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March 14, 1969 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-03-14

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Page 'T'ern


Friday, March 14, 1969

Page Ten THE MICI-flGAN DAILY Friday, March 14, 1969

Associate Sports Editor
When the doors of the Events
Building closed on March 1 it
signalled the end of another
home basketball season. It also
marked the end of the college
career for a player who has
thrilled Michigan fans for three
years, Bob Sullivan.
Sullivan played the exciting
kind of individual game that
people pay to see. He was a
master of the double pump, the
head fake, the hand switch, the
unorthodox shot that came
while hanging in the air. His
style reminded one of the play-
ground games that can be seen
on the blacktop courts of
Rucker's in Harlem or the
Baker League in Philadelphia.
The beauty of his type of
game is that he makes it look
natural. Veteran observers of
Michigan} basketball are well
aware that Sullivan will often-
times during ,arm-ups shoot
reverse lay-ups without even
And in a sense, it is sort of a
natural style. But it is natural
in a paradoxical sense since it
had to be learned.
"I usually played with older
kids when I was younger,"
Sullivan explains, "so I had to~
develop a way to avoid eating


moves of



* O. '. . S0 ~ 3 5 0 -
"People say Sullivan' is hard to handle. Well, If guess it's
true. But .I'm no different fromnt>1 lot of other guys. It's pret-
ty hard kpeeping 14 guys on a tewn happy."
- ~. . .* Sw~v.St~v..S:

team's Most Valuable Player in
1943. While Bob was growing
up, his father was playing Ir
the professional Oshkosh All-
"My father used to take e
to the games with him when I
was very young," Sullivan re-
members, "and I began to drib-
ble around the floor at tialf-
His father also helped by pro-
viding him with a place to plhy.
"He built a cement court in the
backyard and we used to play
all the time. They were bruising
games, it was like a battle-
Sullivan learned his lessons
well and went on to become
High School All-American vhile
leading his Manitowac, Wiscon-
sin team to the state champion-
ship. By the end of his high
school career the scholarship
offers were pouring in and
scouts were knocking on the

"I usually played with older kids when I was
younger so I had to develop a way to avoid eating
Spalding sandwiches. As a result, I got a lot of
strange shots to avoid being blocked. I had this
mental block about being stuffed."
czar x : r:>:":"::"::"...>:^: ::: .;..... .....S:55,SV.S'.'.S':"r::": ::"::i;::::":":":::r..:.

the sands of sunny California
and a chance to play with Lew
Alcindor is an interesting ques-
tion. Sullivan attributes his de-
cision to the fact that he want-
ed to play in the Big Ten.
"I wanted to be in the Big
Ten because of the competition.
I wanted to be in a league
where there were tough teams
and where I would be recog-
nized as a player."
But one thing went wrong
for Sullivan and his freshmen
teammates from the very start.
Michigan people were not will-
ing to just recognize them as
players; they wanted them to
be superstars. Sullivan, Dennis
Stewart, Ken Maxey and oth-
ers were supposed to imme-
diately step into the void left
by Cazzie Russell and keep
Michigan at the top of the Big
"I think the build-up at the
start really hurt us," says Sul-
livan in retrospect. "Too nuch
was expected of us. We were
hurt tremendously as sopho-
mores by the schedule. The
first seven game were -eally
tough and it 'taught us how to
Learning to lose is something
that Sullivan feelssan. athlete
cannot tolerate. "It has to
hurt," is his comment. ""You
have to hate losing. It is es-
sential that you have the con-,
fidence that you can win in the
end. This we didn't have after
the beginning of our sophomore
Wolverine fans had become,
drunk with the success of Caz-
zie, though, and the players
came r under fire. Rumors of
dissension and lackadaisical
play ran wild and both the team
and coach Dave Strack were
condemned on all sides. No one
really concentrated on the facts
of the situation and just em-
phasized the high school records
of the players.
"I remember one time when
someone said that if everyone
hit his high school average we

Spalding sandwiches. As a re-
sult, I got a lot of strange shots
to avoid being blocked. I had
this mental block about being
Playing outside of his age
group was a difficult way to
learn, but Sullivan had to be-
cause he was advanced beyond
his classmates. "I developed
faster because I was introduced
to the game at a very early age.
I had a basketball in the
Basketball, was really part of
Sullivan's life from the time he.
was born. His father had been
a member of Wisconsin's NCAA
champions in 1941 and was the

door. Sullivan was faced f ith
a crucial choice.
A rumor floats around the
Michigan campus about Su'ii-
van's decision on schools. The
story has it that John Wooden
lost only one man that he want-
ed when he recruited four years
ago. That man is said to be
The story is true. "I was
ready to go to UCLA," sjys
Sullivan, "and I even told
Wooden I was coming. Every-
thing was set, sincluding my
dorm room, but I changed my
mind at the end of the sum-
Why an athlete would forsake

