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March 28, 1971 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1971-03-28
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IV

Page Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, March 28, 1971

Sunday, March 28, 1971

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

F-

1970-71:

Congratulations
On a Fine Sasn
Ball Office Supply, Inc.
"Your Friendly Stationers Store"
116 S. Main Street
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN
---

Cagers

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for

era

of

greatness

By BETSY MAHON came up against Bob Cousy andj
Legend has it that after t h e his Holy Cross teammates who
Michigan Wolverines had dropped handed them a 63-45 defeat.
a decision to Kentucky -in the Cowles accepted a more lucra-
1966 NCAA Regionals, then head tive position at Minnesota the fol-
coach Dave Strack leaned against lowing year and basketball again
a locker in the diessing room and hit the skids. In the 12 years prior
asked the members of the press: to the hiring of Dave Strack in

"Gentlemen, where am I going
to fnd snnt a hao s V1C~n1 "1

to find anothier cazzie Russen?
Strack's query was natural:
Russell was, without a doubt, thej
greatest Wolverine ever. He broke
almost every existing record and
made basketball respectable. The
Age of Cazzie appears even greater
when it is compared to the decades
that preceded it.
Before that time success- seem-
ed to occur at ten year intervals.
Michigan had had only two All-
Americans - Bennie Oostenbaan
in 1928 and John Townsend in
1938. The Wolverines went to a
post season tournament once, the3
NCAA's in 1948.
Basketball became an intercol-
legiate sport at the University in
1909 when the Wolverines played a
five game schedule, in which they
dropped four of the contests. The
team subsequently withdrew from
the conference in a dispute over
a rule which barred varsity foot-
ball players from participating in
basketball.
The sport reappeared at an in-
tercollegiate level in 1917 and by
the time that Oosterbaan graduat-
ed in 1929, the Wolverines had won
or shared four titles. Despite his
heroics, basketball was still con-
sidered a minor sport, on almost
the same level as tennis.
Because basketball was con-
sidered a minor sport it had no
full time coaches. The majority
of the mentors were football men
who coached basketball as a side-
light. In 1948 Ozzie Cowles be-
came the University's first full-
time basketball coach and his un-
divided attention produced in-
stant results. Led by Pete Elliott
and Bob Harrison and employing
the zone press for the first time in
collegiate history, the Wolverines
won fifteen games and dropped
only five and were invited to their
first post season tourney. Unfor-
tunately, in their first match, they

't
i
ij

1960 the Wolverines finished in
the second division nine times.
A- resurgence in the sport occur-
ed in 1960 when it was given great-
er emphasis. The most notable
manifestation of this new interest
was the hiring of not one, but
three full-time coaches.
The coaching, changes did not
produce immediate results as it
was not until the 1962-63 season
that the Wolverines were able to
pull out of the second division. By
that time Strack had enlisted the
services of former All-Staters
George Pomey and Larry Tregon-
ing. The previous summer one. of
the coaches had happened upon
Bill Buntin playing basketball at
the Brewster Center in Detroit.
Buntin had missed playing in his
senior year at Northern High be-
cause of a broken leg and had
been subsequently ignored by col-
lege scouts.
During the 1963-64 season, Mich-
igan fielded a quintet with Bob
Cantrell and Russell at the guards,
Buntin at center and Tregoning
and Oliver Darden at the forward
positions. That year they won the
Big Ten crown with an 11-3 re-
cord and sported a 23-5 won-lost
record overall. They defeated both
Loyola and Ohio University in the
NCAA regionals before losing to
Duke 91-80 in the finals. Russell
scored 670 points that year while
Bunton talleyed 627. Both were
All-Americans.
For the next season, George
Pomey replaced Cantrell at guard
whil! the other four starters re-
mained the same. This was un-
questionably the best Wolverine
team ever. They lost only one Big
Ten tilt, by two points to Pur-
due in the final game of the sea-
son, and went 24-4 for all games
played. They outscored their op-
ponents by almost 400 points.
They won the NCAA Regionals by
handily defeating both Dayton and
Vanderbilt. They beat Princeton in
the first match of the finals only
to lose the crown to UCLA by a
score of 91-80, That year Russell

