Final Four Flashback

•April 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The 2009 NCAA Final Four swings into high gear today in Detroit with all four teams having a one hour public practice at Ford Field. For some, this kicks off a weekend in Motown they will long remember, especially if their team wins the title.  For me, it brings back memories of the three NCAA Championship games I broadcast as the Voice of Michigan Basketball.

20 years ago at this time, I was in Seattle as Michigan prepared to take on Illinois in one national semi-final game.  The Wolverines, with interim coach Steve Fisher, were a surprise to be there, and were also facing an Illinois team that had throttled them in the season-ender at Crisler Arena just a couple of weeks earlier.

I wish I could remember every minute of that game, but I don’t.  I do remember as time was running down Terry Mills shooting a long shot from the right corner baseline that clanked off the rim and right into the hands of Sean Higgins who put the rebound into the basket giving the Wolverines victory and a ticket to the National Championship Game.  I also remember interviewing Loy Vaught after the game IN THE SHOWER!  It was probably not one of my more journalistic moments, but I did get his comments.

Monday rolled around for the title game against Seton Hall.  Because we were staying outside of Seattle, the team bus driver said the team should leave early because of the congested traffic that is rush hour in Seattle.  I followed the bus in my rental car as we headed to the Kingdome about 4 hours before tipoff.  Of course we ran into no traffic and got there with a ton of time to kill.

Now here’s the thing.  The NCAA sets absolute rules on when teams can take the court to warm-up, allowing the same allotted time for both.  That meant Michigan couldn’t go out and just shoot some to kill time.  Head coach Steve Fisher told the team to find something to do in the locker-room.  Well, Glen Rice, who had become the MVP of the tournament to this point found his own “something to do.”  He climbed up on the training table..and WENT TO SLEEP!  That’s right, a couple of hours before the biggest game in his life, Glen was sleeping!

Once the game started, Glen was far from asleep.  He wound up with 31 but it was Rumeal Robinson, who hit two free throws in overtime that gave Michigan the 80-79 victory and the National Championship over Seton Hall.

I got back to the team hotel and of course a huge party was underway with boosters in a banquet room. I remember having three adult beverages in hand at once and Steve Fisher coming up to me about 2 in the morning and asking if I wanted to fly back with the team on their plane.  I did, and after about an hour of sleep, I was off to the airport and on the plane.

Landing at Metro Airport, the team plane was met by the media.  We climbed on busses and headed out I-94 to a celebration at Crisler Arena.  That was one of the things I remember most, because the road was lined by fans pulled off to the side and waving signs and cheering as our busses passed.  It was just incredible as was the reception at Crisler.

I sometimes go back and relive that historic run, as no coach has ever won his first six career games as a head coach of a Division I school and won the national title as Steve Fisher did.  If you’d like to remember those moments, here’s a link to a special we put together at WJR Radio back then called the “Dream Team.”

Then in 1992, the Fab Five burst onto the scene.  It was like travelling with the Beatles.  Students at opposing colleges on the road would hang around after games to try and get autographs.  I remember barricades having to be put up at some sites.

Somehow this group did what they shouldn’t have done, make it all the way to the NCAA Championship game as a freshmen starting five.  Unfortunately the run that Juwann Howard had called “Shock the World” ended to a veteran Duke team in that title game in Minneapolis 71-51.

The next year, they were back in the title game, but not without surviving a game with UCLA the Fab Five refused to lose.  Playing at the University of Arizona, Michigan found themselves 19 down to the Bruins in the first half and 13 at halftime.  They clawed and scratched their way back, forcing the game into overtime.  It was there that Jimmy King got a put back that gave the Wolverines the 86-94 win. That allowed them to move on and take on first George Washington and then Temple, both they defeated to reach the Final Four in New Orleans.

At the Superdome, Michigan faced Kentucky in their semi-final game, and I’ve got to say, this game was unbelievable. It was a battle with the Wolverines finally pulling it out in overtime by 3.  That set up a matchup with North Carolina.

That game too went back and forth, but a late run had the Tar Heels in control, before Michigan cut the lead to one.  Then, needing UNC to miss a free throw, it happened, Chris Webber got the rebound.  I have to admit, right then, I KNEW Michigan would win because I had seen it before.  However, we all know what took place.

Chris couldn’t pass the ball, came up court, and called timeout.  Michigan though didn’t have a timeout meaning it was a technical.  I knew it immediately the situation but thought for a second my stat sheet was wrong, it wasn’t, and North Carolina easily won the game.