would be scoring 164 points per
game," Sullivan remarks. "It
was as if they were implying
we should score that many
points. Well, that's ridiculous.
No team can score that much."
What people had to learn
was what players know: that
every athlete has a certain role
which he must play in a team
situation. Sullivan explains
what adjustments have to be
made in college athletics.
"Everyone was a gun in high
school, but obviously can't be
in college.
"A player has to be able to
understand this and he has to
understand the role he has to
play. For instance, Maxey can't
be a great scorer because of
his size. He has to work on de-
fense and ballhandling, that's
where his value to the team is.
I can work best at playing in-
side and setting up Rudy
(Tomianovich) and Stewart."
Sullivan emphasizes the con-
cept of roles, feeling that it is
integral to team success. Un-
derstanding between t e a m
members is something that he'
believes must be attained before
sAccess can be reached.
"I think that we did better
in the last part of the season
because we, understand each
other better now," he com-
mented upon the subject. "Be-
cause of that I'm really sorry
to see the season end."
At the beginning, though,
Sullivan probably would not
have regretted seeing the end
of the season. "It started out
as a disappointing year," he
admits, "but the way things
turned out lately, it counts out
the disappointment."
The early disappointment
stemmed from Sulivn's demo-
tion from a starting position.
"I was shocked," he says. "I
thought I would surely start."
But Sullivan did not start, as
the plan seemed to be to make
him the John Havlicek of col-
lege basketball. It was a dif-
ficult adjustment for him to
make after having been a reg-
ular for two years.
"You have to have two dif-
ferent psychologies," Sullivan
comments, "one as a reserve
and one as a starter. As a re-
serve you have to go in as a
spark, you can't be a nonentity.
You have to get the team roll--
ing right away, so it is almost
imperative that you make a
flashy pass or a great shot.
"In a starting role," he con-
tinues, "you don't have to push
as much. You don't have to
prove yourself right away so
you can afford to make mis-
takes that you can't make as
a reserve."
The change proved to be one
that gave Sullivan too much
trouble and the culmination of
the affair came when he didn't
even go to the Duke game. At
that point his future did not
look too promising and he him-
self had great doubts.
"I was quite depressed at the
outcome of the season at that
point and didn't really know
what to do. You have to know
that people have confidence in
your abilities and that didn't
seem to be the case."
At the same time, the old
rumors that Sullivan was hard
to handle and that he really
didn't care began to circulate
"People say Sullivan is hard
to handle," he says about him-
self. "Well, I guess it's true.
But I'm no different from a
lot of other guys. It's pretty
hard keeping 14 guys on a team
To keep those 14 individuals
happy there has to be under-
standing, not only between the
team, but also the coaches. "I
think coaching is knowing how

to handle men," observes Sul-
livan. "The players have to get
along, but it is up to the coach
to get the most out of his play-
At the mid-season junctu:e
it was obvious that the most

was not being gotten out of Sil-
livan. But then fate played its
hand when "Bird" Carter was
declared temporarily ineligible.
He was forced to miss the Min-
nesota game and Sullivan step-
ped into the starting line-up
once more. He was not to leave
it for the rest of the season.
Sullivan responded to his
newly regained starting role
with consistent scoring, strong
rebounding and excellent pass-
ing. His biggest asset was that
he was always in the middle
of the play.
"For the last half of the sea-
son I tried to hustle like Hav=
licek. The best way I could help
the team was by filling that
third lane in the fast break and
scoring some points."
He hit his peak in two con-
tests against Loyola and Illinois.
While the Wolverines were fall-
ing to the Ramblers in Chicago
Stadium, Sullivan poured in
31 points and showed that he
had as many moves as New
York native Walter Robertson
displayed for Loyola.
Against Illinois he was even
better. Despite scoring only
nine points, as Michigan upset
the Illini, he put on a brilliant
display of passing and came up
with the two clutch rebounds at
the end that sealed the Wol-
verine victory.
For the first time, Michigan
supporters appreciated Sullivan
for his exceptional all-around
talent. But the opinions of cer-
tain others were even more im-
portant to him.
"It was nice to see that the
coaches finally had some con-
fidence in me and to see that
some pro teams were interested
in me."
The interest of the profes-
sionals was highly important to.
Sullivan because that is where'
he would like to spend his near
"I would play for peanuts if
some pro team wanted me," he
says. "I love the game so much,
I don't need a 10 billion dollar
offer to sign."
The love and dedication to
"You have to hate los-
ing. It is essential that
you have the confidence
that you can win in the
end. This we didn't have
after the beginning of
our sophomore season."
the game are two assets that
have helped to make Sullivan
a complete player. Although he
is naturally lefthanded h3 is
highly proficient with the right.
This comes, once again, from
his early development and his

