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March 31, 1989 - Image 20

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-31
Note:
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Michigan
By Steve Blonder

With new-found confidence,
Mills shines in tourney play

The Wolverines are hungry for a
national championship, and the op-
portunity to stick it to their de-
tractors who have constantly com-
mented on Michigan choking in big
games.
"We are hungry," center Terry
Mills said. "We've got that eye of
the tiger. We want to win it all."
One change in the Wolverines is
the confidence they display on the
court, which is directly attributable
to interim coach Steve Fisher's tel-
ling players "not to worry about
making mistakes, but just to go out
and have fun."
"Our kids are as confident as a
group playing anything could be,"
Fisher said.
The key for Michigan?
Glen Rice.
The senior All-American is with-
in 56 points of the All-time Big Ten
scoring record and is averaging over
31 points per game in this year's
tournament. Rice hit 13-16 shots to
help Michigan trounce a tough Vir-
ginia team in the regional final.
And if Rice is off a little, Sean
Higgins has proven he wants to
play. In his last two games, he has
scored 45 points, and hit on 9-of-15
three-points shots.
A recent bonus has been the in-
side play of Terry Mills.
See Michigan, Page 11 S
h11 R
By Steve Blonder
The Fighting Illini brawl about
as much as coach Lou Henson's
hairpiece moves, but Illinois still
manages to instill fear in opponents
with its tenacious play.
The Illini primarily rely on
quickness, since they have no player
taller than 6-foot-8, to throw op-
ponents out of synch.
"Illinois is a great basketball
team. They beat you with quickness
all over the floor," Michigan interim
coach Steve Fisher said. Fisher added
Michigan would use six guys in
practice to simulate what Illinois can
do with five.
Starting at one guard for Illinois
is Kendall Gill, who missed most of
the Big Ten season with a broken
foot. With Gill in the lineup, the
Illini are undefeated, while with Gill
on the shelf, they were 8-4 .
Gill gives the squad consistent
outside shooting, which prevents
opposing defenses from collapsing
and focusing on Illinois' inside
game.
While Gill connects from long
range, Kenny Battle demoralizes op-
ponents with his spectacular array of
dunks.
Instead of talking about his team,
Henson spent the entire pre-season .
press conference saying, "Kenny
Battle, looooves to dunk."
See Illinois , Page 11 N

Fisher

Interim Michigan Head Coach Steve Fisher is surrounded by his family and
players after beating Virginia in the Regional Final last weekend.
Fisher Ives out a dream
by taking M to Final Four

ean Higgins
ols

By Steve Blonder
The Michigan Wolverines have a
new look these days. No, the team
doesn't have new uniforms, and the
players are the same bodies that were
present all season.
So what's new?
Well for openers, the Wolverines
are in the Final Four for the first
time since 1976.
The man who has brought them
there?
Not a gray-haired 47 year-old who
departed the cold Ann Arbor winters
for the desert climate of Arizona, but
rather a former assistant coach who
has simply stepped in and become
the first interim coach to lead a team
to the Final Four.
"To be a part of this all on such
short notice is absolutely unbeliev-
able," interim coach Steve Fisher
said at his last press conference be-
fore the team left for Seattle. "There
aren't many interim rookie coaches.
If you do anything, you're usually
the first to do it."
Around Michigan, Fisher, who
celebrated his 44th birthday with last
Thursday's 92-87 victory over North
Carolina, is breaking new ground,
getting the most out of all his
players and working on their mental
approach to the game.
"Coach Fisher is a great psy-
chologist," forward Loy Vaught said.
"He knows how get the best out of
you mentally and he can motivate
you real easily. [Ex] Coach [Bill]
Frieder couldn't do that."
Part of the answer why Fisher
succeeds is his more laid-back ap-
proach to the game. He is naturally