All I can say is that after the game, it turned into a very long night on Bourbon Street.  Still, I was there for a part of history, but not the kind I really had hoped for.

So, as the Final Four starts in Detroit, I say to all those involved, enjoy every minute.  Document it if you can with your cell phone camera or video camera.  Realize you are privileged to be involved in what most will never have a chance to do.  I’m thankful for the three “Shining Moments” in my career and I cherish them as hopefully everyone this weekend will too.

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Looking for good news in a doom and gloom world

•February 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

Good news?  It’s a commodity in short supply these days. Everywhere one turns there only seems to be doom and gloom.

Unemployment rising, home foreclosures growing, wages going down, businesses on the verge of collapse.  It’s enough to have one to roll up into a fetal position and hide under the bed.  Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s not a Disney World moment!

I’ve been what I like to call “under employed” for over a year now.  I’ve survived to this point with various freelance opportunities primarily in the motorsports world, which I know well.  However as the monetary crisis grows, that work declines.

Like many that are in similar situations, I keep evaluating what I know, what I can do, and what I need to learn to expand my possibilities of at least paying the bills.  It is from that last area where I find optimism but not completely for me.

You see, the optimism I’m finding is being generated by the young people I’ve been meeting as I network.  The “Millennials” aren’t beaten down by the economy.  They have a can-do and will-do spirit.  They are creating new businesses, new thinking, and a completely new approach to life and work in general.

Being a “glass is half empty” type of guy, I sometimes just chalk up all their enthusiasm to being young and naive, and probably that has some validity.  I just look back to when I was say, oh, 24, and realize just how un-worldly and unknowing of “real life” I was.  (No mortgage, no car payments, and no college tuition to be paid for the kids!)

That said, no one can deny that they are marching forward, fearless in what they believe and most importantly, knowing what they can achieve. I find that invigorating and in many ways helps keep me focused on my own quest to morph myself into the new world reality.

So if you want to get out of the doom and gloom mindset, just look around you.  Open your eyes and your mind and see that the youth of America aren’t the slackers and self-absorbed persons they are so often portrayed by the media.  They are the future and they are building it now.

Voices of Detroit on the move!

•February 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Group photo  If you’ve been waiting for another edition of Voices of Detroit, never fear!  We moved locations and forgot to tell everyone here.  (I’m old okay, just had the 129th birthday!)

The new permanent home of Voices of Detroit is www.VoicesofDetroit.com.  There’s a recent new show there now and coming this next week will be a discussion with the ladies you see in the picture to the left.  (The two ugly guys are myself in the sweater and my partner in crime Dave Benjamin.)

Make sure to go to www.VoicesofDetroit.com to also stay on top of special happenings that will be taking place around our recording sessions with the program.  Let’s just say that coming up, we are going to allow people to whine…minus the H.

Thanks for listening to our program and make sure you tell everyone about it!  We hope to continue to grow it and get the good news out that business is alive and well and growing in Detroit!

 

Voices of Detroit Show #2 1-29-09

•January 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

biggby-prep-1-29-09

Voices of Detroit with Larry Henry and David Benjamin hit the road for this week’s program.  Thanks to @BiggbyBob, Biggby Coffee’s new location on Evergreen in Southfield, Michigan played host for our second installment.

Larry and David chatted with Kim Knapp, a business coach with The Droste Group and Maureen Francis of SKBK Sotheby’s International Realty.

podcasticon

   Listen to Voices of Detroit Show #2  1-29-09

                                   (Click on link above)

 Kim Knapp

Kim comes from a crisis management background, and today coaches executives for The Droste Group on innovative ideas to manage and grow their companies in our changing economy. The Droste Group is an international coaching organization.

Kim coaches executive leadership to individuals, groups, and organizations.  Her clients are experiencing extraordinary results using their seminars, workshops, and a variety of coaching products.  Kim can be reached at kknapp@drostegroup.com.

Maureen Francis

Maureen Francis, and her husband, Dmitry Koublitsky, have been connecting home buyers and sellers in Oakland county for over seven years.  With multiple web pages and blogs, this high tech team offers sellers outstanding exposure on the internet.

Outstanding knowledge of the market, strong negotiating skills and high client satisfaction ratings make Dmitry and Maureen an excellent choice for your next move.  Visit them on the web at Oakland County Homes or MIOaklandCounty Real Estate Blog.

Voices of Detroit In-depth conversations with entrepreneurs and community leaders who are leading the renaissance of Detroit

•January 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

Snappy title for this post isn’t it?  It actually is the description of a new podcast series that David Benjamin of the Sales Matrix and myself came up with while drinking coffee one day.

