So You Had a Bad Day…
We all know the song, “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter: “’Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down, you sing a sad song just to turn it around…”
That’s what the Elite 8 was for Michigan. It was a bad day, all around. I was a little bullish on the Wolverines after what happened to close out the regular season with that 1-2 finish down the stretch and then in the BIG Ten Tournament, after Isaiah Livers suffered his stress fracture in his foot, I was highly concerned. Michigan at times throughout the year looked unstoppable, at other times it was fair to question their Top-5 ranking.
WOLVERINES RAISED CONFIDENCE METER
Once it was confirmed that it was highly unlikely for Livers to return to the lineup for the tournament, Ryan and I had said a Sweet-16 appearance would be a reasonable expectation. After the dominant 76-58 win against #4 Florida State, the confidence meter went up again and a Final Four berth not only looked legitimate it was almost expected.
Enter 11 seed UCLA. Tuesday night was the epitome of the term “bad day”. When I look at a bad day, maybe it’s a segment on the show that I didn’t think went very well. Or I look back to my younger years and think of firing an 82 in the Regional Finals, or in grade school getting a 70 on a test and fearing that my parents would end my life when I had to tell them. You’ve probably had a bad day or two yourself. Maybe your lawnmower broke, maybe your sales meeting didn’t go well, maybe your spouse was upset over something that happened at home. All of these things you care about, but the grim reality is, they only matter to you and those within immediate contact to you, no one will be bothered by anything that happens to you or I during one of our “bad days.”
CRITICISM FOLLOWS IN WAVES
A bad day in today’s realm of collegiate and professional sports means an unwavering amount of criticism on radio, television, in newspapers and most of all on social media. The Wolverines total of 49 points is almost unexplainable. The 14 turnovers are almost preposterous. But the night that Franz Wagner had, 1-10 from the field, 0-4 from 3-point range, 4 points, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, and most importantly not one, but two attempts to win the game from distance. The first, an unfathomable air ball from 3 from a guy who usually shoots it at about 35 percent. The staggering 1-10 from the floor from a guy who shot 47.7 percent from the field this year looked almost criminal.
Hello, Mike Smith. Smith went 1-7 from the floor including 1-3 from long range and 0-2 from the free-throw line. He totaled 3 points. Both Wagner and Smith were crucial players all season long. For these two guys to go a combined 2-17 from the floor and total 7 points, welp, that’s your ball game folks. It was a bad day, at a very inopportune time, but these things happen. Michigan went from a pre-season mid-BIG Ten pick, to conference champions and an appearance in the Elite 8. These two players I highlight because what we saw from Wagner and Smith on Tuesday night is not an indictment of them as players or, most importantly, as young men.
NOBODY CARED MORE THAN PLAYERS, COACHES
No one, and I mean NO ONE, cares more about the outcome of these games more than the players and coaching staffs do. They are the ones who put in the countless hours at practice, in the film room, and back in the gym for extra shots. They’re the ones who had to abide by all of the COVID regulations, some have gone months without having in-person contact with their family members. They’re the people on the bus, on the plane, doing homework, studying for tests both on the court and in the classroom. They’re the young men who will get slandered on the internet when the ball doesn’t go in, when they don’t play 100 percent how the fans expect them to every single night, and they’re the ones who have the entire nation watching when they “have a bad day.”
Photo from USA Today