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January 07, 1981 - Image 14

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-07

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Page 14-Wednesday, January 7, 1981-The Michigan Daily
Roughopening
Purdue hands'M'first season loss

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By BUDDY MOOREHOUSE
Michigan's rookie head basketball
coach Bill Frieder said it best back in
December, during the Wolverines'
sleepy non-conference schedule. "Hell,
no. I'm not anxious for the Big Ten
season to start," said Frieder. "We've
got the toughest start of any team in the,
conference. We've got to play Purdue
and Minnesota on the road, and then
come back with Indiana, Iowa and
Illinois at home. I'd rather play thesej
non-conference games all year."
The wisdom of Frieder's words
became evident Monday night, as the
Wolverines bowed to Purdue in the con-
ference opener for both teams, 81-74.
The loss was the first setback of the
season for Michigan, which had cruised
through' the non-conference schedule
unscathed. The Wolverines' 9-0 record
entering the Purdue game earned them,
a ninth and tenth place ranking this
week in the UPI and AP polls, respec-
tively.r
THE BIGGEST scare of the pre-
conference season for Michigan came
on December 13 at Dayton. The Flyers
were 5-0 entering the contest with the
Wolverines, and hung right with

Michigan all the way. It took two clutch
free throws by Thad Garner in the final
minute to give Michigan an 85-84 win.
The cagers were idle during finals
week, but the layoff seemed to have no
detrimental effect on the Wolverines as
they demolished Western Michigan,
102-73, on December 20. Johnny John-
son hit a career-high 29 points to help
the Wolverines top the century mark
for the only time this season. Freshman
center Tim McCormick tossed in a.
season-high 15 points and hauled in nine
rebounds.
After the Christmas break, Michigan
traveled to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit
on December 30, where they overcame
poor rebounding to whip the University
of Detroit, 85-68, The Titans' Joe
Kopicki tore apart the Wolverines,
scoring 29 points and pulling in 18
rebounds. The rest of the Titans were
ineffective, however, allowing
Michigan to advance its unbeaten
string. Mike McGee led the Wolverines
with 21 points.
MICHIGAN STARTED off 1981 on the
right foot, beating Northern Michigan
(a Division II school) at Joe Louis
Arena, 92-56. The Wolverine! starters

played well, but the substitutes allowed
Northern to close the wide gap the
Wolverines had opened. Michigan only
led by ten at the half, 38-28. "I really
hoped that by, this time one of the sub-
stitutes would have distinguished him-
self," said Frieder after the game.
"But no one really has."
Purdue, with the loss of All-American
and number one NBA draft pick Joe
Barry Carroll expected to see its for-
tunes sour this season, but freshman
center Fussell Cross has superbly filled
the gap left by Carroll. Against
Michigan, Cross led all scorers with 21
points, most of them coming on easy
back-door layups.
The main reason behind the Purdue
victory was the Boilermakers' amazing
75.5 percent shooting from the floor.
That mark established a new Big Ten
record. Even a career-high 18 points
from Paul Heuerman couldn't stop
Purdue. McGee tallied 20 points and
Marty Bodnar hit on eight-of-12 from
the floor f'or 16 points, but it wasn't
enough to overcome the balanced Pur-
due attack. "I've never played in a
game where the teams shot like that,"
remarked Cross after the game.

"I THOUGHT it was a helluva
game," said Frieder. "Purdue played
extremely well. If we could have gotten
the lead in the second half, it might
have been a different story, but we
didn't."
Michigan has a chance to even its Big
Ten mark this Saturday, when it travels
to Minnesota. The Gophers, who beat
North Carolina by 15 points last week,
are the 14th-ranked team in the UPI
poll this week. "I think Minnesota is the
most underrated team in the country,"
said Frieder. "I think they're one of the
five best teams in the country."
Frieder received an early Christmas
present over the holidays, as Eric Tur-
ner, a 6-3 guard from Flint Central,
called Frieder on Christmas Eve to tell
the Michigan coach he would be
bringing his talents to Ann Arbor next
year. The lightning-quick Turner is
regarded as possibly the best point
guard prospect in the state.

