Crisler Arena Construction Update Photos – 10/16/2012

The men’s basketball ushers (Event Staff) had their preseason meeting on Tuesday night, and we got to wander around Crisler Arena afterwards.  Only part of it is open to walk through; the rest is still a construction zone, with only 15 days until the first game.  The part of the outer concourse we saw was gorgeous.  It looks like a whole new arena.  I can’t wait to see the rest of it, including the escalators and the waterfall.

Here are the photos I took.

Go Blue!

Not so Fab 5- Sorry Jalen, the Banners Need to Stay Buried

Jalen Rose recently took to twitter to voice his displeasure with UM President Mary Sue Coleman’s position that the banners “won” by the Fab 5 won’t be returning to Crisler Center anytime soon.

 “I saw that U of Michigan has no plans to put back up our hoops banners. Should I do like most of its former BBallers & never return?” he tweeted. “Or should I ask for the 250k I donated for my Endowed Scholarship back & move it to another school? Stay Tuned.”

Athletic Director David Brandon followed up with the obvious explanation on why the banners won’t be returning:

“We’re not even sure that we could put those banners up,” Brandon said. “If you vacated wins and forfeited wins and basically cleared the record books of any activity, it’s hard to believe we could put back up the banners. We’ve never even gauged with the NCAA to see if that were possible.
“And, truthfully, if we had to forfeit the wins, it doesn’t seem appropriate.”

Members of the Fab 5 believe that their achievements are being unfairly ignored. You especially have to feel for Ray Jackson and Jimmy King, who never achieved success at the pro level like their college teammates Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Jalen Rose.

The Chris Webber/Ed Martin scandal wreaked havoc on the Michigan Basketball record book and forever tainted the Fab5 legacy. Many Wolverines fans would be happy to leave the scandal in the past and move on. Jalen clearly agrees with them.

The problem is that Chris Webber is guilty as sin and Jalen is wrong to blame Michigan for the banishment of the Fab 5. That blame rests solely on the shoulders of Webber. To blame Michigan would be like Jalen blaming the police for his recent DUI. In that incident Jalen rightly accepted blame for his actions:

“I have no one to blame but myself for endangering the community,” he told the judge.

But Jalen doesn’t use the same criteria when he chooses to look the other way with scandal brought Michigan by former teammate Chris Webber and bookie Ed Martin.

Chris Webber is a thief. His blatant disregard for the rules robbed the rest of the Fab 5 of their legacy and destroyed the memories of those seasons in the minds of Wolverine fans. He also stole from his opponents, it wasn’t enough that he had more talent in his pinky finger than many of them. He also didn’t need to burden himself with the same rules as the common players.

Webber’s post-Michigan career was also marked by a failure to follow the rules. When Chris was caught with drugs he denied responsibility. When he got a speeding ticket, the community didn’t appreciate him. When called to testify against bookie Ed Martin he lied through his teeth. Eventually his lies caught up with him and he was suspended for violating the NBA anti-drug policy and being forced to plead guilty to one charge of criminal contempt for lying to a federal grand jury.

Webber has never never expressed any regret for the dishonor he brought to Michigan. Perhaps if he had I might have some sympathy for him.

So the main reason for the banners not returning to Crisler Center from the dim archives of the Bentley Library are practical. The games have been erased so the banners are null and void. You can thank Chris Webber for that.

But there’s another more philosophical reason for the banners to stay buried.

To borrow a popular phrase these days- “THIS IS MICHIGAN…”

The Fab 5 never won a Big Ten title. The regular season was a mere inconvenience for them. And as far was being National Champion runner-ups, I can tell you as someone who attended Michigan during their reign, nobody was throwing them a parade for coming in second two years in a row. If you’re excited about losing in the Final Four you need to head up to East Lansing- they got that covered up there.

But I do offer a compromise. Disregarding his DUI Jalen has been an outstanding example of a Michigan Man since leaving the University of Michigan. He has contributed his time and money to many worthy charities and endowed a scholarship at Michigan. For these reasons, I propose that Michigan raise an unnamed #5 jersey to the rafters of Crisler Center.

For those willing to ignore the misdeeds of Chris Webber it can represent the Fab 5.

For the rest of us it can serve as a reminder to always question things that are simply too good to be true.

Behind the Scenes at Crisler Center

When the plans were announced to renovate Crisler Arena and build the player development center I was skeptical.

My idea for renovating Crisler began with a big insurance policy and ended with a crane “accidentally” dropping something on it.

For years Crisler was dark, dingy, and depressing.

But no more.

Here are some photos of the newly christened Crisler Center.  Work still remains to be done on the concourse but the inside of Crisler Arena and the Player Development Center are truly state-of-the-art.

Crisler Arena: 5 things that need to be fixed…

Bill Martin’s lasting legacy as Athletic Director is impressive list of facilities built or renovated during his watch.
Football, baseball, softball, and wrestling are among the sports that now have top rate facilities.  Ice hockey has venerable Yost Ice Arena, with some of the most rabid fans in all of college athletics.
Virtually ignored during the building frenzy has been Crisler Arena.
Sure, new lights were installed and a new practice facility is on the way but the facility itself has some serious problems that need to be solved.
I believe that these problem would best be solved by having a crane working at Michigan Stadium “accidentally” knock the place down for the insurance money but what do I know?
Apparently the athletic department has no problem finding $226 million for Michigan Stadium which gets used eight or nine times a year but has to look through the couch cushions to scrounge together $20 million for renovating Crisler that three varsity sports call home.
So basketball is figuratively, and with new renovations to Michigan Stadium literally in the shadow of the football program.  From the steps of Crisler you can gaze on the incredible new football field house, and then glance over to the glorious new softball/baseball complex nestled next to Yost Ice Arena.
What does a revenue sport need to do to get some love?
Here are the things that any renovation need to to address.
1.  Add some character to the place
Crisler Arena has all the character of a K-Mart; bleak and depressing.  It’s the ugly building next to Michigan Stadium. Nothing about it says, Michigan, history or tradition.  It’s design cues echo the utilitarian cookie-cutter stadiums built in the late 1960’s and 70’s that have mostly (thankfully) been replaced.
2.  Lose the top rows
The view from the upper reaches of Crisler  Arena is terrible.  It’s like watching basketball on google earth.  Remove the top 5 or 10 rows and reduce capacity.  Make the venue more intimate.  Bring the crown into the game.
3.  Ditch the cushy seats
The seats at Crisler are nice and comfortable.  Like a movie theater.  They encourage you to stay seated.  Any renovation needs to look at some seats that encourage crowd participation.
4.  Fix the concourses
The concourses need to be opened up with more space and light.  Add more bathrooms.  Improve the display cases- use multimedia to highlight all UM sports and loop Big Ten network footage.
5.  Win
An energized crowd makes up for a substandard facility.  The team needs to be regular participants in March Madness not to mention competing for Big Ten Title.