Friday, February 27, 2009

I Have Seen the Future, and it is Amazing

Over break I got the chance to watch the University of Missouri take on Kansas State in person. Missouri routed a talented K-State squad in a very exciting game. K-State was within 4 midway through the first half, then Missouri exploded and jumped out to a 23 point halftime lead, and never looked back. The game was a great experiences, and I walked away with two things on my mind. First, Missouri is a legit top 10 team, and they can give any tournament team fits with their style of play, while also keeping the crowd entertained. Second, and of more concern to fans up here, throughout the game I noticed several similarities between Missouri and Michigan, and some of them were almost spooky. (I would put up pictures, but I don't think anyone really wants to see a picture of Amaker here).
  • Both teams replaced a former Duke assistant who left in controversy. Missouri fared better than Michigan, making 6 straight postseasons (4 NCAAs), but was placed on probation by the NCAA and in 2003 went from the #3 team in the country to losing in the first round of the NIT.
  • Both teams hired a somewhat unconventional coach who rely on a system to get the most out of their players. Michigan got Beilein in 2007, and Missouri hired Mike Anderson from UAB in 2006. Beilein is known for his 1-3-1 defense and 3 point shooting, Anderson counters with "40 minutes of hell," where the team runs a full court press the entire game, then mixes tight man-to-man with a variety of zone looks (including the occasional 1-3-1 look).
  • Both schools struggled in their coaches first season. Missouri wasn't as bad in Anderson's 1st year as Michigan was last year, but they missed the postseason.
  • Both schools are technically U of M, and have similar colors (black/gold v maize/blue), Missouri even uses a block M. Still, no one should be confusing the two schools.
Anderson is now in his 3rd year at Missouri, and almost all the player's on the team were recruited by Anderson. The result has been a great season, a top-10 ranking, and a return to the NCAA tourney. One thing that kept popping into my head as I walked away from Mizzou Arena was if Anderson can do this in three years, I can't wait to watch Michigan next year.
**UPDATE - After watching Michigan handle Purdue, I can wait for next year.**

In other news, as Matt alluded to earlier this week, Rob, Jeremy, and I traveled down to Tampa this past weekend to cover Michigan baseball as the Wolverines opened the 2009 season with the inaugural Big East-Big Ten Challenge. The broadcast facilities were interesting for a couple of the games (read table at field level behind home plate), but I can't complain because it was Florida, and I was watching baseball. The team looked very good, going 4-0 over the weekend. For a recap that redefines the word thorough, check our the post by FormerlyAnonymous on Varsity Blue. The baseball team remains in Florida for a tournament in Jacksonville, and will return next weekend (March 6-8) to play Sienna and the New York Mets in an exhibition game.

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