The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - December 10, 1990 - Page 3
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The Razorbacks coach discusses
basketball life down in the SWC
Nolan Richardson has been
coaching the third-ranked Arkansas
men's basketball team for six years.
Last season was a watershed year
for the Razorbacks, as they went on
a Cinderella ride to the Final Four
before losing to eventual runner-up
Duke in the semifinals. This season,
much of the same squad returns, and
great things are expected of
Arkansas, including a repeat visit to
the Final Four. Daily Basketball
Writer Phil Green caught up with
Richardson over Thanksgiving when
the Razorbacks got revenge by de-
feating Duke in the Dodge
Preseason Big Apple NIT semifinals
before losing to Arizona in the
Daily: How do you see your
team doing this year, now that it is
in the limelight for the first time?
Richardson: I think that like all
the other coaches, we're trying to see
where we are and what things we
need to work on to get to the tour-
nament. There are a lot of things we
need to work on for sure.
Right now, I don't look further
than the next game. As a coach and
.players we go game to game and
improve each game out,
D: Do you feel any added pres-
;sure this season?
R: I was bprn in pressure, so it
*,doesn't really bother me. Every time
I get up in the morning I feel there's
ono pressure in my life.
Those kinds of things don't
bother me any more than in the past
when I wasn't even ranked. I think
"that every game is pressure.
D: What kind of pressure were
you born in?
R: All my life I've had pressure.
:Coming up in the ghetto area, and
'trying to fight and survive. Those
things I call pressure. This is some-
thing that is a game. I look at it as a
Kids are playing this game, and I
enjoy coaching it. When it's not be-
coming a game to me, I think I'm
going to get out of it.
I just don't let it become a big
pressure for me. I think there's more
°things in life I should care about.
My job is one of those things I'm
not caring about at this point. I've
been in it for 27 years now for a
couple of teams, and it's not going
3o be do or die just because I'm
ranked high. Before you accomplish
things that other people have set for
you, I still have the goals that I have
set for myself.
That's how I try to go about life.
0 i don't worry about what someone
thinks about me.
D: How does Arkansas compare
with the other places you've
R: This is my sixth season and
I've really, really enjoyed the place.
It's a very small community. I love
small places, I couldn't care about
the bright lights. It's a small univer-
* sity with, I think, between 13,500
:and 14,000 students. It's located in
the Ozark, which is probably the
prettiest part of Arkansas. It's a
place where a guy can work 10 min-,
utes from his house, have the coun-
try life, and have a small community
to be a part of.
I think the fans of Arkansas are
the best in the country. Because we
are the professionals for them. There
are no professional sports. Every-
1hing that I'd like to have, I have at
the University of Arkansas.
D: How much does that atmo-
sphere help you with recruiting?
R: I think as we continue to get
,the exposure, that's where ratings
,and TV games come in, it gives us
an area to expand to a new area of
the country. We get a lot of guys
from Arkansas, Texas, and Missis-
sippi. That's the base. Now, we've
gotten some exposure, some visibil-
ity to the team, to get some players
from other areas.
D: How did you do during the
early signing period?
R: I just signed two kids. I only
have two scholarships. We signed a
JC point guard, and a 6-foot-10 cen-
D: What about the guys from
Texas, Jimmy King and Ray Jack-
son, that signed with Michigan?
Were you heavily recruiting them?
R: We recruited them, heavily I
don't know. They're both 6-foot-5,
6-foot-6, small guys. We've got
freshmen sitting out right now that
are the same size. We had success in
that part of the country.
We don't get a lot of kids from
Texas. We got big Oliver Miller out
of Texas, but most of the kids from
Texas leave Texas.4
That's because of the rules they
have in Texas. It affects the players,
they don't get the same opportuni-
ties as out of state players. Year in
and year out, they, leave. I see Albert
Bennett at Notre Dame, and
Shaquille O'Neill at LSU. So, it's
no big deal to see one of the guys go
to Michigan or Ohio State. That's
just the way it is in Texas right now
D: What are the rules causing the
R: They're the only state in the
union that has its own rule for bas-
ketball, the UIL (University Intercol-
legiate League). The UIL keeps guys
from getting better competition,
from participating in summer
camps, and summer leagues. It
doesn't let them go to the Nike
camps and stuff like that. If they
haven't visited a school before
November 1, they can't go visit a
They've got all those things. And
it's just a football state, and it
always has been. And now lately
they've been trying to get rid of it
because there were too many good
players leaving. Because, some of
those kids like King and Jackson,
they grew up not being able to go to
Nike camps - and maybe they
could have made bigger names for
themselves. But instead they can't
go, because the rules prevent them.
'1 just don't let it
become a big
pressure for me.1
think there's more
things in life I should
care about. My job is
one of those things
I'm not caring about
at this point'
D: Are you looking forward to
joining the SEC?
R: Right now I'm getting asked
questions, and it's way beyond what
I'm thinking about. Right now, I'm
just trying to see if I can survive the
Southwest Conference this year, be-
cause we're kind of nomads.
