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February 07, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-07

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. .


Orr, Schembechier booed.. .
.. Vitale has answer
F ORGIVE ME FOR asking one last question, coaches.
You see, I've spent the past two years covering Michigan football and
basketball. In. that time, I've asked a lot of questions - probably dumb
questions with obvious answers. I'm sure you grew tired of answering them.
But as of this Sunday night, I will no longer serve on the Daily sports
staff. And I just can't resist one last question.
Why is it, John and Bo, that nobody boos Dick Vitale?
Yeah, I know it's a dumb question to ask a couple of college coaches, but
since you are both 'great coaches', I figured one of you may have an answer.
You see, Vitale coaches a lousy team. The Pistons rarely win at home,
they never win on the road, they blow big leads, they lose tight games. In
short, they don't do much right at all.
But for all their ineptitude, the fans still respect them. And while they
may throw a few jabs at Vitale, they're never serious.
But look at you two. Bo, you've amassed a damn good record over the
years at Michigan. Since you've been here, your teams have been nationally
ranked, they have attended post season bowls, they have whipped arch-rival
Ohio State..,
But people boo you, Bo. They complain about the offense or the defense
or the Rose Bowls or where they sit in the stadium. Why you and not Vitale?
And let's not forget about you, John. After all, your teams have been
ranked, they have made the NCAA tourneys, they have fought their way to
the finals. Heck, you were even named Coach of the Year. But people booed
you during the Ohio State game, John. Some suggested you should be fired.
Why you and not Vitale?
A friend of mine said the answer is simple - expectations. He said that
people expect Michigan athletic teams to be successful. When your teams
fal short, people complain. He said all the complaining is the price of.suc-
ce s.
I'll be honest, fellas. I don't buy my friend's explanation. People boo the
Red Wings, but I don't think they expect much more from the Wings than
they do from the Pistons. And on the other hand, there are a number of suc-
cessful sports programs with content fans.
I gotta figure you guys and Ted Lindsay all have something in common
which causes such unrest.
If you're still with me, let me offer my explanation of the problem.
Monday night I watched an interview with Vitale on the evening news.
He said he has a responsibility to the media and the general public to say
what he thinks, to be open and honest. In short, he feels that he must act like
a responsible human being both in and out of the public eye.
I don't get that feeling from you two. You've lied, Bo. You've kept your
locker room closed. You've acted childlike in defeat and pompous in victory.
You say your responsibility is to Don Canham and the most holy Wolverine
gridiron tradition.
And you, John - you aren't a whole lot better. OK, so you're a little
more open than Bo. But basketball is still a life or death proposition.
Vitale can make the fans a part of the game. He will admit his team has
let the fans down on occasion - would either of you ever admit that?
He has left himself and his team open to public scrutiny and he has lived
to tell of it. I guess the people are comfortable to, use the ternm 'we' in
referring to the Pistons. I'm not sure people can do the same with your
Let me get off the subject for just a second.-When I was a little kid, a
very wise man named Roy ,Barney taught me about the world of sports. He
would talk about baseball strategies and good trades and all the things that
make sports interesting - even intense.
But everything he said was tempered with, 'Remember, it's just a
game.' The fact that you are on the field doesn't give you any special
privileges. Sports are a part of life, not an addition to life.'
Well, guys, Roy Barney isn't around anymore. If he was. I would give
you his phone number. I'm sure he could help you both.
Roy Barney never counseled Dick Vitale, yet the Piston coach under-
stands that basketball is just a game, that, he can't think of himself as
anything special, that he must give people off the court a little respect.
Since Roy Barney can't help, maybe Vitale can. Give him a call - he's a
fairly open man. He'll give you good straight answers.


South Quad remembers him well, as
does Flint Beecher and Johnny Orr..
One can recall his fantastic leaping
ability and potentially magnificent
talents, but something always went
wrong for him. He is Joel Thompson
and he has taken his skills to the Tucson
Gunners of the Western Basketball
Association, a highly rated minor
Thompson began the season with
some superior play, commented coach
Herb Brown, former coach of the
dismal Detroit Pistons. The story
doesn't end there, however. According
to Brown, he had not performed as well
as the season progressed and was ben-
ched more often.
walked out on the Gunners and they
haven't heard any word from the for-
mer Wolverine as to when he would
return. "He wasn't pleased with the
amount of time and the coach wasn't
pleased with the inconsistency of his
performance," said Brown, in referen-
ce to himself.
"I just didn't think he was playing the
ball he was capable of. The next move
and the first move is up to Joel. No one
is indispendable," continued Brown.
"You have to go out every, night and
play consistent basketball. He didn't
like the fact that we were putting
pressure on him to perform very well,"
Brown noted.
The Gunners' administrative.
assistant, Ken Hochman, added a dif-
ferent perspective on the situation. "I
think Joel is an extremely talented
player. If he only realizes that, and the
professionalism and hard work in-
volved, he will be in the NBA."
THOMPSON SEES the situation in a
different light. "I'm not sure if I want to
play with his team. This is one of those
personal problems between me and him
(Brown). There were a lot of things said
that I didn't like."
"There's really more to it than meets
the eye, People look at it like I just left,
which isn't true," Thompson continued.;

