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Westsider Rider

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who's got next?

Plenty to recap in the world of sports over the weekend but the most important story on my list is the firing of Coach Tommy Amaker. Although I have nothing but great things to say about Coach off the court, he wasn't getting the job done on the court and that's the bottom line. Through all my interactions with him he was a great man and I will always have great respect for him. Even moreso after reading all the various quotes from the media and how he has handled this whole situation. MGoBlog has a great summary of all the news regarding the firing. After reading all that as well as the letter he wrote to the Maize Rage I have nothing but great things to say about him as a person and wish him success in whatever he does down the road. The following is the letter that Coach sent out to the Maize Rage on Saturday after he was let go:

Maize Rage,

I just want to thank all of you for all of the support that you've
given our basketball program and me during my time at Michigan. You've
been phenomenal, and I will always be grateful for your support and
enthusiasm for our team.

I truly loved coaching and teaching at Michigan, and I will always be
grateful to have had this opportunity. I loved representing you, and I
wish you all well.

Please continue to support the team and the new coach--they need you
and deserve your support!!

Thank you again for everything you've done for me and Michigan
Basketball, and GO BLUE!

Coach Amaker

Now it's onto the million dollar question, who will be the next coach at Michigan. There's a long list of candidates out there as Michigan will probably be the premier job out there this offseason. It's tough to say premier considering we haven't been to the tournament in almost 10 years but it definitely is considering the tradition and name brand recognition that Michigan has. Many like to refer to Michigan as a "sleeping giant" which it definitely is. As long as the administration is willing to pay, we will be in a great situation to land a very good coach.

As of now my top list of candidates would be Tony Bennett from Washington State, Chris Lowery from Southern Illinois and Lon Kruger from UNLV. Bennett and Lowery are both young coaches who have strong midwest ties. I would lean towards Bennett due to his experience in the Big Ten at Wisconsin, although Lowery does have one year at Illinois with Bruce Weber. But what puts Bennett over Lowery IMO is the job he did this season at Washington State, a team that was projected to finish near, if not at the very bottom of the Pac-10 this season. He was able to guide the Cougars to a 2nd place finish in the Pac-10 and a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing the double OT thriller to Vanderbilt on Saturday. Lon Kruger is also a name high up on my list because he already has proven he can win in the Big Ten at Illinois and has turned the UNLV program around and led them to the Sweet 16. I'm sure there are other names that will emerge but that's the top of my list now, which can always change. Whoever is hired, I just want to be part of the Madness next year, and I hope the new coach can keep all the recruits we have lined up as well.

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