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September 10, 1992 - Image 65

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-Sports -Thursday, September 10, 1992- Page 3

Rookies lead 'M' to Final Four
Duke ends Michigan's fabulous NCAA Tournament run

John Niyo

by John Niyo
Daily Basketball Writer
When the pairings for the NCAA
Tournament were announced,
Michigan coach Steve Fisher must
have felt a sense of dejk vu.
The Wolverines earned the sixth
seed in the Southeast Regional, and
were sent to Atlanta - the site
where Fisher coached his first game
at the Michigan helm. He won that
game, and the next five, to capture
the 1989 NCAA Championship.
So when Michigan's name ap-
peared opposite Temple in the
Atlanta bracket last spring, and a
possible Sweet Sixteen berth in
Lexington, Ky., loomed on the hori-
zon like in 1989, Fisher had to won-
der if lightning would strike twice. It
did.
The Wolverines put away a frus-
tratingly patient Temple squad in its
first game, 73-66.
After the Owls put together a 12-
0 run to take a four-point lead mid-
way through the second half, rookie
guard Jalen Rose took over.
He drove the lane and banked in
a pair of one-handed jumpers, then
put Michigan ahead to stay with a 3-
pointer from the left wing. Rose fin-
ished with a game-high 19 points.
Jimmy King and Juwan Howard
each added 15, as the first-year play-
ers passed their first tournament test.
"People talked about how
Temple had more experience than
we did," Webber said. "But we
never worried about that. Heart and
talent win ballgames."
* U U
Michigan had expected to face
the No. 3 seed, Arizona, in the sec-
ond round, but No. 14-seeded East
Tennessee State pulled off the first
big upset of the tournament.
That was just fine with the
Wolverines, who manhandled the
sharp-shooting Buccaneers, 102-90.
Webber and Howard were too much
for ETSU inside, combining for 53
points.
"It was kind of scary," ETSU
forward Rodney English said. "They
just turned around and dropped it
in."
Oklahoma State was the next ob-
stacle for Michigan, when the two
squared off in the Sweet Sixteen in
Lexington.
The Cowboys came into the
game fresh off a sizzling second-
round performance against Tulane.
But Michigan overcame tremen-
dous foul trouble and won, 75-72,
thanks mostly to junior center Eric
Riley.
With Webber and Juwan Howard

customary spectacular game, scoring
25 and snaring 11 rebounds.
U
The next game provided the
Wolverines with a much anticipated
rematch against Ohio State - one of
only two teams (Duke was the other)
on Michigan's schedule whom it
failed to defeat.
A loss late in the season in
Columbus - a game Michigan felt
it let slip away - was still fresh in
the Wolverines' minds. And when
OSU went on an 11-0 run that put it
up 61-57 with four minutes to play,
Michigan looked like it was going to
let it happen all over again.
"At that point," Webber said after
the game, "I started having flash-
backs of Columbus. We just looked
at each other and said, 'Let's not let
it happen again."'
They didn't. Webber grabbed an
offensive rebound and dunked to tie
the score at 61. Then everyone held
their breath while OSU forward
Chris Jent's shot at the buzzer car-
omed off the rim and sent the game
into overtime. In the extra period,

Michigan regained control to win,
75-71.
Rookie Ray Jackson held OSU
All-American Jim Jackson in check
all afternoon, and Webber led the
way offensively with 23 points and
11 rebounds.
U
To the surprise of nearly every-
one, Michigan paired up against
Cincinnati in one of the NCAA
semifinals. A team of first-year
players vs. a team from the Great
Midwest Conference. Neither was
supposed to make it this far.
The Wolverines battled through a
sloppy first half and took control in
the second half by using their size
advantage inside.
And the five starters got another
boost from a reserve. This time it
was forward James Voskuil, who
came off the bench with a crucial
nine-point performance.
King led Michigan with 17
points. Webber added 16 and 11
boards.
Finally came the rematch with

Duke.
After a close first half, Duke All-
American Christian Laettner re-
bounded from a seven-turnover first
half and Michigan lost its grip, as
Duke won, 71-51.
"We didn't come here to be in
second place, but that's what we
have to settle for now," Rose said, as
he sat in a dejected Michigan
lockerroom.
Rose hadn't been able to rescue
the Wolverines like he had been do-
ing all tournament. Nothing worked
for Michigan in the second half - it
shot 9-for-30 and scored just 20
points.
"We let an opportunity slip
through our hands," Rose added. "It
wasn't Duke. It was Michigan."
But it was Duke on the victory
stand, celebrating a second consecu-
tive national title, and it wasn't
Michigan. The tears flowed, with the
small consolation of next year.
"We had a great season," Webber
said. "There will never be a fresh-
man class to do that again."

