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February 27, 1980 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-02-27

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8-Wedesday, February 27, 1980-The Michigan Daily

Pistons strive for respectability

AP) - There's an old saying that "if Vitale came on to direct the club on the
L' e oig o at rid hike , 'ecourt.
're going to eat friedchicken, you re The team's record slipped from 44-38
ieve it, you are invited to observe the a season earlier to 38-44 in 1978-79 and 12
line of the DetroitdPistons e games into this season Vitale was gone.
'he Pistons the worst team in the The club waited almost a month before
ional Basketball Association with a giving the job to Vitale's assistant,
9 record and riding asclub-record i2- Richie Adubato.
elosing streak, may have been the IN DECEMBER the club finally
ne lyng e m in the hired Indiana Pacers' assistant Jack
st poorly managed team n the NBA McCloskey to take over as general
'HEY REALLY raised eyebrows manager. But by that time, All-Star
und the league two years ago when center Bob Lanier already had made it,
undtheleaue woyeas ao wenclear he wanted to be traded and
y let Bob Kauffman go and elected to McAdoo was in the doghouse
ke do without a general manager.SMceoo waseyghme.
m Wilson, a minor Hollywood actor Since McCloskey came on board,
h a marketing degree, was named Lanier was traded to Milwaukee and
ector of administrative operations the team began its unprecedented
I the team seemed to drift while Dick losing streak.
With Lanier gone and McAdoo
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sulking on'the bench, the Pistons had a
lineup of rookies and first- and second-
year players of limited talent.
"WE'RE PRACTICING now an hour
on the day of a game, we've got so much
to learn," Adubato says. "It's just like
taking over a high school job and star-
ting out with all freshmen. You know
you're going to get there.
"We're probably also the worst
passing team in the league.
"We've got kids like Kelser and Phil
Hubbard who have been taking passes
all their life - not making them. Now,
we're asking them to pass the ball and
they're throwing it away.
"WE'RE MAKING progress. They
can learn. But it's going to take time.
We're probably three years away from
the playoffs.

"This year is a lost cause. But I'll tell
you this: we're a lot closer to respec-
tability than our record indicates."
The general manager says Adubato
will finish out this season but he makes
no promises about keeping his coach on
for next season.
THE PLAYERS, meanwhile, seem
somehow to have maintained high
spirits through the chaos. Most of them
believe in Adubato; considered a good
"teaching" coach.
"I think that the coach is the most
important thing on a club like ours,"
fourth-year pro Leon Douglas said. "At
an older club like Washington, all the
coach has to do is throw the ball out. I
think Richie is capable of being a good

Ulrich's: Michigan souvenirs for
the whole family.

ONE OF THE few bright spots this season has been second year swingman
John Long. Long, a University of Detroit alumnus who came to the Pistons
under the Dick Vitale regime, is one of the young players the team will be
counting on in the future to improve their position in the NBA.

By Billy Neff
Michigan athletics..
the rich get richer
In the fall of 1976, as a fuzzy-faced freshman, I entered the sugar coated
world of Michigan sports. Four years and 300 articles later, and still fuzzy-
faced, what was an aura of glitter has turned into genuine cynicism about
Michigan sports.
Yes, I could detail the coach who recruits a kid and then tells him that he
isn't wanted here after all, or the coach who attempts to revoke a player's
scholarship by saying it is imperative that this athlete study as he will not
make the team, or I could describe the athletic transgressions relating to
That's why it is easy to be cynical about Michigan athletics. But there
are other matters that deserve an equal amount of cynicism, matters which
can be corrected. The other sins never will be.
First, Michigan athletics has the largest budget in the country. A multi-
million dollar budget, on which taxes are not paid on the facilities due to
state ownership, is wonderful. Except that the venerable Mr. Canham
(Michigan athletic director) and the other 'bigwigs' have forgotten one thing
- the student.
And if they haven't noticed, the student is forgetting them. Look at the
paltry turnout for an important Big Ten basketball clash with Illinois. Also,
Crisler Arena was 2,000 short of capacity against the 15th-ranked team in the
nation, Purdue.
The student is rebelling against his seat in the rafters for Crisler Arena
contests. Every time a middle-aged man leaps out of his midcourt seat and
yells an obscenity at an official, it disturbs me greatly. That should be a
student yelling encouragement for Thad Garner, instead of some man ven-
ting frustration at his tough day in the office.
Due to the students' placement at various sporting events, students have
become rather apathetic. But these athletes are representing this Univer-
sity, so the students supporting them should matter. They don't.
So what has happened? A vicious cycle has been created. The students
care little. Subsequently, the athletes don't have that little extra incentive to
put them over the top.
For instance, take a major sport at a rival Big Ten university, Indiana.
Is there any way in the world their basketball squad would lose to a much in-
ferior opponent in an important game like our football team did against Nor-
th Carolina? The tradition of winning for their fans back home is too much;
there is no compelling reason to win here.
Yes, 105,000 fans pack Michigan Stadium each Saturday in the fall. But it
is the quietest aggregation I've ever witnessed. The only noises emanate
from the fuzzy-faced freshmen who have not developed any cynicism.
By the time they are juniors and seniors and are sitting in the corner of
the end zone, instead of the back of it, they maintain a low profile. Anyway,
at Michigan Stadium, you can't hear the noisy freshmen because they're too
far away.
The business 'aspect has come back to haunt the man who wanted to
spawn champions - Mr. Canham. He has spawned regional champions but
his teams always fall just short of national titles since the student, and thus
much spirit, is being taken out of intercollegiate athletics here.
Aren't intercollegiate athletics for us? And with a little extra push, like
at Indiana, who knows?
The business aspect haunts this University in other ways. Every coach
wants a bite out of the incredible pie the football team has created here. But
they can't have it - and they're told that's the way it has to be since they do
not produce revenue. This causes unspoken contempt from many coaches.
How can I forget former wrestling coach Bill Johannesen's off the
record remarks about what he is not given here? Or the women's basketball
game against Lpuisville two years ago when the clock was kept running
during stops in the action to accelerate the game so the men could start their
contest on time. Women's cage coach Gloria Soluk had to mute her obvious
How can I forget last year's women's gymnastics' coach Scott Ponto's
sudden departure over a contract squabble? How happy do you thing the
soccer team was when their biggest game of the season was preempted by
an intramural football game? Or how can women's athletic director Phyllis
Ocker keep so silent about the disparity of money given to women athletes
here relative to other major schools. Answer: She has to.
So yes, Michigan makes plenty of money. But in the process, plenty of
people are being hurt. So if Michigan puts out the eighth-ranked football
team every season and draws the most people nationwide, are the athletes
getting the most out of themselves? I think not. Look at the number of times
Michigan falls just short as evidence. Coincidence? I think not.
Another cynical comment should be made about the relations of this
paper with Michigan coaches. As in life, relatio'ins are directly correlated
with how much a particular sport needs you. For instance, the Daily has had
great relations with tennis coach Brian Eisner, who wants his share of the
pie or headlines, for example. On the other hand, who can forget this paper's
relations with Bo Schembechler?
Too often, though, many of these coaches never see this paper as the