calmer on the sidelines than his pre-
decessor, and players are now enjoy-
ing themselves.
To the man, the players are say-
ing "we are now having fun, and the
fear of making mistakes is gone
now."
Part of why the players are
looser, and doing what comes natural
to them, is the example set by their
soft-spoken leader, who is in the
midst of a "dream come true."
"This is a dream every coach and
player in America has. It gets kind
of chaotic at times, but I am having
fun," Fisher said.
"I don't know how calm I am.
But I've been doing this for 21
years, and I'm just being Steve
Fisher. "
And what exactly does that entail?
"Once the game starts, I just try
to concentrate on what I can do to
help the team win. By nature, I'm
not a guy who runs up and down the
sideline yelling and screaming at
every play. I don't want it to look
like Steve Fisher is panicked."
The only source of panic for
Fisher now is returning the stacks of
cards, flowers, mailgrams, and tele-
phone messages he has received
since being handed the top job
through the tournament. But with
the help of this year's Christmas
present, a telephone answering ma-
chine, Fisher at least has some pri-
vacy at home.
"We got one of those recorders
primarily to turn it on when we sat
down to dinner so we could have
some family time, and for while we
were on vacation," Fisher commen-

ted. "I never dreamed I would use it
while sitting there and listening to
who's leaving the messages.
"You and I both know we came
within a whisker of getting knocked
out of the tournament in the Xavier
game. Then I wouldn't be sitting
here and people still wouldn't know
who I am. But now I have a stack of
mailgrams, telegrams, and letters I
don't know when I'll get to, but I
intend to respond to all of them."
Fisher said many of the congrat-
ulatory notes came from high school
and college classmates he had not
heard from in years.
Many of these classmates were
around twenty years ago when Fisher
decided he wanted to spend his life as
a coach because "sports to me is
playing and having fun."
"I knew from the time I went to
college I enjoyed coaching because
it's not like work. I figured as long
as I could keep on not working and
get paid for it, I would do it."
Ann Arbor may become a long-
time home for Fisher, as reports
emanating from athletic department
personnel, alumni, and University
administrators all suggest that Ath-
letic Director Bo Schembechler has
already decided to remove the "inter-
im" from Fisher's title.
But Fisher has more important
things at hand.
"I've been so busy, but I do think
about (being a head coach) occas-
ionally. I just feel something good
is going to happen to Steve Fisher
and a lot of good has happened the
last few weeks."

By Adam Schrager
The story surrounding the adver-
sity of the Cinderella Michigan bas-
ketball team has been well chron-
icled, but what has not been that
publicized is how different many of
the players now feel.
"I think I've received a lot more
freedom," Wolverine center Terry
Mills said. "They are allowing me to
create things and put the ball on the
floor.
"These things are making me
have more fun and that's what it's
all about, isn't it?"
Mills, a 6-foot-10 junior, has
probably performed the most dras-
tically different since Bill Frieder left
and assistant Steve Fisher took over.
In the first two games of the tourna-
ment, Mills put together his two
most consistent performances of the
season and has continued to play
well into the Final Four.
Against Xavier, which touted two
front line players of similar size,
Mills scored 18 points with six re-
bounds. Following that, he scored
24 points with seven rebounds
against a smaller South Alabama
team. These two performances drew
compliments from both teammates
and opponents.
"Terry Mills has put together two
of the best games in his career,"~
teammate Mark Hughes said after the
Atlanta regional. "And he couldn't
have picked a better time to do it."
"No, I wasn't surprised to see
Mills play the way he did," Xavier
coach Pete Gillen said. "You have to
realize that this man has talent and it
was only a matter of time before he
showed it. Unfortunately, today was
proof positive."
That proof was 100 percent only
one other time this season, when
Mills scored 23 points, grabbed five
rebounds, and received four assists
against Ohio State. After that game,
though, something happened that
typified Mills' situation under the
old regime.
At the post-game press confer-
ence, Mills was speaking to the
press for all of three to four minutes
before Frieder entered the media
room. After entering Frieder said,
"All right Mills, you've had one
good game in two years here. Play
some more and you'll get more time
with the media."
It was the negative attitudes like
this that got Mills depressed. Fur-
thermore, whenever he would make
an error on the court, he would end
up sitting next to his now-departed
coach.
"Coach Fisher never gets down
on you or your performance," Mills
said. "He believes in me and in the
job that I can do. I don't have to
worry about missing a shot and then
finding myself on the bench."
On the bench is not where Terry
Mills should be, according to college

