The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - April 16, 1990 - Page 5
QUESTON MARKS LOOM FOR YOUNG TEAM
Fisher unsure of 'M' future
by Mike Gill
Daily Basketball Writer
At this point, it is accurate to say next year's
Michigan basketball team can be pictured under
the slogan, "I don't know."
The starting lineup which began the 1989-90
campaign has either graduated or left early. Only
guard Demetrius Calip has any starting
experience. Only center Eric Riley has any
considerable playing time under his belt in the
frontcourt. After that, it's anybody's guess how
the Wolverines will play and where they will
Will the Wolverines slow their tempo with-
out the big run-and-gun athletes like Rumeal
Robinson, Loy Vaught and Sean Higgins?
"I don't know," Michigan basketball coach
Steve Fisher answered. "I haven't given that any
thought at all. A lot of that is going to depend
on the makeup of our team from my perspective
once we get going with them, when I get a
chance to first-hand watch them.
"I don't know how those three freshmen are
going to blend in and adapt.
"I don't know if they are going to come in
and give us instant help. I'm hoping that they
are. But that will dictate what we do.
"I don't know how much improvement we're
going to make with this group. We're going to
do whatever we think is best suited for this team
to make us win.
"I don't know if that means we'll be more
"I don't know if that means shoot more threes
with a more guard oriented attack."
While this might not have quite the
emotional affect of Martin Luther King's "I Have
a Dream" speech, Fisher's "I don't know" speech
comes ringing through.
What Fisher does know is that despite the
loss of Robinson and Mike Griffin, he will have
a strong backcourt with the return of Calip, as
well as rising sophomores Michael Talley and
Tony Tolbert, who saw significant game action
It wouldn't be surprising to see Michigan
exploit its only true strong point by using a
three-guard offense regularly. Fisher used the
offense at times this season.
However, the biggest question mark in the
backcourt surrounds Kirk Taylor. Taylor has
spent the last year and a half rehabilitating a torn
anterior cruciate ligament he injured against
Minnesota in Feb., 1989.
"I don't know," Fisher said of Taylor's return.
"The knee still hasn't gotten to the level where
he feels totally comfortable with it and I say his
status is still iffy."
Fisher said he is not planning on Taylor
playing. When asked if he was pleased by
Taylor's effort, Fisher said, "It's a mental thing
right now. It's a mental thing that you have to
break through and some do it quicker than others.
Some never do it."
Besides the backcourt, Michigan will have to
rely on foul-proned and skinny Riley at center,
'1 think you're looking at a
team that's going to be in the
middle of the pack in the Big
Ten and that's going to be
quite a drop from where
they've been the last decade'
- Dick Vitale
with unknowns at both forward positions. James
Voskuil and Chris Seter saw little playing time
this year but may possibly start, depending on
how fast Fisher's first recruiting class develops.
"Both of them are going to be given an
opportunity that they haven't been afforded to
date in this program," Fisher said. "That should
be exciting for them, challenging for them.
James Voskuil's going to be in the hunt for that
small forward spot. I think he realizes that. That
should be impetus, stimulus, and inspiration.
"And Seter's smart. He needs to get stronger
and stay injury free and he's going to have
Fisher admits next season's squad will not be
saddled with high expectations.
"We're not going to be picked to win the
league, we won't be picked in the top ten and I
don't know, to be honest with you, what our
team will look like. We're going to be very
inexperienced and the kids who haven't gotten
quality minutes under pressure are going to have
ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale agrees,
but says it's hard to predict where Michigan will
finish in the conference, and he does not rule out
the opportunity of an NCAA tournament bid.
"It's going to be a rebuilt basketball team"
Vitale said. "It's going to be very talented in
certain areas. I think we'll see the real Michael
Talley. Calip's got all kinds of experience.
Tolbert looks like he's ready to contribute.
"A lot of it's going to depend on the
development of Riley. He's got to get bigger and
stronger to give them a big player on the inside.
They'll still have some active athletes. However,
they won't be the dominant force they've been."
Fisher's first recruiting class is expected to
see playing time immediately, but it may be due
to necessity. No Wolverine signee constitutes a
miracle yet. The chance of help from above left
when Indiana prep star Eric Montross signed with
Michigan has already signed three recruits,
one a holdover from Frieder's term. Sam
Mitchell signed with Frieder last year but
attended a prep school this year to avoid being a
Proposition 48 casualty and recommited to
Michigan this year.
