Page II - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 12, 1987
Gary Grant is ready
to shake NCAA jinx
By SCOTT G. MILLER
The NCAA playoffs are a touchy subject with Gary Grant. While the
Wolverine guard possesses a great feel for the game, he cannot explain
why his shooting touch has disappeared mysteriously at tournament
"I can't think of any reasons, but it must be something because I
haven't played good in one yet," said Grant. "I'm going to think about it,
but I'm going to try to get it out of my head.
"I feel I'm going to play a lot better than last year because I have the
momentum on offense to do what I really want to."
THE FIRST TEAM All-Big Ten player hopes this momentum
erases past postseason memories. Grant's total of 16 points in four
NCAA tournament games includes six points against Fairleigh
Dickinson and zero against Villanova in 1985. Last year, totals of-six
points against Akron and four points against Iowa State prompted Grant
40 say, "Me and the NCAAs just don't get along."
Although the junior harbors self-doubts, his backcourt mate and his
coach remain confident.
"The structure of our team has changed, and I think he'll have a good
tournament," said Antoine Joubert. "People put a lot of pressure on him,
but it's different in the tournament.
"You play against guys you never play, and the officiating is different.
You can't be as aggressive, and this may take him out of his offensive
game. Then he misses two shots, and I think he loses confidence. Who
knows? I think he'll be fine this year."
"I'm not even concerned about Grant in the NCAA tournament," said
Michigan head coach Bill Frieder. "I'm concerned if everyone else is
-going to play well. I know Gary Grant is going to play well."
GRANT'S OUTSTANDING PLAY this season reaffirms his
nickname - The General. With his senior officers lost to graduation,
,Grant became a five-star general. The point guard averaged 22.2 points,
,nearly five rebounds, and over five assists a game in addition to being the
Wolverines' floor leader.
"Grant has had a much better year this year in terms of consistency,"
Said Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote. "He still has some lapses,
ut this year they are only for three or four minutes whereas last year
hey might have been 20 minutes. And he plays so well at both ends of
"When we need a shot or the right pass, I try to do it. That's what a
'leader does," said Grant. "It's not just hitting the right shot but hitting
someone who can hit that shot."
Like any other good general, Grant's specialty is defense. The 6-3,
x185-pounder disrupts opponents with his quickness and instincts. Grant
accounted for 85 of Michigan's 199 steals. Often his defensive
'contributions are overlooked because they fail to appear in a box score.
'Frieder feels Grant deserves more credit because not enough attention is
paid to defense. Grant doesn't let the inattention bother him.
"People are going to see you if they want to see you," he said. "I'm
just here to play."
THE CANTON, OHIO, native went home last summer to work
'I'm going to think about
(the NCAA jinx), but I'm
going to try to get it out of
on the part of the game people see most easily - shooting. With help
from his brother Mike, a first-year graduate assistant at Michigan, Grant
practiced shooting, more shooting, and even more shooting.
"I feel really confident now," said Grant. "I can shoot almost any time
I want to and know it's a good shot.
"Mike is a great teacher, and I love to be around him. He tells me
what I've done right and wrong, and that's what you need from a brother
and a friend."
Grant also has a special relationship with his coach. The press
conference after the Iowa win at Crisler Arena featured Grant kissing
Frieder. Near the end of the season-finale against Purdue, the two engaged
in a funky handshake. Frieder faces the difficult task of elevating Grant's
play. If Grant grabs nine rebounds in a game, Frieder will show him 10
places in the game film where he could have had a 10th.
"Coach Frieder is just like my father. He criticizes me to help me as a
player," said Grant. "It pumps me up. Every time he gets on me, I
respond with good games."
THE CRISLER FAITHFUL can look forward to more of those
good games during Grant's senior year. While looking to a professional
career, Grant's next goal is the 1988 Olympics.
"I would love to play on the Olympic team and represent my
country," said Grant. "It has a great coach in John Thompson. He wears a
towel just like Frieder."
After the Olympics, Grant wants to showcase his talent in the
National Basketball Association. The NBA, with its 24-second clock,
should better suit Grant's open-floor talents and his love of run-and-gun
offense. He looks forward to joining his favorite two players.
"Isiah (Thomas) controls the game well, and I like to do that," said
Grant. "Michael (Jordan) jumps over people, and I like to do that, too."
For now, the hurdle he must jump remains the NCAA tournament.
"(The criticism after the NCAAs) bothered me," said Grant. "I've
accomplished all my goals this season, and it's just a matter of taking
my success into the NCAAs."
Gary Grant has nowhere to go but up in the NCAA tournament after
scoring only 16 points in four previous NCAA games.