"It was because of comments on and
off the court. I was on the verge of get-
ting real angry and I'm not the violent
type. I needed to cool off," concluded
Thompson conceded that he was not
in the best of shape, both physically and
mentally, when he came out to Tucson.
"I really didn't want to come out here
anyway. I had planned to go to Europe.
I would have had a better chance if I
was really into it mentally," Thompson
SPEAKING OF Europe, Thompson
hopes that it will be his next stop
(preferably Italy), if not the NBA. For
this immediate season, he plans to ask
Brown to be traded.
The pursuit of playing in the NBA is
the main reason most of the players are
in this league. The league is comprised
of seven teams, with Tucson and the
Reno Bighorns being the front runners.
Other teams include the Washington
Lumberjacks, the Las Vegas Dealers
(one wonders if they play blackjack at
halftime), the Fresno Stars, the Utah
Pros and lastly, the Montana Sky.
This minor league averages about
1,500 in attendance for their contests.
"Survival depends on attendance; it
takes a couiple of years to build up at-
tendance,'" said Hochman. The league
is trying to,keep expenses down in their
first year and the total team salary is
only $82,000 for 11 players. Therefore,
the average salary is about $8,000 per
BROWN, WHO HAS had his troubles
handling high salaried players in the
past (with the Pistons), believes these
low salaries help. "You have players
that are motivated and if they're not,
then they don't have a long term con-
tract and you can go out and get
someone else. Take Joel for instance,
when he left, Bill Paterno (from Notre
Dame) came in and took over. Tonight,
James Lee from Kentucky is coming in
to play for us."
Some of the league's top performers
include former Michigan and NBA
standout Cazzie Russell, the sixth man


The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, February 7, 1979-Page1
gfor cage home
for Montana, former Piston Roger former Los Angeles Laker first roud
Brown and Walter Jordan of Purdue. draft pick Brad Davis, Ira Terrei,
The minor league has served as a Notre Dame's Duck Williams, and tje
pipeline to the NBA this year as North league's version of "Dr. J," AlSmith
Carolina's John Kuester and Tulane's c
Phil Hicks have been added to the Den- As most people know, a basketbdl
ver Nugget roster, Villanova's John player has a tough time accepting ilje
Olive to the San Diego Clippers and fact that he is either "over the hill"s
Sam Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks, in Cazzie Russell's case or not talent
OTHER WELL known players per- enough for the big leagues. That is
forming in the WBA are Bob reason that this league exists 'atI
Carrington, Derrick Dickey, Mel Davis, similar leagues will continue to existi
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NEW YORK (AP) - Mike Glenn tied
his career high scoring mark with 25
points, nine in the fourth quarter, as the
New York Knicks defeated the Seattle
SuperSonics 108-99 in a National
Basketball Association game last night.
It was the third straight victory for
the Knicks, who also got 25 points from
Bob McAdoo. Seattle, whose 34-17
record is the best in the NBA's Western
Conference, lost for only the second
time in 10 games.
Gus Williams hit his first six shots,
helping Seattle to a 20-12 lead in the first
seven minutes. New York went ahead
39-37 midway through the second quar-
ter on a jumper by Earl Monroe, part of
an 18-4 burst that helped the Knicks to a
56-54 advantage at halftime.
The Score was tied seven times early
in the third quarter before Joe
Meriweather, starting in place of in-
jured Knicks center Marvin Webster,
sidelined with a sore right knee, put
New York ahead to stay 70-68 with a
layup off a feed from Ray Williams.
college Basketball
Indiana State 100, Drake 79
James Madison 70, William and Mary 57
Connecticut 84, HarvardB70
Atlanta 104, Boston 101
Cleveland 119, New Jersey 100




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