THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, March 8, 1968
Page Twelve THE MICHIGAN DAILY Friday, March 8, 1968
By BILL LEVIS
Associate Sports Editor
What started out so ominously last December when Michigan
lost to Kentucky 96-79 is ending in a rage.
The Wolverine cagers, who lost their last eight Big Ten games last
season and started this year losing three of their first four non-con-
ference games and their fist five in the Big Ten; are ending the season
on the upbeat and with the hope for better things to come next year.
Michigan has won its last three conference games, dramatic-
ally reversing the style that produced an 8-16 season last year and
the outlooks of another dismal record this time around. And the
Wolverines victims have not been meek.
After defeating Minnesota 105-92 for the second Wolverine victory
over the Gophers this season and for their second road victory, Michi-
gan went out to knock Purdue out of the race and Northwestern almost
clear out of the first division.
The Wolverines' thrashing of Rick Mount's Boilermakers at the
Events Building Dedication game had to be the highlight of the season
for the Maize and Blue cagers and head coach Dave Strack.
"We play our best game against them," he said.
Strack's boys had come through as the spoilers, knocking the high-
flying Boilermakers out of a chance to cop the Big Ten championship.
In the past, when Strack's teams, with Cazzie Russell leading the
charges, were reigning at the top, it was other schools such as Illinois
and Michigan State that spoiled Michigan seasons.
This year, the Wolverines had their chance and came through
handsomely. After struggling early in the year to find a starting
lineup, Michigan finally began to click when Bob Sullivan was
moved to the center post even though he gives up valuable inches
of height to the opposition.
The Wolverines began to move well because Sullivan began passing
instead of shooting every time he got his hands on the ball. His passing
became so accurate that he is now able to pass to a streaking team-
mate from behind his back. One such pass against Purdue brought
everyone in the Events Building to its feet.
In the past, Sullivan had persisted to shoot everytime he got the
ball and his bad example was followed by his teammates. It was im-
possible for the team to work together and losses began to pile up.
Strack tried to spark up the team by putting sophomore Bill
Fraumann at center, but the Wolverines kept on losing. Only
when he switched Sullivan to center and Dennis Stewart back to
forward against Iowa in early February did the Wolverines began
to click. At that time Michigan was 1-5 in the conference and
6-10 over all.
While losing that encounter 99-86, Michigan began to find itself,
and has gone on to win four of its last six games And in three of
those victories, the Wolverines have had all five starters in double
figures. Only in the Illinois game did guard Ken Maxey hit for less
This overall balance, which was missing earlier the season, was
not the only change that took place when Sullivan switched to
center. Michigan's rebounding also improved tremendously.
Rudy Tomjanovich has especially been helped by the new
alignment. Now free to roam under the basket, the 6'7" sopho-
more has been able to pull down 65 rebounds in the last four wins.
Tomjanovich, who was named to the Big Ten's All-Star second
team this week, has also responded on the score board, netting 89
points in the four wins.
Stewart was also helped tremendously by the change. Never having
played center before this year, he had trouble getting untracked in the
post position. When he was moved back to forward, he was able to
concentrate more on his deadly outside shooting. The junior, much
happier at forward, has responded with 58 points in Michigan's last
But these three players have not been the only keys to Michigan's
late season success. Much of the credit has to go to Maxey and captain
Jim Pitts in the backcourt.
Maxey, probably the fastest man in the Big Ten, has stolen more
passes from the opposition in the last few games than is conceivable.
The junior guard has also turned into a capable shooter, upping his
average to almost eight points a game.
And Pitts, who will be playing his last game in a Michigan
uniform against Iowa tomorrow, has continued to be one of the
best hustlers and rebounders on the team. He also has proven to
be one of the Wolverines' top scorers, hitting for a 17.6 average
Why, then did the Wolverines blossom so late in the season? While
it was in part due to the Sullivan shift, Strack honestly stated, "We
didn't come to play until recently."
Now the Wolverines know they can win, and they really can end
the season on the upswing if they defeat Iowa tomorrow night at Iowa
City to throw the Big Ten into a two-way tie for the title.
It all depends on the Michigan cagers. As Strack said, "the
whole ball of wax is going for Iowa but our team has a job to do.
And it's game like these that are the most fun to play."
LITTLE KENNY MAXEY, the sparkplug of the Michigan of-
fense and defense, dribbles the ball downcourt in a game earlier
this year. Maxey's aggressive play has been one of the important
factors in the Wolverines' ability to win three Big Ten games
SOPHOMORE RUDY TOMJANOVICH (45), appears to be yelling 'Gimme, gimme' while junior Bob Sullivan (20) looks for someone to
whom he can throw the basketball against Purdue two weeks ago. Mark Henry (23) is also making motions for the ball. TomjanoVich
and Sullivan led the Wolverine forces in their 104-91 upset of the Boilermakers The sophomore forward hit for 30 points and pulled
down 15 rebounds, while Sullivan netted 21 points.
CENTER BOB SULLIVAN (20), one of the keys to Michigan's
dramatic surge in the last six games, applies pressure against an
Iowa opponent attempting to throw the ball in bounds. Unfor-
tunately, the full court press didn't work as the Hawkeyes went on
to win the game, 99-86.
THOMAS R. COPI
RUDY TOMJANOVICH (45) goes high in the air to stuff a shot
taken by All Big Ten forward Sam Williams in the game against
Iowa earlier this year. The sophomore forward made the con-
ference's second team, and has averaged 20 points a game for
the Wolverines this season
MICHIGAN COACH DAVE STRACK, who has guided the Wolver-
ine cagers to three straight victories and four in their last six
games, directs his team from the sidelines against Kentucky last
MICHIGAN'S JIM PITTS (24) rams in two points over an Iowa
player in a game against the Hawkeyes earlier this season. The
Wolverine captain scored 16 points in the game, won by the
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