Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Construction in Ann Arbor? You don't say...

On the heels of the Udoh announcement that he is leaving town for greener pastures, Michigan AD Bill Martin has announced that plans have begun to start construction on a new basketball practice facility. The BTN interviewed Martin, in which he said architects have been hired and plans were in motion to put the new facility on the East side of the stadium (this is where the bus stop is currently located at the foot of the Crisler Arena hill). No timetable has been set for the project.

While this is good news, there are still a few red flags that are raised from these comments. The biggest of these is timing. Although Martin did not specify when it was supposed to be finished by, I can't imagine it will be anytime soon. With the football stadium not supposed to be totally completed until after '10, the football practice facility still being redone, and new soccer field being built behind the Varsity Tennis Center, this puts "Basketball Practice facility" way down the "To-Do List." For a basketball program that has players jumping from it like rats on a sinking ship, this is not good news. Michigan cannot compete with the MSUs or the Illinois type programs without a practice facility to show recruits. This is something that Martin is going to need to bring some luster back to a once storied program. Although Martin has given fans a light at the end of the tunnel, no one has any idea just how long that tunnel is going to be.

Sidenote: With the aforementioned Udoh gone, Michigan boasts a front line of Shepard, Sims, and Gibson. Backing up Gibson is Puls and Cronin, and neither one of them has played in a college game. Somewhere, a season ticket holder weeps into his Jalen Rose Day t-shirt. If this doesn't motivate the Athletic Department to sell Maize Rage tickets for 25 dollars for the whole season, I don't know what would. Women's season tickets go for that much, and they are at least an NIT team!

The last red flag is Martin's refusal to be interviewed by the local press about the announcement. Free Press writer Mark Snyder's Tuesday article included Martin declining to be interviewed on the matter. Why the hell would Martin go on national television to talk about breaking ground on a new building, but not do it locally and alienate the local fan base/media even further? Now, I'm not saying Martin isn't true to his word, but this does show me that it's possible even he does not know when visual progress can be seen by fans when they drive down to Crisler Arena.

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