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January 06, 1971 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-01-06

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4 dnesday, January C, 197 1


Page Eleven

Jnesday, January 6~ 1971 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

J - e . - I






After three early losses and a pair of lackluster wins, the Wol-
e r iuvs WON loUr of five holiday toursnament games, and look
like they're finmally ready to play ball.

HEY, REMEMBER the Michi-
gan basketball team? Y o u
know, the guys who lost their
first three games aid then
stumbled to a pair of lackluster
wins over Eastern Michigan and
the University of Detroit?
Remember the agony of those
games? Michigan h a d trouble
scoring two . points f r o m two
feet under the basket, and there
were times w h e n it couldn't
trade all t h e empty seats in
Crisler Arena for a single free.
throw. B u t worst of all, the
Wolverines weren't running, and
sometimes they weren't even
moving. Whenever Michigan
had the ball, it looked like the
game was being played in slow
Henry Wilmore, t h e sopho-
more from N e w York (about
whom Coach Johnny Orr likes
to say w i t h a sly, knowing
smile, "Why, Wilmore's just a
little guy, only 6-4 and that's
not v e r y big for a forward"
seemed to be about the only one

who could do anything right. He
scored 64 points in the losses to
Duke and Kentucky, and then
just a b o u t singlehandedly
brought Michigan from a 33-31
halftime deficit to a 70-64 win
over Eastern Michigan with 27
points and. 10 rebounds. T h e
pundits were ready to change
the team to the Michigan Wil-
Well, all that's ancient his-
tory now. Or maybe it's recent
history. Anyway, it's a thing of
the past.
This just isn't the same team
that was 2-3 before the holiday
tournaments. Their names are
the same, all right, and they ev-
en look the same, warming up,
waiting to be introduced, sitting
on the bench during a time-out.
But they don't play the same.
Wilmore is as great as ever, but
now he's getting a lot more help
f r o m everyone else, and the
Wolverines are beginning to jell.
In two holiday tournaments,
they won four out of five games'.

SIR N1111

at }1

-Pat Atkins

Australian basketball,.
' . an icebox for Eskimos
AUSTRALIA and basketball?
At Crisler Arena tonight?
Well, why not. Any place that houses koala bears feeding on
eucalyptus leaves, summer in winter, and kangaroos is a natural
for coming up with surprises.
Australian Rules football is the most widely followed com-
petition and horse racing the biggest money sport. Basketball
is, as one of the Australian national championship team man-
agers put it, a case of trying to sell an icebox to the Eskimos.
They just don't take to it. .
Still, basketball in Australia has acquired an estimated
100,000 non-registered participants and about 100,000 reg-
istered players out of a population of 12 million. Twelve of
those 100,000 are members of the Melbourne Basketball
Club, winners of the Australian National Championship
six straight years.
Those twelve players will make it international night at
Crisler Arena tonight, as five of the team members tip off at
8 p.m. against the Wolverines, victors in six of their last seven
Six of the Australians have been to Crisler Arena before,
attending the Michigan Invitational Tournament over the holi-
days for a preview look at the Wolverines, They sat, in their
buckskin brown blazers and with their twangy Australian ac-
cents, seemingly unimpressed with what they had accomplished
thus far against touted Big Ten basketball foes.
After arriving in California via Tahiti, the Melbourne club
played two games on the coast and flew to Chicago. From there,
they proceeded to drive most of the main midwestern express-
way routes, sometimes inadvertently, in an attempt tp keep to
.a schedule that has included O h i o State, Purdue, Indiana,
Michigan State, Iowa, and now Michigan.
"We've missed our share of turn-offs on the express-
ways," forward Russell Simon recalls. "We got lost up
around East Lansing. And near Indianapolis and Columbus,
Ohio. We went around the Indianapolis ring road, it must
have been three times'. . . No kidding. I've learned to sit
in the back seat and let the others navigate.
Any hampering effects of such a long road trip need be
4 weighed against the Australians' 12 point win margin over
Michigan State. as well as losses by only eight to Purdue and
Indiana, and by seven to Illinois and Ohio State.
"Indiana has to be the best team we've played on this
trip," 6-5 forward Toli Koltuniewicz says. "George McGinnis
only scored about 30 points against us. Indiana could have done
a great deal more, but they had Kentucky that week, right after
4 they met us."
The scramble-style offense and shooting of Melbourne kept
the Buckeyes, the Boilermakers, and the Illini in more trouble
than the once-vanishing emu during most of the game. "We
should have beaten Ohio State, and we had Illinois on their
knees, too," Koltuniewicz reports. "But they all got off the
One of the breaks that allowed the three teams to
squirm free has been the use of the American College Bas-
ketball Rules rather than the rules familiar to the Austral-
ians - International Olympic Rules. With a 30-second pos-
session rule similar to the 24-second rule of the U.S. pros
on the books, the Australians have no practice with freez-
ing the ball,
There was another new facet to basketball American-style
for the touring squad whose total record against U.S. college
teams stands at 11-15. "We don't have any of those pom-pom
girls," Russell, making his first trip to the States, notes. "In
Australia, the crowds just cheer,"
Other club members have been a part of previous basket-
ball touring schedules to the United States. The present tour
came about through the Big Ten and the Melbourne Club's ef-
forts to help promote international basketball. If all goes as
planned, an All.-Star Big Ten team will be following the circuit
route in Australia a year from now.
"Basically we want to learn here" says 6-0, 168-pound
guard Lindsay Gaze. "So far we've learned that you've got
to be big. We don't have the size or shooting skills in Aus-
tralia to match American college teams."
With the performances they've thus far displayed, one
wonders what else exactly the Melbourne players have to learn.
Contrawise, American knowledge of Australia and Australian
basketball is as sparse as the population of Australia's Outback.

