THE MICHIGAN DAILY
FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 1966
PAGE TEN THE MICHIGAN DAILY FRIDAY, MARCH 11. 1966
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the last
article in a two-part series analyz-
ng Michigan's basketball tradition.)
By HOWARD KOHN
and DAVE WEIR
Around noon last Saturday they
began wandering into Yost Field
House to claim a front row seat.
By four o'clock they 'had crammed
into every legitimate spot and were
crowding up among the rafters.
They had all come-the alum-
ni, the grad students, the sen-
iors, the freshmen and all the
others that knew and appreciated
-to give Cazzie and teammates
one final tribute. They thunder-
ed and cheered and, sensing that
an era was coming to an end, they
paid homage to their team with,
roars of approval. They even hung
a sign from the balcony which
read: "Thank you, Cazzie Rus-
And after Cazzie had eclipsed
more records and the Wolverines
had clinched their third consecu-
tive title, they poured out of the
stands. Up went Russell and Dar-
den to rip the nets from the orange
hoops, supported by the shoulders
and hands and the intangible spir-
it of the fans below.
The Perfect Ending
It was the ideal climax to the
story of an ancient field house
and the men who changed it. For
all intents and purposes, the saga
of Yost Field House was over. The
team was going to the NCAA tour-
naments seeking that crowning
glory of national prestige, and
next year Yost must give way to
a sparkling, water-proof All-
But there had not always been
a championship team to send off
to the tournaments. Recent Mich-
igan basketball history has been
one of mediocrity and failure. Bas-
ketball and Yost meant little in
the fifties when Michigan fell in-
to the depths with a dull .321 per-
centage in 15 years of Big Ten
There had been few cheers, let
alone roars, since Ozzie Cowles
and his zone press earned the
Wolverines a spot in the regionals
back in 1948; Cowles, first full-
time coach for Michigan, intro-
duced the zone press to the Big
Ten to the woeful hue and cry of
the other teams. Conference riv-
als claimed it was illegal; Cowles
pointed out that it had been used
in the early twenties; and, mean-
while, Michigan rolled up 10 wins
and two losses for its first cham-
pionship since 1929.
But the Wolverine cagers were
bounced in their first try at tour-
nament play by Holy Cross and a
skinny forward naned Bob Cousy.
The fans had come out of hi-
bernation that year, after long
years of watching the Bowery Boys
on Saturday afternoon, but they
soon went back to sleep. And at
times it appears doubtful whether
they ever awoke.
Oldtimers tell the story of
Cowles' first day after the tourna-
ments. He walked into his office
and one of the other coaches ask-
ed, "I noticed you haven't been
around for the past few days ...
where did you go?" It may seem a
little far-fetched, but it was the
zone press that stayed and not
The Lean Years
The one-year coach left for
Minnesota for what Michigan Ath-
letic Director Fritz Crisler ex-
plains as "an attractive coaching
offer and a radio and television
deal on the side."
The following 15 years were
famine for Michigan basketball, at
the box office and on the score-
"Basketball was usually in the
red, while swimming and hockey
were showing a profit," remembers
Crisler. Plus, by 1951 Michigan
complacently settled in the base-
ment of the Big Ten, and, except
for two brief first-division pene-
trations, there it stayed 'til 1964.
"Michigan's teams sort of disin-
tegrated, and many times there
were less than a thousand fans at
games," recalls assistant coach Jim
Skala, who was a player for the
Wolverines in 1950-52. Ernie Mc-
Coy had replaced Cowles in 1949
and he lasted for three years, be-
fore taking the athletic director-
ship at Penn State.
Psych among the Pigeons
A Michigan basketball tradition
had really never been and it look-
ed like it would never be. Yost
Field House became a good place
for Psych majors to watch pigeons
as long as it didn't rain. "No
one enjoyed watching us get our
ears pinned back," says Don Weir,
ticket director since 1947. Or as
Crisler points out, "The world loves
There is an anecdote about the
"enthusiasm" back in 1952 when
Skala was team captain. It was
the last game of the season and
the fans were conspiculously ab-
sent from the "condensation cen-
"Don't let the crowd get to you,"
quipped Skala as he shook hands
with the Purdue captain before
This was a period of nothingness
down on State Street, where the
field house represented the outer
limits. But it was not, above all,
just a cut-and-dried proposition.
There were reasons to Michigan's
miserable showings-some avoid-
able and others unavoidable.
'You Gotta Have ...
"It was mainly a lack of really
excellent players in my opinion,"
emphasized McCoy. And Bill Per-
igo, the man who replaced Mc-
Coy, agrees. "Michigan was a foot-
ball-minded school. There was lit-
tle recruiting for basketball, and
we didn't have any kind of repu-
tation to attract great players
Perigo oftentimes had to rely
on "recruiting" his cagers out of
PE classes and off the football
team. Paul Groffsky, captain in
1955, was one of the better prod-
ucts from gym classes.