basketball experts like Dick Vitale,
who told Mills after the Ohio State
game that if he played like that for
another year, there would be no de-
nying that he would be an NBA
first-round selection.
Coming out of high school,
Mills was one of the premier players
in the country. He and North Caro-
lina's J.R. Reid were promoted to be
not only the two best big men, but
the two best players of the year.
This had positive repercussions for
the Michigan team.
"One of the reasons that I came to
Michigan was so I could play with
Terry," teammate Sean Higgins said.
"If you get him the ball, he'll do
good things for you. We need to
keep Terry happy because he can do
a lot of good."
Keeping Mills happy is some-
thing that Fisher needs in order for
Michigan to do well in the Final
Four.
"Maybe we've convinced Terry

that he is our 1-A option or second
option (behind Glen Rice)," Fisher
said. "He's just got to know that we
can't get it to him every time down
the floor."
Against Illinois, Mills will play
an integral part of the offense and see
the ball more often, considering that
the Fighting Illini don't have a
player in the first eight who is taller
than 6-foot-8. While getting the ball
inside on a smaller team may seem
simple, the Illini pose other prob-
lems.
"They're so tough because of
their quickness and their jumping
ability," Mills said. "We need to
concentrate and play the-way that we
have been playing. It doesn't make a
difference if they've already beaten us
twice because that doesn't count
now.
"The way that we have been
playing is a breath of fresh air. We
are having fun. After all, as I said
before, that's what it's all about."

Seton
By Adam Schrager
The Hall in the Final Four.
Which Hall? The Taj Mahal? No,
Seton Hall, of course.
This New Jersey-based Big
Eastern conference school completed
its Final Four mission by disposing
of Indiana and Nevada-Las Vegas in
its final two games. The Pirates
even beat the Hoosiers with an
abysmal 28 percent shooting from
the field in the second half. The
Hoosiers though only shot 26
percent.
The makeup of this Pirate team is
something that wouldn't be expected
from a somewhat unknown New
Jersey school. Coach P.J. Carlesimo {
has imported talent from abroad like
food connoisseurs import caviar.
Straight from his Australian
Olympic team experience, Andrew
Gaze has provided the Pirates with
great outside shooting as well as a
great name for the media to make
headlines out of. Gaze is the Pirates'
second leading scorer at 13.4 points
per game.
"Andrew Gaze could adjust to any
system anywhere, anytime,"
Carlesimo said. "He's that good."
Joining him is senior center
Ramon Ramos from Puerto Rico,
who also played in the Olympics
last summer. Ramos, who injured
his back earlier in the tournament,
needs only one point to have 1,00 (lE
See Seton Hall, Page 11
Duk
By Adam Schrager
The Duke Blue Devils are kind of
like a persistent neighbor, always
there when you turn your head. For
the third time in four years, head
coach Mike Krzyzewski takes his
team to the Final Four and for the
third time in four years, forward
Danny Ferry will be there as well.
If Duke is the annoying neighbor,
then Ferry is the neighbor's whining
child. Every time that the Blue Dev-
ils need any sort of basketball ac-
tion, they look to Ferry, who was
the Atlantic Coast Conference
Player-of-the-Year, UPI Player-of-
the-Year, Naismith Award Winner as ]
the best player in college basketball,
and consensus first-team All-Amer-
ica.
"Danny Ferry is the best player in
college basketball without a doubt,"
Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo
said. "The things he does for their
team are so numerous and diverse in
nature that he's something to marvel
at."
But the 6-foot-11 senior has never
won a National Championship. Last
year, Duke lost to eventual cham-
pion Kansas in the semifinals and
two years before that, the Devils lost
to Louisville in the championship
game.
Joining Ferry in the frontcourt is
the best athlete on the team, Robert
See Duke, Page 11

Henson

ick Anaerson

PAGE 8 WEEKEND/ MARCH 31,1989

WEEKEND/ MARCH_31,1989

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