THE MICHIGAN DAILY
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1969
ital Roles in
V! Sorts Picture
John Fills Gaps for Strack
As Starter, Sub, Playmaker
By RICK STERN
What Michigan basketball play-
er was All-State in Illinois two
years in a row, once scored 44
points in a high school game, was
the best free throw shooter in his
district four years running and
was scouted .by 25 universities and
five Big Ten schools?
You're wrong because he's the
player that fits the description
least. You've heard of him though
- John Thompson, the short
scrawny guy who runs between
the giants' legs when Michigan
plays basketball. Yea, the one
who's averaging about five points
But there's a case for Thomp-
son, too. First witness for the de-
fense is Dave Strack. "John's only
6' but he's 175 pounds and he
doesn't give away too much in size
or anything else. He's played a
major role for us two years in a
row and he's a very important part
of our team."
Nonetheless John has put in his
share of bench riding at Michigan,
perhaps surprising when his illus-
trious high school is considered.
But he is philosophical about this.
"I've had a chance to view basket-
ball from all standpoints. In high
school I was the big star so I
know how Cazzie feels.
Knows How Bench Feels
"As a sophomore here I sat on
the bench1 and played in the last
minutes of one sided games so I
know how Mark Delzer and Marty
Slebodnick feel. Last year I was
sixth man so I know what it feels
like - to be in the twilight zone of
notknowing whether you're going
to play or not, like Craig Dill and
"And I know what it's like to
be just an average starter 'cause
that's what I am now."
If Thompson's scoring average
is lower than it usually is, it's
mainly because a December ankle
sprain has kept him out of the
line-up until just this last week.
He's still not at full strength but
played most of the Wisconsin
Before the Injury, Thompson
had averaged 9.8 points a game,
starting the Wolverines first 10
contests. Since then he's scored
31 points in parts of six games.
At Pontiac Township High
School John averaged 23 points a
game over a two season span and
still, holds every school scoring
But Thompson regards his play
at Michigan as anything but a
"comedown." "I'm a playmaker
and I regard that, rather than
scoring, as my primary function.
I play along side of Cazzie and
part of my job is to set him up. I
shoot a 20-footer once in a while
to keep the opponents honest, but
that's about it. Caz is a great of-
Strack echoes Thompson's sent-
iments. "Not only is John a very
fine playmaker, but he's a sound
defensive man. Invariably he
picks up the opposition's top
backd'ourt man on defense."
Playing With Best
But Thompson is playing with
some of. the biggest and best in
the country in Russell and Oliver
Darden, not to mention the calibre
of Big Ten opposition. It seems
that if he'd gone to a smaller, less
prominent school, he could have
been a genuine star with a 20
point per game average. So why
"I didn't want that run and
shoot ball that they have at most
small schools. Sure, from a scor-
ing stand-point it would have been
great for me, because in that type
of ball, size isn't a big factor.
"But one of the great things
about playing ball here is winning.
I could have gone to Northern
Illinois or something and done
great, but if I don't Win I'm frus-
trated and . wouldn't enjoy the
game as much. Even at a Big Ten
school like Wisconsin it just
wouldn't be as much fun 'cause
you're losing. I don't mind being
a set-up man and my own per-
sonal scoring success just isn't
Strack sums it up even better.
"John is just too good of a com-
petitor. He wants the big time
and nothing less." Added the
veteran coach pragmatically "if
he'd gone anywhere else, he
wouldn't have played in the
NCAA's, he wouldn't have won a
Big Ten championship and he
Mark Displays Ruggedness,
Spirit Both On and Off Iee
By HOWARD KOHN "Of course, it is hard to stay
'fired up' for every game, but we
On Friday and Saturday nights just didn't realize we could play
Mark Thompson (no relation to that badly. Then in the Minnesota
John) plays the rugged role of a games, the breaks seemed to go
hockey defenseman-backpedaling against us and we couldnt get the
down the ice, bodychecking a for- puck into the net."
