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September 07, 1989 - Image 37

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-07

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989 - Page 3

CHAMPS:

Coach Fisher looks to
keep his perfect record

L{:'iih

By Adam Schrager
Daily Editor
Pressure and expectation are in-
extricable in college basketball today,
and in Michigan's case they have
been raised substantially.
From 1985 and up to last sea-
son, both pressure and expectation
were placed on ex-coach Bill Frieder
to have his super-talented Wolverines
succeed in the NCAA. The knock on
Michigan was the "Frieder factor,"
his keen ability to avoid performing
the Heimlich maneuver on his so-
called "choking, no character" players
in the big' games.
Now Michigan has a new coach,
Steve Fisher. Since taking over on
March 15, two days before the
'NCAA Tournament, Fisher has gone
undefeated in six "big" games to
capture the national championship.
"We didn't think they would
play that hard that long. I've niever
seen a Michigan team play that
way," Illinois guard Larry Smith said
after the Wolverines' 83-81 semifinal
victory over the Big Ten rival who
had already beaten Michigan twice
during the year.
The Wolverines may have
dispelled the "choke" status but the
national championship still rests an
incredible amount of pressure and
expectation on Fisher and his team.
"I don't mind the pressure now,"
senior center Loy Vaught said after
Michigan's 80-79 championship win

over Seton Hall. "Actually, it's re-
freshing to know we've silenced
some of our critics. But next year
we'll have to start over. You can't
rest on your laurels."
Maybe not, but for the summer
anyway, Michigan players, coaches,
and fans can enjoy the reverberations
felt when anyone mentions Seattle,
basketball, or Glen Rice.
Oh yeah, the Wolverines will
have to replace the All-American
forward who ended his collegiate
career as the Big Ten's all-time lead-
ing scorer. Rice broke the NCAA
Tournament scoring record, his 31
points in the final victory making it
his fifth career NCAA Tournament
game over 30 points.
If the end of the final game
portends anything about Michigan's
future, senior guard Rumeal Rob-
inson will be the team's next
superstar. After all, when Rice pulled
down his 11th rebound of the game
with :12 remaining in overtime, he
passed it to Robinson who was
fouled with :03 left and MichigafP
down by one point.
The rest is history or folk-lore to
some people. The 6-foot-2 point
guard from Cambridge, Mass, who
only shot 64 percent from the free-

throw line in the regular season,
drained his two foul shots, sending
Ann Arbor and the Michigan clan in
Seattle into delirium.'
Robinson, who had 21 points
and 11 assists against 'The Hall', is
no stranger to pressure. He was the
replacement of All-America guard
Gary Grant as the floor leader of the
Wolverines. He was a Proposition 48
athlete which made him ineligible
his first year at Michigan. But now,
Robinson, who could graduate a
semester early, accepts those basket-
ball buzzwords with relish.
"I enjoy the pressure," Robinson
said after beating the Hall. "I knew I
would make those shots. I have
confidence in myself. I know what I
can do."
So does Fisher. What Fisher is
unsure about, though, is the other
backcourt slot. The leading candidate
appears to be 6-foot-7 senior Mike
Griffin, who started over 30 of
Michigan' s games last season. Grif-
fin, a role player on a shooting-crazed
team, is seen as a "defensive
inspiration," by Wolverine team-
mates' like forward Terry Mills.
Asked why Griffin doesn't shoot
more often, ex-coach Frieder re-
sponded, "Who's he going to take

extra shots from?"
Juniors Kirk Taylor and
Demetrius Calip also figure to play,
important roles. Taylor was the
team's best defensive player until a
knee injury against Minnesota put
him out for the year. Calip con-
tributed after Taylor's injury, adding
to the Wolverines' speed in the
tournament.
Recruits Michael Talley and
Tony Tolbert should also vie for
time in positions that used to be
Michigan's weakness. Talley won
Michigan's High School Mr.
Basketball Award as a point guard for
helping Detroit Cooley to a state
championship and Tolbert averaged
over 25 points per game as a
shooting guard from Detroit.
In what has been the
Wolverines' strong point, the front-
court, Rice and Mark Hughes and
their 13 rebounds are gone. Athletic
Director/Football Coach Bo Schem-
bechler's officially-declared friend,
junior Sean Higgins, has the inaus-
picious job of taking Rice's place.
Higgins demonstrated his offensive
capabilities with 31 points against
Virginia in the tournament and a
game-winning rebound shot over
Illinois in the semifinal triumph.
Vaught, who led the conference
in field goal performance, and Mills
are returning starters. Mills showed
his true promise in the NCAA
Tournament with consistent inside
play. He averaged over 15 points and
pulled down over seven rebounds a
game in the tournament.
Redshirt first-year center Eric
Riley will probably see some action
as well. The 7-footer from Cleveland
along with another redshirt James
Voskuil will be expected to help a
depleted front line. Sam Mitchell
from Kalamazoo may be expected to
contribute in his first year.
"I ought to retire right now,"
Fisher said that championship Mon-
day. "Steve Fisher is unbeaten,
untied, and the happiest man alive."
With the schedule facing Mich-
igan next year, it is doubtful that
Fisher will remain undefeated. In
addition to the regular Big Ten
opponents, featuring powerhouse
Illinois and up-and-coming Minn-
esota, Michigan will play host to
Duke and Iowa State, travel to North
Carolina State, and possibly play
Seton Hall in a Las Vegas holiday
tournament.
While pressure and expectation
may damper Fisher's happiness
somewhat, his current folk hero
status in Ann Arbor would not allow
him to retire. And with the talent
returning, it is inconceivable that
he'd want to.

