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November 21, 1986 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-21
This is a tabloid page

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Blue outlook: Partly cloudy, chance of sunshine

By Rick Kaplan
The recent past of Michigan
basketball has been sunny, with
record highs. The long-term forecast
looks bright, too. But the outlook
for the immediate future is
uncertain. Changes in formation
have left the 1986-87 Wolverines
with an unpredictable climate.
Michigan is the two-time
defending Big Ten champion, but
the team taking the floor in
tonight's opener against Bradley is
not the same squad that won those
titles. Last year's frontcourt of Roy
Tarpley, Butch Wade, Richard
Rellford, and Robert Henderson
picked a bad time to graduate-the
same time-leaving head coach Bill
Frieder with virtually no experience
up front to replace them.
The backcourt, however, has a
veteran crew returning. Junior Gary
Grant and senior Antoine Joubert
have started together for two years,
while senior Garde Thompson
returns to his familiar third-guard
Backcourt strength alone has
opponents doubting Michigan's
alleged shortcomings.
"When you lose a front line like
they did, it's hard to replace that
right away," said Northwestern
center Shon Morris. "The guards are
going to have to play well this
year. People are saying, 'Poor
Michigan.' I don't go for that. They
have a good team."
"This year, there's no question,
we have a different type of team,"
said Frieder. "It's going to be
young. It's going to be
inexperienced. It's going to be
small compared to what we've had,
and compared to what we need in
the league. It's going to be the type
of team that is going to have to
have everything break right to
experience some success."
Success has been in abundance at
Crisler Arena since the 1983-84
season. The Wolverines won the
postseason National Invitational
Tournament that year, capping a
24-9 campaign. The next two years,
Michigan ruled the conference with
16-2 and 14-4 records (26-4 and 28-
5 overall). Both seasons, however,
ended in disappointment with
second-round losses in the NCAA
The squad is considered a
darkhorse for the NCAAs this year,
but it needs to buck the odds and
ride out its problems to qualify for
the tourney.
"There are a lot of question
marks," Frieder said. "That's what
concerns me. When you have a lot
of question marks, you usually

don't have a team that's goo
enough. Hopefully, we can get
these question marks resolved
before the Big Ten season."
The $64,000" Question is
obviously, "How do you replace
Tarpley, Wade, Rellford, and
Henderson, and their 40 points and
23 rebounds per game?" Frieder is
still searching for the answer. The
opening-day frontcourt looks like a
hastily concocted casserole: Rice
and any other ingredients lying
around. Aside from 6-7 sophomore
forward Glen Rice (Frieder: "I'm
sure you're going to see him in
there") the forward and center
positions are up for grabs. Redshirt
freshmen Loy Vaught, J.P.
Oosterbaan, and Mike Griffin, and
sophomore Mark Hughes will get
to battle for Big Ten playing time
against non-conference non-powers
like Illinois-Chicago and Northern
"The guys we have to replace the
guys that left have kind of been
around to enjoy all of the success,
the tournaments, the championship
rings, and all of that," said Frieder.
"But they've never done a damn
thing. Now we're going to have to
throw them out there against a lot
of veteran players in the league."
One possible solution to the
frontcourt question is not answering
it at all. Frieder is considering a
three-guard lineup. Grant (12.2
points per game, 5.6 assists, 2.5
steals) was a Second Team All-Big
Ten selection a year ago, while
Joubert (12.0 ppg, 4.7 apg) earned
Honorable Mention. But starting
the 6-1 Thompson (4.9 ppg, 1.8
apg) would create a lineup with
three players 6-5 or under.
"We might be the type of team
that plays different lineups
depending (on the opponent), and
what the matchups are," the
seventh-year head coach. "It might
be best in some games to start three
guards because we can match up
properly, but in other games we
might have to start three big guys
because we're playing somebody
extremely big.
"The thing that bothers me most
about the three-guard lineup is that
it's not going to survive in the Big
Ten. We probably won't go with
three guards in the Big Ten season.
I don't know if we've got a guard
that's good enough to guard a 6-8
forward, rebound, and keep him off
the boards."
Grant is more optimistic about
the unusual formation. "Three
guards gives us more options to
score," said the 1985 Big Ten
Freshman of the Year. "Garde is an
outstanding shooter. I think it will
Continued on Page 5