ward, banging up against the Four Straight
boards. Michigan has lost four games in
He shares the rough tumbles inaoici s upstvioresom
front of the net, where the script a row since its upset victories over
frotof theametwhrethesrin pMichigan Tech. "We have no ali-
of the game is acted out in un- bis." says Thompson. "I'm confi-
ruly, action-packed scenes. dent we can snap out of it against
On Sunday mornings Mark Minnesota-Duluth this weekend if
Thompson talks understandingly the team plays as well as it is
to a group of ninth and tenth capable of playing."
graders in a Bible discussion class. Tse
And on Wednesday evenings he Thompson's function in seeking
presides as "unofficial honorary a pair of wins over Duluth will be
president" at the meetings of the purely a defensive one. Hank
Fellowship of Christian Athletes.Brand and he make up one of the
pairs designed to alleviate pres-
What influences a man to un- sure on goalie Harold Herman.
dertake such wide-ranging duties, "The one thing that has always
governed by almost opposite rules? been impressed on me as a de-
What kind of hockey player teach- fgnseman is that he should never
es Sunday School? !be caught across the blue line
Thompson performs both as nat- when the other team gets the
urally as a pygmy shrinks heads puck. Maybe I'm too conservative
or an Eskimo rubs noses. The at times in moving up on the goal,
blond junior from St. Paul, Minn., but I don't want to be responsible
has been skating since he was for a two-on-one or three-on-one
four and has been attending break.
church even longer. Penalty-Killing Easier?
Born into Hockey "It's easier to play defense when
He was born into a hockey- you're killing a penalty because
MICHIGAN'S JOHN THOMPSON (25) DRIVES in for a layup
against Bowling Green in an early season game. Forced to the
1....1 k:--.. ... 1..fr.wn. -6 U -l A l ArnsG. -h-I
bench by an injury, the former h
at the starting guard post as a p
wouldn't have toured Europe.
These are great things to re-
Is Thompson perhaps a little
bitter about taking a back seat to
nearly all the other starters?
Hardly.. "Coming here when I did
was one of the luckiest occurences
of my life. It was just at the time
when Michigan was starting to
excel in basketball. Like I said,
winning is primary when you're
out on the court."
What about playing along side
Russell, the finest guard in the
nation? "In high school it was
,actually just the opposite. The
guy was playing along side me and
setting me up because I was the
star. But Caz is so good he's got
to have the ball. In a one on one
situation, nobody can stop him.
I, mean usually I'm pretty blase,
but he makes some plays that are
out of it.
"As far as publicity goes, that
doesn't bother me too much either.
Sure, Cazzie gets a large propor-
tion of the newsprint, but eight
out of ten times he deserves it. If
anybody gets shunted it's Ollie.
You do get a distorted view from
reading the paper, but the paper,
doesn't mean much to me."
Plays for Fun
So what does mean something
to John Thompson? What does
he get out of the game besides
a free college education? "Fun-
I play because I like basketball.
It makes a difference not playing
with a pro contract in mind. To
some guys it's going to be a busi-
ness and a good one at that. For
me it's just forhenjoyment. If
there's a day when I feel like
sleeping or reading, then I just
don't go to practice.
"I won't miss playing next year
because I can go down to the
playground and have just as much
fun playing in a . pick-up game.
It's just the game - basketball-
After sitting on the bench most
of his sophomore year, Thompson
started the first 11 games last
season. But just as he was finally
inching his way out of anonymity,
he found himself back on the
bench. "Darden had gotten into
a slump and George Pomey took
over for him and started playing
great. I could see it coming be-
cause Oliver wasn't gonna stay on
the bench and somebody had to
get axed. I don't regret it because
Strack made the right choice."
But Thompson saw considerable
action as sixth man and Pomey's
replacement. Against Indiana he
came in with less than five min-
high school All-American is back
laymaker and backcourt mate to
utes showing on the clock, and
the Wolverines down by six and
proceeded to hit two clutch 25
footers to send the game into
overtime. Michigan eventually
Bankey Back to Bench
This season j u n i o r Dennis
Bankey held the spot after
Thompson's injury, but has been
relegated to the bench. Says
Strack, "They're both fine players,
but John's a senior and has the
edge in experience."
Thompson elaborated from his
own point of view. "In the Big
Ten a guy grows up. Experience
has to be a factor because, in the
clutch this league is fantastically
tough. Just one bad play can lose
a game. Strack plays seniors and
that's one of the reasons I'm
Thompson has gained a deserved
reputation as an outstanding
clutch player, last year's St.
