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March 16, 1990 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BACK TO BACK?
Michigan will face a tough test to repeat. Here's a look.
Champions Following Ye.arRecord
Indiana '76 Missed toumement 0-0
Marqutte '77 Lost first game to Miami (OH) 0-1
Kentucky '78 Missed tournament 0-0
Michigan State '79 Missed tournament 0-0
* Lousiville '80 Lost first game to Arkansas 0-1
Indiana '81 Lost second game to UAB 1-1
North Carolina '82 Lost region final to Georgia 2-1
N.C. State '83 Missed tournament 0-0
Georgetown '84 Lost final to Villanova 5-1
Villanova '85 Lost second game to Georgia Tech 1-1
Indiana '87 Lost first game to Richmond 0-1
Kansas '88 On probation A 0-0

74c ;Zac4

Row

The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 16, 1990 - Page 11
'The regular season might have went by
and you might have thought 'hey, is this
what college basketball is all about?' It's not.
'This is what it's all about.'
-Michigan co-captain Terry Mills

To

COLOR&ADO

i

'Going

back

to Call'

Taylor Lincoln

Slumping Higgins looks

'M' to find proof
in NCAA pudding
Eight games into the Big Ten season, Michigan
trailed Purdue by two games in the standings. "We
must win," coach Steve Fisher said of the impending
match-up with the Boilermakers.
Purdue stormed into Crisler and won by 18 points.
Despite the defeat, and a later set-back at Ohio
State, the Wolverines were granted a reprieve. With
four games left they were back in position to win
conference title.
"We want to win the Big Ten title in the worst
way," Terry Mills said at the time, as the Wolverines
prepared for Michigan State and Purdue.
They lost both games.
Now Michigan's players are now talking about
what a motivating factor the one-game elimination
aspect of the national tournament provides.
"The fact that this is a do-or-die type of situation
is going to help our team," Loy Vaught said.
In light of the fact that the Wolverines have faced
two previous "do-or-die" situations and have "died"
both times, it seems doubtful that they'll suddenly
find the right antidote and come to life.
Despite this, nobody is willing to write the
Wolverines off. Troubled? Inconsistent? Streaky?
Yes. Washed up? Not until somebody beats them.
"We've lost some games that maybe we should
have won but we're dangerous," Vaught added.
Dangerous, yes, and also cocky. You get the
feeling that last year's tournament success has left the
Michigan players with the attitude that they belong to
a select group of elite national teams - even if
they're not one of the elite teams in their own
conference.
"Sowe finished third in the locals," they seem to
say, "That's OK, we'll win nationals."
Mills mentioned at Monday's press conference that
he had told first-year players Michael Talley and Tony
Tolbert that they haven't seen what the season is all
about yet - the tournament is what you play for.
It's a risky prospect to put all your marbles in a
one-game elimination tournament.
But that is exactly what Michigan has done. Last
year's national championship answered a lot of
questions, but it also increased expectations for this
year to an even higher level than in the past.
If they bow out early in the tournament, the Wol-
verines will go down in NCAA basketball history as
a great enigma. They'll be remembered as a confed-
eracy of all-everything players who managed to bond
together under the brazing torch of adversity for six
glorious games sandwiched between consecutive third
place finishes in their own conference.
But if they get to the Final Four this year, or
perhaps win the tournament, they will have answered
their critics, smugly and emphatically. Michigan
would then be seen as a super-team, bored by the
regular season and only capable of achieving at its
level when put in the most challenging of situations.
That would be quite exceptional, indeed.
In a way, Rumeal Robinson is a caricature of the
team as a whole. Robinson rarely plays merely steady
basketball. Instead, he is a volatile player who vac-
illates. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes out of
control.
Perhaps unintentionally, Vaught recently artic-
ulated the situation very well. "Part of the reason why
(Robinson) is such a great player is because he's so
focused on how he wants to do things,"Vaught said.
"At times that may have gotten in the way with
coaching... maybe."
Maybe what? Maybe I shouldn't be saying this?
Or, maybe Robinson is too explosive to mesh into
the systems college coaches try to father?
Too regimented an offense would take away
Robinson's edge. In the closing minutes of the win at
Minnesota - Michigan's biggest road win of the
season - he made shots down the stretch that were
unbelievable. I particularly remember a turn-around
shot from just inside the three-point line. Merely that
he took the shot was astounding. When it went in, all
net, it left you gaping.
What can a coach, or anybody, say to that? There's
only one thing "When Rumeal's got it go-ing, roll
the dice and let him go." That's all you can say for
Rumeal or for the rest of the team. Let them fly high