I would naturally prefer to
play in the NBA,"' he says,
"but I have no qualms about
the ABA. I think that, it will
stay. The jump of (Rick) Bar-
ry and (Alex) Hannum will
help and Lew (Alcindor) may
sign with them. Besides, their
money is as good as anyone
Despite his comment on
money, though, Sullivan's main
motivation for wanting to play
pro ball is still the game itself:
His entire life has been involved
with basketball and he does
not want to break away now.
"I just really love the game and
I don't want to give it up.
Beyond basketball Sullivan
really makes no plans. When
talking about his thoughts for
the future he of course centers
on the basketball draft. "First
I have to worry about the other
draft, though, but beyond that
I could only experiment."
Sulivan definitely does not
intend including the business
world in any experimenting
that he might do. He is enroll-
ed in the Business School, but
is not one of its big fans.
"I am very unhappy about
it," is his comment on. the
school. "It wasn't at all what
I expected."
He has no desire at all to
aply his business training. "I
am just not ready for an eight
to five day. I would almost
rather be a beach bum than do
It is understandable that Sul-
livan couldn't take the regi-
mentation of the working
world. His spirit is similar to
his style of basketball in that
it is of the freelancing variety.
He wears his hair long and is
characterized by a full set of
sideburns that put him right in
line with the rest of the mool
Sullivan's attitude toward
basketball also shows his way
of thinking. While he is totally
dedicated to the game and de-
spises the thought of losing, he
still -maintains a perspective.
"You play ball to win, sure,
but that's not all. You also play
for fun and for the fans. The
game should be enjoyable."
Someone would just have to
watch Sullivan practice to
know that he has fun. He will
try every impossible shot in
the book while warming up and
likes to do nothing more than
play one on one. He also will
dunk at every possible oppor-
tunity during practice.
The anti-dunk rule happens
to be one of his pet peeves.
"You rob the fans when you
don't have the dunk. It's ex-
citing. It also hurts a team,
too. A dunk can really arouse
a team, it can spirit them. The
whole rationale about injury is


-Daily-Andy Sacks
Heaiigtii in. the> ar ...

ridiculous and the whole rule
is ridiculous."
Sullivan had his own form of
protest ready for the anti-dunk
rule, but never got to use it.
"I vowed that if we were
ever far enough ahead in a
game and I was all alone that
I was going to do it. Unfor-
tunately, I never got the
Sullivan actually nearly did
dunk once, though, and had
he done so it would have been
disastrous for Michigan. While
going in for the winning bas-
ket at Iowa he just missed
breaking the rule.
"I nearly did it against
Iowa," he admits. "I got higher
for a lay-up than I ever have
before. All I could think about
was getting up there and get-
ting it through as fast as I
He didn't dunk the shot,
though, and Michigan had an
upset victory. It was the high
point of season for both Sul-
livan and the Wolverines. He

was playing excellent ball and
Michigan had hopes for second
place, in the conference,
A loss to Illinois ruined the
Wolverines' hopes for second
and soon after Sullivan suffer-
ed a sprained ankle in prac-
- tice. He was ineffective for the
last games of the season but
one thing happened that had
to take some of the disappoint-
ment away. As the Wisconsin
game neared its finish and Sul-
livan sat on the bench, a chant
began to rise from.the crowd:
"We want Sullivan, we want
It had taken Michigan fans
three years, but they finally
showed some appreciation for
a man who had sweated in a
Wolverine uniform but never
been understood. Maybe they'll
appreciate him even more next
year when they won't be able
to watch twisting, underhanded
lay-ups, off balance bank shots
and the other moves that made
Sullivan the true fan's player.

desire to learn the game.
"When I couldn't get games
with older kids I would play
against people my own age. As
a handicap I would use only
my right hand, and now they
are about equally proficient."
Sullivan also forced himself
to learn an outside shot. His
great driving talents had helped
him to score heavily in high
school, but he realized this
would change in college.
"I work more on my outside
shot now. I did out of high
school too. I had to or teams
would sag on me. If I ever play
pro ball I would have to be a
guard, so I need the double
Sullivan has no illusions
about the professional ranks,
knowing that at 6-4 the only
place he car} make it is in the
backcourt. However, he is con-
fident that he can help some
team, and since it is his only
ambition at the moment he in-
tends to give it a supreme ef-
Sullivan has not only thought
about the skills that he will
need in the pros, but he'has al-
so examined the teams where
he would have the best chance.
He noted that the Bullets could
use a reserve guard and so
could the Chicago Bulls. It
may be significant that Balti-
more scout Bob Ferry was at
the Illinois game this year. -
Sullivan only mentioned NBA
clubs when he discussed teams
that he might help and soD
showed his obvious preference.



Shooting ith the left had.. .



... , _ _ e .. __._. _ . _... ____ __ ____ _ _..

.____ ,

SUPPORTS the following Candidates for President and Vice-President of STUDENT GOV-
ERNMENT COUNCIL feeling their assets are:
a Renresentative of a wide range of campus viewpoints

Censorship, Freedom of
r r 'An

-Daily-Andy Barbas
-the right hand
Reformed Jewish Congregation
Interviews for teaching positions in Religious and
Hebrew School for 1969-70 on
Room 3X, Michigan Union, 1 5 P.M.



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