John's game as well as Indiana
standing as notable examples of
his ability to perform under pres-
"The pressure doesn't really
bother me. It never has. There'll
be times when you succeed in a
clutch situation and times when
you fail. It's as simple as that. I
find that I concentrate better in
the last two or three minutes of
a game. There's no room for a
Academically John finds him-
self a business major and he will
go to business graduate school
next fall, preferably in Ann Arbor.
Salutatorian in his high school
class, John considers academics
as the major reason he picked
Michigan over other schools with
a similar athletic structure.
"In the Missouri Valley confer-
ence the academic standards are
much lower-they can't even count
down there. And every Big Ten
school I went to said 'Michigan's
the best, but we're second!"
John Thompson took the best.
When you ask him about his goals
for the remainder of the season,
his voice lowers but he still talks
about the best. "I want to start,
and I want to win the Big Ten
championship. I wish we could
have beaten Illinois, since we'd
beaten them the previous four
times and this was the last game.
But if we win the championship
we'll have the last laugh."
Winning the Big Ten champion-
ship will lead to the NCAA tour-
nament. That's the best of all, but
nobody talks about it much. Says
Thompson "you're gonna go. You
gotta go. It's just there."
enthusiastic neighborhood where
he learned the fundamentals oft
the sport and into the home of a3
minister, his father, where he re-
ceived his religious background.
His brother, who had been a bas-1
ketball player in high school, en-
couraged him to enter organized
athletics, and, since Mark's high1
school stressed hockey, he becamec
In 1963 Thompson came to
Michigan, crossing state lines be-
cause "I wanted to be on my
own, plus Michigan offered a bet-
ter scholarship than Minnesota."
"When he first started practice
here, Mark wasn't a very strong
skater. But he has worked hard,
has improved and is now a good
all-around player," explains Wol-
verine hockey Coach Al Renfrew.
Teammate Ron Ullyot concurs,
"Mark's a real hustler . . . al-
ways spirited, and he tries to en-
courage the team. As a defense-
man he is never afraid to get in
front of a puck or a charging op-
Thompson admittedly believes
that "spirit and hustling are the
key to a winning team. The play-
ers have to try, to give it all they
have, and they have to want to,
win," he comments.
"We were fired up for the Tech
series (which Michigan swept) and
it certainly helped. Against Mich-
igan State, however, we were rush-
ed (by transportation circum-
stances) in the first game . . . and
before we knew it, they had five
quick goals," states Thompson.
*. . ..***-~* . ~
The Michigan LaCrosse Club
will meet today at 7:30 p.m. in;
Room 146 Bus. Ad. Bldg.
Tickets for this Saturday's3
Michigan - Purdue basketball
game at Yost Field House go on
sale starting today, 8 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. at the Ticket Office,
State and Hoover.
MARK THOMPSON (18) MOVES IN TO protect goalie Harold
Herman in the recent Wolverine sweep over Michigan Tech.
Thompson felt that the Tech series was the best played by
Michigan, demonstrating the ability of the team. Assistant
Captain Thompson feels the Wolverines can bounce back from
a four game losing streak this weekend in Minnesota-Duluth.
your main concern is just to clear
the puck," Mark adds. Scoring
records reflect Thompson's non-
offensive strategy, indicating only
a lone goal in the Colorado series
to his credit this season.
Off the ice, however, Thomp-
son's attitude takes a much more
positive outlook. He becomes a
doer. Last year, he, along with
Parkhill have all been drafted in-
to assisting Thompson teach his
Sunday morning class at Zion
The Wolverine icer plans to take
one of his pupils along with him
when he speaks at an upcoming
"father-son" banquet in Bay City.
Thompson also is going to repre-
sent the Michigan Fellowship of
Christian Athletes as a speaker in
Milwaukee in the near future.