scored.694 points and Buntin 564;
again both were honored as All-
Americans..
In the 1965-66 season a some-
what rejuvenated team came back
for another try at the NCAA title.
John Thompson joined Russell in
the backcourt while John Clawson
and Jim-Myers teamed with Dar-
den up front. They won the Big
Ten Championship for the third
straight year while their overall
record "slipped" to 18-8. They.
edged Western Kentucky 80-79 in
the first game of the Regionals
only to lose the second match to
Kentucky 84-77. This was Russell's
last game in the maize and blue
uniform and caused Strack to ask
about Russell's successor.
Indeed, Russell rewrote t h e
Michigan record book. He holds
the record for most points in one
game, 48; most points for a sea-
son, 800, most field goals for a
season, 308 and most career points,
2,164. He was a three-time All-
American.
Yet, the man who guided them
through these years feels that the
outstanding feature of t h o s e
championship teams was "their
ability to get along with each
other. Our success was a balanced
operation; all great teams n e e d
great reserves. They had intangi-
ble qualities such as leadership
and the ability to play and get
along together.,
Oliver Darden who played with
Russell for three years and cap-
tained the 1965-66 squad concurred,
"Cassie was a great ball player
who always seemed to come up
with the winning basket. Yet, we
weren't selfish. All individual ef-
forts were secondary to the ulti-
mate purpose of winning."
The Age of Cassie quickly died
as the season following his gradu-
ation the team fell to last place.
It was only during the past sea-son
that they ,were contenders again.
Strack, who has since acquired the
position of Associate Athletic Di-
rector, may very well have the
answer to his question in the per-
son of Henry Wilmore, who tallied
618 points as a sophomore.
-He and names he overshadows
such as Grabiec, Johnson and
Brady will have another opportun-
ity to try to bring Michigan its first
national title. Perhaps another Era
of Greatness is dawning.

That
(Continued from Page 5)
the season to spell Brady who
was having difficulty adjusting
to Big Ten ball.
Picked to finish in the se-
cond division by most of the pre-
season pollsters, the Wolverines
surprised no one when t h e y
dropped their first three games.
Of course, they faced some pret-
ty notable opponents.
The opener was a home tilt
with the Fighting Irish of Aus-
tin Carr ... er, Notre Dame. A
capacity crowd showed up at
Crisler to see Michigan fight a
tough first half, but get blown
away in the second and lose 94-
81.
Next in line were Kentucky

vacation, Michigan flew to sun-
ny Hawaii -for the Rainbow
Classic. They were stopped,
however, by Hawaii's Rainbows,
83-76 in the semi-finals.
Shaken from the defeat, the
Wolverines got it together a n d
swarmed all over nationally
ranked Villanova, 103-87, for
third place in the tourney, as
Wilmore exploded for 31 points
and 19 rebounds. "It was after
that Villanova game that I was
convinced we had a great team
here," said Rodney Ford at sea-
son's-end.
When January 9 rolled around,
all the previous games meant
nothing. That was the day the
Big Ten season began, and as

t~he

"After .the Villanova game, I knew we had a
great team here."-Rodney Ford

year

thai

and Duke and Michigan lost to
both, 104-93 and 95-74 respec-
tively. But it was the Kentucky
game that gave Michigan fans
what they had been waiting for:
the real Henry Wilmore. He
made life a bit more difficult for
the Wildcats by pouring in 40
points, and prompted Kentuc-
ky's seasoned coach Adolph
Rupp to say, "We couldn't stop
him and nobody else will either."
Rupp was right, and Wilmore
went on to lead the Wolverines
to victory in 15 of their next 16
games. After winning the first
annual Michigan Invitational
Tournament during Christmas

4Time to move?'
UNIVERSITY
TO WERS
is now renting for summer and fall
University Towers
536 South Forest Ave.
761-2680