and they damn near blew three
teams clear off the court doing
First, there was the first an-
n u a l Michigan Invitational
Tournament, December 21-22.
Before the start of the season,
the tournament was conceived
of as a way for Michigan to
show off those .brand-new, tal-
ented sophomores in its o w n
show, and a chance for the ath:
letic department to make some
But Sunday night before the
tournament things weren't look-
ing quite t h a t bright. Ticket
sales were slow, but what was
worse, the Wolverines were rat-
ed no better than the third best
of the four teams in the tourn-
ament, and they were paired
against a highly-regarded Har-
vard team on opening night.
The possibility that this tourna-
ment was going to be an artis-
tic as well as a financial disas-
ter had stirred some strong
speculation that this was going
to be the last as well as the
first Michigan Invitational.
And so there he was, an elat-
ed Coach Orr at 11 p.m. Tues-
day night, December 22, hold-
ing court in the coaches' room
across from the Michigan lock-
erroom. The Wolverines had
just captured t h e tournament
title by blasting Wyoming 94-76
after they ran away with the
opener against Harvard, 100-73,
the night before.
Was Orr happy? "I feel great.
This is the first time Michigan's
ever won a holiday tournament.
How old is this school? One-
hundred and fifty years? This
is the first holiday tournament
we've won."
Don Canham was there, too,
assuring everyone there'd be a
tournament next year as if there
never was cause for the slight-
est doubt in anyone's m i n d.
And then Orr took t h e floor
again and started lecturing ev-
eryone on picking an all-tourn-
ament team.
"How could y o u guys leave
(Ernie) Johnson off t h a t
team?" he asked reporters. "And
(Ken) Brady? Man, they did
the job for us on the boards.
Man, did they do the job on the
Johnson. the gangling, 6-8
kid from Grand Rapids got 29
rebounds and 27 points and
Brady pulled down 18 rebounds
and had 32 points, including an
incredible 15 of 22 f r o m the
And Wayne Grabiec, the 6-6
guard who was so tight in his
first few games t h a t he had
trouble dribbling the ball, let
alone shooting it, and hit only
36.4 per cent of his field goals,
made 14 of 24 in two nights
from all over the court and tal-
lied 30 points. And what a job
he did on Harvard's James
Brown, t h a t sharp-shooting
sophomore from Washington,
D.C., in the opening night of the