Our goal is to hold personal conversations with persons who are moving the Detroit area forward.  We hope to learn what they are doing, how they are doing it, and most importantly the why.  It also is a great chance to expose the many up and coming entrepreneurs to other like minds (my apologies to the Like Mind people around the world) that reside in our area and grow the community even more.

Our first attempt at putting together our podcast took place January 22nd and focused on social media.  Not so much what social media is, but how we use it, how it effects us, and how it could possibly help in the renaissance of Detroit.

Our conversation quartet consisted of Shauna Nicholson of BizNet, Brian Eyster of Essential Strategies, David Benjamin from The Sales Matrix, and myself, Larry Henry of Two Floors Down Productions.

*Shauna Nicholson*, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions

snicholson@biznetis.net

Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By
transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.

 
Brian Eyster – Essential Strategies founder

brian@essentialstrategies.net

Brian Eyster has been called a “financial contrarian” based on the success of his non-traditional approach to wealth development, honed through years in the financial services industry. It’s a title he wears proudly, knowing
that his financial planning strategies and coaching process build clarity, focus, and client confidence. Brian also plays an active part in training other financial professionals to develop a client educational format in their own practices, and is frequently requested as a speaker on wealth development strategies. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

David Benjamin, Recruiting Manager, The SalesMatrix

dbenjamin@thesalesmatrix.com

With the recent downsizing going on in just about every industry, more and more professionals seek guidance in their job transition.  David has consistently been a valuable resource for professionals seeking career opportunities placing well over 100 highly qualified candidates to clients in a variety of industries.  David is a strong advocate of using social media platforms to market his business and recruit for his clients.

America’s business incubator:The Coffee Shop!

•January 11, 2009 • 6 Comments

coffee-shop-meetingAfter extensive research and literally thousands of cups of coffee consumed, I have come to the cold hard fact that America’s new wave of entrepreneurs and businesses is being born at coffee shops all across America.

Go to any Starbucks, Caribou Coffe, Biggby Coffee, Panera Bread (more than coffee shop but still fits the category), Coffee Beanery, or whatever your coffee mecca of choice is and look around.

What you’ll see are people, usually on laptops, working away, holding small business meetings, and in general doing the work that at one time would have only been done in an office setting.

Deals are being made.  Proposals are being written.  New ideas are being discussed. Companies are being born.

Isn’t it amazing for a 2 dollar cup of coffee (pure regular java guy here)  America is unleashing its collective greatness and drive to create and succeed. Those efforts could turnout to be the saviour of our economy in tough economic times. 

So the next time you stop in for that cup of Joe, latte, or whatever your favorite beverage is at your coffee shop, take a good look around the room.  You’ll be witnessing American business on the move!

Believe the “Government” can save you at your own peril!

•January 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I shake my head all the time at the number of people that think  “Government” at any level is their saviour.  The all benevolent, all knowing, and all powerful “Government” can right all wrongs, can make a cloudy day bright, and can make our lives an episode of the Brady Brunch. 

I have no idea why this prevalent belief is not only alive but growing among the U.S. population.

Can someone tell me one thing the U.S. government, or any government really does well other than take our hard earned money to spend on what they deem is “good for us?”  Show me one program that does exactly what it was designed to do and at the cost its budget called for! Here’s a prime example of this.

snowy-tvOn February 17th, just four weeks from now, all over-the-air television signals in the United States are set to go from analog to digital.  That means that older television sets won’t receive anything but snow on them unless they get converter boxes.  Since the U.S. government is the one mandating this change, they’ve been running a program for about a year that allows the public to request $40 vouchers to pay for those converter boxes. Now here’s the rub.

People who have waited until the last minute to get those vouchers or just realized they need the converter boxes are being put on a waiting list because the U.S. government didn’t allot enough money to fund the program for everyone that needed it.  The problem is now so pressing it seems that President-elect Barack Obama is calling for a delay in the conversion to digital TV!  (Read more)

Here is a simple government program.  Public asks for a voucher, voucher is sent to the public requesting said voucher, voucher is used for digital conversion box, and all is right in the world.  However it is not working!  If something as simple as this can’t be done correctly by the “government” who in their right mind thinks the “government” is going to wave its magic wand while spending a trillion dollars to “save” the U.S. economy is going to work any better? 

I now know why the word “Hope” was used so much during the last Presidential campaign since we all had better “hope” that somehow our “government” will suddenly be blessed with wisdom from above.  I’m not holding my breath.