I think once the season gets go-
ing, everything gets rolling, I'll
think about being in the Southeast-
ern Conference. Because right now
I'm afraid to look that far ahead.
We don't go in until next year,
after this season. We've still got an-
other year playing in the Southwest
Conference. A lot of things can hap-
pen between now and next year.
Hopefully if I'm back and alive, I
might have a chance to say I'm glad r
to play in the Southeastern
It's going to be an exciting
league, I think. You know, you've
got LSU, and you've got teams like
Georgia, Tennessee, Florida. I mean
that's going to be a dynamite
D: Do you see Arkansas' leaving
the Southwest Conference leading to
bad times for the conference?
R: I don't see anything looking
any greater. We are really the leaders
of the conference. At the tourna-
ment, there are 17,000 seats, and we
put 12-13,000 people in them.
That's just not going to happen
anymore. Any time schools play us,
we sell out in our place. And since
we have a lot of fans living in the
state of Texas, especially in Dallas,
half of the arenas are full with our
fans. I think that the flavor, as far as
basketball and football are concerned,
will be worse.
D: What exactly happened last
season when you walked off the
court before the game's conclusion?
R: I left because I had to use the
rest room ... There were ten seconds
left in the game, thirteen seconds,
whatever it was. A call was made,
and I just left. I'd done that six or
seven times over the last seven
years. Certain times in the game I've
just walked out instead of getting a
D: Did Todd Day or Lee May-
berry consider going hardship last
R: No, those guys aren't ready to
play professional ball. I don't know
why anybody thinks that they are. I
see them every day in practice, they
look like average players. There are
times when they play and they look
like they're high school players, and
at other times they look great.
I think sometimes we get carried
away, and start talking about how
great they are. They're not strong
enough, you're talking about an 80-
game schedule (in the NBA). I don't
think they're ready for big-time
basketball at this point. I think
they're going to be great players, I
think they'll get a chance to play in
D: How much do you think in-
ternational competition like the
Goodwill Games helped them?
R: I think they did real good in
the states, but they didn't play that
much across the border. I don't think
they had enough playing time. They
didn't get to play a hell of a lot then.
I mean, they played in the Goodwill
Games here. But it looks to me like
Todd didn't play five, six minutes a
game over there, and Lee Mayberry
starred over here and got even less
time. So, I don't know how much it
helped them. I think it helped them
by being in practice every day. I
think it helped them by giving them
the chance to play against some of
the best players.
D: How do they handle the
R: I think that Lee is a low-key
person, so you'd never know if he
liked it or didn't like it. It's his
I think that Todd is the type of
kid that wants everyone to know
how good he is. He definitely has a
They handle it the way they can.
D: Do you think last year's suc-
cess, when you surprised a lot of
people, will hurt you this season
come tournament time? -
R: We were a young team, over-
achievers I thought. We did some
good things for a sophomore-ori-
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ented team. Now we're a junior-ori-
ented team; usually your great teams
are your senior ball clubs.
I'm not worried about what we
did, because everyone knows about
it. Nobody's going to take us
lightly. Therefore, we have to go out
hard every game. Every game is a
big game for everyone on our sched-
ule. Teams didn't get as high, but
now at the beginning of the year
teams are ready. The key is to keep
playing as hard as you possibly can
and to see what happens, and not
worry about where you are ranked.
That's ridiculous - rank doesn't
mean nothing. You put those five
and ten guys on the floor, and they
don't care who's ranked anywhere.
D: Do you think revenge was a
big factor against Duke?
R: I think that our guys felt that
they were eliminated by a team that
they felt they should have beaten. I
think they ran out of gas in the last
10 minutes of that ball game (last
But I think I had a team that felt
they had a payback coming. I think
that's probably why we didn't play
as well as we thought we should
have this year. We played, to me,
'I only think I try to
help. The doors must
be opened. And I can
do the opening by the
things I can do in this
position, or through
this profession. I think
that if they're
qualified, they should
be able to get the
same opportunity, but
they shouldn't get it
just because they're
Black or aren't Black'
D: Do you see yourself as a role
model for other Blacks interested in
R: I only think I try to help. The
doors must be opened. And I can do
the opening by the things I can do in
this position, or throughsthis profes-
sion. I think that if they're qualified,
they should be able to get the same
opportunity, but they shouldn't get
it just because they're Black or aren't
Black. I believe in that, I believe in
equal opportunity. I'd like to think it
can someday be that way.
D: How big of a problem do you
think it is?
R: It's all there, all you have to
do is look at the numbers. You can
answer that question. All you have
to do is look at how many jobs are
available and then you can figure out
the degree of the problem.
D: Do you think the proper steps
are being taken to correct it?
R: I think it has changed a lot
over the years in my opinion. I
think that when I came in, there
were like 12 of us, now I'm not
sure, but it's probably up around 20-
30. But that shows you how it's be-
gun to change, and hopefully it will
continue to grow in that direction.
