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October 02, 1981 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-10-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

£i#V'K to Gwjggte
Slow start for gridders .. .
... will replication continue?
STATEMENTS OVERHEARD at places where Michigan fans
congregate: From Shakespeare lovers, "Where hath the Michigan team
gone awry?", or, in more likely phraseology, "What the hell is wrong with
this team?"
Comments from Bo Schembechler echo the sentiments. "You're dealing
with a coach that has no confidence in his defense. Sooner or later, you have
to dominate the line of scrimmage and control the ball." There is one
stipulation, however, to these statements. They're from 1980, not 1981.
Remember 1980? The year of that powerful Michigan team which will go
down as one of Schembechler's best? The Wolverines ended up ranked four-
th in the nation with convincing victories over Purdue (26-0), Ohio State (9-
3), and Washington (23-6). After three games in 1980, though, the Wolverines
were 1-2 and had lost five of their last six games, going back to 1979. It ap-
peared that Michigan football had just hit its Tartan Turf bottom.
In 1981 Michigan is 2-1, but two of the three games were played with less
than the required intensity. The loss to Wisconsin and the lackluster perfor-
mance against Navy combined to trigger more skeptics' rhetoric.
Once again, the Michigan following is mumbling under its collective
breath as the coach tries to explain what's going on after three games. So
far, the 1981 season mimics that of 1980-but will there be a repeat of last
year's happy ending, as well?
Skeptic's view
For the pessimists, this year's Michigan team is just not of the same
character as last year. The three-game statistics reveal some very un-
Michigan-like facts. The opposition owns a large segment of the numbers
attle. Here's a taste:
First Downs

The Michigan Daily-Friday, October 2, 1981-Page 11
Pistons camp opens-
new faces bring hope

I i

The Detroit Pistons opened their 1981
training camp yesterday at Crisler Ar-
ena in the same fashion they ended the
1980-81 regular season - still looking
for answers.
"Whenever you only win 21 games out
of 82, you've definitely got some
problems to solve," said second-year
Piston coach Scotty Robertson. "I'm
not afraid to say that we're still in a
rebuilding program, and we're taking it
step by step. With our new players this
season, we'll definitely be more com-
petitive than last year."
TWO OF THE newcomers, guard
IsiahThomas of the NCAA champion
Indiana Hoosiers and forward Kelly
Tripucka of Notre Dame, both first-
round draft choices, are regarded as
likely starters.
"Everyone's talking about Kelly and
Isiah moving in and starting," Rober-
tson noted. "A'starting position is not as
important in pro basketball as it is in
college or high school ball. In the pros,
it's just as important to be able to come
off of the bench and produce as it is to
start every game.
THE MATTER OF a starting role
does not concern either of the former
collegiate stars.
"Scotty has told me that he wanted to
start me out as a swing man, a player
who can play at both forward and
guard," said the six-foot-seven
Tripucka, who just inked a contract
with Detroit Wednesday after a long
dispute. "If the swing man role doesn't
work out; he'll try me at the small for-
ward. I'm just going to do anything he
wants me to. I just want to win."
"I haven't been told exactly what role
I'm supposed to play for the team,"
said the 6-1 Thomas, the second player
chosen overall in the June NBA draft,
behind fellow Chicagoan Mark Aguirre
of DePaul.
THOMAS ENTERS his freshman
campaign in the NBA fully aware that
there will inevitably be comparisons
between his play and that of Los Angles
Laker star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, a
hero around the state of Michigan.
"Magic and I are similar in that we

both turned pro after our sophomore
year and after our schools won the
NCAA championship," noted Thomas,
flashing the boyish grin which has
become his trademark. "He's a
crowd-pleaser with his style of play,
and I guess I'm kind of like that. I feel
privileged that people mention myself
and Earvin in the same breath.
THOMAS MAY VERY well have to
perform some magic to get the Pistons
on the winning track. And Robertson
realizes that a few miracles may be
required if Detroit is to become a
bonafide playoff contender this season.
"I'm a realist," Roberston said. "I
would be extremely happy to see a
good, average Detroit Piston ballclub
this year. If anything, at least we are a
much deeper team."
Today's acquisition of 6-6 guard-
forward Jeff Judkins is one reason for
the Pistons' greater depth. Detroit ob-
tained the former University of Utah
player from the Utah Jazz for a 1981
third-round draft choice.

sos 111MEV!lf
Saturday, October 24
8:00pm Hill Auditorium
$ .50,7.50,8.50 reserved
Tickets on sale now at the Michigan Union Box Office
and all CTC outlets. For more information, call 763-
6922. For a complete listing of the Ann Arbor music

What's your next step?


Avg. Yards per game

Net Passing Yards
Michigan 252
Opponents 418
The skeptics will say that statistics don't lie. Over its three games,
Michigan has been statistically equaled, or bettered, by its opponents, which
included Wisconsin and Navy, teams which Michigan usually dominates. In
addition, pessimists can refer to the doubts of the head coach as proof that a
rocky season is sure to ensue.
"This is a typical Michigan team, typically talented, no more and no less,"
Schembechler explains. "We've won in the past because we've been a very
intense football team. They're not playing like that."
The pessimist then strengthens his argument with the best piece of
evidence for a non-Rose Bowl New Year's. Michigan is currently 0-1 in the
Big Ten and, as he might recall, the Big Ten slate remained unblemished
through 1980.
"If we lose again, we're out of it," the coach said. "That is a great deal of
pressure to play under each and every week, but we have nobody to blame
but ourselves." And with that, the pessimist rests his case.
Optimist Opposition
For the optimist, though, the 1981 Wolverines are better than the 1980 ver-
sion and Michigan will finish at the pinnacle of the improved Big Ten. The
optimist points to Michigan's inspiring performance versus Notre Dame and
the 2-1 record, both improvements over 1980. The believer shrugs off the con-
ference loss to the Badgers, claiming that the balance in the Big Ten this
year will allow the conference winner one loss, or maybe two. The optimist
offers even more substance to the argument-improvement in the skill of-
fensive positions.
Steve Smith, despite a shaky start, will make Michigan fans soon forget
John Wangler and the in-the-pocket passing. Smith is one of the fastest
athletes on the squad, and his eight-for-10 performance in the first half
against Navy is a positive sign for a bright future.
In the backfield, the improvement of senior tailback Butch Woolfolk is ob-
vious, according to the optimist. Woolfolk leads the Big Ten in rushing, with
375 yards in 62 attempts for an excellent 6.0 yards per carry average.
With Woolfolk averaging six yards a carry and Anthony Carter 22 per cat-
ch, only the jelling of the talented offensive line prevents Michigan from
fielding an unstoppable offense. "What about the defense?" the pessimist in-
terjects. "Almost 300 yards per game."
The optimist shrugs off the criticism. "The 1981 defense is still adjusting to
the loss of Andy Cannavino, Mike Trgovac and Mel Owens. With Mike Boren
all over the field and Keith Bostic hitting the way he does, the Wolverines
will be in Pasadena for sure," the believer concludes. "Maybe Jackson-
ville," the skeptic retorts.
I've always been an optimist.
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