I QsolloG a %oll msyv

Frosh 'shock the world'
in unbelievable season

4

Did it all really happen? The Fab Five? The Final Four?
It doesn't seem possible - even now, months later - but yeah, well, it
really did. Every spine-tingling minute of last year's amazing Michigan
basketball season happened. Believe it.
But back on Oct. 15, when Michigan kicked off fall practice and when
"the best recruiting class ever" was introduced to a Midnight Madness
crowd of 3,000, nobody could have foreseen all this. The Fab Five? The,
Final Four? No, not just yet. Maybe next year.
The five rookies were impressive, without a doubt. They brought the
house down that rainy October night, with a collection of slick passes and
thunderous dunks. They certainly didn't play much like newcomers.
And come to think of it, they didn't really look like they were only 18
years old. Take Chris Webber and Juwan Howard. They were men among
boys in high school, talent-wise and physically. Six-foot-9, 240 pounds
each. And they were agile.
So certainly, the team would be better - better than the 1990-91 squad,
which finished eighth in the Big Ten and 14-15 overall after a first-round
NIT loss.
But how much better depended on how fast they matured. Maybe by
the season's end things would start to come together, fans said rather
sheepishly. Maybe these Wolverines could make some noise come tour-
nament time.
Well, they did just that. And our ears are still ringing.
The noise began to crescendo in December. The rest of the nation had
heard rumors about what was happening in Ann Arbor.
The Fab Five, as they had already been dubbed, were making an im-
pact. Word was out that three of the five were now starting - Howard,
Webber, and a kid by the name of Jalen Rose. Michigan was 4-0, lurking
in the second ten of all those fickle national-ranking polls. They might be
for real.
On Dec. 14, as most of the
Michigan student body took a break
from studying for finals, those ru-
mors about possible greatness
erupted into a full-fledged scandal.
Definite front-page material.
Top-ranked Duke came to town,
and the Blue Devils barely escaped
from Crisler Arena into the snowy
night with their defending-cham-
pion bravado intact. 88-85. In over-
time. A three-quarter court desper-
ation shot by Webber at the end of
regulation clanged off the front of
the rim. Rose
He was that close. So was Michigan.
There were some warning signs of what was about to happen in that
game early on. Webber skied for a rebound, snatching it away from -
most notably - Christian Laettner, everybody's All-American.
Laettner tried to slap the ball - Webber's ball - away as he landed.
And Webber simply smiled at Laettner's feeble attempt. He smiled and
shook his head. Not today. Not with us. We have something to prove.
Webber said that he did have something to prove, as he talked about
that December afternoon months later at the Final Four in Minneapolis.
"That game," Webber explained, "I just wanted to show people that I
could play, too. Laettner knew that. I just wanted to remind him on the
court."
Webber reminded him by scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds
in front of a national television audience. Webber dunked. Webber dunked
again. He laughed. He informed Laettner, "I just dunked on you on na-
tional television."
It was a message. Chris Webber could play, too. As well, if not better
than most. And now the whole country knew.
Meanwhile, "that Rose kid" proceeded to make a name for himself,
too, with 18 second-half points - slashing, driving and scoring like he
was the second-coming of Magic Johnson - in leading a comeback charge
against Duke.
Among those dazzled by the 6-foot-8 point guard's play was Duke's
coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who commented after the game that Rose played
"more like an eight-year NBA veteran than a college freshman."
Howard was also a factor. He hounded Laettner into exhaustion, earn-
ing the praise of his coach and teammates for an outstanding defensive
game.
And newcomer Jimmy King made all the highlight films as well, soar-
ing above the rim and the Duke defense to grab a Jalen Rose alley-oop and
slam it home. He landed, fist in the air, a big smile on his face. The crowd
went crazy.
In the end, though, Duke came out on top. The Blue Devils found a
way, as champions are apt to do, to win the big game.
Bobby Hurley hit a clutch three-pointer at one point, knocked in three
straight free throws at another. Chris Webber fouled out just over a minute
into overtime. There were plenty of reasons.
But there were even more answers. Were the Fab Five as good as adver-
tised? Was Michigan for real?
Yes. Oh, yes. The wait was over.