and hope they don't crash, because they're too good to
have normal reigns put around them.
Three of Michigan's seniors hope to soon play in
a high stakes league which doesn't have any reigns at
all -the NBA.
For better or worse, each time they take the floor
during the tournament they will be thinking about the
pros. "It's no secret that if you have a good
tournament that will help your chances out, we saw
what happened with (Glen) Rice." Vaught said.
But then he added a questionable addendum. "All
that goes to benefit the team as a whole because every
little factor that will help you play better will help

by Steven Cohen
Daily Basketball Writer
In the immortal words of L.L. Cool J.,
Sean Higgins has gone back to Cali.
Michigan's first-round placement into the West
regional in Long Beach, California, has
provided the Los Angeles native the
opportunity to play a college game in
California for the first time.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it,"
Higgins said before the team left on
Wednesday. "It's good to get out of the cold
even though it was nice today."
The warm weather may also serve to heat
up Higgins' offensive production, which tailed
off after the stress-fracture of his left foot on
Jan.31 Since his return on March 2, Higgins
scored a total of only 28 points in the team's
final four games.
His decreased lack of production is due in
part to his coming off the bench as the team's
sixth man and Michigan's increased emphasis
on the inside game since his absence.
And though he parted on frigid terms with
some California basketball fans who
desperately wanted him to go to UCLA,
Higgins should not be the victim of those with
long memories.
"Higgins was viewed as one of those
players who was important to keep here,"
recalled Sean Waters, the high school
basketball writer for the Los Angeles Times.
"Losing Sean Higgins was another black eye
for west coast basketball."
Higgins, a Parade and McDonalds high
school All-American, was pursued intensely by
west coast schools.
"He was the most dominating player here in
a while and UCLA wanted him very badly,"
Waters said. "(People) were very disappointed
that he chose Michigan over UCLA and that
was one of the things that led to (former
UCLA coach) Walt Hazard's undoing.

forward to homecoming
"I think the fact that UCLA has a new
basketball coach and three years have passed
has lessened it (the degree of emotion over
Higgins), so it's not as important now as it
was. "
In an area that included such top players
such as Syracuse's Stevie Thompson and
LeRon Ellis, North Carolina's Scott Williams,
UNLV's Stacey Augmon, and Arizona's Chris
Mills, Higgins was the only player who had
commited to stay in California. His decision to
spurn UCLA at the eleventh hour caused some
people in California to take out the frustration
of losing all of those players on Higgins.
Higgins' high school coach, Harvey Kitana,
feels that his former star player will receive a
warm welcome. "A lot of the people here at
school have been talking about going over the
game," Kitana said.
"He's got to be excited coming here, his
first time in California coming to play. A lot
of the people interested in basketball out here
will probably go out to watch him. "
"I think a lot of the faculty still see him as
g:a good person," Kitana said. "He's gotten a
label with the controversy and all but he did all
the things for school as far as attending all the
functions and conducting himself in a good
fashion."
Kitana termed Higgins "the most explosive
offensive player" he's had.

Higgins, though admittedly excited about
returning home, said he was intent on focusing
upon the upcoming games, and didn't care' to
dwell too much on the past. Those seekirng
JOSE .UaRi"one-liners", he said, should seek oot
Sean Higgins needs to put his recent slump behind him as he headsadE tyWolverine walk-on guard Mark Koenig, who
the land where he grew up, California. The Wolverines face Illinois State played his high school basketball at University
tonight in the first round of the NCAA tournament. High School in Los Angeles.