Assistant coach Tom Jorgenson,
who played with Groffsky, con-
tends, "It was a usual thing back
then, but I seriously doubt if it
could happen today in our age of
Recruiting the Art
thats what hurt most . . . we had
to contact the alumni in order to
raise some money so tie boy and
his parents could visit the cam-
No wonder that as late as 1959
only one high school recruit, John
Tidwell, was in the Michigan line-
This contrasts with today's prac-
tice of scouting players while still
in junior high. Recruiting is ex-
tremely intense. "In the last 30
days, either Tom (Jorgenson) or
I have seen at least one high
school player on 25 of those days,"
explains Skala. "It's rough when
your own children start calling
you 'Uncle' Daddy."
"We have an organized plan of
recruiting today. There are pub-
lication aids like Dave Bones'
weekly booklet which lists the top
high school players in the coun-
try. And when we find a player
we feel would help us, we send!
a letter to him, to his coach and
to his principal because we need
a great deal of information about
him before we can give him an1
athletic scholarship," expounds1
rollment at Michigan and his as a basketball power also helped
reign of terror under the Big Ten overcome another handicap that
backboards is now history. He was plagued Perigo during his coach-
the first basketball All-American ing tenure. "I often suspected that
since 1938 and the first step to- other schools would use Michi-
ward big-time recruiting at Michi- gan's high academic standards to
gan. scare off prospective players," re-
"When I came to Michigan. calls Perigo. "Of course, we had
there was this feeling that the some boys who dropped out
Wolverines couldn't win at basket- around Thanksgiving of their
ball. I felt this idea was >stupid freshman year because they felt
because every other sport had been they couldn't make it academical-
successful here, and I felt we could ly.
attract players because Michigan Strack's 1962 team changed the
was an excellent university," com- semester break superstition with
mented Strack. a resounding victory over Wiscon-
The Beginning of a New Era sin at Madison in the first game
"We worked hard toward enroll- after finals. It was the first time
ing good players, and in 1962 we Michigan had won its conference
got all-staters Larry Tregoning opener in 11 years and its first
and George Pomey, in addition to road victory in 37 games (includ-
Buntin. There wasn't any secret or ing non-conference contests).
any luck involved . . . it was sim- One Way To Go ... Up
ply selling the university to the Michigan came in eighth that
player." year, beating runner-up Wiscon-
The next year Cazzie came .sin twice but losing to second-
"brought to Michigan because of division clubs, but 1962 was the
Michigan," and the championship last season of mediocrity. The Wol-
era was here. verines climbed to fourth in 1963,
But to go back to the fifties three games in back of Ohio State;
once again, and to the caliber of then tied with OSU for the title
high school players in the state in 1964 and won it outright in
of Michigan then. "This state just 1965 and 1966.
could not compare to the quality Strack, Cazzie and Company
of cagers produced in Indiana and meet Western Kentucky tonight as
Illinois for, a long time. Basketball they take a final try at a na-
wasn't emphasized on a high tional championship after finish-
school level around the state, and ing third and second. And last
Michigan suffered because a uni- Saturday's fans who couldn't for-
versity was more dependent upon get bluebooks and hike over to
recruiting in-state players then," Iowa City will be at the tube
offers Perigo. watching last Saturday's team.
Today Jorgenson can smilingly Basketball is king at Michigan
say, "Michigan's high school play- tonight. The story behind its esca-
ers are the best ever. We are re- lation-like that of the Model T
cruiting a bumper crop this year Ford to the Ford GT-has an ex-
and look at the Big Ten. Who's on planation. Strack organized re-
top and who's on the bottom?" A cruiting and brought Buntin and
quick glance shows Michigan and Cazzie to Michigan, and, in or-
MSU as number one and two, while derly fashion, Buntin and Cazzie
Purdue and Indiana are tied for brought victories.
last. There is a new tradition at
"Our state and our university Michigan. But whether it can sur-
are basketball conscious now . . . vive without its builders, and
a freshman enrolling at Michigan whether it can find more building
can't wait to go down and watch blocks for more championships will
his first game." be answered next year and the
Michigan's national reputation year after ...
w - -- -- -
"Back then," Big Ten r
was only a photo-science.'
even allowed to leave ca
talk to high school play
were interested in comingt
igan,' explains Perigo.1
Christianity and, Exi"stenti*alismf
DR. ARTHUR HOLMES
Chairman, Philosophy Department, Wheaton College
7:30 . . UGLI Multipurpose Room ... Friday
MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
ecruiting Sweeping Is Out
"I wasn't Scholarships are another im-
mpus to provement over recruiting in the
ers who fifties. "Athletic tenders, which
to Mich- originated in the Big Ten in the
I think mid-fifties, used to entail giving
the athletes a job like sweeping
the ice rink and selling programs.
