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November 15, 1991 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-15
Note:
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0

Chris Webber:
Michigan Legend
From the Start
by David Schechter

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Michael Talley orchestrates

The basketball ball hovered 12
feet off the floor. Hips bumped,
feet floated, and arms extended as
players scrambled to bring it back
to earth in their own hands.
But at the instant this mess of
tangled bodies touched their toes
to the hardwood floor, something
went wrong. Chris Webber sunk
to the floor like a 6'9" bag of
bones.
He didn't get up.
The entire Michigan basketball
program froze in its tracks, and
13,609 empty blue and gold seats
in Crisler Arena echoed the silent
shock that blew through the big
building. Coach Steve Fisher
winced when he saw Eric Riley

roll onto the knee of his greatest
recruiting achievement.
Chris Webber was the
Wolverine blue-chipper. Every
basketball magazine in the
country called him the best. A
player like Webber comes around
every five or six years, they said.
And there he was, sitting on the
court, racked with pain.
"I had tears in my eyes,"
Webber said.
Not now, not now. He had
something to prove. The press
had been touting him ever since
he started high school. But it was
different here at Michigan. Ile
was just a rookie, and he had to
prove how good he was. IIe had to

march onto the court and run
until he could no longer walk. Ile
was going to earn his spot in the
starting five. le didn't want it
handed to him.
The trainer attended to
Webber's knee. But the way it
had caved in didn't look
promising to anybody who saw it
happen. This wasn't supposed to
happen to Chris Webber.
That was the bad news. The
good news came later when
Webber met with the team
physician. The doctor said
everything would be all right. Just
a bad sprain. Give it eight days.
It was hard to wait: Webber
wasn't nearly done proving what
he could do.
U
Chris Webber is dedicated to
his sport. You can't be that good
without dedication. Some people
think that great players are just
naturally great. That may be the
case. But it's impossible to find
someone as spectacular as
Webber who doesn't practice
dozens of hours for every game.
In that sense his life has been
different from most. While
college students have the luxury
of taking their time in seeking out
a professio., Webber has not.
Since he was young he knew what
he wanted to be. A basketball
star, lie's been on that track ever
since.
But then again, Chris Webber
was a little bit different from day
one.
"The day Chris was born I was
real excited," said Webber's
father Mayce, a team coordinator
at General Motors. "But I was
hoping our first child was going to
be a girl. I don't know why, but I
just wanted a girl. But I'm still
thankful for him."
Of course, there's not much a
father can do about those things.
So Mayce and his wife Doris
wrapped up their brand new
bundle of joy and took him home.
And their lives changed forever.
This was a special child.
But that doesn't mean he
wasn't a real handful growing up.
One hot summer day, Mayce
was laying a fresh coat of white
paint on the fence in the front
yard, as a two-year-old Chris
looked on. The phone rang, and
the people at the Pontiac

Michael Talley will retain the
role of playmaker for the 1991-92
Wolverines, spearheading the
Michigan attack at point guard.
The 6'1" junior takes on an added
leadership burden due to the
departure of guard Demetrius
Calip, who led the team in scoring
and assists as a senior last year.
Calip and Talley were the only
two Wolverines to start every
game.
And while most of the starting
positions in coach Steve Fisher's
lineup appear to be up for grabs,
it seems Talley will start every
game this year as well.
He is Michigan's leading
returning scorer and assist man,
contributing 11.0 points and
dishing out 3.2 assists per game,
while averaging 31 minutes each
contest. An improved outside shot
helped his game considerably, as
he became a serious threat from
three-point range.
But while Talley returns as the
team's probable floor leader, he
feels that with the addition of the
five talented newcomers, his job
will be easier this season.
"For myself, I believe you're
going to see much more of my
talent, the way I want to play,"
Talley said. "Now I have the
team, the players, that I can do
more things - individually -
and also do whatever is necessary
to win. So I think it's going to be
a very exciting year for myself and
the team."
The reason for Talley's
optimism rests partly in the
makeup of his supporting cast at
the guard spot. A combination of
tremendous athletes and good
perimeter shooters should allow