DAVID LUBLINER/Dail~y
Steve Fisher has good reason to smile. His team won the NCAA basket-
ball tournament and he was hired to replace Bill Frieder as Michigan's
head basketball coach.
Bo's Choice is Fisher:
Erase interim' from title
By Steve Blonder
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan already had a baseball stadium named Fisher, so it was only
logical they hire a head basketball coach by the same name.
Michigan Athletic Director Bo Schembechler surprised no one, last
April, when he announced Steve Fisher would have the interim removed
from his title, and that he had been "lifetime" contract, which with incen-
tives worth a reported $400,000 per year.
"I do this; knowing Steve will bring a fresh new approach to the pro-
gram," Schembechler said. "This man has my full support and he can count
on me. This begins a new, fresh, and exciting era of Michigan basketball."
The 44 year-old Fisher resembles an insurance salesman more than the
basketball coach of the defending national champions. Fisher took over the
program when ex-coach Bill Frieder jumped ship for the desert sun of Ari-
zona State two days before the Wolverines were to begin tournament play.
At the same press conference when Schembechler confirmed Frieder's de-
parture, Fisher was promoted to interim coach.
During the ensuing two weeks, Fisher began every press conference say-
ing, "for the benefit of those of you who don't-know me, I'm Steve Fisher
and I am now the head coach at Michigan. I've been with the program for
eight years...
But after winning six straight tournament games on the road to becoming
the first rookie or interim coach to win a national championship, Fisher be-
came a household name. The athletic director, however, kept everyone at
bay for a week after the title game, before announcing his decision.
The players and other basketball enthusiasts couldn't understand why
Schembechler delayed, or even considered another coach..
"I've never heard of an undefeated coach getting fired," Wolverine forward
Terry Mills said.
Fisher has come ng way since playing on the same Illinois State
team as Chicago Bulls coach Doug Collins. Fisher then ended his playing
days and took a coaching job at Rich East High School. After a stop as an
assistant coach at Western Michigan University, Fisher moved to Ann Ar-
bor to become Frieder's number one assistant.
Part of the reason Fisher succeeded in winning the title is his laid-back
approach to the game. He is naturally calmer on the sidelines than his
predecessor, and the players began to have more fun with Fisher at the helm.
"Steve Fisher is a class person - that's it," assistant coach Mike Boyd
said. "He's able to get through to these kids and calm them down when
things aren't going well."
Center Loy Vaught spoke for the rest of his team when he said, "he's a
people's coach. We're enjoying ourselves again. The game of basketball
should be fun."
Guard Demetrius Calip added: "I don't have to worry about making a
mistake and ending up on the pine."
The players were looser, and began doing what comes natural to them, an
example set by their soft-spoken leader, who has just gone through a
"dream-come-true."
"The dream lives on," Fisher said after being named coach. "I stated be-
fore to pinch me on Tuesday, but I don't want to wake up. This is the cul-
mination of a dream-come-true. It defies description in words.
"There is no finer job in America."

can\' .....:...
With Glen Rice gone to the NBA, Rumeal Robinson, the hero of the NCAA title game, will be expected to take
over as the star of the Wolverine basketball team.

"
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...........................

Pistons
Sport: Basketball
Home: The Palace
Division: Central Division
Record last season: 63 - 19
Directions: Follow directions
to the Silverdome, but rather
than exiting, continue on 75
North and exit on Lapeer Rd.
North.

Lions Red Wings

S

74

Sport: Football
Home: Pontiac Silverdome
Division: NFC Central
Recordlast season: 4 - 12
Directions: Follow Main St.
East to M 14 West. Take M
14 to 275 North to 696 West
to Telegraph Road North.
Take Telegraph to Square
Lake Rd. East to 75 North.
Exit 75 at M 59 West.

Sport: Hockey
Home: Joe Louis Arena
Division: Smythe Division
Record last season: 34-34-12
Directions: Take 94 East to
Lodge South to the Joe Louis
exit. There is construction in!
the area and traffic may be
rerouted via detours..

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SOUVENIR$.SPORTSWEAR * AND MORE
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