By MARK FISCHER
The Michigan Daily--Wednesday, October 7, 1981--Page 9
Bracken solves 'M' kicking woes
By GREG DeGULIS prising how the Michigan people sup- BRACKEN DID much more than just 42.7 average to the current 43.8, close to
It's one long punt from Thermopolis, port the team," Bracken said. Not only get by in 1980. The punter's 42.7 average his goal of averaging 44 or 45 yards.
A shameful season...
.Ainge wants out
Riddle: What's the difference between the 1981 baseball season and the
Toronto Blue Jays' handling of Danny Ainge?
Answer: One's a sham and the other's a scam.
It's hard to consider the strike-poisoned season as anything but a sham.
Having to erdure two lazy summer months with no major league ball to wat-
ch was certainly a downer for serious sports fans.
But the owners answer to the strike -the two-season playoff system -
was even worse. That's what really made it a sham(e)ful year. One need not
dwell on this fact long; it's easy to see the ludicrousness of a season in which
baseball's winningest team, the Cincinnati Reds (66-42, .611), didn't even
make the playoffs while a 49-53 team (Kansas City) does.
So now it's high time we forget about the 1981 baseball campaign,
especially since there's a much more serious matter involving the life of one
of America's most gifted athletes-Danny Ainge.
A Basketball Jones
Ainge is one of those rarities in today's big-time sports-a two-sport
athlete. And ironically, in his duality of athletic excellence lies his major
During the last two summers, Ainge has played third base for the Toronto
Blue Jays of the American League. During the last several winters, Ainge
has starred at guard for the Brigham Young University basketball team.
Ainge, a hoop All-American, was picked in the second round of the NBA draft
by the Boston Celtics in June.I
The Celtics' drafting him didn't bother Ainge a bit. He was batting about
.180 for the Jays at the time, and he realized his future was with big bouncy
balls, scot little hard ones. "I think I could be a basketball success in a year or
two," Ainge said. "It would take me five or six years in baseball. I know that
- In fact, Ainge was so willing to switch sports that he declared his readiness
to return the $300,000 advance he received from Toronto, as well as his three
year, $525,000 Blue Jay contract. (I've heard of having a Basketball Jones,
but when you're talking about giving up $300,000, you really have a Basket-
The Boston draft didn't bother Celtic fans either. Many relished the idea of
having a combo like Larry Bird (24 years old), Kevin McHale (23), Gerald
Henderson (24), and Ainge (only 22) for years to come.
And of course the draft didn't bother the Celtics' immortal cage wizard
and general manager, Red Auerbach. He was the guy who drafted
everybody in the first place.
The only people it did. bother, apparently, were Peter Bavasi (Buzzy's
son) and the rest of the Toronto organization, and that's where Ainge's
problem really stems from.
Bavasi took the Celtics to court in order to prevent Ainge's signing with
them, and due to the sometimes-unjust intricacies of our justice system,
Bavasi won. Ainge was under a legal contract with the Jays, the judge ruled,
a contract which essentially prohibits him from playing for another
Bavasi the tyrant
Bavasi is acting like a tyrannical fool in this case, and for what? Ainge
doesn't want to play baseball, let alone for bavasi, yet the Jay's owner
nevertheless insists on holding him a slave to the diamond. Even if Bavasi
doesn't care about Ainge's feelings (despite the fact that he admits telling
Ainge in May to "come see me" if you're ever unhappy in your contract"), is
he still too stupid to realize that a .187 hitter who has no desire for the game
isn't worth $175,000 a year?
Maybe it's not the money for Bavasi. Maybe he just loves the power of
treating human beings like slaves, and that's why he became a pro sports
owner in the first place. Or -maybe he's spitefully competitive, and he sees
his retaining of Ainge as a personal victory over Auerbach, even though
Bavasi and Red aren't and never will be in the same league.
Whatever his motives, Bavasi's action is not only a crime to Ainge but a
crime to sports fans as well, because Ainge is simply a better basketballer
than he is a baseballer. Granted, that's basically a value judgment, and it's
hard to compare an individual's different levels of talent in two different
But even the casual sports fan must agree that'Ainge was better as an All-
American hoopster who took his team to the quarterfinals of the
NCAA's-and he will be better as a quick, 6-4 guard in the NBA-than he was
for the Blue Jays in batting. 187 with no homers and 14 RBI's while finishing
dead last in the majors in hitting.
Let's face it, wouldn't you rather see Ainge swish jumpers than whiff
baseballs? You're probably answering yes-unless, perhaps, you're a
Philadelphia 76ers fan.
Hmmm. maybe that's it. Is Peter Bavasi from Philly?
Wyoming to Ann Arbor, but sophomore
punter Don Bracken decided to boot
himself to Michigan last year for one
simple reason. "I knew I could come
here and do a better job," the soft-
spoken punter explained.