w
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1*

saddled with four fouls for much ofIS
the second half, Riley contributed 15 a!I
points and 10 rebounds off theKENT MLE y
bench. Michigan center Juwan Howard triumphantly holds up the netfrom Rupp Arena. The victory over Ohio State
Jalen Rose turned in his now- earned the Wolverines a place in the NCAA Final Four.
Blue basketball rides rollercoaster to third-place finish

by John Niyo
Daily Basketball Writer
Michigan coach Steve Fisher and
his Young Guns finished the regular
season at 20-8, and tied with
Michigan State for third in the Big
Ten. Twenty wins. Five frosh
starters. Not a bad year, huh?
But the fun was only just
beginning.
The Wolverines went on to the
NCAA Championship game, where
a 71-51 loss to Duke snapped a five-
game tournament streak. But while a
loss to Duke ended Michigan's sea-
son in April, an earlier defeat to the
Blue Devils got its season going in
December.
It was only after the overtime
thriller that the rollercoaster ride of a
memorable season truly began for
the 1991-92 Wolverines.
Michigan passed its first Big Ten
test, an 80-77 overtime win at Iowa,
with flying colors. Jalen Rose led
the way for the Wolverines with 34
points.
But Michigan followed with a
pair of poor showings, at Minnesota
and at home against Purdue,
dropping the team to 1-2 in the

conference.
The Wolverines bounced back to
win three of the next four. They
sandwiched victories against Illinois
and Wisconsin around a road loss to
Indiana. The streak finished with a
spectacular 89-79 upset at Michigan
State.
The overtime win proved that
Michigan was more than just the five
first-year players. Junior Rob
Pelinka came off the bench and
sparked the second-half comeback
against the rival Spartans.
And in its usual erratic fashion,
Michigan followed with an ugly loss
on national television. Its embarrass-
ing 13-point first half against Ohio
State was too much to overcome, as
the Buckeyes prevailed, 68-58.
But the Wolverines squashed a
hapless Northwestern squad, 81-58,
to finish the first half of the confer-
ence slate above .500 at 5-4.
Then came the watershed game
for Michigan's rookies. All five got
the starting nod when Michigan
traveled to South Bend to face Notre
Dame. They responded with a domi-
nating first half, and went on to win

74-65 victory.
The five frosh started the next
five games, beating Iowa again,
paying back Minnesota, and cruising
past Northwestern at Evanston.
But Michigan State took the in-
trastate rematch, stealing a 70-59
victory at Crisler. The ups and
downs that frustrated coach Steve
Fisher continued - some nights, his
young Wolverines came to play;
some nights, they didn't.
Feb. 26 was one such night.
Michigan students were on Spring
Break, and the basketball team de-
cided to take a vacation of its own,
as an upstart Wisconsin team gave
the 17th-ranked Wolverines a 96-78
thrashing in Madison.
Michigan apparently learned its
lesson, though, and the next game
was a completely different story.
The Wolverines were the better
team on the court for most of the
night against Ohio State in
Columbus. But the eventual Big Ten
champs took advantage of three
straight Michigan turnovers late in
the game to escape with the victory,

77-66.
The Michigan players - the Fab
Five in particular - would continu-
ally point to that loss the rest of the
way as the final lesson in their
maturation.
After Ohio State, the Wolverines
shocked No. 2 Indiana, 68-60, led by
Jimmy King's 18 points. They fol-
lowed that with victories at Purdue
and at home against Illinois to close
out the season and ensure themselves
a spot in the NCAA tournament.

.J

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