Road bright for Lang
even without Rhodes
Brent Lang sat with nine peers in his home state of Oregon last week.
The 10 of them waited in a room while, one by one, they were inter-
viewed to see which two would become the state's nominees for a Rhodes
An Olympic Gold medalist, Lang captained the Wolverine swim team
to another Big Ten Championship last year - winning four NCAA indi-
vidual championships during his time on the team. Lang will graduate
this term. And the future is so bright. One possibility which Lang envi-
sioned was a Rhodes Scholarship and the two years of study at Oxford ip
England the award brings.
The selection process had been grueling - something Lang equates to
a "four-credit class." Now, if he could move on, he would become one of
14 finalists in Region VIII, comprised of seven Western states. Four
would receive scholarships.
He waited with his peers and talked.
Talked about the morality of medical testing on animals.
Talked about the spotted owl and the environmental problems of
Talked about the morality of society.
And Brent Lang quietly sat there and said to himself, Gee guys lighten
up. How about this? You know, we spent some great years attending
great institutions. How about talking about all those great times, the time
you tucked your roommate in bed after a tough night? Talk about those
great college experiences. Smile. Let's laugh. Let's make this a bar with-
out beer. You be Norm, I'll be Cliff. Let's argue about GLOW wrestlings
"By the end of the day, I was like 'okay,"' Lang recalls of the conver-
sations endured in that room. "I tried to get some excitement - let's have
some fun here. What's the wildest thing you've ever done? Your craziest
experience, the craziest person you ever met, or let's talk about college
football. I tried to stir up some excitement. There was a bowl of pretzels
there, and I wanted to build a structure, to have something to show for our
time. Most of the others were serious, more focused in on what they were
Lang did not advance. He will not be a Rhodes Scholar.
Now let's not paint the wrong picture of Brent Lang. He is not a guys
you'll likely find dancing on bar stools at the local pub. And while talk-
ing philosophically may not be his cup of tea, the fact that he went so far
on the Road to the Rhodes is proof of his intellectual ability. A 3.82
GPA might also answer that question.
But Brent Lang likes to smile, to sit back and enjoy life, all while re-
maining competitive. While Lang now returns to Michigan to finish
classes, he does not leave the Rhodes experience empty handed. All sum-
JI -"JUA "Ij ualIy
mer, he met with influential people, discussing his Rhodes possibility,.
He spent hours writing and fine tuning an essay. He explained how soci-
ety could ultimately benefit from his time at Oxford. Learn and Write.,
Explore and Learn.
"I think it's something everyone should do every five or six years,
Lang says. "You learn a lot about yourself. What do you really want to do
in life? A lot of people get in a comfort zone. They don't question if,
they're happy with themselves or what is important to them."
And what did Lang learn about himself during the evaluation process?'
"A couple of things," he says. "I like to have fun. I don't take everyi
thing in life very seriously. I'm very competitive, but I like a good time
too. And second, I tend to do things in different ways. If I go look for a-
job and it's a highly structured environment and bureaucratic, that won't
suit me. I tend to like to be a contributor'to a team but to be an individual
and do it my own way, if you know what I mean."
And Lang learned something else during the process: The Rhodes-
Scholarship is not the end all of end alls. To say he is broken up about'
losing out would be wrong.
Lang already has one job offer, but will take some time off upon grad
uation. He'll head to Australia for the World Swimming Championships
in January and then spend months travelling. He'll take in Europe; his
brother will join him and they'll head to South America. After vacation-
ing, he wants to work for two years, then pursue a Master's in Business
Administration. The 1992 Olympics are a possibility, but a longshot. 2
That's not too bad of a back-up scenario.
And in the pubs of Europe, there's guaranteed to be a person who will
sit there and say, "Gee, how about that World Cup? And you know, when
I went to school, there was this one time... "
Brent Lang will listen. He'll share his own tales.
And he won't be worrying about the spotted owl.
. . . . . . .. . . . . . .
Tyson wins; Ruddock next?
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -
Promoter Don King said former
heavyweight champion Mike Tyson
is back, and "watch our smoke
Where there's smoke, there's fire
and that fire could be Donovan
" Razor" Ruddock, who may fight
Tyson in late March or early April.
Tyson's speed and power were
awesome Saturday night as he
".-InPA net A 0.o.v..t 7t.1, of
The quality of opposition has
nothing to do with a fighter's power,
and Ruddock might have thrown the
hardest punch of the night when he
knocked Rouse down with a left
hook. He then knocked him out in
the first round with a right uppercut
that travelled about eight inches.
Ruddock has had problems with
his right hand and could barely use it
when he knocked out former cham-
S Restaurants LTD. is looking for a poster to promote Jazz in January. Jazz
in January is our annual promotion that highlights local jazz groups. These
groups appear live for happy hours during January. Entries must be received by Thursday,
December 20, 1990, and will be posted in the restaurant. Judging will take place on Friday,
January 21, 1991. Entries become the property of Ashley's Restaurants LTD., and will be