To say that the sports scene in the state of Michigan looks a little bleak at the moment would be an understatement. The Pistons are the most entertainingly terrible team in the NBA, and both of the big kitty teams are starting over with lots of new faces both on the field and off. Even perennial contenders like the Detroit Red Wings and the Tom Izzo led Michigan State Spartans are facing un-precedented dry spells.
There is one silver lining, however. Or rather, one Maize and Blue one. The Michigan Wolverines are 15-1 and currently sit behind only Gonzaga and Baylor at number 3 in the National polls. With 5 teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, there’s no doubt that the Big Ten is one of the toughest conferences in college basketball this year.
Winning in Ann Arbor is nothing new to the Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard, seeing as he did it on one of the most revolutionary teams to ever grace the court at the Crisler Center. The Fab Five producing on the hardwood for him now is not a group of young upstart freshmen, (that he also had a hand in recruiting), but a mix of upper and underclassmen that were drawn by the legacy of the beautiful brotherhood that the block “M” represents. From freshman phenom Hunter Dickinson to grad transfer Mike Smith, this year’s Wolverine team was drawn in by the image of what it looks like to be a ‘Michigan Man” – an image that their coach takes seriously.
When Howard was hired to take over for John Beilein, his “brother” Jalen Rose stated that this was the first step in healing the tumultuous legacy that exists between the Fab 5 and the University of Michigan. One that led to their championship banners being stored away in boxes instead of hanging from the rafters.
As the Coronavirus swiftly wiped away both the sports and regular world as we knew it, one of its first victims was the NCAA Tournament. A year later college basketball is still a prisoner of COVID-19. The Wolverines recently came off of a 23 day pause in athletic activities due to new strains showing up on campus. Even longtime holdout Chris Webber had plans to attend a practice.
One of these days, hopefully soon, we will get to see Juwan, Jalen, Chris, Ray, and Jimmy back at the Center together and the banners will be restored. It’s the one thing keeping this Michigan fan going right now.
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