Page 4 - The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- February 26, 1990
Higgins returns -
but will he start?
Wildcats and Cubs
by Taylor Lincoln
Daily Basketball Writer
The debate is not settled as to
whether his absence necessarly hurt
the team - but he's back.
With Saturday's game firmly in
hand, coach Steve Fisher gave Sean
Higgins his first playing time since
he suffered a hairline fracture in his
left foot, January 31 against Purdue.
"(Assistant coach Brian) Dutcher
suggested we ease him in so he
doesn't go in cold turkey against
Michigan State," Fisher said.
Higgins injury came just as the
Wolverines reached its season's
nadir. The injury was confirmed the
day after the Wolverines were
humiliated by Purdue, falling three
games out of first place.
Since then, Michigan has
burrowed its way back into title
contention, winning five of six
One of the keys has been their
increasing effectiveness at getting
the ball inside. Fisher has made it
clear that Higgins outside shooting
will take a smaller role in the
offense when he returns.
There has also been speculation
about what the starting line-up will
be. "Everybody keeps telling me that
I'm not going to start (Mike)
Griffin, but I don't know. He's been
playing so well," Fisher said.
"Knowing that we have an extra
body - that extra competition will
be good for everyone, including
Fisher added that Higgins
probably won't start in Thursday's
Michigan State game.
Many players have risen in
prominence during Higgins absence.
Among them has been Demetrius
Calip, who filled in as a starter.
Though he says that Fisher has not
discussed with him what his role
will be, Calip is not too concerned
with whether or not he'll stay in the
"I never get caught up in that. I
think it's all just a mental state,"
Calip said. "If you're coming off the
bench you come off the bench and
play as well as you can. If you're a
starter you just try to provide a spark
earlier in the game."
The increased playing time was
helpful for Calip just because it gave
him experience. "With me being in a
starting role with each game, my
confidence builds and that comes
from experience and playing a lot.
I'm just happy to be providing the
spark that I am in the starting role."
Higgins injury forced Michigan
to become deeper. Aside from
Calip's increased role, Tony Tolbert
and Chris Seter also were given
greater contributing roles. Par-
ticulary in the Indiana victory, they
played a decisive role. Seter scored
five points while Tolbert scored
eight, including several at the end
which staved off a late Indiana run.
Higgins said that he has trained
in the swimming pool, stationary
bicycle, stair machine, and with
weights to stay in shape.
"I'm definitely ready and I haven't
lost a step," Higgins said. "I'm ready
to roll, I'm ready to roll. I never lost
my touch - I've shot 150 shots a
gain fans, not victories
Michigan rookie guard Tony Tolbert tries to fake out Wildcat guars
David Holmes in Saturday's 94-69 Wolverine victory. Tolbert finished with
one rebound and two assists in nine minutes of action.
Continued from page 1
He's big but he's quick," Michigan
forward Loy Vaught said. "He can
shoot outside, he can put the ball on
Vaught was one the main reasons
that Lambiotte's efforts didn't
threaten Michigan. He scored 16 of
his 18 points in the second half and
pulled seven of his game-high 10
Rumeal Robinson, who scored
23 points, stretching his "over 20"
streak to four games, refused to
accept that the large margin of
victory was a by-product of
Northwestern not playing well.
"We made them play bad because
we played especially good," he said.
"We controlled the tempo and we
forced them into mistakes. We
pressured them into taking them out
of their offense, forcing them into
turnovers, forcing them into
hurrying their shots. Northwestern is
a very good basketball team."
Things ended well as Sean
Higgins saw his first action in
nearly a month. He came off of the
bench with three minutes remaining
and hit a three pointer in his only
field goal attempt.
. "This sends us into the Michigan
State game on a high note," Vaught
said. "We're feeling well towards
each other again. The overall feeling
of the team is very positive."
If the Wolverines can win their
last four games, they are assured of
at least a tie for the conference
"We have to take care of
ourselves now," Terry Mills said.
"In the past, we've had chances and
other teams have helped us out, like
Illinois. This is time for us to take
care of business."
Mills was referring to Illinois
upset of Purdue last week, which put
Michigan in control of its own
destiny for the conference title.
Guard Demetrius Calip believes
that having such control is an
incentive builder heading into the
last four games.
The Northwestern Wildcats
remind me of the Chicago Cubs.
Last baseball season I found
myself rooting for the Cubs to
clobber the San Francisco Giants,
even though the probability of it
happening was particularly remote.
That's how I feel whenever I
watch the Wildcats (9-16 overall, 2-
13 Big Ten), currently residing in
the basement of the conference
play. I want them to do the highly
improbable, almost unthinkable
The question remains as to why
I feel this way. Is it because both
teams are from the Chicago area?
No, I hate the Bears.
Is it because I always root for
the underdog? No; I couldn't care
less if Iowa or Wisconsin ever wins
I think the similarity lies in the
attitudes of the players and the
coach/manager. The Cubs have
Mark Grace, Andre Dawson and my
personal favorite, Ryne Sandberg.
These guys are classy individuals
who are integral parts of a team
with a strong work ethic. A team,
led by a baseball .mainstay Don
Zimmer, that puts every effort into
winning, only to continuously
come up shy of the big win.
Northwestern . is led by two
players in their last years of
eligibility whose on-court attitudes
deserve respect. Senior Walker
Lambiotte led all Wildcat scorers
against Michigan with 23 points,
and averages 16.5 points per game
and 4.8 boards.
Graduate student Brian Schwabe
is leading the team in rebounds and
is third in scoring. These players
have never played on a winning
Northwestern team, yet they
continually play every game as if
the National Championship were
on the line, even when down by 20
And then there is guard Rex
Walters. Walters, who averaged
around two points a game last
season, is now being hailed as the
Most Improved Player of the
conference. His average of just over
19 points puts him among the best
in the league. Although only a
sophomore, Walters takes on the
on-court leadership role the team
Like the Cubs, Northwestern is
also ledby an accomplished coach,
Bill Foster. Foster is in his fourth
year with the Wildcats, posting a
mediocre 32-77 record with the
team. He is a proven winner,
however, leading teams at Duke to
a 113-64 record and at South
Carolina to 92-79.
I kept hoping that NU
would at least come
back and make. the
loss a respectable
one. And it's not that
they don't try; their
efforts just keep
coming up short.
Foster is unaccustomed to
losing and the frustration of the
team's plight is obvious on his face
and in his tone.
"We wanted to control the
tempo more," said a solemn Foster
after being trounced by the
Wolverines, 94-69. "Our turnovers
and their (Michigan's) defense
contributed to their controlling the
tempo. (Then) all hell broke loose."
The doors of Pandemonium
opened wide for Northwestern.
Michigan took the lead for good
after just five minutes of play and,
at one point, led by 29 points.
But that didn't change the fact
that while watching the Wildcats, I
kept hoping that they would at least
come back and make the loss a
respectable one. And it's not that
they don't try; their efforts just
keep coming up short.
The Cubs have gone over 80
years since last winning a World
Series. And, over the past 80 years,
Northwestern is last in the league
in All-Time Big Ten Standings
(.355 won-loss percentage) and All-
Time Big Ten Championships,
having won only one league title
It's no wonder Northwestern
reminds me of the Cubs.
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