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January 26, 1989 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-26

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Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 26, 1989
Roberts takes
it o e boards
Next to a Michigan goal, nothing makes the Yost Ice Arena faithful
cheer louder than a full body check by Michigan defenseman Alex Roberts.
"You hear the fans when you hit somebody well," Roberts said. "A lot of
fans, when you score a goal, are obviously going to cheer. But the next
thing that they like best are hard hits. I find myself doing the same thing
when I go to Red Wing games.
"You see a good hit and it's 'Yeah! Nice check."'
It's this attitude toward the game that has given Roberts not only the
respect of his coach and teammates, but also his very own, rowdy fan club
that sits behind the Michigan bench during home games.
"It's nice to look up there and see fifteen people with my name on their
shirts. I met them a few times," Roberts said. "They're just a bunch of
hockey fans that took a liking to my style of play."
Just what exactly is Roberts' style of play? And what is it about his
style that is so damn fun to watch?
"He's a different type of player. He's always there for you," defenseman
Mark Sorensen said. "He always seems to be there, always in the play,
always in the center of attention. He's rambunctious."
Roberts said: "Maybe aggressive. I don't know about rambunctious. I'm
more of a stay at home defensive type. I like killing penalties where you can
be aggressive out there and I enjoy rubbing a little extra elbow in
somebody's face."
Likes to rub a little extra elbow. That's what's so damn entertaining.
Although Roberts may seem abrasive on the ice, he's totally different off
it. "Off the ice, he's kind of quiet. He's a low key guy," Sorensen, Roberts'
housemate, said. "I don't think his style of play is really indicitive of the
type of person Alex really is."
"He's a mother's dream," defenseman Todd Copeland, another housemate,
said. "A perfect child. The only one in the house that makes his bed in the
Next time Roberts smashes an opponent into the boards think of this:
Because every article written about him mentions his hockey oriented family
members, Roberts asked that his mother, Peggy, be mentioned in a story.
"Just say 'his mother's his biggest fan," Roberts said.
Maybe the Alex Roberts Fan Club needs another member.
Although shoving someone after the whistle may be interesting for the
fans, it has caused problems for Roberts. In his rookie year, he did a lot of
elbowing, landing him in the penalty box 55 times for 117 minutes.
"I learned a lot my first year the hard way," Roberts said. "I've settled
down. I'm still taking some penalties, but I don't think I'm taking the same
bad, stupid penalties that I've had."
Roberts has calmed down a bit, taking 34 penalties last year. After last
weekend's sweep of Ferris State, Roberts has 31 penalties. Using this new
found tranquility, Roberts has shined frequently on offense, scoring 11
points already this season. His career high was last year's total of 13.
"We're starting to call him Mr. Calm by the way he holds the puck,"
Copeland said. "He gives a lot of head fakes and everything. And I don't
know what the defenders think, because when he comes down they just peel
off. He's Mr. Calm, and he ends up making great passes."
If it seems that Roberts is on top of his game, it's no mirage. Not only
have the fans realized Roberts' excellent play, but his coach has as well.
"He has shown steady improvement since his first year. But this year
he's putting it all together," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "He's been
a real tower of strength for us on defense. Al has improved to the point
where he makes a minimum of mistakes and as a result he becomes a safe
and reliable defenseman."
To Roberts, this praise is just as good as seeing an opponent standing
idly by the boards.
"I just really want the coach to have that confidence in me where he could
say 'Alex is playing good defensive hockey, mistake free hockey."'

" The Schef's


Turner still a standout
on the basketball court


:.: «__

Landon Turner was always a good
rebounder. His pounding under the boards and
Isiah Thomas' finesse from the outside helped
Indiana win the national championship in
1981. But his toughest rebound came three
months later.
On July 25, 1981, while on a state highway
in Columbus, Ind., on his way to Kings Island
amusement park, Turner was crippled in a car
accident. He doesn't remember much about
how his car went off the road, but he does re-
member regaining consciousness in the hos-
pital five days later.
"I woke up and the doctor told me that I was
paralyzed," Turner, 28, recalled over the phone
from his home in Indianapolis last week. "I
thought I was having a dream so I went back
'Coach Knight was always getting
on me because I tried to slide by
both academically and on the
court. He was always real mad at
me that I wasn't giving 100
percent.' - Landon Turner
to sleep. When I woke up again and the doctor
told me I'd never walk, I couldn't believe it."
How could he? Turner was a beautifully
shaped 6-10 forward. A player who moved with
so much grace. He had one year of eligibility
remaining and was projected as one of the top
forwards in the country by NBA scouts. The
sky was the limit. Yet somehow, he landed on
earth, in a wheelchair, with no other choice but
to rebound.
AS IN THE PAST, he did an admirable
job. He moved out of his parents', Rita and
Adell's home, and into his own house, alone.