After the kicking game nightmares of
1979, a season in which the Wolverines
finished 8-4, the sight of a quality punter
in a Michigan-uniform was a welcome
one indeed. Bracken was the too high
school school punter (47.4), yes, but this
was Michigan football.
"In Wyoming, there really isn't a big
team that people can cheer on. It's sur-
did Bracken face the pressure of the
football program, but the punter had to
overcome the normal freshman
The 6-foot, 185-pounder went through
a'type of culture shock last year, going
from a town in Wyoming (5,000 pop.) to,
a stadium which holds 20 times that
many. Bracken admits the freshman
experience was not a bed of roses,
although the season ended up that way.
"It took a while to change, to begin to
like it," Bracken said. "Last year I was
hoping to get by, but this year I'm more
set a new Michigan season record and
the 73-yard punt in the Rose Bowl also
went into the record books. Bracken
finished second in the Big Ten with the
42.7 average, received Honorable Men-
tion All-Big Ten (AP), and ranked 15th
in the nation in punting. Not bad for a
freshman seeking more confidence.
This year, Bracken feels more at
home in Ann Arbor, and the punter
,plans to spend a little more time here.
"Last year I went home every chance I
got," Bracken admitted. "This year I
won't go home for Thanksgiving. I'm
not like I was last year. Last year I was
counting the days."
This time, the Michigan fans are
counting their blessings, ever since
Bracken decided to come to Michigan.
He was recruited by Washington and.
Brigham Young out of high school, but
the punting doctor, Ray Pelfrey, is the
man responsible for bringing the
Wyoming native to Ann Arbor. "I went
to Ray Pelfrey's punting camp,"
Bracken explained. "He helped me
alot. He cut down my steps, how to hold
the ball. He contacted Michigan and
they contacted me." And the rest as
they say, is punting history.
IN 1981, Bracken has improved on his
The tremendous 'Rose Bowl bounce,'
fast becoming a Bracken trademark, is
the forward movement of the punt after
it hits the ground. Bracken has no valid
reason for the helpful caroms. "They
always seem to go forwards," Bracken
shrugs. "It's luck, I guess."
Bracken may consider the bounces
lucky, but the Michigan punter is too
consistent to rely upon Lady Luck. An
increased familiarity with the
Michigan football program and the
players results in a more confident and.
relaxed punter. For example, Bracken
and placekicker Ali Haji-Sheikh, the
two Michigan specialists, have
developed beneficial kicking
"Ali and I are pretty close," Bracken
said. We room together on road trips
and we help each other out by en-
couraging and giving support to one
"Bo gets on us sometimes, when
either of us makes a bad kick,"
Bracken elaborated. "He'll call us
psycho,' I guess in an effort to make us
mad enough to go out next time and do
the job right. I think it works more on
the other players than with kickers."
With a 43.8 average, Bo doesn't have
too much to rant about.
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Sports Information Photo
DON BRACKEN dhows the form that made him one of the nation's top pun-
ters as a freshman last year, with a 42.7 yard average, a new Michigan
record. This year, Bracken's doing even better at 43.8 yards per kick.
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Sigma Phi 9, Chi psi 0 (forfeit)
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" GRIDDE PICKS
Two of the greatest off-beat bands in
the world, The Ramones and The Tubes
have descended on Ann Arbor this
week, and each is expecting to win the
free one-item pizza from Pizza Bob's
that goes to the winner of the Gridde
* If you want to compete with the
master of the unique, just get your,
picks into the Daily at 420 Maynard by
midnight Friday. And if you edge these
two groups you will win the free one-
item pizza from Pizza Bob's and a
chance to compete with the "experts"
frm the Daily football staff.
1. MICHIGAN at Michigan State (pick
2. Indiana at Iowa
3. Ohio State at Wisconsin
4. Illinois at Purdue
.5. Northwestern at Minnesota
6. Florida State at Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma at Texas
8. UCLA at Stanford
9. Arizona at Southern Cal
10. Oklahoma State at Kansas
11. Baylor at SMU
12. Maryland at Florida
13. Navy at Air Force
14. Columbia at Princeton
* 5. Central Michigan, at Western
16. Washington at California
17. Virginia at Clemson
18. Slippery Rock at Indiana
19. Graceland at Mid-America
20. Daily Libels at Moo U.
A weekly series of
Signup for intramural touch football
continues today at the IM Building from
11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The deadline
for signing up is Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
A meeting for football team managers
will be held tomorrow at the wrestling
room in the IM Building at 7:00 for co-
rec, graduate and women's teams and
at 8:00 for residence hall, fraternity and
independent teams. The deadline for
the all-campus golf tourney is Friday at
4:30 in the IM Building's main office.
The tournament is on Sunday.