In the more distant future, he
Rutgers 69, Navy 65
Detroit 93, Western Ontario 49
Iowa 96, Minnesota 87
No. Carolina St. 87, No. Carolina 77
St. Joseph's 83, Davidson 79
St. John's 77, Notre Dame 59
Kansas 98, Missouri 54
Texas Tech 98, Texas A & M 85
Oklahoma 69, New Orleans Loyola 44
Geo. Washington 86, East Carolina 80
Cincinnati 136, Boston 123
Baltimore 114, Detroit 105
Philadelphia 121, St. Louis 109
1st Place Playoffs
Sigma Alpha Mu 36, Sigma Chi 16
Alpha Phi Alpha 49, Delta Upsilon 31
2nd Place Playoffs
Lambda Chi Alpha 80, Alpha Delta
Beta Theta Pi 45, Alpha Tau Omega
3rd Place Playoffs
Phi Epsilon Pi 35, Phi Kappa Psi 28
Phi Gamma Delta 53, Tau Delta Phi
4th Place Playoffs
Phi Kappa Tau 45, Pi Lambda Phi 19
Sigma Nu 26, Phi Sigma Kappa 21
has hopes of representing the
United States on the hockey team
in the 1958 Olympics. "It would be
a great privilege for me to play in
the Olympics," says Thompson.
He has been preparing for a
shot at the team by competing in
a summer hockey league of Olym-
pian prospects in his hometown,
where he also has the opportunity
to play against many of his old
high school rivals who are now
members of other college puck
t Concerning his other plans for
the future, two conflicting inter-
ests leave him still undecided. "I
would like to either become a
minister or a teacher-coach," re-
lates Thompson, who is now a his-
tory major in the School of Edu-
Of course, there's always a
chance he could be both.
Bob Timberlake, helped organize
the Michigan Christian athletes
This year, although he hasn't
been elected to the presidency by
an official electoral procedure,
Thompson has been directing the
meetings and has been handling
many of the speaking engage-
ments. Assistant football coach
Tony Mason, grid player Tom
Parkhill, basketball players John
Clawson and Van Tillotson are
among the many active members
of the FCA.
"I think it's important for an
athlete to have something to build
him up spiritually, as well as phys-
ically and mentally. There are'
many nationally prominent ath-
letes who are not Christians, of
course, but there are just as
many who are," emphasizes
Recently, Clawson, Tillotson and
Iowa Drops Minnesota;
Gophers Fall o Third
U of M Barbers
N. University-Near Kresge's
IOWA CITY ()')-Iowa came on
strong in the second half and
dimmed Minnesota's Big Ten title
hopes with a 96-87 victory in a
foul-riddled basketball game last
Behind 10-4 after a five-minute
scoring drought early in the game,
Iowa surged back to tie it 22-22
on a tip in by big George Peeples.
The two teams traded baskets be-
fore another Peeples' bucket gave
the Hawkeyes a 30-28 lead with
8:34 left in the first half.
No Place Like It
Iowa, which hasn't lost at home,
never trailed after that. The
Hawks led 47-44 at intermission,
and slowly increased the margin
to as much as 13 points at times
in the second half.
Minnesota cut the deficit to 87-
81 on a pair of free throws and a
basket by Lou Hudson, but that
was as close as the Gophers could
Fair Weather Team
Minnesota, infoul trouble most
of the way, was forced to play
cautious basketball in losing its
third league game in eight starts.
Iowa is 4-4 in Big Ten play.
Chris Pervall led Iowa's balanced
scoring with 28 points, Peeples
had 25, and sophomore Ben Mc-
Gilmer contributed 22.
Hudson was high for Minnesota
with 26, followed by Archie Clark,
who fouled out late ,in the game,
with 23. They were the only two
in double figures for the Gophers.
I .____________ _______
Big Ten Standings
11tern a ion a
5adion P c/
Solids in Cotton $119
Dots 1.39 yd.
W L Pct.
MICHIGAN 7 1 .875
Michigan State 6 2 .750
Minnesota 5 3 .625
Illinois 5 3 .625
Iowa 4 4 .500
Ohio State 3 5 .375
Northwestern 3 5 .375
Indiana 3 5 .375
Purdue. . 2 6 .250
Wisconsin 2 6 .250
Last Night's Results
Iowa 96, Minnesota 87
Purdue at Michigan
Minnesota at Illinois
Northwestern at Indiana
Iowa at Ohio State
Michigan State at Wisconsin
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