The Michigan Daily -Sports Monday -
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The ex-Wolverine center talks
about his life after the NBA
October 28, 1991 -- Page 3
Phil Hubbard was an integral
player for the Michigan basketball
team in the late 1970s. The two-time
team captain was a member of the
1976 Wolverines squad which fell
to Indiana in the NCAA Champ-
ionship game, and was the team's
leading scorer in 1977 when
Michigan took the Big Ten title. An
all-Big Ten selection at center in
1977, Hubbard twice was named
Michigan's most valuable player.
Hubbard went on to play profes-
sional basketball for ten seasons,
before retiring in 1989. Daily Sports
Writer Ryan Herrington caught up
with Hubbard at the legends game
held during Midnight Madness ear-
lier this month.
Daily: How did you feel about
the reaction tonight at the legends
Hubbard: I thought it was
pretty nice. You know, we all just
came up, out of shape, trying to play
some basketball. I got to see some
of the old guys, so it was really nice.
D : This is the first time
Michigan has hosted Midnight
Madness and it's a phenomenon that
has really caught on over the last
few years in college basketball. This
is one of the many things that have
changed in college basketball. What
differences do you see in college
basketball since you played the
H: There are a lot of differences.
For one thing, the players are better.
The rules are different with
Proposition 48 and all that. All
those things are affecting the game a
lot differently than when we came
D: Do you think they're affect-
ing the game in a good or a bad way?
H : Part good, part bad.
Hopefully all the rules will make
it a better game. It's hard to say be-
cause a lot of things are still out but
you know the competition is always
making it a better game. The rules
- all the practice rules and what
not - are just so much different
then when I played.
D: What was it like to play bas-
ketball at a "football" school?
H: Well, you know, I really
didn't realize that. Maybe it was be-
cause when I got here we did so
Michigan is a football school
though, no question. We may have
thought that it was a basketball
school and even the guys right now
may think that, but I think you go
with the program that makes the
most money and carries the school
and that's football. No matter how
well you do in basketball, it's al-
ways going to be recognized as a
Continued from page 1
the Nets. But he didn't begin to
feel comfortable in the NBA until
"This is really my first season
with the Nets," Mills said. "I feel
happy. I feel like I've got a home;
I'm not going to be traded around
and moving around a lot."
And Mills is keeping up with
his end of the bargain this time.
After being overweight most of
last year, Mills has dropped back
down to 230 pounds.
"He's a much better player
when he's thin," New Jersey coach
Bill Fitch said. "He's got to watch
it. I think as he sees the success of
his game, he's going to understand
he was a much better player when
he was the slim 'T' he was at
In an effort to trim his 6-foot-
10 frame, Mills came to camp early
this summer and worked out as
much as he could. He also attended
rookie camp to fine tune his play.
And the improvement has been
evident. Mills has been averaging
7.5 points during the exhibition
season. Against the Bulls last
week, he made his first start. He
didn't waste the opportunity,
scoring 16 points and grabbing six
rebounds before fouling out with
He has also become more
versatile. since leavino Ann Arbor.
football school and you just do the
best you can. If you have good teams
and good years you just go with it.
It's definitely a football school.
D: You were on some very good
teams when you played at Michigan.
Do you have a career highlight? And
if so, what is it?
H: Yeah, I think so. I think going
to the Final Four - being able to
participate early on in my career, not
really knowing the aspect of how
valuable it was being a freshman.
When you try to get back later you
then see how hard it was to get
there. That was one of things I re-
gunning for us. It's tough to say
which one team was the toughest
D: Who was the toughest player
you faced while at Michigan?
H: The toughest players, and this
has a lot to do with the fact that I
was a young guy and I was playing
against older guys, were guys like
Bernard King and Alex English. At
the time they were tougher than me,
so it was a challenge.
But there were just so many guys
who were tough, especially in Big
Ten competition. Players like
Mychal Thompson and Kevin
McHale were just such great
D: What kind of influence did he
have on the team, as well as you per-
H: Well, he gave me the chance
to play. I came here - recruited a
little bit - and I got here and tried
to prove myself. I tried to work
hard and they gave me the opportu-
nity to play.
I have no remorse or hard feel-
ings toward him..All my opportu-
nities came by something that he
gave me and I'm thankful. I remem-
ber him as someone who helped me
develop in my career.
D: You were drafted by Detroit
out of college in 1979 and had a
strong NBA career. What are you
H: Well, I am adjusting to life
after basketball. I had a nice career
of ten years, and now I have my own
company where we make uniforms
and t-shirts for teams. I am also try-
ing to train to get a (car) dealership
one day in Cleveland.
My company now has been doing
pretty well. We've been doing a lot
of promotions right now, doing
three-on-three and basketball camps
and stuff like that. We're trying to
help the schools raise money so they
can get new uniforms.