mouthpiece for their accomplishments. And too often, some of .my
colleagues get caught up in the aura surrounding a team and lose sight of its
shortcomings. Yes, frequently a coach succeeds in having the press "cheer"
on his team, but that is not this paper's function.
So when talented women's gymnast Sara Flom calls the Daily reporter
and threatens to go above him about an article which she disliked, something
is fundamentally wrong. I happen to agree with Ms. Flom that the article
pointed the finger for a loss at her.
But in no way was she libeled or were facts distorted. Instead, Flom has
a distorted sense of what should be written in this paper. Flom, who was ac-
customed to lavish praise from this paper, should not complain when
criticism comes her way. Do you think any Daily reporters received calls
from her when she liked an article? No, she expected that.
Or, basketball coach Johnny Orr, who interrupted a press conference to
attack an article I had written about the merits of his recuiting a point guard
and how Michigan State's Kevin Smith might have fit the bill. His criticism
is fine. But then why didn't he interrupt a press conference earlier in the
season when I had written a most-laudatory article about the personal side of
him. Of course, he expected that.
Or, Michigan football coach Sthembechler, who always seems only to
comment on what could be termed negative articles. In one of them, I poin-
ted out how recruit Kerry Smith, a running back, decided to come here to
play for Bo but probably will not get much of a chance due to the wealth of
running backs ahead of him.
Schembechler screamed. Why didn't he scream when he read all the
complimentary articles in this paper? And there certainly were a host of
them this year for a team which lost four games it should have, and could
have, won.
Well, it's been four years of hopefully eye-opening articles because my
eyes were certainly opened to some
harsh realities, to some things that
weren't expected.
So fuzzy face and all, it's time to
514 E. Was hingonmove on. Just remember, behind
each sugar coating there often is a
s you to pit.


5:30 - 9 P.m.
All of

'treasures of
Legacy of 2,000 Years
Free evenings marking
Black History Month
Michigan Wisconsin
Pipe Line Company
The Detroit
Institute of Arts
Enter Farnsworth. South Wing

ND tests
DePaul and Notre Dame locker rooms
are likely to have clippings of some
controversial statements made in the
days preceding today's showdown
between the two basketball powers.
For the unbeaten and top-ranked
Blue Demons, there is Irish Coach
Digger Phelps' assessment that
unranked Marquette is as good as any
independent team in the country.
Notre Dame will be glancing at
DePaul star forward Mark Aguirre's
comment that Wagner-a team DePaul
beat handily last week-would be
tougher for his club than the Irish.
Both Phelps and Aguirre have made
clarifying statements.
"I have maintained all along this
year how great this DePaul team is,"
Phelps said. "I don't think people
realize just how great a team this is."
Aguirre claimed he was misquoted.
"What I did say in New York was that
the style Wagner plays will be tougher
for us than Notre Dame. I didn't say
Notre Dame would be an easy game,"
Aguirre said.
Quotes aside, both coaches agree
there is no need for any additional
incentives for their teams to get up for
the annual clash.
"We're going to be sky high. It will be
no problem getting up for Notre
Dame," said DePaul Coach Ray
Meyer, whose team is 25-0 and only two
ames away from an unbeaten season.
"I don't think there will be any need
for any artificial hype for this one," he
said. "Both teams will be ready."
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