g0
Predicting
Michigan in
the NCAA
The Daily Basketball Writers have different perspectives on how
Michigan will do in the tournmant. Here are their observations and
predictions.
Taylor Lincoln
Among the dozen or so teams that have a legitimate chance to win the
tournament, Michigan is the most likely to lose in the early rounds.
Trying to make a prediction about this team is risky buisness. Their players
are far too talented to dismiss, but too spotty to put faith in.
But conventional wisdom says that a team which finishes slowly takes an
early exit. Michigan was 3-3 down the stretch, losing all three road games and
notching wins against the eight, ninth and tenth place teams in the conference.
Look for the party to end by the regional semi-finals.
Mike Gill
The scenario of scenarios. This has deja vu all over it.
Steve Fisher feels the pressure and on the eve of the tournament and
suffers a heart attack, a Ia Bo Schembechler in 1969.
Michigan 92 Illinois State 79.
Mike Boyd, now controlling the team as an interim coach, introduces
himself before each press conference by saying, "In case you don't know me,
my name is Mike Boyd and..." a la Steve Fisher in 1989.
Michigan 148 Loyola Marymont 138.
Fisher tells the team from his hospital bed, "Go out there and win one for
the Fisher," a a Ronald Reagan from 1980-1989.
Michigan 89 Arizona 86.
Mike Boyd leaves the team after receiving a great offer, including his own
television show, to become Bill Frieder's top assistant at Arizona State (a la
Frieder in 1989). He offers to coach the team through the remainder of the
tournament butAthletic Director Jack Weidenbach pronounces he wants a
"Michigan man to coach a Michigan team." California resident and Michigan
man Gerald Ford offers to coach the team since they're in Oakland.
Michigan 78 UNLV 75.
Gerald Ford pardons Terry Mills (a la Nixon in 1974) for fouling out then
leads Michigan to another win in the Final Four. Following the game Brent
Musberger presses Weidenbach to name Ford permanent coach.
Weidenbach resists, citing Fisher might have a relapse if he hears that.
Michigan 92 Missouri 87
Ford slips and falls in the team shower (a ala 1920-present) the Sunday
before the championship. Weidenbach asks former coach Bo Schembechler
to coach the team since Bo previously had said, "Hell I could have coached
that team," referring to last year. Schembechler suffers his first basketball
defeat on a disputed foul call, sending him into a post-game ti-rade. He loses
the big one, a ia the Rose Bowl in 1970, '72, '77, '78, '79, '83, '87, '90.
Georgetown 88 Michigan 82.
Then again, they might lose tonight.
Steven Cohen
My prognostication is a little more mundane than Senor Gill's.
The record of success for NCAA champions the year after winning the
tournament has been remarkably lackluster. In addition, Michigan's 22-7
regular season record and third place Big Ten finish is also not awe-inspiring.
Nonetheless. I feel if Michiaan can aet by New Mexico State. they will reach

All of a sudden, Char Durand and the Wolverines eye a national tile.

: :
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ve*r ,.
.
.
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VanDeWege and women
complete turnaround

by Phil Green
Daily Basketball Writer
Women's basketball has officially arrived
at the University of Michigan.
Not only did the Wolverines win their
first-ever NCAA game Wednesday night over
Oklahoma State in front of over 6300
Cowgirl rooters, but they reached the 20-win
plateau for the first time ever as well.
Three seasons ago, during the 1986-87
season, the team's record almost hit the
magical 20, compiling a 9-19 final record.
That season was coach Bud VanDeWege's
third at the helm, and he had just garnered
what he believed to be an extremely strong
recruiting class. Now, three years later
VanDeWege, along with his players, has
matured and improved.
This year's squad surpassed everyone's
expectations but its own. While the Big Ten
coaches picked the Wolverines to finish 8th
in a preseason poll, the Wolverines believed
they could enter the conference's upper
division, and possessed one main goal - to
mnir th. he A A tnmmnm..

ballhandling to break every press thrown at
her.
Szczechowski and Powell, though, didn't
do it all themselves. Val Hall and Trish
Andrew showed flashes of brilliance against
Michigan State, Leslie Spicer came on
strong during the second half of the season
to become the team's second leading scorer.
Michigan's greatest attribute is that they
use their assets to the greatest advantage.
The Wolverines employ their tremendous
front line (three players over sir feet)'to
consistently outrebound their opponents,
including a 39-33 advantage over the favored
Cowgirls Wednesday night.
The Wolverines other strong point is
their depth. They go nine players deep while
most teams usually utilize only seven
players. This allows Michigan to tire many
of their opponents out down the stretch.
The key to it all, however, could be
VanDeWege, this season's Big Ten Coach of
the Year. He isn't flashy, but after five
dismal and mediocre seasons, his team is
finally winning.
#/nn:ra .nn. en{n r*tn ~'

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