Brandon's Blog: Basketball Excitement Is Only Portion of the Thrills

March 3, 2011

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on different topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All of his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

When you lead a department that oversees 27 sports, you watch the excitement and anticipation of coaches, staff and especially the student-athletes on a daily basis. When the seasons are coming to a close, that level of excitement and anticipation grows. And when the talk turns to basketball, alumni and fans of our athletic program can feel that excitement -- especially in March and especially this year with both our men's and women's teams having a good shot of advancing to NCAA play.

Saturday our men's team will complete its regular season at a sold-out Crisler Arena against Michigan State. (The game will be televised live on the CBS and start at 2 p.m.) A win would give our team a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten and help build its NCAA Tournament resume.

But before we get to Saturday's battle, our women's team finds itself as the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Our team will play Illinois on Friday. (The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network and start at approximately 2 p.m.) Our women's team is poised for its first NCAA bid since 2001. The Big Ten Tournament is wide open and the opportunity for as many as seven teams from our conference to advance to the NCAAs is definitely possible.

March is the trigger point for basketball excitement, and we all get caught up in this fun. However, as I think about the future of these programs, I remind myself that the job of our athletic department is to see ALL of our teams build programs that sustain this type of excitement, year after year.

Now we have that opportunity to build both our men's and women's basketball programs in a way that will make every year exciting and highly competitive.

If we look back at the basketball season, and look at what is happening around Crisler Arena, this excitement has been happening off the court too.

The U-M Board of Regents approved a major renovation to Crisler Arena this past January. The cost was $52 million for Phase Two of the expansion plan. This will be the portion that will make Crisler a 21st century arena for the fans, creating an atmosphere that will allow fans a new experience.

The practice facilities are now in process of being completed and will be used during the 2011-12 season.

When you consider the two phases of Crisler expansion and renovation, together with the strong leadership we have with John Beilein and Kevin Borseth and their talented assistants, and the exciting, competitive basketball we have seen from our men's and women's teams this year, I believe we are poised to have this type of interest and anticipation for Michigan basketball in the month of March for years to come.

Good luck to both our women's and men's teams over the next few weeks. Our staff, alumni and fans will be enjoying the excitement and watching the transformation of Crisler Arena continue throughout the summer. Go Blue!

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