D : How close are you to
Michigan athletics?. Do you follow
the basketball program closely?
H: Not a whole lot, not like I
would call players to help in re-
cruiting. I haven't done anything
like that. But I've talked to
(Michigan men's basketball) coach
(Steve) Fisher. I wish them a lot of
luck this year. They have a talented
team and hopefully they'll do good
D: Do you miss playing profes-
sional basketball, or competitive
basketball for that matter?
H: I think it's fun, you know, to
get out there on the court on a night
like tonight. But your body is one
thing, and you've got to stay in
shape. You've really got to work at
It's motivation, that how you
play sports. If you're motivated,
you'll do well. If you're not moti-
vated, your heart's not in it. It's
heart and motivation. I miss it, but
my heart's not in it anymore. I'm
just going through the motions on
nights like this.
D: How valuable was basketball
H: Well, it taught me a lot. It
gave me the opportunity to travel to
places around the world, and an edu-
cation. I can't say how valuable it
was to me. However, basketball
opened a lot of doors for me, and
I'm grateful for that.
Ritter's grand design
Dave; Ritter does what most people dream of doing - he participates
in the bedlam of the pregame rituals, he hits ballcarriers, and he blocks
punts. Yet every now and then, in a few fleeting instances, Ritter wishes
he could be just the average student.
Fact is, Ritter already is the average student. In fact, he's the above-
Ritter has a 3.5 grade point average, and he plays strong safety for the
Wolverines. Most people can make neither claim.
But the strain of maintaining one's grades and maintaining one's ath-
letic intensity prompts Ritter to stop and think from time to time.
Thinking is a common activity for Ritter; it's what he thinks about
during these occasions that seems uncommon.
"In a way you always think you're missing something," he says be-
tween bites of a brown-bag salami sandwich. He must eat and answer
questions at the same time, lest he be late for class.
Despite donning a blue uniform and exploding out of the tunnel
across the Michigan Stadium grass through the "Go Blue" banner and
into the frenzied huddle, Ritter says he misses milling around the Diag
and taking 12 o'clock classes.
Sensing a less-than-sympathetic reaction, Ritter recants.
"When I say I'd like to be a regular student, I'm half-joking," he ex-
plains. "I don't wish I was a regular student. When I get out there for
practice and I hear the coaches say 'This is the only place in the world you
want to be right now,' they're speaking the absolute truth."
See SHERAN, Page 5
D: Along the same lines, what
was the toughest team you played
against in your four years at
H: When I think back there are a
couple teams that I remember as re-
ally tough. One time we played Las
Vegas (UNLV) when they just
started running all of their scores
up. They were tough. And then
there's Michigan State who had the
good teams in the late '70s. There
were a couple teams in there that
were really good. Everyone played
us hard, because we were one of the
better teams in the Big Ten.
Everywhere we went they were
competitors that it was tough.
D: Do you keep in contact with
the players from your old team?
H: Yeah, I try to call. We talk
frequently, although not enough.
The guys I came in with were
Tommy Stanton and Alan Hardy,
and we are closer than some of the
others, but we keep in contact with
guys like Dave (Baxter) and the oth-
D: How about your former
coach, Johnny Orr? Do you stay in
touch with him, too?
H: I still speak with him occa-
sionally. Not that often, but enough
to say that we keep in touch.
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gloves to keep on the bench."
Mills had just as much trouble
finding his niche at Michigan. He
was touted as one of the top two
players in the country his senior
year in high school, but was forced
to sit out his first year after failing
to meet Proposition 48
His third year, he came in
weighing 263 pounds. By the time
he was in playing shape, then-
Michigan coach Bill Frieder
started criticizing his play
publicly. In addition, Frieder
continued to list Mills as a
forward when center was the
position at which he was most
It wasn't until Frieder bolted
for Arizona State that things began
to turn around for Mills. On the
eve of Michigan's tournament
opener in Atlanta, Michigan coach
Steve Fisher told Mills that he
was the key to how far Michigan
could go. Plus, Fisher moved Mills
to the center position for good.
Almost magically, Mills' play
became the best of his career. He
averaged 13.7 points and 6.5
rebounds during the Wolverines'
1989 NCAA Tournament drive to
the national championship.
The following fall, he reported
to practice a slim 235 pounds. His
dominance in the middle continued
- he averaged 14.6 points and 7.3
The struggles Mills has had to
face throughout what should have
been a smooth-sailing career should
serve as a warning to Michigan
faithful. He cautions Wolverine
fans not to expect too much from
the "Fabulous Five" frosh that
will begin play for Michigan this
"It's going to take time for
them to get it together, and I think
they will," Mills said. "But they
just have to focus as a team and not
worry about what's going on
outside, because the minute they
lose a game, people are going to get
And thus far in his up-and-down
career, that's a subject in which
Mills is well-versed.
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