Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not Interested, Tommy

But really, so what?

I hate that I feel that way about Michigan basketball. I actually strongly considered going to last night's NIT game vs. Utah State. The tickets were cheap, and I could've had almost any seat in the house. But ultimately, it just came down to the feeling that I can't support this stuff.

The majority of fans obviously shared the same sentiment. 3,114 fans attended the game. That's the lowest Crisler Arena crowd for a men's basketball game in 23 years. 1,000 fewer fans showed up for this game than last year's NIT first-round match-up with Texas-El Paso.

On TV, the crowd looked like what you typically see for a women's basketball or gymnastics contest in Ann Arbor. Credit the Maize Rage section for making it as loud as they could, but judging from the large sections of empty seats and bleachers, that was essentially a scrimmage.

We could argue about how many Michigan fans care about basketball, in general, (and I don't think it's very many) but if apathy hadn't already set in, a significant dose of it has rushed in over the past few weeks. Go ahead and question the reasonability or expectations of the Michigan fanbase, but don't question their intelligence. This was not a case of Michigan almost being good enough to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but things didn't go their way, so they should just try to make the best of an NIT bid and show people they may have deserved better. Not this year. Not when schools like Syracuse, Drexel, Kansas State, West Virginia, Clemson, Washington, and Air Force didn't get in, either.

This is exactly what the Michigan basketball program deserved. I'm not talking about the players; it would've been nice for that senior class to participate in at least one NCAA tournament. I feel bad that they had to play in front of 3,000 people last night. At least they went out and won this game. (It's too bad no one will be able to see their second-round contest with Florida State. If a game is shown on ESPNU, and virtually no one can see it, will it really have happened?)

But this is about something much bigger right now. Basketball is undergoing a slow death at Michigan, and if the athletic department won't (or can't) take steps to prevent that and bring in someone who can at least achieve the bare minimum for a Big Ten program, who has at least a shred of interest in promoting his team and embracing the community at-large, then they can't possibly expect people to support the team. This charade has been carried as far as it can go. There is no better time to make a change.

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