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A BY ADAM OCHLIS
Isn't this the best time of year? Tournament time.
Time to watch game after game come down to the final
basket. Time to play college basketball expert.
Everyone has their own idea of who will wear the
crown in New Orleans, signifying the best in college
basketball, and I am no different.
Trying to pick the national champ by analyzing
every game and slotting in the winner is not the way to
do it, however. Certain teams just aren't going to win
this thing. Only after you get rid of these teams can
you look at the individual matchups. So here goes.
'Eliminate all bad and mediocre teams.
An obvious point, I realize, but one you have to
start with. The only reason Fairfield, Santa Clara,
Southwest Missouri State, and Xavier are in the 64-
team field is because they won their respective
conference tournaments. I am in the minority,
however, when I say they deserve to be in the NCAA
This is college basketball's national tournament,
and all conferences should be represented. When a team
like Cleveland State, which no one knows anything
about, can upset an Indiana (such was the case last
year) it becomes the talk of tournament.
The fact remains, though, that these teams won't go
far. Only very good teams can win six consecutive
tournament games. How many mediocre teams in
recent years have won the national championship? I
can't think of one. Perhaps Villanova, the 1985
winner. But the Wildcats had two future NBA first-
round draft picks, so they weren't all that bad.
If you've listed all 64 teams on a sheet of paper,
cross out the Texas A&Ms, the Southerns and the
Using this theory, I've eliminated 20 teams, 43 to
There's no arguing
with the good doctor
either at home, or veiy close to home.
Michigan and St. John's are the teams most affected
'Eliminate teams that will succumb to the DePaul
Some teams and the NCAA just don't go together.
Year after year, Ray Meyer's DePaul teams were as
talented as any in the nation, but when they got in the
tournament, they folded. It was part poor coaching, but
part the NCAA jinx.
Syracuse, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, and
Notre Dame all fit into this category. Michigan would
be included, but they've already been eliminated.
Seventeen teams left. Now it gets tough.
"Eliminate all poorly coached teams.
I knew I'd be able to get rid of UNLV. The Running
Rebels are a legitimate threat to win it all, but Jerry
Tarkanian will find a way to blow it. If Virginia's
Terry Holland couldn't win with Ralph Sampson in the
middle, how is he going to win with Tom Sheehey
Reggie Miller has more control over the UCLA
basketball program than Walt Hazzard does. That will
lead to severe problems.
*The intangible category: Eliminate all teams who
have glaring deficiencies.
For the past week I've had this dream that
Pittsburgh's Demetreus Gore is coming down the floor
with ten seconds left, Pitt behind its opponent, 66-65.
The anti-Panther crowd starts chanting, "five, four,
three." Gore, hearing this, throws up a 45-footer which
falls 10 feet short. Pitt loses by one, and Demetreus
proves his brilliance once again.
Neither Clemson nor Kansas State has been in the
tournament in awhile. And neither had a good second
half of the season.
"Eliminate teams that can't shoot free throws.
Purdue (67 percent from the line this season),
Georgetown (66 percent), and Kansas (67 percent) had a
miserable time from the "charity stripe" all season, a
critical necessity in the close games, and one that will
lead to their downfall. Only nine teams are left worth
*Eliminate teams that lack a quality big man.
Michigan thought it had problems up front? It
should talk to Providence, a team with something
called Jacek Duda in the middle.
Duke's Danny Ferry should be playing small
forward, not center.
Kansas still wishes it had the awkward, goofy, and
slow Greg Dreiling from last year's Final Four team.
Mark Pellock just can't do it.
"Eliminate teams that can't play at a fast tempo.
This means Steve Alford will have gone his entire
Indiana career without winning a national
championship. Too bad.
*Eliminate all SEC teams.
This is a personal bias, obviously, but I don't think
any of the these six teams are any good - even
Alabama, the second seed in the Southeast. I admit to
my wishy-washiness on this one, because I honestly
can't support it. But we're looking for the national
champion here, not a final eight team. Do look for
LSU, however to beat an overrated Temple team in the
second round. Six more down, 37 to go.
'Eliminate all teams who play in a non-competitive
See you later Wichita State. Bye bye Texas
Christian. Adios Alabama-Birmingham.
The Big Ten hasn't fared well in recent years
because the league hasn't been that competitive. Plain
The last seven national champions have either
played tough conference schedules or exceedingly tough
non-conference schedules. The biggest injustice of this
year's tournament selection was the bypassing of
Louisville, which went 18-14 with the toughest
z schedule in the country. And the defending national
champ should receive an automatic bid, anyway.
Again, Middle Tennessee State might beat Notre
Dame in the first round, but it can't beat Notre Dame,
TCU, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Indiana