Page 12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 30, 1984
Icagers return with pride
ONE SMALL VOICE
By PAUL HELGREN
Not even a seven-hour wait in
Newark, N.J. could dampen Bill
Frieder's elation over Michigan's first
A snow storm that blanketed the east
coast yesterday delayed the NIT cham-
ps' return flight to Ann Arbor. But
weather was the only thing that stopped.
the Wolverines during their sweep
through the National Invitation Tour-
nament field, which culminated in a 83-
63 thrashing of Notre Dame at Madison
Square Garden Wednesday night for
THE championship could not have
been a more fitting end for Michigan.
Snubbed the NCAA tournament and of-
ten criticized for under-achievement by
Wolverine fans and sports writers
alike, Michigan simply devasted the
Irish to claim the NIT crown. It's a
crown Frieder and his team will wear
"Like I told you guys on that Sunday
(when Michigan was bypassed by the
NCAA tournament), we were disap-
pointed we didn't make it to the NCAA's
but we weren't going to mope about it,"
said Frieder about an hour after
arriving in Ann Arbor last night."We
attacked the NIT with enthusiasm and
we went into it to win it. And I think we
won it decisively."
Wednesday's victory certainly could
not have been more decisive. A 20-2 run
in the second half, sparked by tourney-
MVP Tim McCormick who finished
with a career-high 28 points, sent the
Irish home with their tails between
their legs. "That first eight or nine
minutes in the second half was the best
we've ever played," commented
FRIEDER HESITATED to call the
championship his greatest thrill ever,
but he did put it "right up there" with
his two state high school championships
at Flint Northern in 1971 -72, reaching
the NCAA finals as a Michigan
assistant in 1976 and being named head
coach at Michigan in 1980.
So how did Frieder celebrate his big
victory? A hot night at Studio 54? Nah.
Dinner, a couple of Pepsis and lots of
basketball talk sufficed until the wee
hours of the morning.
After little or no sleep, the Wolverines
scrambled to Newark yesterday mor-
ning to catch their flight to Detroit's
Metro Airport. Too bad there was no 45-
second clock at the airport. A
snowstorm put the stall on Frieder and
Co. No matter. It gave them a little
more time to savor the feeling.
. BUT THE euphoric repose won't last
too long. Practice resumes. for
Michigan on April 26 in preparation for
its tour of Europe in May.
"It's hard to believe," Frieder
groaned. "In three weeks we gotta start
Don't let Frieder fool you. He can't
wait. When you're a champion, the
return to the hardwood can't come soon
NIT champs elated
after annihilating Irish
Michigan NIT Champs .. .
H .. chomp critical chumps
THE WORD OF the day is champion.
Perhaps there are too many ways to become a champion in college basket-
ball. Besides the post-season tournaments, there are conference champions,
Christmas tournament champions, scoring and rebounding champions and
dozens of all-star teams to denote individual champions.
While the word may be overused these days, it is the best description of the
1984 NIT winners, the Michigan Wolverines.
From Bill Frieder and his staff down through the last man off the bench,
this team has demonstrated the ability to battle back - the true mark of a
Wednesday night's 83-63 trouncing of a Notre Dame club that didn't know
what hit it was the perfect note upon which to end the year. Some were
disappointed with Michigan's 18-10 record, forgetting that included among
the losses were three overtime games, two one-point decisions and a two-
point defeat at the buzzer. If five of those games had gone the other way, the
record becomes 23-5. Add five post-season wins to that mark and what have
A championship record. This team, consisting basically of two seniors,
juniors, three sophomores and a freshman, was criticized when it failed to
meet the expectations of some overly optimistic fans and writers. But
Frieder kept saying that it wasn't ready yet, things hadn't come together.
Not until the NIT, that is.
Following the Notre Dame game, the Michigan players who had just gone out
and played like champions, spoke with appropriate pride of their
achievement. "This just boosts our confidence 100 percent," said an
elated Rich Rellford. "I think the NCAA made a mistake when they didn't
take us and I think they know they made a mistake."
"This is something we can have forever, they can't take this a way," said
tournament Most Valuable Player Tim McCormick,
The title was a personal redemption for the big guy from Clarkston who
has taken more than his share of abuse during the season. After being
blamed for not providing the strength the Wolverines needed during the Big
Ten schedule, McCormick responded with an outstanding post-season, cap-
ped off by his 28-point, 14-rebound performance Wednesday.
"Michigan basketball was down for a while, but (now) I think it's right
back up there," said the 6-11 forward. "Hopefuly, in the next few years,
we're going to be able to keep at that level."
It looks like things can only get better. Antoine Joubert is blossoming into
the player everyone thought he would be while Rellford and Roy Tarpley are
Michigan proved that it was of championship caliber on the court, but a lot
of people may not know what kind of winners the Wolverines are away from
the game. Michigan players are always willing to talk to a reporter. Unlike
many college players, these guys are not a bunch of prima donnas. If they
recognize you, they treat you as a friend. These aspects are a reflection of
And you couldn't help but be happy for Frieder as he was cutting down
the net at the Garden. The man has been abused by the fans, by writers who
claim that there's friction on the team, even by a fellow coach. No matter
what you might think of his basketball strategy, Bill Frieder is a gentleman
and he likes his team.
They're 'great kids. We haven't had on problem this year that I can
recall," he said at Tuesday's press conference. "They all go to class, and
they're fun to be around."
To finish off this discussion of champions, consider Dan Pelekoudas. The
Downers Grove, Illinois native closed out his career with 14 assists during
the NIT final four. After four years of booing, Michigan fans don't have
Pelekoudas to kick around anymore.
The guy has put his heart into every minute he spent on the court while
compiling a 3.9 GPA in the classroom. How may people have accomplished
what the former co-captain has in either area? Believe Frieder when he says
that his team will miss the senior who played 25 minutes on Wednesday.
But while Pelekoudas graduates, everyone else returns. Don't be sur-
prised if that NIT tile spurs the Wolverines on to bigger things.
After all, we're talking about champions.
.. not moping over title
Roy Tarpley skies for a jumper during Michigan's first NIT victory over
Wichita State. The Wolverines returned to Ann Arbor last night, celebrating
their well-deserved championship.
No doubt about (N)IT
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