11

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AP Top 20
DePaul (59) 12-0
Oregon State (2) 10-0
Virginia (1) 9-0
Kentucky 8-1
Wake Forest 10-1
UCLA 8-1
Maryland 10-1
LSU 10-1
MICHIGAN 9-1
Iowa 8-1
Illinois 8-1
Tennessee 9-1
Arizona State 9-2
S. Alabama 10-1
North Carolina 9-3
Brigham Young 101
Utah sr 11-1
Minnesota 8-1
Clemson 11-1

1,237
1,159
1,098
989
874
867
773
744
664
575
442
429
359
317
293
264
223
192
146

Boilermaker blitz.. .
. , rude awakening orBlue
By JON MORELAND WEST LAFAYETTE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS poll of the top 20 basketball teams taken this
week places Michigan in the number ten spot. Michigan earned this lof-
ty position by romping through its non-conference schedule with a perfect 9-0
record.
The results of this poll were announced about 9:30 Monday night. At the
same time in West Lafayette's Mackey Arena Purdue soundly defeated the
Wolverines, 81-74.
Purdue wasn't even ranked in the top 20 because of its two non-conference
road defeats to Tennessee and Tulsa. Tennessee is ranked thirteenth in that
same poll, and Tulsa has only one loss in its first ten games.
Among Purdue's seven non-Big Ten victims were Georgia Tech and
Florida-earning the Boilermakers a championship in the Gator Bowl
Classic in Jacksonville, Florida-and always-tough Providence.
Purdue's non-conference slate was obviously tougher than that of the
Wolverines, which featured games against Arkansas, Kansas, and Dayton.
This put Michigan at a great disadvantage Monday night, and it could con-
tinue to haunt the team as the Big Ten season progresses.
Every team Michigan played in the pre-season featured at least one or two
solid players. Northern Michigan's guard Ernie Montgomery could play
with just about any team in the country. The difference was that Mon-
tgomery lacked the supporting cast to give Michigan a good battle.
What Michigan found in Mackey Arena Monday night was a team that can
come at you with five solid starters and come in with capable reserves.
when the starters get tired.
The situation was as if Michigan had been practicing against four men and
suddenly found itself in a game against five. When Purdue had the ball,
anyone on the team could put it in the hole the way Ernie Montgomery alone
could.
When Michigan was on offense, Purdue's swarming defense made it seem
like the Wolverines were playing seven on five.
And this defensive pressure took its toll on the Wolverines. "Our defense in
the early going made them (Michigan) a little shakey," said first-year Pur-
due coach Gene Keady. "We even shook their seniors, and that surprised
me."
Actually, it's not all that surprising. Michigan had not faced a solid defen-
se since last March when it lasted three games in the National Invitational
Tournament. That's over nine months of playing scrimmages against the'
freshmen and sophomores and games against sub-par opponents.
Even those experienced seniors had probably forgotten what a tough man-
to-man defense looked like. It's no wonder they got a little flustered.
It's the old story of not knowing how good a team actually is until it's been'
tested, and now it is just beginning to be tested.
Michigan coach Bill Frieder maintains he's glad it has worked out this
way. "We had those three pretty impressive wins, and with the Big Ten
season, we'll have a damn tough schedule.
"We schedule as much as six years in advance, and a couple of years ago.
everyone was screaming for us to schedule Detroit. It just turned out that
they were a little down this year."
Frieder also points out that Michigan always plays three Mid-American
Conference teams, and again it just happened to catch teams (Eastern
Michigan, Western Michigan, and Kent State) in down years.
So no one is really to blame for the weak Michigan schedule. The
Wolverines will just have to use these early Big Ten games to toughen up.
Their next game is against Minnesota, which faces Wisconsin tomorrow
night.
The Gophers themselves should be sufficiently battle-worn, having played
Louisville and Marquette, before beating highly-touted North Carolina in the
finals of a Christmas tournament.
"I am glad about the way it's turned out, though," said Frieder, referring
to the fact that Michigan will have five days to prepare for the Gophers.
Despite all the drawbacks of Michigan's weak schedule, it could be
beneficial toward the end of the season. Say, for instance, Michigan comes
back and beats Purdue in Ann Arbor and the two end up with identical 10-8
Big Ten marks and tied for fourth place. The NCAA Tournament Committee
could look favorably upon the Wolverines' unblemished non-conference
record if it is forced to choose between the teams.

MR

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