Now giving jobs to an athlete is
illegal according to conference
rules, but there are tenders which
cover room and board, tuition
and books," says Jorgenson.
The full coverage tenders came
in 1960. The stipulation for need
was taken out in 1958 and now
all that an athlete must show is
a predicted 1.7 college academic
average based on his high school
record, rank in his class, and his
college board scores.
The biggest improvement for
Michigan recruiting, though, was
Coach Dave Strack and his two
assistants. Strack, Skala and Jor-
genson were hired in June of 1960,
after Perigo's retirement.
Their first two years were mere-
ly transitional. But then Strack
found Bill Buntin in Brewster
Center, a recreation center in De-
troit where the burly Northern
High graduate was playing after
sitting out his senior year in high
school with a broken leg. Most
scouts had missed Buntin in his
junior year, but a tip sent Strack
out to see him play rec ball.
The story of his consequent en-
The New Tradition
SPORTS NIGHT EDITOR:
THE INTERFRATERNITY COUNCIL
wish to extend
to the Men of the New
SIGMA PI FRATERNITY
Papaya A&M languishes on a lonely mesa in downtown Escondido,
a boondocks burg in the suburbs of Maine.
Its faculty includes a bartender who teaches veterinary medicine
and a bicycle thief who tests the water content of iodized pepper. In
the student body, seventy eight pawns rack their slates on rock candy
filberts while countering their Anthropology midterms. It's an insti-
tution that happens while it siand ares when it ain't. Little occurs
except when it isn't in spades.
Flitting through marrow of this jocose campus a wallobee jostles.
Its ilk declines on this night instead of all other nights because the
NCAA incest taboo twitters morosely.
Not that I wish to imply wasps or giggles in the wistaria.
Circumlocution notwithstanding, everything in triplicate tends to
get knocked out of the basketball tournament except in odd years be-
ginning with the year eight After Deuteronomy.
For this reason Papaya, the Fuscia and Ochre, nicknamed the
Mods, rock with the Deltas in ebullient rectangles behind the toolshed
looking gentle spitting teeth. This spelling bee is enamoured of clob-
bered willow trunks that bark munificently when they smear. Flab-
bergasted they glurg.
Yes, religionists deify the fiberglass and cringe when stupified.
It racks. But never fear, the veterinarian with a penchant for the
Old Pirate will rupture the golden tresses before he gets his
thinblefull tonight, at least that's what they say. Don't believe it.
Rasping violently, hockey evanesces. Sweet coquettes in peach-
flavored jumpers will harangue voluptuously before they see Clem
Oh say can you see the shoelaces on me? Reluctant artifice acti-
vates the cerebrum and purges the gangrene from wheezing jambs,
but little do they know. The Pentagon has six sides.
Frivolous but awe inspiring brooding finches cackle thunderously.
"Turn off the carbon dioxide and peel the strawberries, you fink."
"So eat more chicken. Its good for you. So you shouldn't
be thin. And don't make no tsimmes about it either. OI!"
That's the beauty of Maine. It ares.
But to happen, that's something else. Like it takes off. That's
the great thing about navels. Do you like apricots? They're
yummy. Which has everything to do with catcalls to caged ani-
mals. What they don't know in Escondido won't hurt them.
A cheetah can outrun a waterbuffalo, but it doesn't have horns.
Neither does Gonella Bread, baked on a hearth. Hey fella. Is that
what's wrong with Society? Yes, says the skippy peanut gallery. Jump
into a date bar, it's a security blanket.
"But you lie," screeches Omar relieving his aggressions.
"Hey Diddle Diddle, the Wildcat and the fiddle. Certainly."
Pagannini's one note samba falls on deaf ears in the mona
stry. Is that all you've got to say, you ogre?
No, fleas are eaten by a Caz. Dream little Oscar.,Dream. Dream.
Robert E. Bates Jr.
Albert H. Bell
James C. Bender
Marvin G. Booth
Michael A. Copeland
Phillip R. Cooper
James A. Densel
Robert E. Fraker
Therin E. Glasky
Joseph D. Harlan
Kenneth A. Horton
Kenneth R. Meldrum
Joseph L. Mercier
Larry H. Metnick
Gerald A. Meyer
David W. Moore
Dan C. Omahundro
Thomas A. Parmenter
Gerald F. Price
Michael J. Roessler
Frederick G. Ruben
James A. Sewell
Jon C. VanLandschoot
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