The Wolverines are still attempting to sign
another recruit. That may be Kevin Hrobowski, a
6-foot-6 center from Detroit Cody. However,
Michigan is waiting to see what Hrobowski
scores on his ACT entrance exam. He scored a 16
on his first test, but must score an 18. He retook
the test last weekend. If he does not pass it, he
may go to prep school for a year before signing
with Michigan. Hrobowski averaged 21.1 points
and 13.9 rebounds this season at Cody.
"I think you're looking at a team that's going
to be in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten
and that's going to be quite a drop from where
they've been the last decade," Vitale added. "I
envision them as a fifth or sixth place basketball
team unless they have drastic luck down the line
recruiting - a miracle."
Michigan hopes Kirk Taylor can recover from his knee injury suffered in'
February 1989, but coach Steve Fisher is not counting on his return.
Continued from page 1
accomplish some of the goals we
i set, but we played some great
basketball, won some very im-
portant games, won some very big
games. We talked about winning at
Illinois and winning at Minnesota
and the home victories that we had.
It was a very successful season.
"You can't diminish the fact that
we didn't go further or that we didn't
win the Big Ten championship. But
I don't think that takes away from
the season that we had."
At points during the year, one
could see the losses take their toll on
Fisher. Losing 20-point leads at
Indiana and Iowa only added to the
"From a standpoint of expecta-
tions, there was probably more pres-
sure, whether it was self-imposed or
if it was from outside sources that a
normal team or coach would have,
but that comes with the territory,"
Ann Arbor and Detroit are tough
places to coach. Bill Frieder felt run
out of town because of booing.
Johnny Orr said he never really felt
appreciated. And now there are
whispers from the same people who
termed Fisher a "miracle worker" last
year and yelled at Bo Schembechler
for delaying the announcement of
who would be head coach.
People question if Michigan has
a coach that can recruit, control the
team throughout the game and use
sound strategy. Fisher admits re-
ceiving negative mail, yet points out
his mailbox contained some after
they won their first two tournament
games in 1989. He brushes it aside.
"I'm not going to say that they
[the fans] have turned in a year,"
Fisher said. "Fans are fans every-
where. If the Pistons don't win the
tournament, they'll be in the Palace
complaining. That happens. Maybe
to some extent, when it's you, you
personalize it. When it's someone
else, you see it and say, 'that comes
with the territory.' To be honest, as
anybody would, if it's directed at
you, you say, 'well that's a little bit
unfair,' but in the next breath you
say that, 'that's also part of what
happens in this business.'
"It doesn't matter if it's Bo, 20
years on the job, or me, a first-year
coach, it happens. The thing you
have to do is know that you are
doing what you want to do and doing
it the right way and you got a good
program and be secure enough in
your own self that you don't let it
affect you to any great degree. The
people that matter know that we're
doing it the way it should be done."
ESPN basketball analyst Dick
Vitale has covered his share of
Michigan basketball games the past
few years. He believes that trying to
assess Fisher's performance after
only one year would be unfair.
Instead, Vitale points at a review
after three more seasons, when it can
be determined what direction the
. program is headed in.
"The jury's still out," Vitale said
of Fisher. "We're going to have to
wait and see what he does over the
next three years in recruiting - an
area Bill Frieder had absolutely great
expertise at. I think he did a good
job (this season.) They won a
number of games, they ran into a
buzz saw with Loyola Marymount.
The conference is so tough but I
think he did a better job than people
gave him credit. The fact that they
returned as national champs and had
four starters back, anticipation was
unbelievable. It was very difficult for
him to duplicate what he did the year
before. That made it tough."
Is this a case of "too much, too
soon?" Did the expectations on the
1989-90 basketball season rise out
of proportion because of one six
game stretch in which the Wol-
verines continuously won tight ball-
games? Is it a legacy too tough to be
"What happened to us a year ago
is everlasting and you
want to change that," Fisher said. "I
don't think that is going to be an
albatross hanging over us or any-
thing else. I think that's going to go
down as one of the greatest ac-
complishments in this basketball
program and maybe the athletic
program. I don't think that's going
to have any affect on me as a coach
or my career."
For now, he "marches forward,"
looking to bring back the past with
the future - and knowing all the
time that a jury is" out there
watching and looking for a verdict.
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