tournament. Held him to three
for 19 from the field and six
Then there were the guys who
did m a k e the all-tournament
team. Wilmore and captain Dan
Fife. Wilmore got the tourna-
ment MVP award for a two-
night performance that includ-
ed 46 points and 22 rebounds,
but there were a lot of people
who thought the trophy should
have been cut in half, to give
Fife, 15 of 27 from the field. 34
points, an incredible 10 assists
in one night, his due.
But most important was the
way Fife made the offense --
that glorious, fast-break offense
- move. "When Fife controls
the ball on the break," said Orr,
"we've got a basket."
"I knew we could come back
and play good basketball," Fife
said. "I was a little down when
we weren't playing good ball.
Everyone was down. But we all
knew we could come back. It
was just a , matter of getting
that pride. When we came back
from Duke after losing our third
straight game, I didn't e v e n
want to be seen on the street."
Optimism about the basket-
ball team was running so high it
could have run out on the court
at Crisler Arena and dunked a
ball backwards. Come on Mc-
Ginnis and Downing and
Wright, come on Witte and
Hornyak and Cleamons, and
Jackson and Howat and Wea-
therspoon. Come on, everyone,
we're ready for you, right now.
No one was saying it in so
many words, but there was a
feeling that the Wolverines
were ready for the Big Ten sea-
son, then and there. The Big
Ten opener was still three weeks
off, though, but no one w a s
complaining because t h e next
three games were in the Rain-
bow Classic Tournament in
No Michigan team had been
to Hawaii since 1962, when Don
Lund took the Wolverines base-
ball team there for the college
world series. Despite getting so
sore and sunburned from spend-
ing so much time on the beach,
they had trouble putting their
uniforms on, the Wolverines
won the series and the NCAA
There was no NCAA champ-
ionship at stake this time, but
the Classic is one of the na-
tion's most prestigious holiday
tournaments, and the Wolver-
ines, who had just won their
first holiday tournament in his-
tory, wanted two in two weeks.
There was a field of e i g h t
teams of all shades and colors.
There was tenth-ranked Villa-
nova, everyone's tourney fav-
,orite; and highly-ranked Illi-
nois, rated as one of the Big.
Ten's top teams. T h e n there
were the darkhorses: St. Louis
University, Brigham Young and
Michigan; the unknown quan-
tities: Hawaii, 4-0 against small

college competition, and the
Army Redlanders, 17-2 against
a grab-bag of teams from all
over. And there was weak sister
NYU, 2-7.
"We think we have a chance
to win it," Orr said before the
tournament. "We'd certainly
like to play well. We have some
momentum and we'd I i k e to
keep it."
The Wolverines also had to
prove they could play on the
road. They put together o n e
good half against Kentucky in
Lexington, b u t they played
their worst game of the year at
Duke. Overall, they hadn't been
too impressive away from home
and three of their first four con-
ference games are on the road,
Three of the tournament's
four first round games went as
expected. Villanova beat Illinois,
Hawaii beat NYU, Brigham
Young beat Army.
And then there was Michigan-
St. Louis. Their records w e r e
nearly identical: The Wolver-
ines were 4-3; the Billikens 4-4.
Michigan had lost to Notre
Dame, Kentucky, and Duke; St.
Louis had lost to Notre Dame,
Marquette and UCLA. St. Louis
had only lost to the Irish by
one point, whereas the Wolver-
ines had lost by 13. But the Bil-
likens beat Harvard by only one
point, the same team the Wol-
verines beat by 27,
The game was billed as a toss-
up, but before the night w a s
over, heart-stopper would have
been a more appropriate appela-
The Wolverines led at half-
time, 46-41, after trailing by
five points early in the g a m e.
A four-day layoff, the long trip
west, the excitement of being
in Hawaii, the Billikens' deliber-
ate offense or any one of a num-
ber of combinations of those
factors seemed to have taken a
toll on the Wolverines, as they
lost a little of the fine edge that
whisked them to two convincing
wins in their own tournament.
The Billikens came out whit-
tling away at the Wolverines'
lead, and with Wilmore on t h e
bench with four fouls and Fife
on his way to a dismal oh-for-
nine performance from the field,
they built uip a 70-65 lead with
just a little over six minutes
Michigan called a time-out,
and when they came back on
the court it was as if there was
no such thing as those super-
sophs of seventy. Harry H a y -
ward, Dave Hart, Fife, and Rod
Ford, who replaced Johnson
early in the first half and scor-
ed 14 points, gave the team the
look of '69.
The fifth man was John Lock-
ard, one of the "other" sophs
who hasn't been getting much
publicity or playing time, but he
played as if he had just grad-
uated cum laude from the Bill
Russell school of rebounding
and defense. He took control of
the boards, grabbing five re-
bounds in as many minutes,
blocked a shot and tied a man
up for a jump ball that he con-
He let Hayward, Hart, and

