Page 8-The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - October 28, 1990
Continued from page 1
"I think there could be a time
when there are three legitimate
guards out there," Michigan coach
Steve Fisher said. "It would make us
awfully small if we go with what
our three guards are - that is
(Michael) Talley, (Demetrius) Calip
and Tolbert. Tony's a guy that you
might see us sliding in inside, and
all of the sudden he's our other post
Tolbert doesn't mind the chal-
lenge. He understands that for the
Wolverines to do well, he doesn't
need to shoot every time he touches
the ball - a trait often associated
"Basically, I'm just going to let
the game come to me," the sopho-
more said. "If the shot is there, I'm
going to take it. I'm not going to go
out there night in and night out
thinking that I'm just the so to
speak 'scorer.' My job is to do
whatever it takes to win. I'm look-
ing forward to the challenge."
Much of this attitude developed
after a season-ending injury his se-
nior year in high school. After Tol-
bert's heroic display in the playoffs
the season before, he was touted as a
contender for the Michigan Mr. Bas-
ketball award (given to the best high
school player in the state) along
with fellow Wolverine Talley.
The first game of his senior year
he scored 53 points, missing only
one shot in the first half. After four
games he was averaging 40 points.
In the fifth game of the season, Tol-
bert got off to a fast start with 17
points in the first quarter.
Then it happened.
"It was a fastbreak," Tolbert re-
called. "A guy kicked it up to me at
half court. I put a little shake and
bake move into it. I went up to dunk
and their guy undercut me. I had an
ankle brace on so my knee just
Tolbert was sent to Ann Arbor
for Michigan's medical staff to take
a look at his left knee. The doctor
put Tolbert's leg in a cast for four
weeks, and told him that he would
have to wear a brace for the follow-
ing year - the present season was
over for him.
Frustrated, Tolbert was forced to
sit on the sidelines while then-rival
Talley was named Mr. Basketball.
But Tolbert didn't sulk. He worked
and waited for his chance to return.
The injury taught Tolbert two
lessons. First, he learned the impor-
tance of conditioning.
"That was the one thing that we
had to push at him all the time -
about getting out and doing a lot of
running on his own," Rachal ex-
plained. "If you don't have legs, you
can't play this game. I know now
that he gets out and runs on his
Second, he learned he could not
carry a team on his own.
"He is a lot more mature than
when he was with me," Rachal said.
"We're talking about a 17 year old
kid, and everybody's talking like,
'Wow! You're going to get Mr.
Basketball.' We weren't that good of
a team. We were fair. I think Tony
felt, 'Well, I've got to carry this
team.' Now he doesn't feel that way,
he doesn't have to carry U of M."
While conditioning might have
been a problem for Tolbert, practic-
ing never was. The second youngest
of seven boys, he has been playing
basketball ever since he can remem-
ber. His father had set up a rim in
the basement for his children. Tol-
bert played constantly and didn't stop
when he was a teen.
After school, he would spend up
to five or six hours playing in any
pick-up game he could find. Regard-
less of the time of year, he still
In high school, he worked on his
jump shot. He would regularly shoot
about 500 shots a day. After his ju-
nior year, he decided he wanted to
expand his shooting range, so he
concentrated on his three-point scor-
"When he came back his senior
year, I couldn't believe the differ-
ence. He was awesome frontthree,"
When Tolbert came to Michigan,
he was surrounded by NBA-caliber
players, Rumeal Robinson, Terry
Mills, Loy Vaught, and Sean Hig-
gins. There was little root for a
first-year player in the line-up.
"When I came in, it was just
like, wow, look who I'm playing
with," Tolbert said. "These guys are
who we talked about when we were
in high school. I could've went
somewhere else and scored 30-35
points a game, but I learned a lot
from being here."
Much of his education came from
Higgins. He was one of the reason
Tolbert chose Michigan. Their styl
of play is very similar, and Tolbert
would work out and practice with
"You're always going to be dis-
appointed when a fella like that
leaves your team, especially me,"
Tolbert said. "He was pretty close to
myself. It was like someone from
the family just leaving. I felt bad."
Both players are very private of
the court. Tolbert, like Higgins be-
fore him, ended up moving into an
apartment by himself this year.
"I'm basically a person to my-
self. I live by myself, I like to do a
lot of things by myself," Tolbert
said. "I feel that I'll stay out of trou-
ble that way. I'm self-motivated. I
enjoy being by myself."
Tolbert saw action in only 17
games last season. But he made th
most of his time by averaging 6.
points. He scored ten points and
doled out four assists in the Wolver-
ines' home victory over Iowa. In the
NCAA tournament, he nailed a ca-
reer high 16 points in a losing effort
Tolbert will be in a fight for a
starting position. Fisher has only
named two definite starters, 6-foot--
11 Eric Riley, and team captai4-
Calip. But wish the Wolverines
missing 78 percent of their offensive
production from last year, don't be
surprised to see Fisher put Tolbert in
to create some instant offense.
Tony Tolbert (right) and Wolverine first-year forward Sam Mitchell
watch practice last week. Both of them are expected to add punch to
Michigan's offense this season.
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