He learned to drive a car. He joined the speak-
ing circuit and lectured boys' clubs and high
school students.
Now Turner is turning back to the game
that gave him so much hope. After having
hesitations, he joined the Circle City Knight-
riders, a wheelchair basketball team this past
fall. His team is currently 8-8, but in this
game, it's not the record that counts.
Turner is out there in his chair, using his
long arms to get around the way he once used
his muscular legs. Despite being the biggest
man on the floor, his size has never meant so
little. He says blocking shots are near im-
possible. Dunking, which he once did power-
fully, is something he dreams about, just like
any other kid first learning the game.
There have been other changes. He has had
to wear gloves on his hands to prevent
calluses. He hasto exert more strength getting
up and down the court than he ever has in the
past. He has even missed plenty of layups in
practice, something that would have been in-
excusable during his college days, under his
irascible coach, Bob Knight.
BUT EVEN though his shot isn't always
on target, how can you do anything but cheer
his efforts?
"Coach Knight was always getting on me
because I tried to slide by both academically
and on the court," Turner recalls. "He was
always real mad at me that I wasn't giving 100
He swears that his game is improving, and
adds that he might try out for the 1992
paralympic team, a team that won the gold in
Seoul shortly after the Olympic Games. He
bashfully admits that his team isn't real good
this year, but his voice livens up as it quickly
adds how next year will be different.
He is determined. He is rebounding. And he
has never done such a good job of it.
THROUGHOUT the conversation, he is
very calm in speaking about his accident. He

sounds bored by the questions that he has had
to answer for the last seven years. The only bit
of hostility in his voice comes when he men-
tions the inadequate facilities for wheelchairs
he discovered on a recent trip to New York
"I really felt discriminated against," Turner
said, raising his voice for the first time. "I'm
independent r;nd don't like when I have to
depend on other people."
So he speaks his mind, which he does
during most of his free time. He derives his
greatest enjoyment giving speeches to children.
"I want to help out these kids as much as I
can," Turner says sincerely. "I always tell them
to be positive about themselves. To have a
good self-esteem. I tell them how my dreams


'You know, a lot of people go
through life never really knowing
how much they are loved. I've
realized that people love me and
care about me, and it really makes
me feel good.' Landon Turner
of playing in the NBA were washed away and
that I could have been down and quit, but I
He continues in the same tone of voice.
"You know, one thing about the accident is
that I discovered how-many people care about
me. You know, a lot of people go through life
never really knowing how much they are
loved. I've realized that people love me and
care about me, and it really makes me feel
It is obvious that when his body was tam-
pered with, his heart went unscathed.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -
Pitcher Jim Abbott, the California
Angels' No. 1 draft choice last year
and one of the most decorated
amateur ballplayers ever, has been
invited to spring training with the
team, it was announced Tuesday.
The left-hander was one of eight
non-roster players to get such an in-
vitation, but clearly he will be the
focus of interest when Angels'
batteryman report to Mesa, Arizona,
on February 16.
"I look forward to it but I'm a bit

invited to
nervous. I don't know what'll be
involved in starting out," said1
Abbott, the Michigan product who
was the eighth player picked in last1
June's amateur draft.
Abbott is on the Angels' Class
AA roster and is slated to start out as
a professional at Midland of the
Texas League. He delayed his pro
career last year to help pitch the
United States to an Olympic gold
medal in Seoul, South Korea.
"If I have any one goal, it is to
prove I can play on my ability," said

Abbott, who has gained notoriety for
having a brilliant collegiate career
despite being born without a right
hand. "The important thing is that
I'll have a chance to make it, and
it'll rest solely on my ability."
Abbott, 21, made a clean sweep
of available honors last year,
including becoming the first baseball
player ever to win the Sullivan
Award, emblematic of the nation's
top amateur athlete. He was also Big
Ten player of the year and placed on
several All-America teams.

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