Continued from Page 16
appreciated it. The fans saw more in
our team than just the starting five.
They saw some hard workers on the
team, people who love the game for
the game itself. I'm going to bring
that attitude in if I get in there this
year, too. Try to play hard, give
100 percent, try to make no
mistakes, and try to win.
D: But wouldn't you like to shed
that image now? Wouldn't you like
to prove to everyone that you are a
good basketball player, and not just
a fun one?
S: I definitely want to do that.
Everyone thinks of me as, 'Oh,
yeah, you're the guy who goes
flying into the stands.' This year I
wantrto show them that I am in
control of my own game, I'm not
just the guy flying around all over
the place. I want to show them that
I can go down the floor and dunk
over the best of them. I'm still
going to work hard and go after the
ball, but I'm going to show them
that I can play defense, run up and
down the court, and play offense,
D: With the inexperience of the
frontcourt this year, will those few
minutes you've played help in
terms of cracking the starting
lineup? Or because it was garbage
time, will it make no difference?
S: Any time you get court time,
especially in the Big Ten, you are
going to feel how tough it is: the
banging, the throwing around. Just
that little experience has made ir z
feel more at ease at going into
games now. At first I felt real
nervous. You feel like, "Oh, wow,
I'm playing in college." You get a

little jittery. You get the ball and
you don't know What to do with it.
Though I haven't played much,
because of the minutes I have
played, each game I get more and
more relaxed when I get in. I think
when I get in this year I'll be much
more relaxed. Because of that
experience I'll feel very at ease
playing, and I can concentrate more
on the game and not worry about
my fears. But I'll still be
inexperienced, too, because I
haven't played a lot under tense Big
Ten situations.
D: Are you worried that you will
try too hard to shed your image and
it will backfire?
S: It could be a problem. I think
when I come out there, the fans
expect me to do that. But, as
Frieder says, 'Steve, when you go
out there, you've got to be more in
control.' I agree with him. When I
go out there with the starters and
play a lot, I've got to stick with the
game plan. I've got to stay with
what I'm out there to do. Work on
my defense, execute the offense
correctly, make no mistakes. I just
hope the fans don't get mad at me if
I'm not, every other play, on the
floor or in the stands. If I dive for a
ball and don't get it, and the other
team goes down and scores because
I'm not down there, it's a minus on
my side. I wasn't in the play; I was
too busy unwrapping myself from
the band. U
Cont' .red from Page 16
je- 'acket he finds a beer cap. It
isn't the same kind of beer that's on
the roof of the car. He flips the beer
cap into the air, like you would a
quarter, and then he smartly

snatches it with the same hand, as
if he were catching a fly. "You just
bought it, buddy," he says,
pumping his index finger into my
chest, "You just bought it."
The cops take the beer and
don't spill it out like they're
supposed to. The guy who told me
I bought it comes over to Tim.
He's gritting his teeth and his
eyebrows like Clint as he says,


a r

"Are your parents at home?" Tim
says no, which is true, but Clint
isn't sure if he wants to believe the
Tim says, "My grandmother's
there." The cop sticks his head even
farther through the window so his
face is right on top of Tim's, and
says,"I don't want your
grandmother to see this, I don't
want your mother to see this. I


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Continued from Page 13
against those guys," he said. "I'm
not afraid of those guys in any way
and I feel I'm just as good an
athlete as them."
Oosterbaan, on the other hand,
does not have Vaught's physical
tools. While he is a good shooter
and passer for a big man,
Oosterbaan has extremely slow feet,
which give him problems under the
boards and on defense, areas where
he says he needs a lot of work.
"Vaught and J.P. have a long
way to go, there's no question
about it," said Frieder. "They're
further ahead right now than they
were a year ago, and they're going
to get better. They're hard workers
and they've got good size. They
just have to learn the game."
The other forward position will
be split between Hughes (6-8, 240)
and Griffin (6-7, 215).
Although he saw action in just
14 games as a freshman, Hughes
says the experience was valuable. "I
think it will help out quite a bit
because I learned there's a big, big
difference between high school and
college ball," said the Muskegon
native. "I learned that you have to

play really hard whenever you're
out there."
Griffin plays in the Mike
O'Koren mold. Like the
Washington Bullets forward, Griffin
is a hustler who can do a little of
"He's an aggressive player,"
Frieder said. "He is a smart player.
He doesn't have the ability to score
a great deal, but he gives us some
defense and he plays hard and
doesn't give us a lot of minuses.
He is going to play."
While Rice is the only one of
the five who has proven scoring
abilty, it is rebounding that worries
Frieder the most.
According to Frieder, 6-2 guard
Gary Grant has been the best
rebounder in practice, "which shows
that we've got problems up front,"
Frieder said.
Grant, however, thinks
rebounding is team effort.
"If everybody sticks together as a
family and everybody rebounds
together as a family, then I think
we'll be all right," he said. "If it's
up to me, I'm going to jump down
there and help out as much as I





Sophomore forward Glen Rice puts one up during a recent practice.

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