I would be surprised if Amaker gets any boos. I don’t think anyone has any animosity towards him, he just never got over the hump and he never varied his gameplans depending on the opponent we played. That season we won the NIT, we were actually playing our best basketball under Amaker. Then the next season was a nightmare with Horton getting in trouble, etc. Amaker’s a class act and a good guy, and I think everyone recognizes that. Michigan needs to win this one to make a statement that we chose the right path so to speak.

  • AG2

    You know, when Horton got in trouble, he didn’t play again the rest of the season. How come Tre’von Willis and LaceDarius Dunn got off so easy?

  • Alex

    This will be a good game. Hopefully we end up on the right side of the scoreboard.

  • RT

    Tommy is a good coach that never got a fair shot here (Horton, injuries, probation, facilities). It will be a fun game

    • Gary

      Amaker represented the UM well, but I don’t think he was a good coach. He had some tough breaks with Horton’s problems and injuries, but he had 6 years without consistent improvement. During the Amaker era, there was very little player development – players like Courtney Sims, Dion Harris, Horton, Petway, etc. looked pretty much the same in their last season as in their first. It was time to move on and I think Bill Martin made the right decision.

      • http://umhoops.com Wayman Britt

        Gary – I agree. He could recruit, but could not develop players or motivate and was a terrible in game coach. It was time for a change when he was let go.
        If we only could take Amaker’s recruiting and blend that with Beilein’s coaching skill. Watch out.

  • georgeesq.

    One major change by Amaker – no turtleneck in that photo.

    • JimC

      Maybe the turtleneck was the problem here.

    • Rob in AA

      I noticed that too! What’s up with that?!

  • Giddings

    Hate to say it but I’m worried about this game. Harvard is NOT in the same mold as Bowling Green / Gardner Webb, I hope the team approaches this game with the right mindset.

    • sven

      I don’t think this team will be overlooking anyone this season. I’m sure Coach will also remind them that Harvard beat us a few years ago. You can also bet that they know full well who is coaching the other team and will want to get Coach a win against his predecessor.

    • georgeesq.

      Tommy has some talent, and this team along with Utah and Oakland can beat us. The good thing is that Beilein has had a few days to prepare, and we seem to play best when coach has time to ready his team for the opponent. As young as we are, though, we will be unpredictable.

  • AG2

    Is it too much to ask to play Manny Harris? I mean the Cavs are down by 30 and they’ve played everyone on their active roster except him.

    • Kevin in GR

      I was thinking the same thing……..If he isn’t going to play in that situation, when will he ever play?

      • Kevin in GR

        Ok, I just read the next post…….Inactive :)

  • Sheryl

    Manny was listed as inactive on the NBA’s stats page for this game.

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  • Section13Row15

    Gary is right, Amaker was not a good coach. He was a good guy but not a good coach. And he did get a fair shot here, just never did anything with it. You were always hoping that when Horton, Hunter, Petway, Brown, etc. were seniors that they would at least make the tournament. But they were still averaging 15+ turnovers per game as seniors and there was no improvement from player to player. The offense was so predictable and usually ended up with a desparation 3 from Dion Harris when the shot clock was winding down. Amaker didn’t open himself up to the media at all either which was pretty annoying.

  • Polisci

    It was the NC State game in 2006 that was the turning point in my support for Amaker. We were undefeated (but hadn’t played anyone) and the first game we play a real opponent we lose bad. The game started out good but by halftime we were in a dog fight and coming out of the half we took a dump on the floor. I then went to the Georgetown game (no easy feat since I was living in DC at the time) and we were never in it. That 06-07 team should have been excellent.

    • AG2

      For me it was the Minnesota game in the Big Ten Tournament where we lost after beating Minnesota 2 times by double digits. In 05-06 that kept us out of the tournament.

      I remember back in 2008 when we beat UCLA in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic back when you had to win the first rounds to get to NYC. We played Northeastern in the first game and I kept thinking “why do I feel like with Tommy Amaker we lose that Northeastern game?”

      • JimC

        Ugh, that MN game was my darkest hour as a M BBall fan.

  • DC

    “eek” should be eke.

  • eddie

    I’m not sure anyone is really saying he was a bad coach. I think most people would say he had very little in-game strategy, very poor player development skills, and very poor motivational skills. I also think most would call him an above average recruiter. In the Ivy League, his recruiting prowess has immediately paid dividends. He’s able to bring in guys that are bigger and more athletic than a lot of the other teams in that conference.

    That said, let’s remember that his recruiting skills were put into question a year or two ago when Harvard’s athletic dept, and the basketball program in particular, were being looked at internally for recruiting issues that weren’t up to the standards of the Ivy League.

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