M'I

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History
Won Lost
1 4
6 12
18 6
10 13
16 4
15 4
11 4
10 7
8 6
12 5
14 3
10 7
14 2
95
13 4
11 6
10 8
6 14
8 12
15 5
16 4
13 7
11 9
13 7
9 10
6 14
10 8
8 10
12 7
12 7
12 8
155
15 6
11 11
7 15
6 16
6 16
9 13
11 11
9 13
13 9
11 11
15 7
4 20
6 18
7 17
16 8
23 5
24 4
18 8
8 16
11 13
14 10
18 6

r

it has been said, "It's a whole
new ball game.,,
The game was against Wis-
consin at Madison, and the Wol-
verines had to resort to the re-
feree's whistle to. win it, 90-89.
Trailing by one point, 89-88,
Grabiec tossed up a feeble-look-
ing jumper with two seconds
left. It never would have reach-
ed the basket anyway, but the
Badgers' Glen Richgels anxious-
ly batted it away and was called
for goaltending. Result: Michi-
gan was in first place in the Big
Ten with a 1-0 record. Almost
as an extra added attraction,
Wilmore tossed in 44 points, the
most ever for a sophomore in
his first Big Ten game,
The talk all that week around
the conference and even Ann
Arbor was that Michigan was
lucky and would never beat
highly touted Indiana, featuring
another super-soph, George Mc-
Ginnis.
But sure enough, Michigan, in
possibly its finest game of the
season, wallopped the Hoosiers
before a full house at home, 92-
81. Wilmore continued his tear,
scoring 35 points, while B r a d y
ripped 20 rebounds from under
the noses of McGinnis and big
Joby Wright.
A 97-87 win at Northwestern
followed by a 97-79 romp 'at
Minnesota, began to attract a
good many believers that Mich-
igan basketball had awakened
from the dead.
A severe test for the Wolver-
ines would be their contest with
Purdue, also in the thick of the
pennant race. With all five
starters hitting double figures,
Michiganhliterally blasted t h e
Boilermakers, 85-69, leaving the
Wolverines as the only unde-
feated Big Ten team.
The following Saturday, Mich-
igan was scared by unyielding
Northwestern, but hung on for
an 82-81 win as Ford and Wil-
more collected 22 points apiece.
Standing 6-0, the Wolverines
faced a trip to West Lafayette
and a return match with Pur-
due. Playing most of the game
with Wilmore in foul trouble
and on the bench, Michigan got
19 pionts each from Brady, Fife
and Grabiec, and devastated the
Boilermakers 81-74, before the

most hostile crowd they faced
all season.
After another shellacking of
Minnesota, 108-90, the Wolver-
ines had to look ahead. to the
grit of the season. Michigan was
on the top of the heap, boasting
an 8-0 record, while Ohio State
was breathing down its neck at
8-1 and Indiana was 7-2.
The Wolverines made the trip
to Bloomington, and 1o and be-
hold, their bubble was burst, as
the Hoosiers got their revenge
and humbled Michigan, 88-79.
McGinnis erupted for 33 points
and Steve Downing added 28,
while the two combined for 35
rebounds.
But the Wolverines still had a
shot at the Big Ten crown. All
they had to do was knock off
Ohio State in the showdown of
the 8-1 teams.
Sophomore Alan Hornyak
scored 17 points in the f i r s t
eight minutes and got the Bucks
off to a lead it would never re-
linquish. Michigan managed to
tie the score with six minutes
left in the game, but they could
not contend with the smooth
moving Bucks, and OSU coasted
to a 9-85 victory. Hornyak net-
ted 36 points, but he was best-
ed by Wilmore who broke the
40-point barrier for the third
time, with 42.
The Wolverines followed with
a one-point, 75-74 victory over
Illinois. Trailing 74-73, Fife
threw in a scrambling layup to
put Michigan ahead. But Ford
saved the game when he blocked
a Nick Weatherspoon shot with
three seconds left.
An 88-63 humbling of Michi-
gan State and an 86-82 win over
Iowa clinched second place for
the Wolverines and won them
the NIT berth, while Wilmore
added 63 more points in the
two games.
In the final game with Wiscon-
sin, Michigan fini'shed -the sea-
son in style, blasting the Badgers
93-73. Ford hit for 30 points,
his career high, while Fife came
in with 19. Wilmore, who "let
the seniors have their day," re-
laxed and settled with seven.

Wilmore whips
CONGRA T U
to the Michigan Ba
on a great
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