Ford, who wound up with 21
points for the night and 68
for the tournament to 25 and
62 for Wilmore, take care of
most of the shooting, but he hit
a crucial tip-in to cut St. Louis'
lead to 74-73 before Hayward hit
a 15-footer to give Michigan the
lead for good at 3:03.
The game was far from over
though. In the next hectic two
minutes, there were blocked
shots, missed shots, fouls, er-
rant passes, steals, jump balls
and altogether enough whistles
to make the cops in downtown
Manhattan during rush hour
seem short-winded. Before the
game was over, the Wolverines
needed some clutch one-on-one
foul-shooting by Grabiec a n d
Wilmore, who came back in with
a little more than a minute to
play, and Fife, who made his
o n l y two points big ones, to
squeak to an 80-78 win.
The win wasn't a powerful,
impressive one like the wins in
the Michigan Invitational. It
was a scramble, do-or-die vic-
tory all the way, Not only did
the five starters not hit double
figures as they did against Har-
vard and Wyoming; one of them
(Johnson) didn't even score and
two others (Brady and Fife)
scored only two points each.
Still, there was that old saying
about how a good team always
finds a way to win - bench
strength, free throws, begging,
borrowing or stealing,
They were bringing up o 1d
sayings about good teams the
night of the semi-final round,
too. But unfortunately for the
Wolverines, they were bringing
them up in regards to Hawaii.
The Rainbows, a group of
flashy upstarts who have about
as much discipline on the floor
as Jacksonville has off it with
about a quarter the talent of the
Dolphins in anything, had just
put it to the Wolverines, 83-76.
New Year's had come early to
the Honolulu International Cen-
ter, and the most enthusiastic of
Hawaii's fans had the Rainbows
playing two-point-a-minute ball
against UCLA.
But the fact was not that the
Wolverines had been beaten by
a superteam, but that Hawaii
caught Michigan in its one real-
ly bad tournament game.
Wilmore had three fouls mid-
way through the first half, and
then fouled out with 12:38 re-
maining after scoring a meager
six points; the Wolverines
weren't aggressive, especially on
the boards, where they got beat
58-42; Fife was below par at
five for 16, and there was no fast
And so there was Orr, a week
after his team had won the
Michigan Invitational, sitting on
a bench in an old storage room
that served as Michigan's lock-
err oom that night.
"We had every different group
in there we thought could do it,"
Orr said dejectedly. "We even
put Grabiec at forward. But we
just couldn't get going,
"It's very frustrating being a
coach. When you're like we were
tonight when you're not aggres-

Dan Fife (left) handles the ball as Wayne Grabiec (40) defends
against Harvard's Dale Dover (22).