the offense fo
Fisher a variety of lineup
possibilities.
Based on past performance,
one player who should figure
prominently in those plans is Kirk
Taylor. The 6'3" senior would
figure to be the off guard after
starting in 14 of Michigan's 29
games a year ago.
Taylor was forced to play at
the small forward position last
year, after spending all of the
1989-90 campaign rehabilitating
from a serious knee injury. Due to
his size, Taylor was often
overwhelmed inside, and the
move back to off guard will no
doubt be a welcome one.
From there, the talent is
apparent, but the roles are
indefinite. Two of the rookies are
legitimate threats to break into
the starting lineup at guard.
Jalen Rose, at 6'7" is getting a
try at guard. Belying his size, he is
an excellent passer with an
awkward-looking, but accurate
shot from the outside.
"Jalen's a guard," Fisher said.

r Michigan
"He's 6'7", but he's a guard. But,
if he gets defended by a 6'2" guy,
he can go in and post up. We're
looking at Jalen a little bit at the
point. So we're looking at these
kids at a variety of positions."
Jimmy King, a tremendous
leaper with a smooth shot from
the perimeter, is also getting
some work at the point guard
spot, instead of his customary off
guard position.
"We're asking ourselves, Can
Jimmy King be a point guard"'
Fisher said. "So we're looking at
him a little bit right now,
handling the ball, bringing it up,
making decisions."
Junior Rob Pelinka and
sophomore Jason Bossard provide
Michigan with some depth on the
bench at the guard spot. Pelinka
is a good shooter with excellent
range and can provide Michigan
with some scoring off the bench.
Bossard is a hard-nosed player
who saw action in nine games last
season.
by John Niyo

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BRIAN CANTONi/Weekend
Michigan fans hope this is a familiar scene during the upcoming season.
Chris Webber once had 15 of these in an eighth grade matchup.

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dealership told him his new car
was ready to be picked up.
Driving home in his shiny red
wheels, Mayce felt just fine.
He parked in the drive, and
went inside for a few minutes.
Little Chris waddled in behind

Well, why not? "You'd be nuts
not to put him in the low block
and let him try to dunk on
people," Fisher said. "Ile's so
strong. But I'd be foolish to lock
him into the low post area, he's
good at so many things."

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312 Thompson St. 995-5733
(near corner of Liberty)

WeaVes
NAIL
SALON

'You'd be nuts not to put him in the low block
and let him try to dunk on people. He's so
strong. But I'd be foolish to lock him into the
low post area, he's good at so many things'
- Steve Fisher

o, HOTA4m

617 Packard
996-9140

him a few minutes later with
paint on his paws and said,
"Daddy, I painted your new car
for you." The hot red car now had
a not-so-hot racing stripe on the
side. Mayce was so mad that he
sprinted all the way down the
street just so he wouldn't hurt
anybody.
U
Webber no longer dips his
hands into paint; he stands in it.
As the most decorated player ever
to attend Michigan, Webber
dominates in the low post. But he
also shines all over the floor. Ile's
a great ball handler. A great
passer. Every dunk is a clinic for
physicists on force and power.
There isn't much the kid can't
do. Coach Steve Fisher says that
Webber may even shoot the three
this year.
Shoot the three?

Since Webber managed to
average 28 points, 13 rebounds,
four blocks, and four steals a
game while leading Detroit
Country Day to its third
consecutive state crown, he
probably deserves to open it up.
And if ESPN and ABC
basketball analyst Dick Vitale is
correct, which he usually is, then
Webber is only getting better.
"This guy is so good," Vitale
said. "Everything you've heard is
true. I le's big, he's fast, he's
strong, and he's only a freshman.
le's going to be great. I've
picked Michigan to finish Top 20,
and Chris Webber is a very big
part of that."
Those are big expectations, but
Webber thinks he can handle that
burden.
"Truthfully, no matter how
intense it gets in the spotlight,"

KRISTOFER GILL-E/Weekend
Rookie Chris Webber's versatility will give opposing players trouble this
season. His quickness and agility make him an offensive force.
"

ONLY 1500 TICKETS AVAILABLE -- SO STOP IN EARLY!! ii

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November 15, 1991.

WEND

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