sive, I don't know what you can
do in coaching."
Even with everything seeming
to go wrong, the Wolverines
pulled within one point, 47-46,
after Hawaii built up 43-35 half-
time lead, then closed back to
within three, 66-63, after the
Rainbows had again led by sev-
Only Grablec, who played well
throughout the tournament and
was the team's leading rebound-
er with seven and second high-
point man with 17, and Ford,
who hit for 18 points, kept
Michigan in the game,
The Rainbows got a hefty court
advantage in the free t h r o w
department, hitting on 15 of 27
to 10 of 16 for the Wolverines.
At least two ofthe fouls on Wi-
more appeared to be somewhat
questionable, and Ford was call-
ed for a technical at 3:42 with
the Wolverines still in conten-
tion for hitting the backboard
that one ref later s a i d was
charged to' number 15, Brady,
who was on the bench. But, as
Orr said, "You can't really say
anything about the reffing. You
have to play above it."
As if things weren't looking
bad enough for Michigan, BYU
upset Villanova in overtime in
the other semi-final game. And
so the Wolverines had to go up
against - the nationally-ranked
Wildcats, with their big, mean
All-American candidate Howard
Porter, a 6-8 forward who makes
30 points and 15 rebounds look
easy, in the battle for third
place in a tournament that they
wanted to win..
The way things turned out,
Villanova could have had two
Howard Porters, and it wouldn't
have mattered. As Orr said af-
ter the game, "We could have
beaten anyone tonight."
The Wolverines came out with
a full head of steam. Wilmore
scored the first six points as
Michigan ran up an early 6-2
lead, and that was as close as
Villanova would come. Midway
through the first half it was
29-14, and when the halftime
buzzer sounded it was 59-31.
That old fast break offense
was rolling in high gear, all the
starters, led by Wilmore with 31
points and Ford with 29, were
in Double figures again, the Wol-
verines had a rebounding edge
of 70-40, with Wilmore, Orr's
"little guy," getting 19, Big
Brady getting 14, and Ford 10.
The Wolverines were down-
court five-and-oh on the break
at least half a dozen times, and
a lot of times the ball was in the
basket before.some of the Wol-
verines could get out of the de-
fensive foul lanes. The final
score was 103-87, but it would
have been even higher if Orr
hadn't mercifully decided to pull
his starters. No offense to the
subs intended, but who wfould
have guessed after the Wolver-
ines' first five spotty games that
they would be able to put in a
team of Steve Bazelon, T i m
Nicksic, Dave Hart, Leon Ro-
berts and John Lockard against
a nationally-ranked team?

"We all realized how badly we
played against Hawaii, and we
knew we had to make a come-
back," said Fife, who hit for 14
points and had 11 assists against
the Wildcats. "If we had lost
again, it might've really hurt us,.
but we came back and played
the way we should."
All this doesn't mean the Wol-
verines are the next-super-team
or anything. Not by a long shot.
They've come 'a long way, all
right, from a mediocre 2-3 re-
cord, to an encouraging 6-4
mark, and from standing around
like monuments to running
like crazy, And Hawaii, the only
team to beat them in two tour-
naments, did win the Rainbow
Classic and is undefeated.
The Wolverines have proved
they can run and shoot and
score and rebound, and even
play defense, but they have to
prove they can do it consistent-
ly, not just in two tournaments.
They have to.prove they can win
M's record
to date: 64
Notre Dame 93, Michigan 81
Kentucky 104, Michigan 93
uke 95, Michigan 74
Michigan 70, Eastern 64
Michigan 74, Detroit 73
Michigan 100, Harvard 73
Michigan 94, Wyoming 76
Michigan 80, St. Louis 78
Hawaii 83, Michigan 76
Michigan 103, Villanova 87
Remaining games
Jan. 19, at Wisconsin
Jan. 16, INDIANA
Jan. 23, at Northwestern
Jan. 30, at Minnesota
Feb. 2, PURDUE
Feb. 6, Northwestern
Feb. 13, at Purdue
Feb. 23, at Indiana
Mar. 2, at Illinois
Mar. 9, at Iowa
on a hostile court, too, not just
a home court or a neutral one.
And the big men, Brady a n d
Johnson, have to be as aggres-
sive as they were in the Michi-
gan Invitational all the time.
But, after three years and
three weeks of waiting, there is
the feeling that Michigan finally
has a basketball team that can
make some waves.
"Look, we learned a lot out
here," Fife said after the win
over Villanova. "We went into
the game against Hawaii think-
ing we had it sewn up, and we
found out you can't do that."
"Hey, you want a quote?" a
happily defiant Wayne Grabec
was yelling in the same locker-
room. "You want a quote?
Write down that I want to see
every single seat in Crisler Ar-
ena filled when we play Indiana
on January 16. That's going to
be a ball game. We're ready to
play ball now."


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